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[P]
A True Redemption for the Dark Knight

By LodeRunner in Culture
Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 04:08:32 PM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)
Movies

First, a spoiler-free executive summary: do yourself a favor and forget all the Batman movies you've seen. Yes, even the first one. All of them pale in comparison to Batman Begins. The reasons are simple: it makes the best use of the medium, and the focus of the movie is in the right direction. I do not focus on story details, but depending on your spoiler sensitivity, reader discretion is advised.


People always discuss the intrincacies of transferring an artistic concept from one medium to another. When the concept gets elevated to cult status or makes a mark in one particular art form, it gets even harder. Which is not to say that it can't be done. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for instance, exists in many incarnations, from the radio series to the books, to even an Infocom text adventure. The transition of comic books into cartoons seem to be natural, and usually successful.

The transition into movies, however, tends be much more complicated. In the worst case scenario, commercial interests turn what should be the adaptation  of a work of art into a "spin-off," an exploitation of a "franchise." Of course, some may argue "it's just a comic book," so it's not like making a sculpture of Mona Lisa or a painting of The Thinker. But the character Batman is one of the most important archetypes produced in the 20th century, so the task of depicting it should not be taken lightly.

The previous attempts failed in different levels. In Tim Burton's case, from being excessively authoral: the 1989 movie, more than a Batman movie, is a Tim Burton movie; in my mental categorization it goes along with Sleepy Hollow, rather than with Batman: Year One. In Joel Schumacher's case, apart from being campy, his movies expanded greatly on what was Burton's major mistake: they focus on the villains. People tell the Batman movies apart by the villains: "the one with The Penguin," "the one with The Riddler." On the other hand, this is one of the aspects where Batman Begins excels: for once, we have a movie that actually focuses on Batman.

Batman Begins ignores all previous movies (the same way Burton's ignores the 1966 movie), and tells the story of the genesis of the character in its own way. The beauty of Christopher Nolan's concept is that, instead of requiring the viewer to simply enter into Batman's world, as we usually do in fantasy/sci-fi movies, in this one the world is built around you as the story flows. And this is fundamental, due to the properties of the different mediums. While in a comic book the notion of a traumatized man who suddenly becomes a masked avenger is almost natural, in a film this is much harder to achieve. We are seeing actual people on the screen, it is much closer to reality, and therefore it demands a more elaborate build-up for our suspension of disbelief. They went great lengths to achieve that -- including making some major changes to the story. While some die-hard fans will argue that they went too far, the concessions made construct a backstory that stands on its own and, most importantly, translates into a great movie.

In the comic books you don't question how a millionaire becomes a great fighter, but in a movie a guy doing some push-ups in one scene and then fighting criminals on the streets in the next just doesn't cut it. This Superman-like duality -- harmless in one moment, super-powerful in the next -- was a problem in the previous Batmans. The one portrayed by Christian Bale avoids this super-hero cliché. His Bruce Wayne and his Batman do feel like the same person, with the hint of roughness you'd expect from the part. Michael Caine's Alfred and Gary Oldman's Gordon are also very characteristic. In fact, one could say that while Batman Begins is not the most faithful one "factually," it may be the most faithful with regard to the personalities of the characters. Of course, there's always the issue of "which Batman" to take as a parameter, since comics with different target audiences tend to picture him with different intensities -- it's safe to assume, however, that the essential archetype is well understood. And it is definitely there in the film.

Christopher Nolan's approach of taking the Batman story and putting it into film instead of doing a "comic book adaptation" is in direct contrast with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City. Fans of the Batman graphic novels like me -- especially of The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller himself -- were usually less than pleased with the Batman movies. Many often wondered how would it be like if a movie simply took a graphic novel and transferred it to the big screen, with no stylistic changes. Sin City answers that question. Undeniably, the result is very interesting but, on what in hindsight may be somewhat obvious, it adds very little to the original. Batman Begins takes the exact opposite direction: it strips out the most pronounced stylistic elements and keeps just the essence of what makes the story what it is. By doing that, it produces a work that is tailored to that particular art form and, at the very least, gives the viewer a new perspective. In this movie, we actually see a series of events shaping the character of Bruce Wayne (beyond the simple "trauma with bats + parents killed") and how these affect his decisions and actions. Evidently, it is no Citizen Kane, but it has much more depth than the previous movies -- and, dare I say, than most movies currently out there.

I would still be curious to see a faithful movie rendition of The Dark Knight Returns, unlikely as it is -- if only to see the controversy that exposing that story to a wider audience would ensue -- but now I will no longer say that no Batman movie does justice to the character. Batman Begins does.

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Poll
Best Batman
o Adam West 28%
o Michael Keaton 23%
o Val Kilmer 2%
o George Clooney (yeah, right) 8%
o Christian Bale 36%

Votes: 46
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Batman Begins
o Infocom text adventure
o franchise
o 1989 movie
o Sleepy Hollow
o Batman: Year One
o Joel Schumacher
o campy
o 1966 movie
o Christophe r Nolan
o Christian Bale
o Michael Caine
o Gary Oldman
o Robert Rodriguez
o Frank Miller
o Sin City
o The Dark Knight Returns
o Citizen Kane
o Also by LodeRunner


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A True Redemption for the Dark Knight | 83 comments (63 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
My favourite was (2.66 / 3) (#1)
by daani on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 05:52:08 AM EST

"Death in the Family". I read it as a graphic novel, not having the thousands of dollars the original books would of cost. When I was reading comics - circa 1990 - the modern books didn't nearly stack up to the classics. Is it still so?

