The Big Picture: Batman Revisited, Part 1

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I hope that Bob touches on the DCAU after Batman Returns. Starting with Mask of the Phantasm and then all the way to Justice League Unlimited would be great.

I have to say I like the 1989 the best of any Batman movies.

I've seen it more times than I could possibly count (largely due to how long its been around). I've re-watched with each new Batman movie in recent years, so I certainly don't have nostalgia glasses.

To counter some of Bob's points;
Franchises weren't as intentional back in the day, not they way we see them these days at least. A successful movie didn't guarantee a sequel, thus things couldn't linger the way we allow them today. This is why it makes sense that The Joker killed Wayne's parents, it allowed the whole story to be tied nicely in a bow and provide Batman with some additional motivation -- it's also responsible for what is, in my opinion, one of the best movie quotes of all time, "have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight,".

Jack Nicholson as the Joker made sense in that it got adults at the time at least some what interested in the movie. The same case could be made for the all Prince soundtrack (which I'm shocked Bob didn't mention), Prince was huge and brought a ton of attention the movie might not have received otherwise. Had it not been for the popularity of these individuals it's impossible to say whether the movie would have had the success, and influence, that it did.

The most frequent gripe about Batman is that it wasn't a Batman movie, but a Joker one (as Bob pointed out). The thing is Batman/Bruce Wayne simply isn't a very interesting character, never really has been as far as I'm concerned. He simply doesn't have personality traits that make other superheroes great; the alcohol and ego issues that define Tony Stark, the sense of awkwardness that comes with Steve Rogers, even the perfect boy-scout mentality of the all-powerful Clarke Kent is more dynamic.

This is one of the reasons that through most of Batman's existence he's had Robin. Robin is interesting (yes, all of them). Moreover, Robin allows Wayne to be more than just a brooding, obsessive crime fighter: he makes him human. Nolan attempted to do the same via Rachel Dawes --and failed miserably if you ask me. And for what it's worth is there anyone that could argue The Dark Knight wasn't every bit, if not more, of a Joker movie than Burton's Batman?

Moving on...
The Joker has never picked the most discreet locations for hideouts, yet for some reason Batman never seems to just head straight to Amusement Mile or the abandon candy factory. So Burton's Batman being just as oblivious as the rest doesn't seem like a huge issue.

The "heavy handed rips on the cosmetic industry" is fitting for the more clown-esc portrayals of the Joker. I recall an episode of the animated series where he creates/promotes "Joker Fish", like his foray into cosmetics it's just the kind of nonsensical humor one would expect from such a character.

The thing about the Joker is that sometimes he's funny haha, other times he's funny hehe. What I'm saying is that his certain variety of crazy is by no means consistent. His sanity (or lack there of) runs the entire gamut: one day he's a maniacal sadist that loves to make people suffer the next the next he's the clown with an affinity for puns that does it all for the lulz. I think Burton's Batman did a better job than most at showing the Joker in this light, even if Nicholson hammed it up a bit.

I'd keep going but this is long as is...

Michael Keaton is still arguably the best on-screen Batman. He managed to project fear and authority into the character, while avoiding the over-the-top voice that ruins Christian Bale's portrayal of the character. I mean, I could understand in Begins when he's trying to establish himself as some kind of Dirty Harry with gadgets, using the voice to scare crooks is understandable. But when Batman is trying to have existential discussions with Gordon and the Joker in TDK, the gravelly rasp just ruins it. Keaton managed to create a voice that was intimidating, while still being quite and legible.

I liked the "boring, black-leather" trend in costumes for superhero movies, if only because I'm always glad to see movies play it loose with the source material.

If "movies are weird" (God I hate that voice), comic books are ridiculous. No one ever dies (except Uncle Ben), women are constantly contorted into strange positions to show off their racks, and origin stories tend to get pretty bland. It's been a mainstay of the more successful comic-book movies to delve deeper into some of the subtext the source material can provide, but adhering to comic canon and imagery on everything would look stupid, "nipples on a batsuit" stupid.

How much harder would people have mocked Hawkeye if he had that "super-cool" purple outfit with the Mcdonald's arches over his eyes? Or Galactus being a giant alien "walking" to Earth? Or if Bane had gone with the wrestling spandex?

If you want to make an awesome comic-book movie, it helps to lighten up on the source material, otherwise you wind up with something that looks ridiculous and takes itself way too seriously, like Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Regarding the villains moving the story along:

This is one of the reasons I love Vincent Price's "Doctor Phibes" movies; the end credits list both the "good guy" actor and Vincent Price as "The Protagonists".

