Tim Burton's 1989 adaptation of Batman introduced the notion of the superhero as metaphor for both the celebrity and the tortured artist.
The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky.
And as I wonder where you are,
I’m so lonesome I could cry.
—Hank Williams (1923-1953), “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
There are millions who know his name
Everybody loves him.
Why is it that he feels so alone?
Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise crazy
Just be glad it’s him, not you.
If you had Tom Cruise’s troubles
You might be Tom Cruise crazy, too.
You’d flash your big white shiny smile
And buy expensive shoes
But you’d be the only man on Earth who couldn’t enjoy Tom Cruise.
—Jonathan Coulton (1970-present), “Tom Cruise Crazy”
Growing up in oppressive suburban America, Tim Burton felt trapped. And in a place filled with nothing but white picket fences protecting white houses filled with white families, what creative individual wouldn’t? It’s no wonder, then, that the acclaimed auteur of such films as Big Fish and Ed Wood found himself struggling with depression, fighting to escape from the box suburbia attempted to trap him in.
It’s a theme inherent in most of his work; in his retelling of Planet of the Apes, the astronaut Leo Davidson finds himself in a backwards society, trapped by those who would make him a slave as he attempts to return to his homeworld. The recent Alice in Wonderland subverts gender expectations of your usual Burton film—and for the period in which it takes place—as young Alice Kingsley rejects British customs and instead decides to make her own way in the world, taking what most people of the time would consider a man’s job.