A Look Back at ‘Batman Begins’


If you’re Batman fan, this week is full of excitement and promise.  Friday sees the release of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated sequel to his 2005 blockbuster hit, Batman Begins.

I saw Batman Begins with Ron and when we both stumbled out of the theater, our eyes adjusting the lights of the lobby, Ron looked at me and simply said, “Wow, they nailed it.”  My stunned, open-mouthed silence was all the confirmation he needed.

I love Batman Begins.  It was the perfect tonic to years of bad Joel Schumacher-induced memories.  And as much as I loved Tim Burton’s Batman movies, they were still more Tim Burton than Batman.  Here, finally, was a filmmaker who got it.  Tee hee!  I was thrilled!

This week, in preparation for the official release of The Dark Knight, I watched Batman: Gotham Knight, the direct-to-DVD…well, it’s not a movie, it’s more a series of vignettes that take place – sort of – within the same continuity as the Nolan movies, and I rewatched Batman Begins.

So without further adeu:

THE TOP FIVE THINGS BATMAN BEGINS GOT RIGHT


1. Thomas Wayne.  Show of hands, who else wants this Thomas Wayne to be their dad?  In the past the most we’ve ever seen of Thomas Wayne has usually been a guy in a nice suit walking out of a theater and then getting shot.  We actually got full scenes with him!  And what scenes they were!  While it probably amounted to mere minutes of screen time, what little time there was was packed chock full of fantastic character moments.  We see now where Bruce gets his innate goodness.  Look, “Why do we fall?  So we can learn to pick ourselves up” is kind of hokey but when Thomas Wayne said it…I believed it.

2. Jim Gordon.  Oh, man.  Oooooooooooh man.  The one thing that has always irked me about the previous Batman films is that we have never truly seen James Gordon – the badass, one good cop on the force who almost single handedly reformed an entire police department almost entirely through force of his own considerable integrity and will.  That’s who Jim Gordon is in the comics, and that’s who we get in this movie.  While he’s isn’t quite the tough ex-Marine that appears in Batman: Year One, you can see he’s a good cop destined for greater things.  Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Jim Gordon might be my single favorite thing about the Christopher Nolan movies.

3. Gotham City.  Anton Furst won a posthumous Academy Award for designing the Gotham City that appeared in Tim Burton’s Batman and it’s a brilliant, creepy, Gothic concoction of shadows and gargoyles.  But, as pretty as it was, his Gotham City always felt and looked like a movie set.  In Batman Begins, Gotham is an actual city (It's Chicago with a bit of Hong Kong).  It feels like a real place that you could actually visit (not that you’d want to).  It wasn’t until seeing this film that I understood how rare a thing that was for Gotham City.  

4. Ras’ al Ghul.  I’ll admit it – they got me.  When it is revealed towards the end of Batman Begins that Liam Neeson was, in fact, Ra’s al Ghul I gasped along with the rest of the audience.  I think that I laughed after I gasped because in retrospect, it was so damned obvious – HE LOOKS ALMOST EXACTLY LIKE RA’S!  The brilliant thing that they did here with Ra’s – and I don’t know if this was intentional or not – was that they played with my expectations of comics-to-movie adaptations.  Of course the movie people would make Ra’s into an Asian man.  I took that casting choice at face value because that’s the kind of things comic book movie people did in the past.  And then they pulled the rug out from under me and it all made brilliant sense.  Sure, in terms of motivations and actions, he’s not exactly like the comic book Ra’s – but the essence of the character is totally there.

5. The Relationship Between Batman and Gordon.  This is such an important element to the Batman mythos and it has never been captured on film – until now.  Batman’s relationship with Gordon is as important as his relationship with Alfred, Robin, Nightwing, etc.  Batman Begins captured that grudging respect that defines their early days together.  Gordon sees that Batman is good for the city and respects him for doing what he does, but you can see that he is not entirely comfortable with a man dressed up like a bat running around Gotham.  No matter how much the city needs him.  Gordon is an honest man, a good cop and Batman needs an ally.  He recognizes one in Jim Gordon. 

THE TOP FIVE THINGS BATMAN BEGINS GOT…LESS RIGHT


1. Alfred Pennyworth.  It saddens me, but they’ve still never captured what I consider to be the quintessential Alfred Pennyworth on film.  Actually, in many ways the version of Alfred played by Michael Gough in the previous Batman films is much closer to the comic book version than the one portrayed here.  Look, this isn’t a slight against Michael Caine, who I love and is a living legend.  Nor is it really a slight on the character he plays in this film who is loveable and awesome and just not the Alfred Pennyworth I know.  We can call him Alfred Penceworth.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like Alfred Penceworth.  If Thomas Wayne can’t be my dad, I’d want Alfred Penceworth to be.