Just watched it last night (3.00 / 6) (#4)
by CmdrDoc on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 06:35:49 AM EST

I agree.

While Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were simply abysmal, I liked Burtons, if only for Nicholson and Pfeiffer.

Christopher Nolan has overshadowed them all by a long shot. His deviations from Burtons seem pretty much complete, an all or nothing approach that just worked. Die-hard purists may find the changes grating, and indeed I found myself wanting to resent whats been done but it all worked so beautifully I couldn't, in spite of the fact that the changes would seem to render it essentially incompatible with Burtons 1 and 2. Call it an alternate reality, call it what you want, but I'm really wanting more, and I hope the success of Begins will bring them to us.

I'd also like to mention the supporting cast (none / 0) (#34)
by CmdrDoc on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 06:02:19 AM EST

Which was one of the most solid picks I've seen for a long time. I was sitting in the cinema with a couple of others who weren't aware of exactly how solid it was before going in, and there was quite a reaction to the appearance of Caine, followed by Oldman, followed by Freeman (plus Neeson, Cilian Murphy wasn't recognised until pointed out as Mr 28 Days Later). Personally I'll go see anything with Christian Bale or Gary Oldman, the rest are just icing on the cake.

About the only niggle I have was Murphy as Crane / The Scarecrow: I feel he was underused, but as an intro to the character its fine, I assume he could be fleshed into a much more larger role in future.

Fans of Snatch: Watch out for the Cameo by Boris the Blade =)

[ Parent ]

Nicholson (none / 0) (#74)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Wed Jun 22, 2005 at 09:21:29 PM EST

He fitted that role so well, I'll always think of him as The Joker, rather than Jack Nicholson.

[ Parent ]
I like the first one (2.66 / 3) (#7)
by curien on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 08:52:32 AM EST

You didn't say you didn't like the first one, but you implied it wasn't true to the Batman character. I'm not a comic-book geek, but I've read a few here and there and it seemed pretty good to me. What problems do folks have with Burton's vision?

--
We are not the same. I'm an American, and you're a sick asshole.
Where do I start? (3.00 / 3) (#10)
by destroy all monsters on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 01:46:41 PM EST

Re-writing Batman's origin, using gothic overtones *everywhere*, Michael Keaton, killing off villains (and doing so in an unnecessary way), the poorly revised origins and characters of Catwoman and the Penguin, jampacking so many villains in a movie the story begins to creak etc.

The bottom line is that it was barely in keeping with the Batman legend and stories at all, and they lacked grit and believability. At least this time they used some classic source material like The Long Halloween rather than making a bunch of shit up out of whole cloth.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

Let's not rush... (none / 0) (#20)
by cribcage on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 08:34:23 PM EST

At least this time they used some classic source material like The Long Halloween...
I like Loeb and Sale as much as the next guy. But "classic"? The Long Halloween was published in 1996-97. Not yet.

Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]
geezer. -nt (none / 0) (#24)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 10:15:40 PM EST

;-)


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
It *is* classic since it's done in the classic (none / 0) (#26)
by destroy all monsters on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 01:07:11 AM EST

style of the book. Certainly if I was a car collector and wrote that I'd deserve a dressing down;but it is correct in this instance. What's really amazing is that both Loeb & Sale managed to touch upon every classic (and canonical) version of Batman both in art and story. The Long Halloween is also classic in the sense that not only does it sucessfully integrate differing takes of the Batman successfully but also sets the stage for the takeover of crime from the old school mafiosos to the new breed of freak-criminals making this story an essential part of the Batman ouevre.

FYI - other writer/artist teams that Loeb& Sale referenced that took the character back to its dark roots: Denny O'neil and Neal Adams, Steve Englehart (in what was probably his best writing work ever) & the incomparable Marshall Rogers, the aforementioned Frank Miller (along with co-conspirator David Mazzuchelli), and more recent writers like Ed Brubaker (whose Catwoman run is essential) and Greg Rucka (whose managed the only  proper treatment of the Huntress since she was merged in from Earth-2). There are a great many artists worth mentioning that have done renditions of the Batman and if you're interested I'll mention a few, I just think this is getting a bit long.  

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

Mostly Keaton (none / 0) (#11)
by LodeRunner on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 03:12:48 PM EST

I think the first one was "okay", which was disappointing. I'm not a specialist in the comics, and it's been a long time since I watched the 89 movie, but the main issue I had was with Michael Keaton's interpretation. He seemed quirky, too insecure. Nicholson stole the show, his Joker was really good, but that opened up to the excessive focus on (and quantity of) villains in the movies. I also always had the impression that the imagery in the first one was too over-the-top... (a Tim Burton treat, later I learned) which is a valid way to have things like caped crusaders and batmobiles wandering around town without looking too misplaced, but the more subtle approach taken in Batman Begins was, imho, way more effective.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

More on Bats (none / 0) (#33)
by destroy all monsters on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 05:56:06 AM EST

I felt the rot set in as soon as I saw Keaton. You're dead on about his insecurity and quirkiness - that's not Bruce Wayne. Compare that to the excellent (and largely  canonical) Batman the Animated Series Bruce Wayne and Batman. That's how you portray the guy, he's rich , he's a bit smug and arrogant but he's a badass to the core.

Another thing that pissed me off was the fight scenes where it appeared to be random what style of fighting he would use and how hard and how long it took to take down a bad guy.

