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Kim Basinger

Stop The Press: Vicki Vale And The Superficial ‘Strong Female Character’

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Ah, I thought, as the camera panned lovingly down Vicki Vale’s high-heeled, black-pantyhose-clad legs — here she is. The Strong Female Character. The 1989 model had fluffier hair than her successors, but that's really the only significant difference. She establishes her Totally Empowered cred early, makes eyes at the hero, then gets the hell out of the way as he and the (male, naturally) villain go about the business of advancing the plot. She snaps a photo once or twice to remind us that she's a globe-trotting photojournalist — the kind of photojournalist with no compunction toward sleeping with her subjects, but hey, whatever. She ends the film in the hero’s arms, fulfilling her role as reward for his victory, with nary a whisper of the professional goals that drove her to him in the first place. She is pretty and in need of rescue and almost entirely in service to the male characters’ plot and characterization—but she gets to be vaguely spunky and is slapped with a typically male career, so it’s totally okay.

I can only imagine the interviews that took place upon the release of Batman, touting her modernity, her break with the damsels of the past, her ineffable 1989-ness. I’m sure the crew patted themselves on the back heartily for providing the women and girls of America with such a vibrant reflection and role model.

I'm sure of these things because 25 years later, very little has changed regarding how women like Vicki are portrayed: superficially empowered and ultimately disposable.

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Go Behind The Scenes Of ‘Batman’ ’89 With ‘The Making Of A Hero’ [Video]

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ComicsAlliance's official position on Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie may be a little more harsh than other people's, but even I can't deny its importance in bringing superheroes to life in movies. To this day, it remains a pretty fascinating film, and one of the biggest touchstones that comic books have to mass media, even when we're seeing movies like The Dark Knight and Avengers make a billion dollars at the box office.

So if you're holed up avoiding the snow -- or just looking for a way to kill time on your lunch break -- you could do a lot worse than to take 25 minutes and check out The Making of a Hero. Originally produced in the UK during the filming of Batman '89, it's a behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was made, featuring crew members like Tim Burton himself and designer Anton Furst, along with Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger and Robert Wuhl. Give it a watch below, but be warned: That jerk Bob Kane shows up to ruin everything.

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