2. Rachel Dawes.  There’s not much more I can say here without it seeming like I’m dogpiling on with all the critics who wrote about Batman Begins when it came out.  For me I think that my biggest problem with Holmes' performance was that I never bought her as a tough Assistant District Attorney in a city like Gotham.  She just didn't exude the kind of hard edge that I think you'd have to have when you're an honest agent of the law in a city that corrupt. 
Rachel Dawes as played by Katie Holmes just didn’t work – on any level. 

3.  Ra’s al Ghul’s Plan for Gotham City.  It didn’t make much sense the first time I saw it, and it doesn’t now upon the latest viewing.  A microwave emitter that vaporizes all the water around it that was turned on on a boat…but didn’t affect the ocean or all the people on board with all the water in their bodies?  Wait, they say it's focused emitter but then when its used in the movie it vaporizes all the water all around it…except for the aforementioned ocean water and water in people's bodies…  But I don’t think it really matters.  There’s always a big, convoluted plan (that doesn’t quite make total sense) to destroy Gotham City.  That’s what the bad guys do, right?  Right?  Let’s move on…

4.  The Love Story.  There was not much chemistry between Bruce and Rachel, and I didn’t buy his great love for her.  Why?  I dunno.  See #2 for possible answers.  Beyond not for one second seeing any chemistry between Bruce and Rachel, this was yet another entry into the pantheon of Batman movies in which Bruce feels the need to reveal his identity to his love interest.  I believe I internally groaned when this one happened.  Why does this keep happening?  Maybe it will pay off in The Dark Knight

5. There is no #5.  Really, there's not.  This movie is straight-up fantastic.  If you've got a #5 I'd be fascinated to read about it in the comments below.



And there you have it.  I could have gone on and on with the first list, but five is such a nice number.  (Had I gone on and on #6 would have been Bruce Wayne, and #7 The Scarecrow).

Looking back on Batman Begins was quite a satisfying night at the DVD player.  It had been a while since I’ve sat down and watched it all the way through and I had a great time doing it.  I am now prepped and ready for the official premiere of The Dark Knight!

Comments

  1. Dan Dan says:

    I never thought about the microwave machine thing until you just pointed it out. I feel dumb – guess I was caught up in all the splosions, punchins and whatnots. Nevertheless, Batman Begins is in my DVD player for viewing tonight.

  2. ohcaroline ohcaroline says:

    The lawyer friend in the first movie should have been Harvey. 

    The love interest should have not existed.  But I guess you can’t make a movie like that. 

  3. brandmed brandmed says:

    The microwave emitter and Rachel Dawes are the two things that bug me most about this movie.  I also still don’t particularly care for the overwhelming need to explain how everything Batman uses was built for "real world" stuff.  I hope "The Dark Knight" gets away from that a little.  We get the point now. 

  4. Superyan Superyan says:

    I’m seeing it tonight for an advance screening!!!!

  5. Superyan Superyan says:

    I too watched Batman Begins last night in preparation for watching TDK tonight and I love BB!  My top 5 would have included the Scarecrow/ Fear Toxin.  I loved how he was used and how the fear toxin was shown.  When Batman finally catches up to Crane and uses it against him like in The Long Halloween, that moment when we see how the Scarecrow views Batman is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!  Everytime that part comes on I’m just in awe!  I’m looking forward to possibly seeing Crane return in TDK if the rumors are true.

  6. goman goman says:

    Great list. I’m right there with you on the dislike of Ra’s zany scheme to destroy Gotham. There had to be an easier way to take out, but you know villains, they always have to take the path of most resistance. I would add that number 5 on less right list would be the part in the chase sequence when Batman turns off the lights on the Tumbler, and suddenly the cops can’t see him. What!?! That whole chase was well done, but still kind of pointless.

  7. #5 – Things They Got Wrong.

    I don’t know if it’s "wrong" but I really disliked the scenes with Gordon in the batmobile. Something about the editing seemed really off. And did we really need to see the black guy say "Nice Ride"? Kind of stereotypical don’t you think? 

    I actually didn’t mind Katie Holmes and the love story. The role is actually really well written and helps define Bruce’s understanding of Justice. But I thought her nipples were unnecesarily poky at the end. Kind of distracting.