The guy's not only a master of boxing but of a number of fighting styles (and on a further note- what the hell is up with foam rubber costumes - completely unrealistic).

One of Grant Morrison's greatest gifts during his run of JLA was to re-frame Batman as the premier strategist of the DC universe - one that's stuck in the years since his run there. Batman in the previous movies was a bumbling fool.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

The ending shot is the perfect example (3.00 / 4) (#17)
by godix on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 05:53:08 PM EST

IIRC the ending shot was Batman doing some heroic pose on top of a building. Standing around posing like it's a photo-op is Supermans thing not Batmans. Batman is the guy who pops out, kicks some bad guys ass, then disappears without bothering to pose for pictures. That's pretty much the problem with the movie, it totally misunderstood the character.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
ending shot (none / 1) (#83)
by ethereal on Wed Jun 29, 2005 at 06:41:09 PM EST

To me, that ending shot made the picture - I'll always remember it for that shot.  For the first time in Gotham, the sun is out, the place looks somewhat less grimy, and the music is quietly and then massively triumphant.  But at the end, Batman is still watching over the city, and the music ends with his theme in a minor key.

It wasn't so much heroic, as dogged and determined.  The triumph of today won't last, but Batman will still be there to deal with tomorrow's crises as well.  That shot, combined with the orchestration, is one of my top five cinematic experiences.

I may see the new movie myself, but for me it will have to work hard to top Burton's film.  But I am saying this as a person who's never really read the comic books themselves.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#21)
by JahToasted on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 09:18:46 PM EST

Kind of a han solo shoots first kind of thing: The Joker didn't kill batman's parents. Batman never knows who killed his parents, its just a nameless criminal. Goes to explain why batman fights all crime, not just the joker.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Actually, ... (none / 1) (#46)
by RubberRetropack on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 07:26:05 PM EST

I really liked the idea of Joker killing Batman's parents. Then you get an interesting chicken/egg problem were Batman creates Joker by knocking him into acid, but Joker creates Batman first by killing his parents. There's kind of a duality there, I guess.

In fact the only two parts of Batman Begins I didn't like were the two parts where it differed from that theme: The part where his parents are killed by some schmuck, and then at the end where Gordon gives Batman the Joker's calling card, and Batman is like "huh?", no, damnit, Batman created the Joker, he's supposed to know already.

Though I guess the calling card was a nice tie-in that was supposed to be like a cliffhanger leaving it open for the next movie, that next movie has already been made and the stories conflict.

Other than that I thought it was a really great movie and I enjoyed seeing it.

[ Parent ]

Pumping up the volume (none / 0) (#49)
by destroy all monsters on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 05:21:50 AM EST

doesn't make the music better. What I mean by this is that Burton (and Hollywood) thought that the original origin was weak and didn't understand the character or the importance of the origin. This is why I don't think that anyone that isn't or hasn't worked in comics should ever executive produce a movie based on a comics character.

The duality existed there to overheat a story that didn't need it. To say that the villain didn't overstate the protagonist in Burton's Batman is to state that Keaton is even in the same league as Nicholson when clearly he is not.

Batman never "created" the Joker, Burton's movie is not and never has been canon in the Batman universe. You may have liked it - but it spoils the character. That next movie (as you put it) hasn't been made  - as a newer, far better series that is far more true to the actual characters proceeds. I can assure you there will be no dovetailing to those earlier movies (and those of us that actually love the character wouldn't allow it anyway). Thankfully Catwoman tanked and maybe now we can see the DC characters that have endured for over 50 years in a respectful light onscreen.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

Well... (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by nateo on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 04:18:23 PM EST

the part that really got me was when the Joker shot down the Batplane with a pistol. Jesus Fucking Christ, that was stupid.

--
"I'm so gonna travel the world, photographing my dick at every location."
  - Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi
[ Parent ]
But it was a REALLY BIG pistol (none / 0) (#73)
by glor on Wed Jun 22, 2005 at 05:18:51 PM EST


--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

NO! ZEBEDEE WAS BEST IN MAGIC ROUNDABOUT! (1.40 / 5) (#15)
by toulouse on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 05:32:14 PM EST


--
'My god...it's full of blogs.' - ktakki
--


would Dark Kinght Returns... (2.75 / 4) (#22)
by JahToasted on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 09:24:47 PM EST

work now? I mean it was a pretty 80's kinda thing what with the cold war being a major plot element. Of course they could exchange Cold War with War on Terrorism and maybe the terrorists would get a nuke or something and blow up superman.

Actually that would be a really good movie. But I think they wouldn't want to show the ending to the batman story if batman begins revives interest in the franchise.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison

I'm not sure (2.50 / 2) (#25)
by godix on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 12:25:16 AM EST

I don't think changing it to terrorism would help any. The Dark Knight Returns was, largely, about the cold war and how much influence one normal man could have in that type of world (normal being defined as not someone who's profession is fighting communism no matter how horrible the methods are). Terrorism doesn't come even close even with the threat of dirty bombs because so much of it wasn't really about nuclear war. The entire subtext of two world powers fighting proxy wars against each other, perverting the ultimate symbol of Truth and Justice because of the dirty mess of those proxy wars, the fear of the world being destroyed because of some hellhole no one ever heard of, and even the blatent Ronald Reagan parody just wouldn't translate into todays terms well. The Dark Knight Returns just isn't a book about todays world and trying to turn it into that would work about as well as trying to turn Animal Farm into a book about Iraq because the Russian revolution wouldn't draw in the viewers. I love Dark Knight Returns, it's one of the few examples of comics with depth and adult themes that isn't porn, but it just wouldn't work in a movie today.

