Does Mattel have the 6″ Michael Keaton Batman rights?

So I came across this exchange on Twitter:

If that’s true, then is Mattel withholding a Movie Masters Keaton Batman simply out of spite? Or will we finally see one at San Diego Comic Con (if not sooner) this year?

When the Nolan Batman films came out, they more or less made me forget about the Burton films. But in the years since The Dark Knight, I’ve come to remember how much I loved the Burton films as a kid. All the talk at the time was about how dark and moody they were, but compared to The Dark Knight they’re flat-out fun. And you will never convince me that the Tumbler is cooler than the Burton Batmobile. Nothing on this earth is cooler than the Burton Batmobile. James Dean and Jack Kerouac reciting “Howl” at the Cavern Club while Thriller-era Michael Jackson dances in the background is not half as cool as the Burton Batmobile.

Anyway, those with a Keaton Batman jonesing who can’t drop the cash on the Hot Toys version can enjoy the far-cheaper and yet still incredibly awesome NECA 18″ figure, due this August.

Comments now closed (16)

  • I think he means the rights to 6inch figures are locked down by Mattel & DCDirect. Also, Mattel has a master license with WB for 6 inch movie figures. So, I think they've always had the rights, but didn't want to put out a competing product with the Nolan movies product.

  • I seem to remember as far back as after the Dark Knight Mattel mentioning that characters from any of the Batman (or Superman) movies could be made in the Movie Masters line. Why Mattel never jumped on this I don't know.

  • " James Dean and Jack Kerouac reciting “Howl” at the Cavern Club while Thriller-era Michael Jackson dances in the background is not half as cool as the Burton Batmobile." This is true…though it is pretty damn close

  • Mattel probably doesn't have specific movie/Keaton likeness rights (unless they plan on making one) but probably has blanket rights to 6" DC action figures for the primary consumer market (DC Direct/DC Collectibles probably has it for the specialty market, or the rights are divided up in a different way to allow both to coexist. I always assumed DC Comics has direct control of the Diamond DCD/DCC lines so licensing is irrelevant for them, but I am just guessing.)

    So I assume that even if Mattel has no plans to do an action figure sized Keaton Batman, their license prevents anyone else from doing so.

  • I would happily sign up for a Burton Batman mini-subscription with Mattel.

    Batman, Joxer, Catwoman and Penguin would take pride of place on my shelves. The Burton Batman films remain the "definitive" Batman for me, closely followed by Batman: The Animated Series.

    • A Burton-Era Batman Sub would be killer. Give me Batman, Joker, Catwoman, The Penguin, Bob the Goon, Alfred… I’d take a few variants too: Returns Batman, Museum Joker, Battle Damaged Catwoman… And boy…that Batmobile. Amazing.

  • James Dean and Jack Kerouac reciting “Howl” at the Cavern Club while Thriller-era Michael Jackson dances in the background is not half as cool as the Burton Batmobile.

    Great line.

  • I think Mattel does have the rights to Keaton Batman, but just doesn't give enough of a crap to do anything with it. Also, I have to disagree, as the Adam West Batmobile is THE best Batmobile.

    • I thnk it's pretty close. After seeing a replica West Batmobile in person, gotta say it's pretty swanky. I'd love driving that around…it's practical, sleek and a super sweet car. It was at the car show for a good reason; it fit in perfectly with all the classic cars because it was designed so well.

      But the Burton Batmobile is cool in a different way, superhero-y and just badass. Dark, menacing and awesome.

      Also, I wish that NECA could scale down that 1/4 scale Keaton Batman. That would be amazing. Any attempt Mattel ever does make will have an 85% recognizable Keaton likeness and be cheaply produced. Licensing is a weird thing…I wish it wasn't so restrictive in some instances.

  • You guys are right, we've sort-of known about this all along, since Mattel has all the movie rights.

    I also forgot that they'd have to get the likeness rights for Keaton, which could be the sticking point money-wise. For the crappy distribution they do on their toys and the relatively small market they reach via Mattycollector, it's probably not worth doing a one-off MM Keaton Batman.

    • or maybe someone (keaton, burton, nicholson) is getting paid off if it and Mattel or WB doesn’t want to share.

      Sometimes companies don’t want to have “competing public perception continuities” – different versions of the same or similar characters in the public space – as they foolishly think that people are stupid and can’t figure out that there is a novel version, a comic version, and a movie version of the same character.

      I ran across this years ago when a company I worked for had the classic Star Trek license around the time of the Enterprise TV show. We had rights to do classic Trek merch, but could not use any images of the actors or the ship. And anything we made, it had to say “classic star trek” somewhere on the article. Once the owner found out his certain Shatner t shirt was not to be the project went south and nothing ever came of it.
      Sometimes in order to prevent the confusion they make older licences much more expensive or unavailable during their new media pushes. So the product doesn’t compete with concurrent media. Which is why we’re seeing the Keaton and West Batman stuff now almost exactly a year after TDKR came out…

      • SOME people…

        I was astonished by the amount of people who thought Green Lantern was "another" Green Hornet film…

        This one time, a black man called me racist because of my Hal Jordan T-shirt :)

        and people who didn't understand why "insert DC character" wasn't in the Avengers.

        Sometimes a little hand holding helps to move a brand forward instead of back in this regard.

  • I have lost interest in a lot of Mattel product over the last couple of years; but if they made a Movie Masters Keaton batman, and it looked as good as the 'Dark Knight' batman did, I would be all over that thing like crazy.
    I bet that Mattel just doesn't see the point in making one. We all may think that it would sell great, but they may think there aren't as many Burton fans as there are 60's TV and Nolan fans.
    However, I have never purchased a sub from Matty, but if they came out with a movie masters sub, including heroes and villains from the Burton movies; I would be all over it.

    • I think a DC live action [TV & Film] line including everything [probably anchored by 90's era film Batman] is the logical next step once the 60's era bat stuff winds down. I would go nuts for a Reeves and Carter Superman & Wonder Woman.

      • That would be awesome! Although I'd have to get the Adam West Batman to go with the Christopher Reeve Superman and Lynda Carter Wonder Woman!