  8. Kory Kory says:

    @Conor-It may have not been the interpretation of Alfred you preferred but I felt worked.  It established Alfred as a surrogate father and would explain why he did’nt call the looney bin when Bruce said he was gonna dress like a bat and fight crime.

    I have a feeling the microwave emitter was David Goyer’s idea judging by his past movies.

    My one nitpick that nobodies metioned is in the movie Bruce disappeared for 7 years and was presumed dead.  Now Bruce is a bllionaire playboy so he is somewhat of a celebrity in Gotham…why did’nt anyone ask him what he was doing for 7 years? Would’nt anyone be suspicious?

  9. Kory Kory says:

    Forgot one thing.  I did’nt mind the Tumbler, but I prefer a batmobile that is a souped up car.

  10. Kimbo Kimbo says:

    great article Coner.  When the microwave emitter is used on the sub it busts the water out of the pipes and then they cut away so we don’t really get to see how it effects the ocean water but I hadn’t thought about the water in our bodies, good point.  I was a little disappointed in choosing Michael Cain for Alfred too but in the gazillion times I’ve seen BB since, I can’t think of another actor to have nailed it so well for Nolan’s vision.  And I always saw his affection for Rachel as more of an affinity or longing for his childhood moreso than a passion for her.  She represents the good times before it all went to hell in my opinion, plus she was his first crush, those are hard to get over.  Even if they grow up into Katie Holmes and are annoying as hell.

  11. scott scott says:

    I liked this, but not nearly as much as you. 

    Here’s a possible #5 for "things that don’t quite work," we see how Bruce Wayne gets every $#%^ thing in order to become Batman.  I just didn’t care.  Here’s him getting the Bat Cave, here’s him getting the Bat Suit, but in the end it just becomes irritating.  Other superhero films can sum up people discovering their powers and going into action much quicker.  Spiderman crawls a wall and then enters a wrestling match, almost minutes later he’s confronting who killed his uncle.  Ironman’s cave of sorts is already done and he quickly builds a suit.  If you read the comics or are well informed about your Batman history you knew how he became what he is and you just wanted to see him protect Gotham.

    If you think I’m wrong on this, examine Nolan’s handling of this movie.  THere’s no Joker backstory and they just wanted to jump into the battle.  I’m a huge Joker fan, so perhaps I’m biased.

    Here’s a possible #6.  There was no fun in this entire movie and it took itself too seriously.  Batman always had a sense of adventure and fun.  Usually it depended on the villians, but the writing always reflected humor.  This film did not.

    Burton’s film was more Burton, but it combined the dark with a sense of fun and playfulness which Batman has always had since Kane created him.

     Here’s a possible #7.  The training sequence of Batman became too annoying.  "Conquer your fear, your fear must be conquered, your fear holds you back so conquer…!"  I don’t care!  Shut up, Mojo Monkey.  I know this is a necessary evil in most movies, but am amazed that sometimes it works brilliantly and other times it blows up to laughable moments.  For every "With great power come great responsibility," there are a ton of groan cliches we must endure. 

    I agree with you about Alfred.  I disagree with you about the water supply.  I thought this was brilliant, and cancels out one of my earlier points.  The Batman villians often want to destroy Gotham, and often have plans like poisoning the water supply.  Usually, the 60s show for example, it takes a quick visit to a sign that reads "Gotham Water Supply" and dropping a vile that reads "Poison."  Here, the plan, while contradictory and a tad unbelievable, seemed much cooler and developed.  You have to accept the villian is going to do a crazy scheme, but here’s where I want to see the how aspect no matter how silly.

    Things that worked that you forgot…

    Tom Wilkinson as a gangster.  He played it pitch perfect.

    The fight sequences with Batman taking his enemies into the shadows and attacking.

     The use of bats.

    Things that make me and my comedian friends giggle…

    Bruce explains to Alfred that he should entertain his guests while he is away, and Alfred agrees.  How does Alfred entertain the guests?  We improvised Alfred’s stand-up comedy bits.

  12. Good list.  I would have probably moved Rs’s to the "less right column" because it seemed like his dialogue consisted of stuff read directly from fortune cookies.  Also, I wish the costume was a little less "busy" and had a more distinguished chest logo, but that’s a very minor quibble.

    Am I the only one who thought that Holmes was okay as Dawes?  I like Maggie but I find her hard to look at.

  13. Kory Kory says:

    Even with it’s minor flaws I still feel this is the best comic movie yet.  And yes I’ve seen Iron Man…still does’nt top this.  But my argument is moot after July 18th.

