Well, in the wake of Comicon the third and final entry in the Nolan Batman epic is almost upon us. I have to admit, I’m liking what I see about it a lot more than I did a couple of months ago. The underwhelming Bane info and footage that was coming out seemed horrible, and did not bode well. I still have my doubts, but he does seem a bit frightening in the trailers. Does he take the Venom drug and Hulk out? Still not sure. I’m still pretty “meh” about Hathaway as Catwoman, but it also doesn’t seem like they are doing more with the character than have her drive the Batcycle and throw a few kicks, so maybe the character doesn’t need to be great in this. Personally, to me anything is an improvement of the Burton Catwoman. Ok, ok, Michelle P is lovely. But c’mon (see Batman Returns below).
So since the late 80’s, several batfilms and batcartoons have come our way. How do I feel about them? Keep in mind, I grew up mostly a Marvel kid, but everybody digs Batman.
Batman – Tim Burtons first of an originally planned trilogy. That he “got” the grim noire of Batman was great. The tone inspired the incredible Batman: The Animated Series. At the time Nicholson’s Joker was iconic; certainly an improvement over Cesar Romero’s goofy loonster. But really, look back at it today and it is very dated. Everything so soundstagey. The great introduction of the Batwing, that gets ridiculously shot down by a handgun. Yeah, there are a few flaws, but it was so much better than:
Batman Returns – Oh man, I had a girlfriend at the time who convinced me this movie was great. We even went to a Halloween party and she was done up as the Poodle Trainer (with stuffed poodle – I was something non-Batman related but forget what). But in a few years I would look back on it and cringe. Talk about looking like it was all on a soundstage. And the villains were lame as hell. The dapper Penguin was turned into a drooling mutant who limped around the sewers in Doc Martins boots and long underwear with a shit stain that seemed to go all the way up to the back of his neck. The weirdest part was he somehow managed to have loyal followers, who themselves seemed quite clean as if they had never been in a sewer until 5 minutes ago. And the action was horrible. A bunch of poodle walkers and guys on stilts terrorize an entire downtown area with juggling torches and stun guns. If you ever wondered how Batman would fight a carnival fire breather, here is your answer. He incinerates them with the retro rockets of his Batmobile. Argh. OK, and also tell me how homeless circus clowns are able to break into the Batmobile and reprogram it in minutes? WTF? I hate this movie, but it was made up for in small part because these two Burton films lightly inspired…
Batman: The Animated Series – Did you ever see one of the really good episodes and realize it would make a great, non-Tim Burton live action movie? Yessir, Paul Dini really got Batman in a way no filmmaker ever would. The network (FOX) obviously told him it needed to be based on the Tim Burton movies. So Dini’s response was to set the action in constant night time, and to have citizens dress like it was the 1940’s. But he also dug deep into DC history and lore, and used his villains RIGHT. The series tried to focus on normal gangsters for a while, but soon they unleashed the super villains and there was no looking back. The single greatest episode had to be “Almost Got Him,” where Bats major villains gather at a bar and talk about how they almost killed him once. At the end Catwoman tried to hook up with him, but fails, uttering her own “Almost got him.” Another favorite of mine, a much later episode, featured Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn brainwashing Bruce Wayne into writing check after check for their downtown shopping spree, which includes the gals doing a “break the 4th wall” fashion show.
Batman Forever – OK, I liked this one. Only two things really bothered me. One, all the neon. Way too much neon. If you bought a hammer at the local hardware in Gotham, there would be neon on it. Kind of stupid. Also, Tommy Lee Jones already looks like he had acid thrown in his face. Two Face needed to be a handsome dude. Hello, Lando Calrissian? Anyway, I though Val Kilmer was a decent Bruce Wayne, and that Jim Carrey was a decent Riddler. I’d have hated to see what Tim Burton might have done with the Riddler. Probably would have had him killing people and making pies out of them.
Batman & Robin – ouch. Nuff said. Way too much to go into here. What you already think about it says all we need to know.
The Batman – this recent animated Batman was OK, but too many things turned me off. Putting Bruce Wayne in high school was weird. Also, The Joker was a bare footed, animalistic whirling dervish. He was much more like DC’s The Creeper character. Overall, pretty lame. I have friends who loved it though.
The Brave & The Bold – oh, yeah! You just cannot go wrong with old school homage’s. You’ll never see a third of the characters they show anywhere else. Anywhere. It’s like the makers pride themselves on dragging out third string DC guys from the 60’s, but it’s great! This is a pre-Neil Adams Batman who has long since gotten over his parents death and just fights for justice rather than revenge. He also cracks a smile once or twice. Nice.
The Nolan films – we know them, we love them. Like a lot of movies I feel they could easily cut 15 or 20 minutes out of them and not miss a beat, but whatever. Like a lot of people, the growly Batman voice is kind of annoying to me, but hey, Batman talks in a growly voice. Still, the Animated series from the 90’s managed a gruff Batman voice that didn’t sound like throat cancer.
So here we are with the third Nolan film. I probably won’t see it until my Sci Fi Academy screening which sometimes takes a few weeks. Have you seen it? What do you think?