Besides, they're trying to ramp up the Superman franchise again. There is no way in hell they would allow the Superman of Dark Knight to show up on the screen and ruin it. Without that conflict the movie just wouldn't be worth seeing.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

I don't see a difference (2.00 / 2) (#37)
by JahToasted on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 01:34:56 PM EST

Change Ronald Reagan to W. Bush, and the fear of communism to fear of terrorism. Yeah circumstances are a little different, but the motives are the same. Superman upholding the principles of the Patriot Act seems pretty appropriate. In fact the story would probably apply even better now. Why would the soviet union just launch one nuke and not a whole bunch? A terrorist might use only one nuke because that's all they have available.

And the whole "If you're not with us you're with the terrorists" things going on now would make it even more plausible that the US would want someone like the Batman killed (or sent to gitmo at least).

Also, the whole story of superman being subverted by the propaganda of the white house makes for an interesting analogy to the young soldiers in the US military being fooled into fighting for what they think is right. But that is exactly why such a story could never be shown today.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

'course it would (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by werner on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 04:12:10 PM EST

If they can make movies about ancient Greece, they can make them about the 80's.

I would love to see The Dark Night Returns made into a film--but well. One of the greatest books I've ever read. For me, it made Batman and Superman into real characters. Brilliant work.

[ Parent ]

Michael Caine? (2.75 / 4) (#23)
by Kasreyn on Sat Jun 18, 2005 at 10:12:58 PM EST

Michael Caine is Alfred??!

I hadn't heard that. Definitely seeing it now. Holy shit, I didn't know he was still acting. That alone may make it the first good Batman flick.

As to intensity, any storyline which doesn't properly show Wayne to be a utterly driven, tormented, and inwardly miserable, is a complete failure. So far that includes everything but The Dark Knight Returns and a few of the better episodes of the animated series.

I'm sure some will make fun of me for being a closet Batman fan. But dammit, he's a lot more human than Supes ever was, and a lot more interesting.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Re: Michael Caine (none / 0) (#31)
by LodeRunner on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 03:25:27 AM EST

Michael Caine is Alfred??!

I hadn't heard that. Definitely seeing it now. Holy shit, I didn't know he was still acting. That alone may make it the first good Batman flick.

Yes, and he did a memorable part. If they make more Batman movies in this series, they'll definitely have to have him back.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Superman *isn't* human. That's the point. (none / 1) (#38)
by sudog on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 01:37:50 PM EST

Superman is an alien with human form. The Superman archetype is one to be aspired to, and was never meant to be a reflection of human frailty nor misery. Superman is just that: a Superman. He's not a man, and never was.

The fact that he *never* gives up, *ever*, that his spirit remains unbroken in every sense of the word, no matter the odds, no matter that an entire world turns against him, no matter that a time traveller captures him and offers him every choice imaginable to break out of his moral code to save *his own family* and he still refuses because it would be wrong to do so--all this makes his Superman alter-ego akin to a god or a legend and thus more a guiding principle.

His spirit is so pure that it converts even Doomsday into a hero who fashions himself after Superman in an alternate timeline, and by being so unyielding, he paradoxically makes the reader feel better for *not* being capable of living up to the Superman ideal at all times, while simultaneously giving us a character to sympathise deeply with as he portrays Clark Kent, the consummate outcast, who is capable when the need arises of summoning his alter-ego for a time and becoming a superhero.

This certainly doesn't make him any less admirable as a comic book hero.

Thus, you see, Superman's struggle is to remain something other than human, not to give us a tormented individual that the more emotionally encumbered of us can revel in like self-satisfied masochists.

Batman is pretty awesome: that much I'll happily admit, and I'm going to go see the movie in about an hour. However, implying that he's a better superhero because he's closer to *your* degenerate definition of humanity is closer to hubris and depair than anything nearing a fair comparison--which can't really be made anyway since they are too so very different heros to begin with.

(Yes, "too," not "two.")


[ Parent ]

I just meant (3.00 / 3) (#44)
by Kasreyn on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 05:42:08 PM EST

that Superman is too powerful to be interesting as a character. Whenever the writers want to provide conflict, they have to either strip him of one or more of his powers, or introduce someone who's even more incredibly strong (and then they have one more such thing lying around).

Overly-powerful characters are like kryptonite to a writer. :P

I admire Batman more because he has only guts and determination and he suceeds about as well as the supernaturally-gifted blue boy.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Superman attracts different personalities than (none / 1) (#50)
by destroy all monsters on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 05:32:30 AM EST

Batman. I love Batman, he's dark, he's smart and despite being rich continues despite everything thrown his way. He made his way through the world (albeit with his parents cash) through hard work and determination. He's meaner and smarter because he has to be. And he is the best.

Superman attracts those who appreciate Superman's "good" nature. His "aw shucks" persona. His ability to inspire greatness. He has an energy to him that is palpable. He also has a supporting cast that isn't interesting on the surface. Other than Lois they're mostly faceless yokels (A point I once heard a writer say was "how is it that Superman sees us (humanity) when he chooses as his representative of us a weak bespectacled and ineffectual individual?").

That said, the writing on Superman has been top notch for sometime and is highly readable (even if he's not my favorite character).

One of the finest portrayals of each character and their strengths and weaknesses is in Ross and Waid's Kingdom Come.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

aw shucks (none / 0) (#59)
by screwdriver on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 05:31:29 PM EST

Superman attracts those who appreciate Superman's "good" nature. His "aw shucks" persona.