  14. The big five all-time comic movies: 

    The Dark Knight

    Iron Man

    Spider-Man 2

    X2: X-Men United

    ?

  15. Oops forgot to put Batman Begins and they’re not listed in any particular order.

  16. Neb Neb says:

    I love the role that fear plays in this movie. 

    "Why bats Mr. Wayne?"

    "Because I fear them.  My fear becomes my enemies."

    That’s just about the most awesome part of the movie.  My hope for TDK is that they do something along these lines as well because it gives the story so much more depth and amazingness.

    I’m super pumped for TDK. 

  17. BrianBaer BrianBaer says:

    Here’s a number five: The dialogue.

  18. comicdork37 comicdork37 says:

    #5 the new Batmobile. Practical and more realistic but just didn’t like the look of it compared to the classic. 

  19. hbkhumanity hbkhumanity says:

    I didn’t mind Katie Holmes, I think she did a decent job and I would have like to see her come back for the follow up.  The only things that kind of bothered me was Bale’s voice as Batman, I get was he was doing, but sometimes it was too much, I would have laughed in his face if I was hanging upside down in the rain.  His mask also looks weird to me, it looks swollen, but other than that the movie is fantastic.

  20. Paradiddle Paradiddle says:

    I just can’t believe the phenomenal cast they assembled for BB. Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, AND Morgan Freeman? Not to mention Rutger Hauer…

     

  21. Tad Tad says:

    @ scott

     I think it was VERY important that we saw the construction of Batman in the Batman Begins.  Tim Burton looked at the bizarre elements of Batman and created a look and a tone where those creations fit.  Batman Begins set out to do the more difficult thing (not better, just different).   It takes the conceits and attempts to make them work in our world.  Sure there’s still fantasy and caricature in the execution but not taking anything forgranted helped build the tone of the movie.  The whole hand me down vibe of acquiring the equipment made more sense than Wayne comic up with the idea of needing a car or fabric that stiffens with electricity out of the blue.  The first six minutes of The Dark Knight (officially online at Comic Book Resources and other sites)shows that it’s  really locking this tone in.  It could have been a sequence out of the Bourne Supremacy.  

  22. Paradiddle Paradiddle says:

    AND….I forgot to mention Tom Wilkinson and Cilian Murphy! There’s just too many damn good actors for one movie!

  23. Timmy Wood TimmyWood (@TimmyWood) says:

    Things they got wrong
    5) The Batmobile- I am just not a fan of it.

    Everything else I loved.

  24. Batman Begins is still the #1 superhero flick in my mind (at the moment). I take the end fight over Iron man’s end fight any day. I still think Iron Man is one of the greatest superhero flicks. I just think that end fight was a huge let down considering the build up to that point. At least in Begins, Gordon help is essential in taking out the train. This was a significant moment in showing that Gordon was the hero just as much as the title character in the movie. Something you rarely see in superhero flicks… or rarely see done well.

  25. Tork Tork says:

    I actually like Ras’ motivations more here than in the comics.  It just made more sense to me for him to be a man pursuing his own sense of warped justice like Bruce than a eco-terrorist.  You already have an eco-terrorist in the rogues gallery with Ivy and the Nolan motivation just completes the Ra’s-as-evil-father-figure dynamic more so than him as an immortal Al Gore. 

  26. Ryan Haupt Haupt (@haupt) says:

    @Conor – I gotta call you out man. Your Alfred analysis didn’t really say why you didn’t like Michael Cain’s performance or even why it didn’t work for you, just that he’s different in the comics and you still love Michael Cain.

    That microwave thing bugged the hell out me the first time I saw the movie.

    And to momentarily channel Darrel, the batmobile was awesome, quit hating on the batmobile. A sports car wouldn’t be practical for Batman, a fast tank makes much more sense. 

  27. Tork Tork says:

    Yeah, the Tumbler was fantastic.

     Here’s a #5 complaint: how Ra’s was "Rahz" and not "Raysh" like Denny O’Neil has stated.  It’s a small one and a big one at the same time: when you mispronounce your primary antagonist’s name, it’s a problem.

  28. Ryan Haupt Haupt (@haupt) says:

    @ Tork – I read somewhere that Rahz was the original pronunciation and that the cartoon just warped our thinking as children to the wrong way of saying it. But that’s all apocryphal.

  29. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @Haupt – That’s exactly it.  He’s not the comic book Alfred.  But I love him anyway.

