Batman: The Caped Crusader – Part: Three

Few fictional characters have made such a long-evolving impact as DC Comics caped crusader Bruce Wayne Aka Batman, who resides in Gotham City. This is a character that has been taken in several forms and spawned into several franchises like videogames, comics, and TV series besides the movies. This is a character everyone is familiar with and during this articles-series Batman: The Caped Crusader we’ll take a deep dive behind the mythology of the famous comic-book character.

After the scrapped projects of Batman in the early millenniums, it was now up to Christopher Nolan to bring a reimagination of the classic hero. He was given the task to write and direct the first film that takes the story back in a modern sense in terms of the origin story of the Wayne family, the moment where Bruce becomes an orphan and later the caped crusader. The film Batman Begins starred Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, and Katie Holmes to name a few unsung heroes joining the film. When Nolan first joined Warner Bros’ ambitious voyage of redefining together with screenwriter David S. Goyer, the popular character director himself wanted the film itself to be grounded, something that was absent in prior films.

“Doing the origins story of the character, which is a story that’s never been told before”. Nolan said that humanity and realism would be the basis of the origin film, and that “the world of Batman is that of grounded reality. It will be a recognizable, contemporary reality against which an extraordinary heroic figure arises.”

The first film has adapted The Man Who Falls”, a short story by Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano, which is a film adapted from Bruce falling down in a well. What is different with Nolan’s vision of the character is that Gotham is no longer an isolated island, but it exists in our reality. Under the influence of Blade Runner from 1982, he tried and successfully created a story that was appealing to the younger audience just like the more adults. With that in mind, it was produced for children in-between eleven to twelve just because Nolan wanted to create a film he wanted to see as a child.

“Not the youngest kids obviously, I think what we’ve done is probably a bit intense for them, but I certainly didn’t want to exclude the sort of ten to twelve-year-olds, because as a kid, I would have loved to have seen a movie like this.”  

Therefore, no gory or blood was shown in the film. It is. A film where Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins, and Ashton Kutcher were even considered for roles. If those roles were cast, it would become a different film, to begin with. Nolan’s imagined from early development in 2003, that it was a complex bipolar lead with such emotional strains that foreshadows the hate for his legacy for Wayne Manor, a building that has a pivotal point in this film. It’s almost a second character that helps the story develop the persona of Bruce Way to Batman, the intelligent vigilant detective.  There are a lot of morality and themes that are underway in the story that hasn’t been explored before. One of the key imaginations that Goyer and Nolan did, in this case, is to create the character Rachel Dawson, who is a faked figure that doesn’t exist in the comics. She was made up for the film.

Without Rachel Dawson, Wayne would have a love interest and there would either be a conflict in the end thus Batman rescues Dawson after she gets poisoned by Scarecrow. She’s a key character in the film and without her, the story would become flat and tedious. Overall, the film pounded in the face of all other franchises’ visions of the character. Nolan revamped the mythology that has shaped the character and the fulfilled meaning behind the mystery of Bruce Wayne’s complex aura. This is a film that doesn’t have been the strongest pursuit of Nolan’s trilogy, however. It puts on a strong foothold for the incarnation of the character itself and the meaning that Bob Kane intended in the beginning.  It’s a redefinition that has given a fair success of a humble beginning. By the end of the film, it also teases a sequel. Sparking an interesting even with the three-year gap between this and that. The Dark Knight from 2008 became an instant classic once it was released. It’s the first comic-book film to ever be awarded Oscar, this was intended post-humous for Heath Ledger who portrayed the anonymously Joker in the film. Unlike another version of the rouge gallery of Batman’s iconic villains, Nolan’s portrayal of the main villain is reckless, chaotic and unpredictable. This gives a sense of uncontrollable narrative with the antagonist steering the narrative.

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The approach in the film is mostly inspired by The Godfather and Heat, two films about crooks. The film’s also deeply inspired by Frank Miller’s interpretation of the famous killer. David S. Goyer, Jonathan Nolan and Chris have multiple mentions in the press that much of the story is based on Millers’ storyline. One is Batman: Year One as a basis for Batman Begins. The filmmakers have also used Batman: The Long Halloween as an inspiration to delve into the relationship between Batman, Dent and Gordon to stop Joker’s erratic, irrational psychotic behaviour. Nolan has said that the film sees Batman from Joker’s perspective.  The Joker becomes something else in the film. He’s the main character in the film, from the beginning to the end. At first, glimpse when he takes over the bank robbery and kills his teammates, he is in possession of the story and commands the narrative under his own terms.

That scene where two men with clown masks bang a window to smithereens escape to the other side with a wire was done with an IMAX camera. This marks the first film to use that technic. Now it’s standard to make filmgoing a more exclusive experience. Speculation has been around that Heath Ledger overdosed due to his eccentric performance but that is false. One of the facts that we know about him is that he isolated himself for six months at a motel in order to test Joker’s voice and personality. It was also during this time that the character intended to evolve. Thus, the rumour that his fixation on the character would lead to his death is a myth. As we know by now, Nolan is a practical guy when it comes to practical effects. Even if certain shots are replaced by CG.

“If we had started out with that, it wouldn’t have looked the same. Because we photographed something, we have a benchmark standard to hold to, even if we change things. Even the film’s CG shots are rooted in some kind of photographic reality.”

A lot of the character from Joker is based on Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange from 1971 with Malcolm McDowell. It’s a film about a British anarchist gang going rouge in a dystopic future. In the interrogation scene, it might be difficult to realize it, but Christian Bale does actually hit Heath Ledger with all the force he can give.

