I was telling someone the other day that there was a scene in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) in which a map of my hometown of Vancouver was used as a map of Gotham City — and I hated to make this assertion without a visual aid to back me up. So today I rented the film on DVD and captured the image you see above.
That’s Vicki Vale’s hand — and thus probably Kim Basinger’s hand, though you never can tell with insert shots — pointing in the general vicinity of Simon Fraser University and saying that that is where Batman has been sighted so far. Immediately prior to this, she had pointed at the West End and said that that is the location of Axis Chemicals, the place where the Joker has his origin.
The other hand, the one resting its knuckles on the map, belongs to Robert Wuhl, and when I interviewed Wuhl in Vancouver — I think it was in conjunction with Open Season (1995), the only film he ever directed — I asked if he had any idea how a Vancouver map came to be used on the set of a movie filmed in England. Not surprisingly, he said he had no memory of the map at all.
Incidentally, now that I have taken a closer look at the image — I had only seen it on paused VHS before today — it occurs to me that there is something a little, well, strange about this map. There seem to be ponds and lakes in places where there shouldn’t be, and the roads don’t seem to match, either — and I don’t think it’s just because this map would have to be about 20 years old, now.
I may be wrong, but check it out for yourself; if you click on the picture above, you will see a larger version of this image, and you can compare it to the maps of Vancouver available, say, here.
It seems like the props people took an outline of Vancouver and then revised it a bit — but I can’t imagine why they bothered.