After Joel Schumacher's run on Batman concluded in 1997 with the disastrous Batman and Robin, the superhero genre hit a new low. Despite its recovery with X-Men, X2: X-Men United, Spider-Man, and Spider-Man 2, the film industry was still skeptical as to whether superhero movies could evolve into something more than just comic-book characters coming to life in colourful costumes and with special effects.
8 years after Batman and Robin, a movie called Batman Begins hit the theatres. After several rejected and abandoned proposals, Warner Bros. trusted the character into the hands of Christopher Nolan. Little did they know that the movie would pave the way for the Golden Age of comic-book movies. But what exactly makes Batman Begins such a groundbreaking movie?
The Tone And Embracing The Roots Of The Character
Batman Begins was the inception of the "dark and gritty" trend in superhero movies. Due to it's success at the box office as well as achieving critical acclaim, Batman Begins proved that it isn't imperative for all comic-book movies to be light-hearted and full of quips. Instead, it embraced the true nature of the character – the grim, brooding personality of Bruce Wayne and the gloomy atmosphere of Gotham City, while simultaneously providing levity at opportune moments in the story. And while The Dark Knight may be considered as the best Batman movie, Batman Begins deserves the title of the movie which best personifies the character.
Bruce Wayne donned the cape and cowl for a very specific objective – to eradicate crime from his city. The movie successfully follows his journey in becoming the Batman, rather than having him as an already established hero. It delves deep into his motivations, his fears, and his struggles on this path, and provides insight on the training he received which enabled him to fulfil his objectives.
The Resonating Themes
Another key aspect which made Batman Begins such a revolutionary success were the recurring themes in the movie (as well as the whole trilogy), allowing audiences to immerse into the world of Batman, and connect with it on a personal level. The movie portrayed Bruce Wayne as a man seeking revenge for his parents' murder, however, lacked the skills required to do so.
During his training with the League of Shadows, Bruce undergoes a severe transformation, and instead of being motivated by revenge, he strives to bring the criminals of Gotham City to justice.
On his path to becoming the Batman, Bruce suffered physically and emotionally, as he learned to master his anger and fear. He conquered his fear of bats by embracing it as reality, and channeling that fear to strike terror into the hearts of the criminals of Gotham City.
He achieved all this despite being a regular (albeit extremely rich) man, providing a source of inspiration to the people of Gotham City, as well as the audience.
A New, Innovative Approach
As mentioned earlier, the studio had rejected multiple proposals for another film adaptation of the character after the disastrous Batman and Robin. However, after listening to Christopher Nolan's plans for Batman, they greenlit a whole trilogy!
Christopher Nolan did something truly unique by imagining Batman as an individual in the real world. This allowed him to draw inspiration from the comics and source material, while simultaneously keeping the character more relatable to the audience, and engaging their interest as they saw a superhero suffer through the same struggles as a common man.
The narrative style also impacted the overall feel of the movie, as instead of going through a simple, straight narrative, the film included flashback scenes which allowed Nolan to provide the audience with the necessary information required at the opportune moment. It also kept the audience attentive and engaged for more, rather than making them bored for half the movie waiting for Bruce Wayne to become the Batman.
The new darker tone also complemented the characters and setting, as Bruce experienced physical, emotional, and psychological terror throughout the movie. Similar to what Tim Burton did with Batman and Batman Returns, Nolan provided insight into the psyche of his characters, but kept it central towards Bruce, rather than the villains (Burton's movies were heavily villain-centric).
Human Emotions And The Life Lessons
The deep and intricate themes woven into the narrative of the story also provided for some interesting morals, something useful in daily life. The film also delved into two basic human emotions – fear and pain – and showed how you can overcome these challenges with the right attitude and commitment.
This film taught me to never give up, no matter how many times you fall, you always get back up and try again. It taught me that my actions are what define me as a person.
This was the movie that caught the attention of thousands of fans worldwide, as it began the Golden Age of comic-book movies. The Dark Knight Trilogy is hailed as one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time, and with good reason. Nolan's reimagining of Batman, though may not be extremely accurate to the comics, successfully captures the roots of the character, and provides a fresh outlook on one of the most popular fictional characters ever.
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