I'd like to point out that 1960's Batman also had an "aw shucks" persona.  Then again, 60's Batman only came out during the day.

And Dick Grayson was president of his class and went into a coughing fit when trying to smoke a cig.

And let's not forget the Bat-twist.

Dang, they should give Adam West at least a cameo.

[ Parent ]

Campy Batman didn't last very long (none / 0) (#63)
by destroy all monsters on Tue Jun 21, 2005 at 09:53:42 AM EST

and I ,for one, am thankful for that.Wasn't more than a year and a half. Bob Haney and later Denny O'neil started pushing him back to his roots.

Some trivia: Brave and Bold (which was essentially a Batman team up book) was an exceptional read during its run.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

Batman rocks. (2.66 / 3) (#29)
by cribcage on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 02:28:47 AM EST

...the character Batman is one of the most important archetypes produced in the 20th century...
I agree.

* For more Batman reading on K5, check out Madness in Gotham.

Please don't read my journal.

I agree, minus the infatuation (3.00 / 5) (#36)
by lonelyhobo on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 12:22:21 PM EST

I liked the overall tone of the movie, however there were some points where it was just quite too corny.  I initially thought it was going to be shit just from the preview ("Does it come in black?" and driving the dumb thing around) but the movie didn't emphasize these scenes.

I watched the animated series, and they pronounced it R-ay-sh Alghoul, with the hard A.  This peturbed me throughout the movie, because I'm pretty sure they also did a joke in the animated series about someone calling him Raz(phonetically).

I went and watched the Tim Burton movie right after watching Batman Begins in the theater, and I disagree with the scathing criticism you give it in your article.  Most of the follow-ups to this movie were entire shit, but your assertion that it concentrates too much on the villain is fallacious.  All movie plots are different, and Tim Burton's movie strikes a balance between exploring the transformation of the Joker and the life of Bruce Wayne.  I liked the Alfred better in Tim Burton's as well.

Don't get me wrong, I really liked the movie, but I just don't have it on the pedestal in the hall of sacred comic book movies that you do.

On Burton's Batman (none / 0) (#47)
by LodeRunner on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 07:30:28 PM EST

Most of the follow-ups to this movie were entire shit, but your assertion that it concentrates too much on the villain is fallacious.

Well, whether it does focus too much on the villain or not is subjective, therefore I could never state is as a fact. Since I made that statement in the context of a movie review, I thought a big "IMHO" was implied all over. My bad.

Having said that, I do basically agree with your post. The film is not without its flaws and the corny moments are there (but, as you said, gladly not emphasized). I didn't care too much about Katie Holmes, either (give me Kim Basinger or Michelle Pfeiffer any day).

I don't think Burton's movie was bad -- I think it was "okay". I liked a lot how Burton explored the transformation of the Joker, but IMHO that took some of the focus away from Batman -- the character Joker is also very rich and deserves a movie for itself; apparently that's what they will do with this new series. If they do it, the actor who does Joker will have a very hard time topping Nicholson -- he better do it in a completely different way (less funny, more of a psychopath).

Don't get me wrong, I really liked the movie, but I just don't have it on the pedestal in the hall of sacred comic book movies that you do.

Don't get me wrong too, I didn't think the movie was perfect and I don't put it on a pedestal -- but this is the first Batman movie that I admit into my hall of sacred comic book movies (along with, for example, the 1978 Superman). :-)

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

His comments about the Burton movie/s (none / 0) (#52)
by destroy all monsters on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 08:37:38 AM EST

weren't scathing. He didn't cut it to ribbons like I would have. What he stated was that it was excessively authoral being more of a Burton movie than a Batman one. Given the extent of the changes to the storylines, characters (a black Harvey Dent?, a mutant Penguin?) and situations he's dead on.

I've already made the point above that Keaton and Nicholson aren't even in the same league as actors and that the effect would clearly be to highlight him (the villain) more than Keaton since Nicholson's eating up all the scenery around him.

As a treatment of the character it would be hard to be less true to the Batman universe was in Burton's hands unless you went back to the camp version.

The Animated Series however is probably the most true translation outside the comics themselves.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

I don't know shit about the comic book Batman, (2.00 / 5) (#39)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 02:26:03 PM EST

but as I was watching the very cool Batmobile chase scene I was wonding how the whole Batmobile thing fits with the whole ninja stealth thing. I mean it's like why even bother painting it black? And damn, that's a lot of property damage. And if it weren't for the great scriptwriter in the sky there is no way he wouldn't have seriously injured or killed a couple people. But whatever, it was damn cool, I can shut of my brain a little bit. The character development didn't suck either I thought, which was nice, made up for the shitty hand to hand fighting sequences. Also Christian Bale is pretty much <3.

What's Batman's power? (3.00 / 8) (#43)
by Julian Morrison on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 04:35:39 PM EST

What does Batman have that sets him apart and defines him as a hero? He fights, but some of his enemies fight better. He has gadgets, so does everybody else. Batman's true "super power" is twofold: implacable moral will, and a sharp, detailed mind.

This is the first movie which understood that. As such it is, to me, the first and only Batman movie. The others are James Bond movies in tights.

