With the release of The Dark Knight Rises fast approaching I thought I might pass some of the remaining waiting time taking a look back at, and sharing my thoughts on, Christopher Nolan’s fantastic Batman films. Now this is by no means an original idea and is most likely going to read like a befuddled stream of consciousness but I will do my best to be entertaining and maybe even a little insightful! Don’t hold your breath though…
As with most great comic book, film and literary characters, the key to the Batman’s success (in my opinion…) has always been down to one key characteristic, his humanity. Now humanity is a word that covers an awful lot of things, the possession of emotions for instance, like the ability to feel pain and loss, physical and emotional vulnerability as well as strength and the ability to adapt and learn among countless other things. A characters humanity is often what enables the audience to relate to them, to empathize with them and even get mad at them when they do something wrong.
I think that what made Batman Begins such an outstanding film in my eyes was how well Christopher Nolan, and Christian Bale managed to communicate Bruce Wayne’s humanity, giving the character a genuine depth that was completely absent from both Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s previous efforts which, when you look back at them now, seemed to do everything they could to avoid dealing with Bruce Wayne as a character, instead focusing on stunt cast villains.
Batman Begins was the film that for the first time really focused on Bruce Wayne and gave Batman a reason to be, his past was explored, his character developed and his reasoning behind the physical manifestation of his alter ego explained. By the end of the film we have even more development spelled out for us as Rachel explains to Bruce how he and Batman are really one and the same and the public face of Bruce Wayne the billionaire playboy is his real mask.
For a movie based on a comic book, that is some pretty deep stuff and it’s explored in a way that feels natural, and more importantly, feeds into the flow of what is at the end of the day a compelling and entertaining movie. The direction of the film is pretty much flawless, there are no wasted shots, the camera never lingers too long and the action is handled in an impactful and involving way. The cast surrounding Bale is also outstanding with the likes of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon and Liam Neeson practically oozing gravitas in every scene they appear in.
This brings me on to the villains, and there are many of them, an area that had previously been mishandled to egregious levels. Neeson’s turn as the infamous Raas Al Gul was particularly good, providing the perfect villain for Bales Batman to have his first run out against. This balance could have easily been thrown off by Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow, Tom Wilkinson’s Carmine Falcone with Victor Zsasz making a couple of appearances too. However Nolan managed the cast and story in such a way that this little rogues gallery really added to the texture of the film as well as helping move the story along, with Scarecrow in particular fulfilling the role of a catalyst for Al Gul’s larger plan.
Continuing on the subject of the story and pacing, Nolan gets it pretty much pitch perfect. The first act involving Bruce Wayne’s path to becoming the Dark Knight is one of the best origin stories ever committed to film. Once we get to Gotham the action comes thick and fast as the story slowly builds to a crescendo and the return of Raas Al Gul and the league of shadows bringing the film full circle.
I’ve probably gone on long enough, also I’m writing this pretty late at night and I really should go get some sleep but before I do I have another little treat for you coming from the awesome guys over at movieclipsTrailers on YouTube. They have put together a great trilogy trailer which pretty much made my night so thought I would share!
Ok that’s seriously all for now! If I have somehow managed to not bore you to death then come on back later today when I will take a look at and write (at length, fair warning) about one of my favourite films of all time The Dark Knight.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Lettering: Jimmy B
Cover: Capullo & Plasencia
Published by DC Comics
Batman is without a shadow of a doubt my number one title from DC Comics New 52 line-up. Ever since the first issue where the mysterious Court of Owls first showed their masked faces I knew that Scott Snyder had something very special in store for us. The Court of Owls have for nine issues posed a constant threat to Bruce Wayne’s life and the lives of those around him, more importantly however they have threatened to destroy Wayne’s all important relationship with Gotham City itself.
For a few issues there Batman was no longer in control of the city, his mind and body were almost entirely broken and his confidence was shattered. These challenges to Batman’s character are what have made the current arc so compelling for me. Issue 10 continues in this tradition with Bruce Wayne/Batman finally chasing down the Court of Owls only to be confronted by a foe whose origin is quite honestly one of the most interesting twists I have read for a good while. It s a real standout moment which I don’t wish to spoil but it’s a very cunning play by Snyder which really came out of the blue (though looking back I see some subtle elements of foreshadowing).
Art-wise Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion continue to forge atmospheric and gritty environments with this issue featuring some particularly impressive and detailed interiors which feel really claustrophobic in places. The cover art is also outstanding, it feels strikingly simple in comparison to some of the more elaborate and busy covers of the series so far with the sinister wings in the shadows silently threatening Batman as he clutches the tattered mask of an Owl.
#11 will, I suspect, bring the Court of Owls arc to a close (for now…) and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on it. Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion have done a superb job with Batman’s ‘re-launch’ and I look forward to seeing where they take Bruce Wayne/Batman next.
Having been wowed by The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods and disappointed by the likes of John Carter the eyes of many a film fan are turning towards summer, even if the weather seems uncooperative at the moment. Well happily Warner Bothers, Legendary Pictures, and most importantly, Christopher Nolan, are all happy to oblige us by providing a brand spanking new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.
The tone looks as dark and moody as ever and we do get a good look at Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman while Joseph Gordon Levitt also has a few standout moments. Tom Hardy’s Bane looks like a suitably menacing bad guy who is very clearly going to put Batman through his paces. It must be said however that Heath Ledger’s Joker will be a tough act to follow and I hope that he can pull it off. The conclusion to Nolan’s Dark Knight saga will be out in cinema’s on July 20th into what is looking like a busy month though I doubt very much that it’s box office figures will suffer for that.
As if you needed another reason to go watch the Avengers (yes, this again!), it has been announced that the latest Dark Knight Rises trailer will be shown at all showings of the Avengers. The other big news has been that on an article on IMAX on The Wall Street Journal web-site, which revealed there’s going to be an hour of IMAX footage shot for the Dark Knight Rises, 20 minutes more than the Dark Knight. Now judging by what has been shown in the previous trailer, whether the film can match the Dark Knight in terms of overall quality, the action is set to look damn good. I will also no doubt be talking about the new trailer after my review of the Avengers so watch this space…