  30. @scot  You’re damn right about Tom Wilkinson. I’m really glad they didn’t do the Italian mobster shtick from the comics. Italian mobsters have become so played out. I’m glad they went retro and had a more Chicago style Irish mobster feel.

  31. THEHOCHE THEHOCHE says:

    @Tork I agree with you, I think that Ra’s name MUST be the most mispronounced name in all of coimc book.

     I’m gonna go on record as LOVING the batmobile, and really not enjoying Katie Holmes at all….I really look forward to seeing Maggie G. step in to that role.

     How many of the NYC ifanbase will be at the 12:30AM showing at the AMC 25 in times square??

  32. Tork Tork says:

    Well, Denny O’Neil, the creator of Ra’s al Ghul, wrote the script for the two-parter that introduced Ra’s al Ghul so if the cartoon were to mispronounce it, he’d be there to correct it.  Plus, even in all the vignettes for Batman Begins, O’Neil calls him "Raysh".

  33. Tork Tork says:

    Of course the above commet was directed towards Haupt

  34. Ryan Haupt Haupt (@haupt) says:

    Ok, the arabic characters kinda screwed up my post. Check the wikipedia page for the arabic writing of Ra’s’ name.

     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ra's_al_Ghul

    Here’s is what the screwed up portion of my comment said:

    The first character is the "ra" sound, the second character indicates that it’s pronounced with a soft ‘a’ (as in ram or ran) and the final character of the first word is for the ‘s’ sound, not the ‘sh’ sound which is a different character.

     Denny O’Neil must not have done his Arabic homework.

    @ifanboys – feel free to delete my screwed up post directly above this. 

  35. Brandino says:

    I do think it is interesting we find out more about Martha Wayne in a mock-TV special than we do in the first movie. Since we never really had an in-depth look into his parents ( well, I guess there was some pre-crisis stuff) it never bothered me, but seems like more emphasis was put on the Dad. I dont know if the Bruce Wayne TV special is "in continuity" but is seems like having a mom, who despite here wealth ,worked with and cared for under-privileged kids would have had an impact on Bruce becoming Batman.

      

  36. scott scott says:

    @Tad.  Batman is one of the rare heroes that I love and am have read tons of.  What seperates him are a) the best villians (the Joker is arguably the best villian created) b) the fact that he is an ordinary man with no super powers c) that his creation is barely explained.  He witnesses the death of his parents and he is then thrust into the role of the Batman.  Kane and several writers never really touched on his backstory.  Most first issues and movies feature the hero gaining their power and then using it.  Batman’s first issue was solving a mystery and there was no real mention of how he came to be, which could explain why I like him so much.

    How many issues or T.V. episodes did we watch where his utility belt get him out of a jam.  After awhile the willingness suspension of disbelief took over and I became engrossed by his adventures.

     We all know the hero is going to win.  How he got there is not important.  How he is going to win is where the joy comes from.  I don’t mind watching Batman be trained, however, I don’t need to see how he got everything else.  This is the one hero who needs mystery, he fights crime in the shadows and at night.  Keep somethings a mystery from us.

    Here’s the thrust of my MAIN ARGUMENT.  People often cite X-Men II, Spiderman II, (old) Superman II, Hulk with Edward Norton (not sure if it’s a two, but it’s better than the first), and several other IIs as the best in most franchises.  My guess is Dark Knight will be better and Iron Man II probably will as well.  WHY?!  Because all of the ORIGIN CRAP IS FINISHED!  Our heroes now are ready to battle and the stories don’t waste time on the why or how.  And most people want to see new characters or VILLIANS.  The villians are the most talked about and revered. 

    Superheroes by their very nature are boring, their origins even more so.  It’s the villians that command our attention.  Everybody says how they want to be James Bond, but I’d prefer to be or hang-out with James Bond’s enemies.  Conor, keep Father Wayne.

    @ Dr. Collosus Tom Wilkinson proves that strong actors in bit roles can really make a movie.  Anybody can play a tough mobster.  This role needed an actor who was Gotham’s G-dfather and Wilkinson did great in it. 

  37. Eyun Eyun says:

    Having seen BB countless times now, I think the decision to explain why and how he becomes Batman, gets the skills/suit/car is perfect. Because, despite the title, I really think of BB as Bruce Wayne’s film. TDK looks to me like Nolan’s first proper Batman movie. 

    The sequence where Batman takes out the thugs at the docks is, in my opinion, the single greatest Batman moment ever filmed. For the first time on screen, Batman was scary. He should be scary.

