Can you believe that today is the day that Christopher Nolan's 'Dark Knight' trilogy turns 10 years old? I bet a bunch of you are starting to realize just how old you are now. I'll always remember the 'Batman Begins' film because it was really and truly, a revolutionary film for the superhero genre.
There are two reasons why I feel this movie will always remain a classic film and never be forgotten in the history of cinema. Let's start with the first one.
1. It Made Batman COOL Again
It's crazy to think that there was a time when Batman wasn't cool. Well, he's always been cool, but the movie versions of him haven't always been on par with what audiences and fans wanted. A generation before my own though, were accepting of the performances by Adam West's Batman series which went on to get its own film. But there's no way that we could have said that the Adam West was cool. Some hipsters and old farts might tell you that maybe we just understand how awesome West was in Batman and by all means, it was perfect for it's time, but there was no way it could hold up in modern theaters. Especially not with the Batman vs random shark scene while dangling from a helicopter.
We were satisfied, 26 years ago when Tim Burton's 1989 'Batman' came out. Michael Keaton did a good job but really, anyone who watched that movie, usually watched it for Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker.
But then the 1992 'Batman Returns' was released, also by Tim Burton. But didn't receive quite the same love that 'Batman' did just three years earlier. A lot of people said it was too dark, too weird, too Burton. Many of the complaints I here are usually in regards to how weird Danny Devito's portrayal of the Penguin was. The only highlights of 'Batman Returns' that many people talk about are Michael Keaton's Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman.
But no matter how divided some were over Tim Burton's second Batman film, thinks were obviously head south once Joel Schumacher jumped on board with his 1995 'Batman Forever' (that's been 20 years this year!). Now, I was five when that movie was released and I loved superheroes ever since then so I have a certain soft spot in my heart for the movie. It wasn't a "good film" but I enjoy still today for the nostalgic reasons. Although, some of the lines are bit cringe-worthy watching them now. But I don't think the film was totally flawed, Val Kilmer did a good job as Batman and Bruce Wayne, he wasn't Michael Keaton, but he didn't do bad.
All jokes aside, the cast was really what helped that movie do any kind of good. With Val Kilmer as Batman doing a good job, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian, and of course, the great performance by Jim Carrey as The Riddler.
The story was not too bad, it was a good 1990's blockbuster film when expectations were set to enormous heights like they are today. A movie like 'Batman Forever' would definitely not hold its own in today's blockbuster summer releases.
But no matter how nostalgic I feel for 'Batman Forever' since I was five-years-old when I first saw the movie, I don't feel the same way for 'Batman and Robin'. Initially, my seven-year-old self enjoyed it because, hey, it's Batman. But even rewatching it again as a kid, I still preferred 'Batman Forever' to its sequel. It was like a terrible fan-made film with the worst fan-cast anyone could have created. George Clooney as Batman? Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl? Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy? Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze? Bane was just a mindless monster who loyally obeyed the commands of Ivy? Did the people behind the scenes even understand these characters?
So, yeah, I think it's totally understandable that we had to wait almost ten years before seeing Batman on the big screen again. Even before we knew about 'Batman Begins', at the time it was being called 'Batman 5' by general audiences before anything else was known. No one really had any high hopes for the film. We weren't familiar with the awesome mind of Christopher Nolan and didn't know how lovingly he'd handle the story and its characters. Theaters around the world got to see how well balanced actor Christian Bale was between acting as both Bruce Wayne and Batman and also seeing great supporting actors like Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Michael Cain, and many more.
It was official in that year, that Batman, once again, was a cool character on-screen and everyone knew it. Everyone was talking about 'Batman Begins' and we all wanted more.
2. It Changed How Superheroes Are Perceived
Now, us comic book nerds knew that Batman was cool even in the Dark Knight's Hollywood 'Dark Ages' between 'Batman and Robin and 'Batman Begins'. Yeah, he was given a poor film treatment in the 1997 film but what came out of 'Batman Begins' was pretty close to historical for the superhero movie genre.
Many superheroes that exist in the comic book world are actually pretty awesome and almost all of them, up till 'Batman Begins', were looked at as silly and childish. Nobody took superheroes seriously because film-makers and producers weren't taking them as seriously as many comic book writers do.
Christopher Nolan showed the world that superheroes, although fun and entertaining to children on the surface, actually have very rich, deep, and sometimes dark stories underneath the mask and behind the cape.
Yes, there were years following 'Batman Begins' that yielded less-than-average superhero films such as 'Spider-Man 3', 'Fantastic Four 2', 'Superman Returns' and really a whole slew of others. But I remember reading how one of the brilliant men at Marvel Studios said they were inspired by 'Batman Begins' when they were first putting out 'Iron Man' in 2008. Now, that's paraphrasing of course, but perhaps if it weren't for films like 'Batman Begins', we might not have gotten great movies like 'Iron Man'.
Now, one might say that Marvel Studios would have put out everything they had whether 'Batman Begins' was around or not, and maybe they'd be right. But I think, before 'Batman Begins', the superhero movie genre was on the decline and wasn't ending on a high-note. I look at the 'Batman Begins' movie as sort of a last leg that helped the superhero movie franchise carry on and become way more successful than it ever was when it first began.
General audiences and fans now know that their superhero movies can be treated seriously, they can provide more than just a few cool-looking shots of superheroes using powers. These heroes mean something to the audiences now, these characters are alive in the hears and minds of both the young and the old.
It's still crazy to think about how old this movie already is and I think it'll never be forgotten no matter how successful superhero movies become in the future. This is a mile-stone movie for the genre and fans should be thankful that someone like Christopher Nolan gave us such a great gift in the form of superhero-media entertainment.