Flash back to 1988, the beginning of my senior year. People magazine did a very small article about Tim Burton doing a new bigger budget movie… BATMAN!!! My geek-ness kicked in full gear. Understand I loved the reruns of the Batman TV series when I was younger. The show Super Friends were never missed. I learned to read with The Flash comic books that my reading teacher spoiled me with, followed by GL, and then Batman. I was excited!
Then I kept reading the article. What!?!? Michael Keaton is Batman? Beetlejuice is Batman? The movie was already ruined in my mind. Batman, to date, is one of the two Superhero movie that I did not see on opening day. (Deadpool is the second) I waited over a week. I knew it would be horrible. However, the more I read and heard, the more peer pressure I felt that I had to see it.
I LOVED this movie! I still LOVE this movie!!
Michael Keaton for me was the best choice of Wayne and the Bat to date. I am sure I will ruffle some feathers with this; No, I do not prefer Bale’s Bat over Keaton’s. Bruce Wayne is a recluse in most situations except to make a show of his money. He’s always observant and eyeing everyone and everything around him. He may have a woman on each arm and a nonchalant smile on his face, but he doesn’t make a fool of himself by doing stupid things like swimming in a water display at a restaurant.
No, he mingles calmly with party people and then casually joins a conversation about antiques in his mansion and tells them where an item is from because he bought it there. He knows goofy reporters and their work because he constantly pays attention. The 1989 Batman was a fabulous display of Bruce Wayne and of Batman.
When it comes to the Joker, he has become a more sadistically twisted character as he progresses in age. I do admire Ledger’s work as the unstable clown, but there’s something basic to the character and fundamental with the way that Jack Nicholson portrayed him. He was more aggressive and cruel than Cesar Romero ever thought about being with his painted over ‘stache. However, he didn’t cross into the looney-bin Joker like Ledger did. He took the characters comic book portrayal and put it on the big-screen.
The comic book played a huge role in this film, and that’s why it remains one of my favorite Bat-Films to date. Burton does an amazing job at taking the artwork of Gotham and putting it in the movie for all of us to see. Gotham was never a normal city; it was bigger than life with its sculptures and frame-work. It was a dark city, unlike New York in the Spiderman comics. Burton creates a world that is simply amazing and allows comic book lovers to enter the realm that they have only seen on paper. He applies the same artwork of the comic books to every aspect of his movie, keeping it true to form from the city, to the costume, to the vehicle resemblance and the Bat-Cave.
Though Nolan’s Trilogy offers some amazing new looks with many new approaches to things, he leaves the idea of the comic book behind, way behind, in the dust from the Rambler as it burns through the normal looking Gotham. For some, the modern version makes Nolan’s Batman films appear more real and therefore more realistic. However, I miss the imagery of the comic books and the grandiose ideals of Gotham that they bring forward.
For me, comparing Bale and Keaton becomes difficult at best. (It’s generally a battle between special effects fans and modern style, versus us old folks that like the basic fundamentals.) Keaton doesn’t present the physical agility and strength that Bale does. (He also was working with a much heavier and nonflexible costume than Bale.) However, it’s the only aspect of Bale that I prefer over Keaton. I feel that Keaton is a more charismatic Bruce Wayne. He pulls out the aspect of being a brilliant man hidden in his role of business mogul off better. He brings out the Detective part of Detective Comics in a much clearer way. His Batman voice isn’t irritating to me like Bale’s; his always seemed forced and not genuine. Keaton also seemed genuine in his fighting that he would punish his victims, but he never wanted to harm them. The 2 fights between Nicholson and Keaton, Batman seems genuinely bothered at how they end in harm. Bale’s final fight against Bane seems like he has one mission and one mission only; to put him in the ground.
There is some bad in the film; mostly around one scene for me. I was pretty disappointed with the first time you see Batman in the film. I remember seeing it in ’89 and thinking, “Wow, you can tell that was drawn”. Outside of that, I don’t have complaints about this film. It still ranks as my number one favorite Batman lead and my number one favorite Bat-Movie. Burton was brilliant in this creation and Beetlejuice… I mean Keaton… did it a great justice! (I would not be saying many positives about Batman Returns, so I’m glad that wasn’t my chosen film.) Another negative in the film for me is Kim Basinger; I’m simply not a fan.
If you read our Superman reviews, which I hope you did, you saw some comparisons between the Superman character and the role of Jesus; an only son coming to Earth to live among them and help save them. That is not Batman. Batman is more like Paul. He takes on a task of working among people and helping them, though many are scared of him and some just despise him.
Paul took on the task of being the Gentile’s Apostle. Many Christian’s feared him and avoided him. Many learned to love him and support him. Some despised him, attacked him, beat him, and tried to arrest him. Beaten, bruised, and shipwrecked a few times, he never gave up on what drove him. That inner fire for the Gospel of Jesus burned inside of him and pushed him daily. He sent his messages out for all to see as a warning of what is to come. He battled the evil of the world to bring about the good of mankind. He wasn’t the Savior of man, he was a worker for good. Nothing could keep him from doing what he needed to do. Corruption was confronted. Sin was called out. Warnings were given.
As Christian’s we all need a little bit of this in us. We need to repent of our pasts and set our course with a purpose. The desire to live daily with God burning inside of us and driving us will allow us to overcome odds, evil, and the villains of the world. It’s a simple determination.
In Batman he is determined to overcome The Joker, his poisons and toxins he has brought to Gotham, and put an end to the fear that he has caused. He has a determination and a resolve than many do not have simply because they choose not to. Many fall to the temptation of the world and become an Eckhardt; corrupted by the influences of the world around them. Paul wrote many of his letters because Christians had fallen to the corruption around them.
This remains my favorite Batman movie, but I am looking forward to Affleck taking the reins. I, for one, think he will take it more back to the Keaton form of Batman and return to being more true to the books, rather than follow the path that Bale put forth in his trilogy.