    The quick-cutting fighting style, which has had a lot of complaints (I don’t mean here), really worked for me. Nolan said it was meant to be as if from the thugs point of view; just confusion and a ‘what the hell?’ feeling.  Plus it would’ve ruined that awesome "I’m Batman" reveal to show too much.

    LOVE the Tumbler. It makes sense, it’s practical, it’s explainable, and to me it still has that ‘wow’ factor that a Batmobile should have. And I love that they did the chase for real, not in a studio.

    Cillian Murphy is one creepy son of a bitch, and that’s BEFORE he’s Scarecrow. I can see Conor’s point about Alfred, but for me personally this characterisation made more sense. Tom Wilinson owns in every role he plays. Linus Roache should be in more films, as proved here (I loved what you said about now we understand why Bruce is who he is).

    My only gripes: Katie Holmes… meh! To be fair to her I don’t think it’s a great role, but I understand that the childhood connection and redemption themes it provided so I suppose the character served a purpose. Still, how can you take an Assistant DA seriously when they look 12? And, I might be stepping on the edges of blasphemy here, but did anyone else think Liam Neeson kind of phoned his performance in? Great, great actor, but he just didn’t seem like he was into it.

    Apart from that I love this movie. I want to marry this movie, and then cheat on it with The Dark Knight behind it’s back! And the score! Oh wow, the score was phenomenal. Zimmer and Newton Howard? Talk about a powerhouse duo.

    As a last thought (jeez, I’m rambling here), I thought Nolan was really smart by not having Joker, Penguin, Riddler or any other villain well known to non-comic folk in BB. He was testing the water, seeing what he could do and how people would react. Plus, as it was Bruce’s movie, having less obvious villains (again, to non-comic peeps) put the focus fully on Bruce. Now he’s seen how much people liked the film, it was a success, and he’s got an established world to play with. Warners have given him a bigger sandbox for TDK, so now he can start bringing in the big hitters. That Nolan’s a smart fella! 

  38. daccampo daccampo says:

    @ scott — completely disagree with you about the nature of origins. The origin is the STRONGEST part of the super-hero mythos. I believe that we tend to forget this as we grow older because we know it so WELL, and because it’s so often copied and/or parodied. The origin and the "concept" of characters like Batman and Superman are what elevate them to iconic status. Sure, after that it’s up to the writers to come up with new and interesting stories, and that’s invariably why so much focus is placed on the villains. You know Batman and what he’s gonna do. It becomes the villain’s tale from there.

    As adults, the origins stories seem less important, but if you’ve ever taken a kid to see their first super-hero movie, you can watche them as they "get it." Also: think about movies like the Matrix. That’s also a super-hero origin movie, and it also shows you step by step as Neo learns about the world, learns to use his powers, learns his destiny. It’s not really all that different. It was just new because no generation had seen it before.

    Lastly: I beg to differ on the "time" taken for Batman vs. other movies mentioned. Half of Iron Man was about Tony Stark building and then refining the suit. It actually lines up pretty well with Batman Begins. I think Iron Man hit the beats just a bit more naturally, but they’re all there. It’s a part of the hero’s creation. 

     

     

     

  39. scott scott says:

    @daccampo…you raise some valid points that I cannot completely argue with.  I bow to you in forming a strong argument.

    However, I think the fact remains that what many believe to be the best films are not origin films but the films that happen after.  It doesn’t even have to be a superhero movie.  Empire Strikes Back is beloved much more than Star Wars, Godfather 2 is comparable to being as loved as by Godfather 2, Aliens is better than Alien, and the list is endless.  There are exceptions, Matrix is a perfect one, but for the most part we want to see what happens next.  

    Our innerchild gets giddy when we see our heroes become heroes, but it’s what they do with their power and how they deal with their enemies and the world around them that makes people satisfied. 

    I have taken and witnessed children appreciating Spiderman climbing on the wall, Iron Man testing his suit and getting sprayed with an extinguisher, Neo’s training and realizing he is the one, but the moment that stays with most is that first battle with the Goblin, Agent Smith, or Tobias.  Also, children do not think hierarchal when recalling.  All parts are cool, but the one that speaks the most is when they can play Batman vs. Joker with their friends outside.