“As you see in the movie, Batman starts beating the Joker and realizes that this is not your ordinary foe. Because the more I beat him the more he enjoys it”. Bale then spoke about Ledger’s unfathomable desire to make it happen in real-time and make it appear realistic. “He was kinda egging me on. I was saying, ‘You know what, I really don’t need to actually hit you. It’s going to look just as good if I don’t.’ And he’s going, ‘Go on. Go on. Go on…’” 

The scene is key as it pivoted the whole film. It’s also what the joker and Batman finally meets for real. As you know, Dawson and Dent were kidnapped in their last meeting. It’s a terrific, intense scene that plays out. It’s about both goals just as both are each opposite, but Batman is only one bad day from becoming a persona such as Joker. We know by this point that Joker pushes Bruce Wayne to become something like him. To push over the edge. By the end of the scene, Joker gives a clue that leads Batman forward. It’s first when Joker is at the gala, searching for Harvey Dent. Instead, Joker encountered a clash with Batman.

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Released in 2008, with the controversy around the casting and the death of Ledger, the film is declared officially the best comic-book film ever made. It proceeds all other superhero franchises that even Marvel Studios could prevent. Batman with this film proves that an old character can be rebooted and modernized if the tool is used in the right way, in the right tone. The rebooted story doesn’t need unnecessary elements unless it fits and prevails in the plot. Often these days, it is all about the characters and emotions behind it. If it doesn’t serve the plot rightfully, it’s a pointless path to thrive on. It doesn’t matter how many special actors you have, if the actor can’t get the job done, it’s not worth it. Just like a jigsaw puzzle, only one piece is correct.

Four years later in 2012, Nolan wanted to end the whole franchise with a sublime title of The Dark Knight Rises. It takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight (TDK).  Bruce Wayne returns to his mansion. It was never used in the middle film and in this, it takes time before he joins the fight of the terrorist leader Bane who sets Gotham in chaos and drags Bruce out to fight once again. This film is the conclusion of over ten years of planning and filmmaking. Hundreds and hundreds of people were involved in creating an atmospheric Gotham that pushes boundaries in what could be done.

 There’s a lot of day-shot in this final film, creating a different tone overall. It’s not just as gloomy as a prior film in the trilogy. Few of these shots were shown in the other ones. This film stings out as a white sheet against a black background as it foretold a myth that in the end forms the whole narrative. The trilogy in this form lands with Ra’s al Ghuls legacy and sort of revenge. But in the film, it is visioned that Bane is not the real villain. He’s just an obstacle for Batman. He’s the weight and muscle as we later learn that Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Miranda played by Marion Cotillard would be the real antagonist and stab Bruce in the end. Bane was just a front to protect her, which is detailed frequently in the film. Bruce’s past with Liam Neeson’s character is a neat conclusion and there’s some retribution for Harvey Dent, who was killed in The Dark Knight.

The film handles the theme of pain, Batman Begins had fear and The Dark Knight dealt with chaos as a theme. You could say that this film’s approach is an action superhero film compared to TDK. It has more character that plays final roles. There’s a generation shift between characters and a deeper understanding of the character of Bruce Wayne. It establishes Alfred’s worries for Wayne Manor, even behind what happened with Rachel. The story also takes up ending things which it’s partly paired with a concluded part. It’s a more opened-wide narrative. It’s not a thriller like TDK or an origin story that we experienced in Batman Begins.

It was first written in 2010 by David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan. A story everyone could get behind. Nolan wanted only three films, a trilogy to be able to create a story worthwhile. Principal photography commenced in May and concluded in 2011 and then have a premiere in 2012. Sadly, the film was affected by the mass shooting that took place in a theatre in Aurora, Colorado. It would cause the ticket sales didn’t precede Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989. At the event 12 people were killed and 70 people were injured. At that moment the perpetrator told the audience, who was watching The Dark Knight Rises, that he was the Joker. After the horrible shooting Christopher Nolan made a statement on the Colorado shooting:

“I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.” 

This forced the studio Warner Bros to end all marketing and theatres that were planned worldwide. Actors from the film spoke out and there was disarray surrounding the horrible news of a perpetrator doing that to theatres. It’s obvious that this shooting affects the overall performance of the film at the box office. It’s obvious that it’s still tainted of it by a bleak memory.

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However, as a film, it’s stand its ground both as a sequel and a concluded film that wraps upeverything neatly with most things though out. Even if Nolan pushes the boundaries of what Batman can and should do, the human side of him comes in strong contrast. He’s a dreary character most of the film and whiny once he get back on his feet and starts kicking and fighting. What’s not planned out in detail or lives up to the 8 years that passed, is gone. It’s a different Gotham. Few locations are revisited in this film compared to the others in the series. Few instances are used once again.

The tension is gone, even if there are a lot of emotions. There’s no driving force as we get a more relaxed withdrawn Bruce. A lot of the old arrogant Bruce is shown with few tendencies. After the roller coaster that TDK provided, it’s hard to top it. Christopher Nolan in this film proves that he can make a beginning and a middle in the end. We know also that Nolan cut at least 13 scenes in the final film that didn’t make the cut. And Nolan is not the director who uses extended cut. We should. at least be proud that we got this almost flawless film because the overall aspect will never return again any time soon.

He knows how direct three standalone films that are not obvious dependable on each other but at the same time follow a coherent narrative that works. Compared to the films Batman from the 1990s, Nolan has come a long way. His films are regarded better and are far better at the same time, Burtons films remain classic. Then we have Zack Snyder who took the crusade of Batman on a totally different path.

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