Superhero Sundays: Batman
Welcome welcome to Superhero Sundays, where I discuss the good, the bad, and the awesome about various superhero franchises. This is something that I’ve been toying around with for a while, so let’s see how this goes shall we? Feel free to comment and what-have-you – I’m not the biggest comic reader, so I’m just looking at the movies as well as possible series. I know, I know, they’re not exactly film, but this is my blog so I do what I want. I thought I’d start off with Batman because he has always been my favorite hero: he’s mysterious, intelligent and really just an average guy with awesome resources. He’s a character caught in two worlds and torn by his past. He also had the craziest and most interesting villains. Okay, without further ado, let’s get down to some Batman.
The Good: Batman, Batman Returns, and the Nolan adaptations
I love the two Burton films and the Nolan movies because they are so starkly different but at the same time, well done and well developed. When Burton was addressed to direct Batman in 1989, production companies were apprehensive at first, because a) this would only be the young director’s third feature film, and b) he wanted Micheal Keaton, a comedian of all actors, to be Batman. Well, to me it looks like there wasn’t much to worry about. The construct of Gotham City and the Caped Crusader quickly departed from the campy 60’s technicolor dance party to a stylishly drab and dreary urban-goth drama, while still keeping familiar elements – i.e. Joker’s personality straight out of the comic books while his chaotic schemes remain terrifying. And Keaton did a good job at being Bruce Wayne, maybe he was a more awkward Batman, but he remained a dynamic, conflicted character. And I know some people would disagree with me about my stance on Batman, but it is what it is, and the 1980s were a time of much craziness and even more Prince.
Having earned his own liberties for the second movie, you can tell he had all the stops pulled out for Batman Returns (1992). There were actually three villains in this one: Catwoman, Penguin, and Max Shreck – the middleman. Though this many villains has proven messy before, I think this combo gave Batman a great run for his money. This after all was the film that expose Bruce Wayne’s double-identity to a world of new issues, as well as his place in Gotham.
To be honest though, I think my favorite aspect about this movie is the villains, especially Catwoman. As the audience we get enough time to see her side of the story and get into the mind of this severely damaged character. She is a vigilante turned antihero and we empathize with her journey. As a whole Batman Returns tells a strange and wonderful story of power, identity loss, love, revenge, and utter madness.
Now, Nolan’s movies on the other hand, I’m not going to go into as much detail about – which doesn’t make them any less important, it’s just I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said. I’ll make it brief: Batman Begins is an apt beginning to a gritty reboot with enough psychological turmoil in combination with action to keep all audiences hooked; The Dark Knight shattered Bruce’s beliefs and brought a new terror to Gotham; The Dark Knight Rises, though it wasn’t my favorite, still served as a great ending to the legend – Bruce was challenged by his people and then rose to protect them. Gritty, epic, real. That’s it.
The Bad: Damn you, Joel Schumacher.
Batman Forever and Batman and Robin have happily remained the horrid stain on a great franchise. At first Batman Forever seemed innocent enough, until you realize that you’re not in Vegas but Gotham City. And I really, really, wanted to like Jim Carrey’s Riddler. I truly did. But just the combination of his mugging, with Tommy Lee Jones’ embarrassing contribution (which also threw me off because Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams in the original), it’s just a hot mess. It was just a bizarre and messy turn from the previous two.
Then, of course, there was Batman and Robin. There’s no way I can cover everything that’s wrong because not only would that take too long, but also because I don’t think I could top Nostalgia Critic on this. I mean, if you really need a recap as to why this movie took Batman down a few pegs, look no further:
Sure these puns are so bad they’re awesome, but I’m not counting irony points. But as for something truly awesome, here we go.
The Awesome: The Animated Series
What makes Batman: The Animated Series so awesome? Well, how about everything for starters. The animation is gorgeous, as is the score, and the stories are amazing. The series only lasted 3 years, but it was enough time to encompass some incredible stuff. I know it also spawned a feature film, which I still have yet to see but I hope to eventually. It was a show fit for people of all ages and it still holds up today – thank you Hub and Toonami Aftermath. If you grew up watching this you had a great childhood. If you didn’t, you can still catch up. Life’s pretty sweet that way.
So this was my shot at Superhero Sundays – I hope you were entertained. Next Sunday, everyone’s favorite Kryptonian.