    I liken it to this, how often do we love villians (in super hero movies and in all others–horror for example) that cannot be explained and just appears?  More often than not, this is the case.  Any psycho killer or scary monster that just appears and wreak havoc is almost better UNEXPLAINED.  When the monster is villian is explained, we often complain how silly, lame, or unbelievable it is.  How many people were disappointed by seeing how Vader was created.  So if we can accept that we like our villians with a hint of mystery, why can we not expect the same of the Batman and our heroes?

    And if you assume your audience wants to see Batman developed, why not show the Joker and Scarecrow’s backstory?  Why would Nolan choose not to?  We saw how the Goblin, Doc Oc, Magneto, Tobias, and others come to be quickly and efficiently which worked wonders.  Why not do the same with the Scarecrow, Ra, or Joker?  Probably, because he recognizes it’s not vital to the story like the CONFLICT. 

  40. flaggthecat flaggthecat says:

    @scott: I would imagine the quality of the storytelling has most to do with whether people like the origin story of a villain.  Godfather II is fantastically acted and directed, and so its young Vito enriches the already-seen old Vito.  On the other hand, the Star Wars prequels are poorly acted and have atrocious directing, and as a result, people were disappointed.

    Also, it’s possible that Nolan didn’t feel the need to show Joker’s origin story because it was done in Tim Burton’s Batman, and he wanted something fresh.  At any rate, none of us have seen the movie, so it’s at least possible that it would in fact be improved by an origin story.

    In general, I disagree with your statement that monsters are better unexplained; of course, you actually said that it’s "almost better" that way, but I wonder why you said "almost".  I’d say that the random appearance of an evil entity isn’t necessarily boring, but it’s automatically more interesting if there’s a well-told origin story.  It allows for complex emotion within the story, and the audience’s relationship with the monster can be much deeper  if the monster is put in context, if we know how such a monster can come to be.  People are probably most scared of monsters that they fear are possible within themselves. 

  41. Kory Kory says:

    @BrianBaer- You want bad dialogue watch Spider-man 2

    @ultimatehoratio- I thought Spider-man 2 was awful

    Can you tell I disliked that movie?

  42. scott scott says:

    @flagthecat.  You raise some interesting points.  However, from a storytelling point-of-view as a writer and audience member, it’s tougher for a hero to deal with a monster or villian that is unexplained and whose motives are unclear.  That causes much more dramatic tension and a larger climax.  It’s harder to fight something we don’t understand.  If you know someone’s motives and goals, or their origins, then a solution is much easier and less exciting. 

    Critics of The Dark Knight say this Joker is truly terrifying, because all he believes is watching the world blow-up and is brings anarchy and raises chaos.  It’s a bolder and bigger evil to face off with when we cannot understand why.

    Quickly list some of your favorite villians in whatever form, and then think about why they are so.  The villians we are most drawn to are ones we cannot understand, because human psychology clearly shows that we FEAR THE UNKNOWN THE MOST! Another way of looking at it, "that which we cannot understand scares us the most." 

    Another way of framing my argument is think of the scariest and most exciting moments, it’s usually when something unexpected happens and that is a manifestation of the unknown.  Hitchcock explains that scary moments come from the unexpected, a bomb going off suddenly, and suspense comes from knowing a bomb is going to go off and what happens with that expectation. 

    Alfred Hitchock: The more successful the villian, the more successful the picture. 

    We want our villians scary and memorable, and the stronger that is, the more thrilling the hero’s win is.

    Dealing with inner demons is very scary, but we can control them because we can grasp them.  Plus dramatically, they are a tougher sell from a writer’s point-of-view.  Internal conflict is tougher to present well than external conflict.  It’s the monster, the alien, the disease (how often do we hear about how much we hate a specific disease because it attacks without warning, name, or face?!), the killer that appears that scares us the most.

    Part of Batman’s allure is rooted in some of these same points, and while Nolan’s film is very good, I felt he bludgeoned me to death with all the tiniest of details.

    Also, I prfer my Batmobile skinny if for no other reason than what happens if villians go down an alley that monster truck cannot get to?!

  43. I thought Begins was a fantastic film, and it made me remember how great a character Batman can be. Although it is an origin film, it isnt too bogged down on long, drawn out biographies by the characters. Other then Bruce (and maybe Rachel) we just introduce the characters and we just go along with the plot.