Hmmm (2.50 / 4) (#45)
by pHatidic on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 07:11:22 PM EST

I saw this movie and it didn't make a lot of sense. The plot revolved around villians trying to microwave the Gotham city water supply by pointing a giant microwave at the town. It was never explained why the water in pipes would be vaporized by not the water in the human body. If that is what they want to do then they should at least make up a fake technology or explanation, it is just to stupid to be amusing as is.

re: Hmmm (none / 0) (#53)
by tantrum on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 08:39:00 AM EST

>It was never explained why the water in pipes would be vaporized by not the water in the human body

"Quantum-dot buckyball microwaves oscilating at 3 hz" would probably be the movie excuse for making something like that work. Don't really think this would make the setting more plausible ;)

--

[ Parent ]
Thrilling (2.00 / 2) (#48)
by egad on Sun Jun 19, 2005 at 08:34:42 PM EST

I think the best translated to movie moment for me in the film was when Batman was fighting in the shipyard. You didn't see much actual fighting with the thugs. Instead they disappeared and kept looking around like they were in a Horror/Thriller film. That was very well done.

Influence of... (none / 0) (#56)
by gavri on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 01:12:59 PM EST

...'The Dark Knight Returns'

--
Blog Of A Socially Well Adjusted Human Being

[ Parent ]
Are you kidding? (2.66 / 3) (#54)
by brontus on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 09:31:14 AM EST

do yourself a favor and forget all the Batman movies you've seen. Yes, even the first one.

For me small inconsistencies within a movie don't bother me as much as inconcitencies across a franchise. Batman Begins does not exist within a vacuum. It is a prequel to a series of movies based on a comic book series. Any addition to a franchise, be it a sequel, a prequel, a remake, or an adaption, makes a contract with the viewer to stay faithful to the knowledge the viewer already has from previous works.

If I had never seen any of the previous Batman movies, I could see Batman Begins and be in blissfull ignorance about it's out-of-sync nature to the rest of the Batman universe. But I have seen the previous movies, and cannot ignore them. More than anything else, by taking a franchise in a different direction from its orgin, you are moving away from it's fanbase and breaking your contract with them.

You bring up The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I believe that is an excellent example of this problem. I wanted to tear my eyes from their sockets watching the recent remake. It was as if the writers tore pages out of the original books, put them in alphabetical order by the first word on the odd-numbered pages (and throwing out the even number pages), and constructed the plot that way. Then they turned it into a love story, and gave Arthur Dent a profound soliloquy. And they didn't even find out the Question!

If you want to make a movie about a flawed hero and you don't believe that the existing opus of a character fits what you want to do, DON'T use that character, make your own damn character.



taking a leaf from the original material... (none / 1) (#55)
by pukku on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 10:31:56 AM EST

Two notes: "Batman Begins" is explicitly _not_ a prequal to the extant movies; it has been said several times by the powers that be that the movie is restarting the entire Batman movie universe. Mr. Burton did the same thing; if he hadn't, he would have been trying to work in the universe occupied by the 1966 Adam West/Burt Ward movie; while I enjoyed that Batman for the camp value, it is a very different feel from Mr. Burton's vision. In the "original material" (the comic books) this happens from time to time -- the universe has gotten to complicated, they need to restart. (This may happen more in Marvel than in DC Comics, but it's not a foreign concept).

Regarding H2G2, the question was never discovered in the book either -- it isn't realized until Life, the Universe, and Everything (I think). Actually, the book version of H2G2 doesn't really have enough plot to make more than about a one hour movie; it's only 108 pages in my version -- most of the things that I associate with the Increasing Misnamed Trilogy come from the later books.

[ Parent ]
DC Reboot (none / 1) (#78)
by Shajenko on Mon Jun 27, 2005 at 02:31:38 AM EST

In the "original material" (the comic books) this happens from time to time -- the universe has gotten to complicated, they need to restart. (This may happen more in Marvel than in DC Comics, but it's not a foreign concept).
See "Crisis on Infinite Earths" for the 1985 "reboot" of the DC universe. They worked it into the plot and explained why the various histories for different characters would be changed.

Of course, they could have simply done what Marvel did years later and started a different line of comics separate from the original universes (The "Ultimate" universe), but hindsight is 20/20.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#61)
by grendelkhan on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 09:09:02 PM EST

If you want to make a movie about a flawed hero and you don't believe that the existing opus of a character fits what you want to do, DON'T use that character, make your own damn character.

Why?

By your logic, Frank Miller would never have done The Dark Knight Returns. Marvels and Kingdom Come would never have been produced.

That's a terribly limiting viewpoint.

--grendelkhan
-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

DC comics suck (2.00 / 3) (#57)
by EminemsRevenge on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 01:28:48 PM EST

The only thing that is based on DC comics and can stand on its own is the Smallville series. Unlike Marvel, DC has made some of the most uninteresting comic book heros ever, which is why their stable only translates to film when it's played as camp (as was the "Superman" movies). For me, Batman will always be a kitschy mid-Sixties programme and the only redeeming quality it had was Batgirl and Catwoman in tights.
Keep on rocking for a free world---
age (none / 1) (#64)
by bcrowell on Tue Jun 21, 2005 at 10:41:08 AM EST

I think the DC comics were more aimed at young kids, Marvel more at teens and adults. My recollection is that when Marvel did the Spiderman comics, they introduced a new approach to comics; Peter Parker is represented as having adult problems, romantic entanglements, etc. Fantastic Four also had more of an adult orientation, with Reed and Sue being married, examination of political themes, etc. I could be wrong, but my impression is that DC just never went through that maturing phase.

I liked Batman and Superman comics well enough when I was 10, and was prepared to enjoy the Batman Begins movie after reading all the glowing reviews. I thought it was lame. It was predictable, and the early part, where he's being trained in martial arts, was just painfully dumb.

