With the coming of the new Batman Versus Superman Dawn of Justice movie, I thought that a review of all Batmans was required. Note that I do not go into animated series here, because then Kevin Conroy would have no comparison, not to mention that the 1992-1995 series is far better than any movie that has come so far, including the Dark Knight Trilogy. After closely watching all of the Batman live action movies in one go(believe me, I have a very sad life), I came to one main conclusion: Bale and the Dark Knight Trilogy is the best Batman portrayal on screen. Now, I can see a lot of fan boys of Michael Keaton rising up with pitchforks and tar, but I will elaborate on this the best I can. As for the Val Kilmer fan boys, tough luck. The Clooney film fans, please stay 10 km away from me at all times, especially when you are wearing leather. Now then, on to the show:
1) Bale portrayed the most realistic Batman:
The Batman story, I think, is more about the man than about the hero. Older comics tend to keep Batman grounded in reality, an orphan with a thirst for vengeance and a large bank account who travels the world learning different styles of martial arts to come back to Gotham and defeat the city's criminals. All of the Batman major villains with the notable exceptions of Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy are heavily grounded in reality. The Joker(psychopath with possible schizophrenia), Penguin(mob boss), Court of Owls(murderers with training and cloning), Scarecrow(fear toxin), Two Face(multiple personality disorder), Ras Al Gul(vigilante) and even the Mad Hatter(psychedelic drugs and god complex). These are the archetypal Batman villains, not the ones in crossovers and Justice League. Therefore the portrayal in the movies was in keeping with the spirit of Batman. Nolan created a Batman that was not superpowered or had unbelievable gadgets. He created the man first in Batman Begins, showed us that he was fallible, arrogant sometimes, yet he won through because he knew how to handle these people. The previous movies wshowed a Batman that was a) Able to navigate while free falling from space(Clooney) b) could not beat a bunch of Penguins in Gotham(Keaton) c) told his identity to a beautiful woman he just met or kept it so insecure that everybody finds out(here both Keaton and Kilmer are guilty, as well as Clooney in the way the Batgirl finds out). I personally didn't like the Keaton Batman for the way he waves his cape to scare people, nice but overdone I think. Also, Bale's Batman stands out for the way his character grows throughout the series, his relationships with Gordon, Robin(in the last film), Alfred and Fox to name a few. The only flaw here I see with Bale was that his Batman voice was a little bit overdone according to most fans though I liked it. Adam West's Batman was a bit too campy and overdone to merit any serious discussion though some fans find it enjoyable. Oh, and leather nipples? Sorry Clooney, not good at all. Nor was the way Batman couldn't find a cure to Ivy's toxin even by the end of the movie.
2) The villains were far more grounded and believable:
Most of the villains of the earlier Batman series were, in one word, horrible. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze was one of the worst castings ever done. Poison Ivy in the same movie seemed like some ditzy blonde rather than the femme fatale we expect. Penguin in Batman Returns was far more better but a little too much focus on the name rather than the character was done which made him seem comical at times. Harvey Dent in Batman Forever seemed more of a crazy nutcase instead of a real split personality gone haywire and seemed a trivial villain compared to the one we see in the Dark Knight, the fall from being the hero to becoming the villain. Tommy Lee Jones was a good choice but he ultimately I guess had bad lines and even worse direction. I personally love Jim Carrey but Riddler is one who deals with riddles and is intelligent to a fault. The making of some mind reading device seemed too much of a cop out rather than a utilization of that brilliant mind. I expected Riddler to be more like the one portrayed by Cory Michael Smith in the recent Gotham. Morbidly fascinating and always over the precipice to becoming an overly intelligent villain. Jack Nicholson's joker is the only contender when it comes to good villains, but again, the portrayal by Heath Ledger takes the prize. While the Nicholson joker and his origin story stays true to the comics, the Ledger joker is better because he was more of a criminal mastermind, a man who calculated all of the possibilities. Not to mention had better lines. Compare: "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?" to "Oh, you. You just couldnÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂt let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, arenÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂt you? Huh? You wonÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂt kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I wonÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂt kill you because youÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂre just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever." Throughout the Dark Knight, there is this pervading sense of helplessness in Gotham due to the Joker. A criminal we can't see, who could have any pawn in his plan, who could strike anywhere. Bane was also no comparison, the Bane in Batman And Robin was a bumbling oaf with brute strength compared to the masterful martial arts expert and criminal genius that was Bane in the Dark Knight Rises.
3) Gadgets and the Bat vehicles were far too weird in the other Batman series:
Batman does have a collection of great gadgets to use. But in the previous Batman films, most of the gadgets were like easy escapes in bad situations. Can't blow up something? Use a Batarang with a bomb attached. Can't escape? Use a laser device. Also, I really didn't see the point of Bruce Wayne using normal vehicles like a power boat or a small airplane and the only difference being that his would be 'BATIFIED'. Most of the early incarnations of the Batmobile looked like they had a jet engine attached to the back which was also unbelievably dumb as to the power source and the maneuverability of such a craft. Oh and Adam West's Batmobile was like the nirvana of superheroes in trouble. Interesting but ultimately too fake. The Humvee design may have looked ugly but kinda made sense.
4) No main character that you care about enough dies:
I don't know whether to classify this as good or bad. But nobody important dies in any of the Batman films.The death of Nora in Batman and Robin was kinda tragic and sad, until they make her out to be not dead again. Similarly, the death of Catwoman in Batman Returns was something that might have made the movie epic but again she is shown to be alive at the point where the bat signal is turned on.
Alfred feeling a little blue? Don't worry, Mr Freeze already invented the cure. Again something that could have improved that horrible movie, but nooo, we'll just hope Clooney can win us some money. Penguin's death was a bit sad which is why I would rate that movie better than most in this regard. Bruce's parent's deaths are also something that should make us feel, but apart from Batman, noone decides to use this moment and even there it is the briefest of flashbacks. Compare all these to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Rachel's death hits us hard, as does Harvey's fall and Bruce's parent's shooting. Here the t.v series Gotham deserves an important mention as it has topped it. If the Dark Knight Rises had killed off Batman properly, it would be an even greater movie than it is today.
5) Far better stories and supporting character development:
No Batman film series has developed the rest of the cast more than the Dark Knight trilogy. Alfred, Rachel, Lucius, Gordon all are very well written and developed. 3 movies probably does give it an unfair advantage here though. Alfred is well developed, but the women in Bruce Wayne's life are too variable as is the pathetic development of Gordon. Robin is almost a Mary Sue, typical lackadaisical sidekick despite being in two movies. The stories could also use a little work. Blow up the city with emperor penguins for being scorned when running for mayor? Kinda self destructive because the sewers where you live are also beneath the city. Freeze the entire city for your wife's death? Sure but why the hell would Poison Ivy support you, plants die in the cold. Batman is in the room with you and Max is probably going to die from a the taser but let's bite it together just to make sure. Oh and Batman reveals his true identity to any woman that has even the slightest liking for him. And he loves sidekicks too, the more the merrier without regard for age or schooling or safety in that matter. Batman Forever was a bit better than this but Batman and Robin was just terrible in this regard. Also, if Riddler knows everything about the world, why doesn't he use some sort of missile system and it's codes to target Batman in his home?
So that ends my blog post about it. Like I said before, we all have our likings for Batman, but this is my analysis. Ben Affleck has big shoes to fill for sure. Let's all hope the new Batman doesn't fail our hopes and aspirations after such a good series.