    Positives:
    1) The origin of Batman was spot on, mixing a asian influcence with a good adaptation of Year One. Makes us bring Batman and Ra closer together then the comics and gives us a nice dramatic payoff when we learn of Ra’s true idenity.
    2) Villians. I mean all of them, from the biggest ones to the minor ones. Tom Wilkenson was just perfect in his role and same goes for Murphy’s protrayal as Scarecrow. Although it is a bit goofy that Crane’s diguise is just a sack over his head…Anyway we top it off with a great, realistic look at Ra Al Ghul and sorta makes us feel for the guy.
    3) Acting. Perfect, I mean perfect, acting in this film. Everything is taking seriously, unlike the Burton/he who will not be named films, which felt too comic book like. Whether it’s Freeman as Lucius (a character a long forgot), Oldman as a perfect protrayal as Gordon, and Bale as a great Bruce Wayne.

    Negatives:
    1) Batmobile is just too powerful. Okay it does look cool, but it looks like something from the movie Stripes and is just too impractical. Maybe in the next film he’ll realize a car as big as a tank is not enough stealthy or practical for chases and investagating.
    2) Nitpick but….I hate Bale’s gravelly voice as Batman. It sounds too forced or feels like he smoked 3 packs of cigs before he went on stage. I know he’s trying to hide his real voice, but this is too ridiculous.

    Overall it was a great film, although I didnt love it at first….But after watching it over again a couple of times I’ve grown to really love it. I have no worry’s (now) that the sequel will be a disappointment. It’s going to kick major ass.

  44. The Ra’s Al Guhl thing got me too. I remember the first time I saw the movie and they "killed him" near the beginning. And I thought "What?! NO! Such wasted potential." but when the big reveal came…I was rocked.

     With Alfred…I know what you mean, but it doesn’t bother me for whatever reason. I’d love to one day see a REAL alfred on screen, but I’m okay with what we got. 

  45. FACE FACE says:

    Negatives: 

    (1) I know I’m gonna get lynched for this, but.. Christian Bale sucks as Bruce Wayne and it’s not just his gravelly voice. In all the iterations of Bruce Wayne I’ve encountered Bruce has always seemed much more charismatic (like Tony Stark if you will). He’s the kind of guy you just can’t help but like. So when Bale just does ‘his’ thing I’m left wanting. The guy can’t even look like he’s having fun with a pair of hot models. How hard is that?

    (2) Ra’s Al Ghul was just Qui Gon Jinn. You hate him so much in Episode 1 but you love him here. Shenanigans!

    (3) They had one guy with a shovel cleaning up the remains of Wayne manor. That’s a silly nitpick, but funny nonetheless.

    Positive:

    (1) Thomas Crayne f’n ruled! I was never even interested in seeing BB until I caught a scene with the Scarecrow on someone else’s tv. Too bad they had to tie him to Ra’s Al Ghul when they could have just focused on him as the main villain.    

    ——————————————————————————–

    Admittedly, my biggest attraction to The Dark Knight is Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. Whether you accept it or not, it’s going to be the reason this movie outsells Iron Man. It’s crazy that Ledger died with this as his last role. My prediction is that his performance will actually garner acclaimed award nominations throughout award season. At the very least he’ll receive an MTV movie award. Everybody here will freak out and once again assume that people will start flooding our LCS because they’ll realize how great comics are. They won’t. Then, of course, we’ll wonder why they didn’t.

  46. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @FACE – I loved Neeson in PHANTOM MENACE, so…

  47. FACE FACE says:

    @conor – unfortunately that comment came off as though it were only directed at you. not necessarily my intention. i’ve never heard you guys say anything positive about Episode 1. this is uncharted territory here. I rescind my shenanigans

  48. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @FACE – It’s true we haven’t said much in the way of positive things about PHANTOM MENACE, but then we haven’t ever really discussed it in depth (in public, anyway).  :-)   No worries.

  49. FACE FACE says:

    @conor – i’m suprised you’re not responding to what i’ve said about Bale’s performance. am i missing something there? i realize Bruce Wayne is hard-edge (much more so when he adorns the cowel and cape), but isn’t he supposed to be a more appealing character?

  50. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @FACE – I love Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne, he’s funny and charming.

  51. FACE FACE says:

    @conor – funny AND charming you say? i hope to see that more so in the new film. my friend says i gotta see The Prestige, as it’s one of Bale’s best roles. could help. just arrived from Netflix today.

  52. gene gene says:

    This is way off topic. I just saw the new Terminator teaser and it didn’t suck.

    http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1810025211/video/8841482

  53. Dom Dom says:

    I know this is off topic, yet also related, but I just saw The Dark Knight. We got lucky at work. It came in early. I can’t wait to here the "Special Edition Podcast" for The Dark Knight. Also, The Watchmen trailer was pretty great. 

    The End