Whether you like this version of Batman or not ultimately depends on how faithful you are to the classics. I am a huge fan of Batman the Animated series created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, as well as Tim Burton’s Gothic interpretations, not to mention the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.
Batman to me has always been a tale of how good people fall into sin and how everyone has a dark side. The star of the show isn’t Batman himself, but the supporting cast of villains, each committing acts of crime out of revenge or redemption. All of them had a heart and were once human, now trapped in a shell of a monster. The profound thing about it all, was that Batman himself was just as insane as the people he brought in, only he believed he was fighting on the right side of the law. You get none that here. All villains commit random acts of terror, determined to destroy Gotham because they think its a cesspool.
But I think the thing that bugged me the most was how they fundamentally changed Bruce Wayne’s character in this movie. In the animated series, he is indeed portrayed as tortured soul but he also comes across as being a highly intelligent and sophisticated man. He was able to take down guys like Superman in Dark Night Returns, simply because he was able to outsmart him and was very resourceful. A key point that they missed in this movie was the inner struggle Bruce Wayne has to want to give it all up and settle down with someone he loves. One of my favorite moments for example, is in Mask of the Phantasam where Bruce Wayne is at his parents grave in a thunder storm, begging them to release him of his vow. He is in love with Andrea and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. He cries and begs for a sign, in which Andrea then shows up and two begin crying in each others arms. Bruce was actually happy. It wasn’t until Andrea left him that he accepted his fate as Batman.
This Batman has none of the human qualities from above. He can’t laugh at himself and is full of pure anger and rage. He’s almost like Spawn. In fact, the parallels are dead similar with him scaring the crap out of his villains before taking them down. Spawn of course is cooler given that he actually gives the bad guys what they deserve by decapitating them limb by limb.
Okay, so let’s not compare animation and comics, let’s just focus on the film instead. Does it surpass in Tim Burton’s movies? Hell no. Sure, Tim Burton didn’t have all of the special effects technology that we have today but his twisted imagination allowed him to create a world that was totally Gothic and true to me. I liked the idea of smiling clowns blowing fire from their mouths and monkeys armed with machine guns. The Batman of the past was actually fun to watch as he’d stuff the fiery baton down the jesters throat and pick up two mimes and knock them out by bashing their heads together. It was always the cutest of things doing the evilest of deeds, like the marching penguins in Batman Returns.
Burton was also faithful to the love interests of Bruce Wayne as well. It was always set up like a Greek tragedy with the love of his life being the villain he tried to stop. I also like the old Batman costume, the old batmobile and the old batwing. Michael Keaton also played a much better Batman than Christian Bale in that he always looked cool and in control. In this movie, Bale sounds like he has a frog stuck in his throat whenever he tries to speak and the mask he wears makes his head look a bit too big.
But I think the crushing blow came at the end, when they tried to reintroduce the Joker. I loved Tim Burton’s version because the Joker’s whole purpose in that movie was to harass Batman, being that he killed his parents and was the one villain who could outsmart him. I hated how they changed that because Batman in reality is just as responsible for putting villains in his own life as they are for fueling his drive for vengeance.
Overall, I have to say that this movie was bad. The fights scenes made no sense whatsoever and were put together by a bunch of stunt men, made up of 60 different takes. It totally blew up everything I came to love and respect about the dark knight and lacked the emotion and humanity of the original series. We didn’t need another movie explaining his past, Mask of the Phantasam did a much better job with a lower budget too.
I understand that they want to remake Batman for the new generation of fans but if this is the best they can do, then I’m hopping of this train right now. In the meantime, I’ll just stick to the classics to remember Batman in his glory days.