The Assayer - book reviews for the free-information renaissance
[ Parent ]

DC Amerikkka (none / 0) (#65)
by EminemsRevenge on Tue Jun 21, 2005 at 10:50:55 AM EST

I think the real reason that I was turned off by DC was that it was so pro-American while Marvel had a subversive edge to it. X-men and Spiderman dealt with mutations and the Cold War paranoia that either Russia or the U.S. could bring on a nuclear storm...DC, meanwhile, had all the blockheads running around with God & country patriotism that was almost Hitlerian! It is also interesting to note that DC heros all had square jaws, and the women were not as sexual as the Marvel women. DC always had a puritanical air about them.
Keep on rocking for a free world---
[ Parent ]
political (none / 0) (#66)
by bcrowell on Tue Jun 21, 2005 at 11:55:38 AM EST

Yeah, FF #136 is particularly great: "Are you Youthie sympathizers?", and the Invisibles, who are black people in this alternate universe. But then, it was published in the 1970's as a commentary on the 1950's, so it wasn't exactly cutting edge.

It was also pretty cool when Reed and Sue got it on in the Negative Zone, and conceived their son Franklin there --- just don't think too much about Reed's ability to stretch every part of his body to any length.

DC did have some socially conscious stuff, e.g., in the 1980's there was a Green Lantern story with a sympathetic character who was a communist (although the comic hastened to point out that communism was "always wrong").

IIRC, Batman and Superman actually fought the Nazis in the WW II-era comics. It was propagandistic, but it seems kinda backwards to me to accuse them of being Hitlerian. I read somewhere that a lot of the early comics creators were jews.

The Assayer - book reviews for the free-information renaissance
[ Parent ]

Man und Psubermensch (none / 0) (#75)
by EminemsRevenge on Thu Jun 23, 2005 at 11:15:12 AM EST

Jon Stewart recently did something on his show about how we trivialize the Hitler name by invoking it for everything we disagree about! In the case of DC comic heroes, there is something almost fuehreristic about them.

Batman is basically holier-than-thou and Clark Kent is a benevolent Nietzche myth...Submariner also displays an Ubermensch aspect that is a little unsettling.

The fact that there were a lot of Jewish authors & artists behind the comic book industry does not detract from the pro-Aryan inclinations of their creations. Jews in both America and Germany were so intent on fitting in that they thought the rampant anti-Semitism in Germany was a phase that would pass...the rest, alas, is history.


Keep on rocking for a free world---
[ Parent ]
Batman was always my favorite.... (2.66 / 3) (#58)
by Redcatblack on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 02:45:23 PM EST

And after the countless exploitation of his good name through crappy actors and bodyshots... this movie finally goes back to his roots. And I wish I could thank DC.

I used to watch the animated series, and now there is some crappy new "the batman" garbage that smears its good name. I don't care what anyone says, batman could be in black and white... the story is what carries him, and thats the way it is.

I liked how this batman didn't have all the flashy special effects and went back to focusing on the man himself. Burton's batmans were good, but I'd love to see Gary Oldman in another role again if they redo the whole series. I don't know if Bale would be returning, but it'd be cool if Val kilmer came back for the next one if possible.

They broke away from some of the batman story with holmes in the new movie, that was kind of annoying.

blegh

True Canon. (2.66 / 3) (#60)
by grendelkhan on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 09:00:25 PM EST

I think the comparison with Hitchhiker's Guide is spurious. One of the things that makes Batman---or Superman, or Spiderman---easily adapted is that there is no one true canon, not really. Certainly not for Batman or Superman, after Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour and countless Elseworlds stories. The story of Batman has been told so many times that it can be boiled down to archetypes. We don't nitpick because we're ready to see a new interpretation of the hero.

Nobody complained that Gordon didn't seem like the ex-military badass he was in Year One, or that he never got his showdown with Flass, because while that was one version of Batman's arrival in Gotham, there's always room for another.

Not so with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sin City or, to cast the net a little wider, The Lord of the Rings. These stories spring from a single creator; they have true canon.

My point is---you can't compare making a Batman movie to making a HHGG movie. They're two completely different challenges.

--grendelkhan
-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca

What's the true canon for H2G2? (none / 0) (#62)
by LodeRunner on Tue Jun 21, 2005 at 03:12:37 AM EST

Interesting comment. But, as for Hitchhiker's Guide, AFAIK, there is no true canon either. The original version was the radio series, then the book, then the game, etc., all written by Douglas Adams and (I've been told) they all contradict each other in one way or another.

You could stretch the definition of canon to define not a self-consistent "official fictional reality", but to mean "whatever the original author comes up with, even if not consistent with previous work". In that way, the H2G2 movie could be considered "partly canon", since Adams was involved, but we'll never know to what extent, and similarity with the book or any other reference is not a parameter, due to the historical inconsistencies -- but again, I've never listened to the radio series or played the game, so I might be misinformed.

But yes, I agree with your point--making a Batman movie and a H2G2 movie are very different challenges. But they're both adaptations of cult classics, so there are some parallels.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Good point. (none / 0) (#67)
by grendelkhan on Tue Jun 21, 2005 at 03:12:52 PM EST

You make a good point---there's not precisely one true canon for HHGG. However, it's still one man's vision, though it was realized more than once. So we can legitly complain about Arthur being made into a romantic hero, and about Trillian mooning over wondrous space technology. We can draw a line and say that these things are not HHGG.

