By Lvenger 41 Comments
After seeing the latest Dark Knight Rises Trailer, I thought it would be appropriate to share my thoughts on Nolan's Batman films. Obviously I do think they are good but unlike the majority of fans, I don't think they're the best thing since sliced bread. In other words, they aren't the ground breaking comic book movie adaption trilogy in my eyes. Anyway on to my possibly controversial viewpoint. Let's start with the pros:
- The three notable supporting cast members of the 3 films have brilliant actors bringing them to life. Michael Caine acts as a wonderful father figure and steadfast ally to Bruce throughout the two films. There are few other actors who can play Alfred in the way Caine can. Also, Gary Oldman plays an excellent James Gordon. He nails Gordon's dedication to justice and reproduces the relationship between Batman and Gordon of the comics in a believable manner. And finally Morgan Freeman was born to play Lucius Fox. In terms of looks and the manner he has about him, Freeman makes Fox an intriguing character as well as a valuable ally in Batman's war on crime.
- Another aspect Nolan has nailed is Batman's rogues gallery. The antagonists of the previous films have stolen the show in these films. Liam Neeson played the enigmatic Ra'as Al Ghul in a manner which befitted the legendary Batman villain and made him an integral part of the first film in Bruce's training. Heath Ledger (may he rest in peace) gave a performance of a lifetime as the Joker, playing upon the deranged serial killer aspect of the character and making his performance a career defining one. And Tom Hardy looks set to be a brutal and cunning Bane. I really like the terrorist aspect to Bane in this film as it logically leads into the various acts of destruction Bane will commit throughout the film.
- Arguably Nolan's greatest success is the gritty realism of his films. Gotham feels like a real city, filled with corruption, greed and crime running rampant. The characters have real motives, personalities and relationships with one another that other comic book adaptions have failed to match. And the story paces itself as a hard hitting action thriller which can appeal to many people's tastes. Nolan has made these films seem like a distinct reality, that there could be an outlaw vigilante dressed like a bat dealing with crime in a city and bringing those who deserve it to justice. This realism extends to the gadgets as well. The batarangs are hand crafted shuriken, the Batsuit is a discarded military project as is the Batmobile or 'Tumbler' as it's known as in the film. As such, the grittiness serves the film immensely and acts as its greatest strength as well as its greatest weakness (I'll deal with that part later)
- Nolan wisely chose not to include the extensive Bat family in his films. Given that the introduction of Robin in the previous Bat films saw an unparalleled downward spiral in their quality and ratings, it's for the best that Nolan's vision for the film focuses on a Batman who strikes fear into the hearts of criminals alone without involving children in his crusade. Though Nolan does seem to be doing the next best thing by making Catwoman a possible ally for Batman in TDKR.
However, there are many flaws with Nolans Batman films as well:
- In case you haven't noticed, I haven't mentioned Batman in the pro section. That's because Nolan doesn't get Batman or Bruce Wayne right at all. Admittedly Bruce's journey and initial motivation is adapted well by Nolan. But as soon as he gets to Gotham and becomes Batman, Christian Bale becomes someone who from my perspective is not the Batman I know. Let's start with the voice. I know he has to hide his identity but how can anyone make out that unintelligible growling that is considered speech in this film? Yes I do immensely love Kevin Conroy as Batman so you may think me biased but the real problem is that I can barely make out what Bale is saying in these films. Secondly, Nolan does nothing to display Batman's intellect or deductive abilities. He beats the stuffing out of criminals like the Batman I know but there's far more to Batman than that. He's trained his mind as well as his body to the peak condition and there's no showcase of Batman's intellect in any of these films. That's a disappointing failure on Nolan's part.
- Now onto Bruce Wayne. He's a terrible moaner in these films, particularly the Dark Knight. Here, he contemplates giving up being Batman. I'm afraid that to me, that is a major mistake. Bruce is supposed to become obsessed with his war on crime. He is meant to be so consumed with his mission that he doesn't really care about his life as Bruce Wayne or finding love. But in the Dark Knight, he almost ditches his crusade to try and persuade Rachel to be with him. Am I supposed to believe that this is Batman? He's acting more like Peter Parker in the Dark Knight and not respecting the character's uniqueness is a disadvantage which for the most part is overlooked.
- I fail to see why Nolan felt the need to create a love interest for the films when there are plenty to pick from in the comics. Unlike Superman, Batman has had many love interests so any one of those would do. But no, Nolan gives us Rachel Dawes, a mediocre attempt to give Bruce a meaningful childhood friend and eventual love interest who shares his devotion to justice etc. Her character just doesn't interest me and given the fact Batman has had far more meaningful relationships with other women in the comic books, I don't see why Nolan felt the need to disregard them in favour of his take on who Batman should be in love with. At least there's Catwoman and the rumour of Talia Al Ghul in TDKR.
- As I said earlier, the grittiness of Nolan's films is its greatest strength and weakness. It's an unfortunate double edged sword. Whilst that realism makes Nolan's films so successful, it also sets Batman apart from the DC Universe in general. Batman is confined to the closest possible definition of a fictional real world when he's supposed to deal with gritty noir crime problems as well as work with aliens, an amazon, a man who can run faster than light and a guy with a ring who can create anything he imagines to face incredible threats. It's unfortunate that the Batman, Superman and Green Lantern films have all been isolated from one another whilst the Marvel films (with the exception of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four) all share the same universe and are now co-existing with one another in one big team film that is the result of years of setting up and tieing together. Batman's isolation means that it's impossible to do a recognizable Justice League movie or a World's Finest movie as the gritty realistic Batman doesn't fit with the fantasy of the other superpowered pantheon of DC characters. This is where Nolan's films fall the most.
Like I said earlier, I don't dislike Nolan's films. I just don't think in the scheme of things that they are the greatest comic book adaptions. In the time I'm writing this during a superhero blockbuster year, I'm looking forward to the Avengers most then the Amazing Spider-Man before the Dark Knight Rises. And this is coming from someone whose second favourite superhero is Batman. Anyway what are your thoughts on Nolan's Batman films? Do you like them or loathe them? Agree or disagree with me? Feel free to comment and remember everyone is entitled to their opinion so keep things clean!