By feargalr 22 Comments
Christopher Nolan's Batman movies are insanely popular, and no doubt entertaining. However when I think of the movies I always come back to one specific thing about his portrayal of Batman. To quote Amanda Waller in the JLU episode 'Epilogue', in reference to Terry Mcginess,
"There are similarities, but more then a few differences too, you don't have his magnificent brain for instance"
Which in a lot of ways describes my feelings on Nolans Batman, is it really Batman if you take away what he's best-known for?
Google of course has more than a few links to the scripts to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, which between them has the word "detective" a total of 33 times, with only 4 of those actually being words of dialogue, all from the The Dark Knight, and never once in reference to Batman, the other 29 are used for describing scenes, or a character e.g. 'The Detective looks around as he...' . Ra's Al Ghul addresses Batman as 'Detective', in recognition of his intellect, and in a lot of ways their relationship is unique amongst all of Batman's rogues gallery, because more than anything else it's always an intellectual battle between them, as opposed to Batman's traditional physical conflict. When Ra's referred to Tim Drake as 'Detective' in Red Robin (the issue number escapes me) that was a pretty big deal for the character, essentially Batman's intellectual equal, Ra's, putting Tim on the same level as his mentor, a huge moment for his character, or any character in the DCU.
When adapting a story from one medium to another, there are always difficulties, some things that work in a comic or any written material just won't work on the big screen, and so a story often needs to changed, and that's fine, because at the end of the day it's not the events that your trying to portray, its the character, and a particular story which tells us something about that character, the world or even ourselves.
Batman is in a lot of ways synonymous with a detective, or at least in the comics he is, he defeats his foes by out smarting them, the martial arts, the gadgets, the cars, the planes, they're tools, nothing more. Yet, with Nolan's Batman this is not the case, he doesn't defeat Ra's by outsmarting him, it was never an intellectual or even moral conflict, Ra's was essentially a run of the mill super villain, who Batman eventually bests in a physical confrontation where upon he leaves him to die, similarly with the Joker, Batman had been following the trail the whole way through the movie but he didn't outsmart the Joker in the end, it was never a question of Batman putting the pieces of this scheme together and solving the mystery in the way that shows like House, Sherlock and Luther (Who's writers could make a pretty damn awesome Batman movie) seem to manage on a weekly basis, he just used some (morally grey) technology to find out where he was... and then he pounded him good. Sure a few times in the movies he examines a bullet and does a bit of CSI-ing but you never see the mind, the intellect that is so incredible important to Batman, a trait that can put a mere mortal on equal ground with gods, and supermen, a trait equally as character defining as the death of ones parents, a trait that when absent leads me to question if this is the same character we've been reading all these years. Or maybe I'm just insane...