On the other hand, Batman is a much vaguer idea. He's been a ridiculously campy fellow in gray, blue and yellow (Adam West), he's been a real detective (more investigating and less bam-bif-pow in the original Bob Kane comics), he's been a bitter, tortured, driven old man (The Dark Knight Returns). He's been a frickin' suicidal Russian dissident, for cryin' out loud. (Superman: Red Son.) John Byrne, Frank Miller, Bob Kane, Adam West and Christopher Nolan all had different takes on the character, and at this point, that's fine.

It's okay to retell Hamlet or Othello in modern dress, or in modern language and setting (West Side Story or O). It's not okay to leave off the tragic ending.

--grendelkhan
-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

Nitpick (none / 0) (#79)
by destroy all monsters on Mon Jun 27, 2005 at 07:03:12 AM EST

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is only canon in the comics world. In the movies it's another thing entirely.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]
What do you mean? (none / 0) (#80)
by grendelkhan on Mon Jun 27, 2005 at 11:31:04 AM EST

The movie was an adaptation of the comic book. Without the comic, there would have been no movie. As there was a single, canonical source in comics (Moore and O'Neil), the adaptation had different expectations on it. It, like I, Robot, misused the good name of its source material. That's my argument.

Make more sense?

--grendelkhan
-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

What I mean is that the "LXG" movie (none / 0) (#81)
by destroy all monsters on Mon Jun 27, 2005 at 03:35:22 PM EST

is in no way the same as the comic book. Sure it was an adaptation, one which led Moore to the decision not to allow his works to be used for the screen with his name on it in the future. It is most assuredly not canon which anyone whose actually read the League's exploits in the comics can tell you.

Sin City is the only case of a comics film being canon.

"My opinion: You're gay, a troll, a gay troll, or in serious need of antidepressants." - horny smurf to Lemon Juice
[ Parent ]

Everything that guy just said is bullshit (1.42 / 7) (#69)
by dbickett on Wed Jun 22, 2005 at 12:58:15 AM EST

The title is a quote, don't get too offended. To the point, however: this movie sucked. Not enough for you? Let's make a list: It was overproduced to shit. It had horrible lines. The conversations and line deliverances were robotic. The leading character was a damned stoic, and showed very little emotion or believability at the beginning of the movie, where it mattered.

As for the actual quality of the movie as a Batman movie, the transition from Bruce Wayne to Batman was, contrary to your assertion, absolutely fucking pitiful (that is, when we actually GOT TO SEE BATMAN. I swear it took them half the movie. Yeah, you want to build a back-story, but give me a break.) I LAUGHED OUT LOUD the first time I heard Batman speak; it sounded like a boy's attempt at sounding like a villain, or a female's attempt at sounding male, for that matter. Any slack you give the movie and it's premise on account of the fact that he's dressing up like a god damned bat is absolutely destroyed by Christian Bale's attempt at being Batman.

Oh I almost forgot to mention, the movie tried (and failed) to get a cheap laugh at every other line. It's understood that every batman movie has had a touch of tasteful humor, but jesus christ. I cringed every time a line that was intended to be funny did absolutely nothing. Oh, and by the way, what movie brings Morgan Freeman in HALFWAY THROUGH? Jesus he must really be desperate for work these days. I think that was the joke that got the most laughs in the theater: an hour in when we think all of the characters have been introduced, and a legend like Morgan Freeman jumps on the screen. What the fuck?

Yeah so, that's all I have to say about that.

Fantastic (2.00 / 2) (#70)
by Chulmago on Wed Jun 22, 2005 at 01:17:28 AM EST

One of my favourite movies of all times. For a comic book fan, its great to see whats in your head actually come to life on the screen. Go see it !!!

Batman Begins is nothing compared to (none / 1) (#71)
by taste on Wed Jun 22, 2005 at 03:28:00 AM EST

what Joe Kreuger did to the entire Marvel universe. Get your Earth X today.

Jim, not Joe sorry. nt (none / 0) (#72)
by taste on Wed Jun 22, 2005 at 04:06:29 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Chris Nolan of Memento (2.00 / 3) (#76)
by frijolito on Fri Jun 24, 2005 at 01:27:28 PM EST

You know, Memento?

Not only did Nolan direct that memorable 2000 film, which boasts great performances by Pearce and Pantoliano, but he also co-wrote it with his brother, Jonathan. Plus, it's one of the few Carrie Moss movies that doesn't flat out suck.

I can only guess that the author of this piece failed to mention this fact because he is unaware of this film, which I'll admit is one of my favorites. However, when flipping yesterday through last Sunday's elPeriodico, I finally learned that the very same Nolan was the director of this new Batman flick... which definitely spurred my interest in the movie way more than any review I've read.

Yay, thanks! (none / 1) (#77)
by LodeRunner on Sat Jun 25, 2005 at 07:59:35 PM EST

I can only guess that the author of this piece failed to mention this fact because he is unaware of this film, which I'll admit is one of my favorites. You're right on the spot. I heard vaguely of this film when it came out, put it on my mental "to-do list" but then forgot about it. I'll definitely check it out now. Thanks for bringing it to my attention again.

---
"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

J.Depp career moves (none / 1) (#82)
by jago25 on Tue Jun 28, 2005 at 05:43:24 PM EST

American Psycho, Memento, Machinist, and now this. Very smart choices. I think this guy is going about things the right way of the J.Depp line of things

A True Redemption for the Dark Knight | 83 comments (63 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
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