Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Batman: The Video Game's Original NES Cutscenes Did The Michael Keaton Film Justice

When thinking about great Batman games, one of the Dark Knight's adventures that typically comes up is 1989's "Batman: The Video Game." This loose NES adaptation of Tim Burton's hit film starring Michael Keaton is an interesting beast. It follows a purple sprite of Batman punching and Batarang-ing his way through grueling levels crawling with villains, with the end goal being a throwdown with the Joker. Also, the Joker can shoot lightning for some reason. It's awesome.


However, there's one nagging thing about "Batman: The Video Game," and that's the fact that it doesn't seem like it follows the film all that well. There are a few cutscenes sprinkled here and there that recreate memorable moments from the movie, like when the Batmobile shoots through a metal door and busts into the Axis Chemical Plant — or when the Joker is knocked off the side of the Gotham Cathedral to his doom. But for the most part, these scenes are presented out of context and don't offer much in the way of plot. You just have to intuit why Batman is slugging his way through a futuristic factory and smacking robots around.

That wasn't always the case, though. An early version of the game featured cutscenes that approximated comic book artwork and used elements of the film to tell the story in its own way. While fans wait for Michael Keaton's triumphant return as Batman in 2023's "The Flash," it's time to look back on the forgotten prototype for this particular Caped Crusader's video game debut.


Batman: The Video Game's prototype had a different plot and ending

The original cutscenes for "Batman: The Video Game" placed a bit more of an emphasis on plotting, with Batman trying to track down the people who kidnapped reporter Vicki Vale. It's as bare bones as a story can get, but it's definitely more substantial than the cutscenes in the final release, which can almost feel like non sequiturs. Perhaps the biggest change between the original prototype for "Batman: The Video Game" and the final version, however, is that there's no final boss battle against the Joker. Instead, after defeating Firebug in the Cathedral, players are treated to a moody cutscene in which Batman sneaks up on the Clown Prince of Crime and decks him in the face. Roll credits.


It's definitely a less gruesome ending than the one in the final game, one that also robs players of the chance to take down the man who killed Bruce Wayne's parents. Then again, some comic book fans might argue that this is the superior ending, since Batman didn't break his biggest rule and kill his enemy.

While both versions of the game greatly diverge from the cinematic source material, the original cutscenes still retain a great deal of the movie's gothic atmosphere. And despite feeling a bit anticlimactic without that final Batman/Joker showdown, the prototype cutscenes at least tell more of a story, giving them a dramatic edge.