By the way Bob, I think you should do a "Big Picture" on the Phibes movies. They seem right up this show's alley. :)

The first Batman movie being flawed I don't think would surprise most people. A lot of folks have pointed out the absurdity before of how quickly he gives up his secret identity, or how he seems to be fine with killing with blowing up the factory and sending Joker to his death. But the style along with Keaton and Nicholson were enough still to make it into an icon.

Well, the original version (1940s) of the Batman carried around a freaking gun and tended to go through villains with alarming regularity.

I seriously hope that you are joking about Bane not being "interesting". I'd expect more from you.

Edit: And oh, Batman Beyond <3
Probably my favorite Batman-franchise (Since I haven't read any Non-Vertigo comic in aaaages I'm gonna put Dark Knight as second and Arkham Asylum-Batman as third).

To me, the 1989 Batman movie was less a story-driven movie than it was an EXPERIENCE.

The look of the world, the non-existence art deco city of Gotham, with the Danny Elfman soundtrack and Tim Burton's dark direction was both otherworldly yet very believable.

And then there's Micahel Keaton's Batman. To this day, to my eternal surprise, he remains my favorite Batman. He's dark, brooding, efficient, mysterious, threatening, and has that stare that scares the crap out of badguys.

Two things I dislike about Christian Bale's Batman is, obviously, that stupid growly voice that sounds like he's gurgling marbles. But the second is he's a Batman that wastes time trying to say something nonsensically deep ("It's not who I am that defines me, it's what I do." "I'm the city Gotham needs, but not the one this city deserves" etc) while Keaton actually told them to cut out of all Batman's "hero" speeches because, rightly, he said Batman was a man of actions, not words.

Granted, the Burton films did have their goofy elements (mainly the rocket-powered penguins in the sequel), but they still existed as sensory experiences no other superhero movie before or sense has been able to match.

The music, the visuals, the performances, the costumes... it was movie magic, something truly fantastical, dark, noir, and yet tangible. And no comic movie, before or since, has been that completely a sum of its parts. The "realism" and "gritty reboot" treatment is fine for those that like it, but I prefer my comic book movies to take me to places on the fringes of human reality, clashed with the powerful beats of a comic book's fantastical heart.

Please don't hate too much on the Penguin next week... I cried when he died.

Man, I was like 5 when it came out. It was a sad scene. Screw you.

Batman was a good movie. It's possibly the only movie my family, faced with a slew of options at a movie theater, actually en masse decided to see again.

It's dated (having come not too long before the mass exodus to CGI and blue/green screen over models and sets), and certainly flawed. Like pretty much all of Burton's movies, it puts a priority on visuals and tone over narrative. It's also, as I've said, one of the few movies where that approach really succeeded.

It's a rare action movie that has some solid ideas and themes running through it without needing to beat the audience over the head with them. Possibly most notably the idea of a hero and villain fighting a battle that's as much about public relations as physical prowess- that people might embrace a genial homicidal killer over an off-putting defender.

There are obvious things that could have been changed to make it a better movie, but there's also an awful lot of more subjective issues that in someone else's hands would have made it into something that simply wouldn't have occupied the niche it did, and thus not had the rippling influence it did upon multiple genres and mediums.

Largely, I feel, for the better.

If you guys havn't read them yet, over at Comics Alliance, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri have written what might be some of the most thorough and fascinating deconstructions of the entire Batman movie franchise, start to finish.

Here is a link for your reading pleasure. They are LONG, so you might wanna consume them in chunks.

I saw this movie for the first time a couple months ago. I'd already seen movies 2-4 and liked them, so I thought I'd like this one, too. But I was wrong. Jack as the Joker did not work as well as I thought it would. I didn't like that Burton had Joker kill Bruce's parents, and what was even worse, Batman KILLS Joker at the end! Batman's whole thing is that he doesn't kill, and he blatantly killed Joker on purpose! WTF, Burton? Joker is not that short-lived! The only time Burton got the not-killing-villains-or-making-them-mental thing right was in the 4th film!

I am still waiting for them to make a costume he can move in.

I really can't say I have much love for any of the movies.
the first ones are plagued by bad, writing and effects and Nolans run are missing the fantastic elements that made the Batman universe fun.

Nolans films have removed many of the weird and supernatural things from the universe, all in the name of realism, in a comic-book movie...

I especially catch a lot of flak for not liking Ledgers version of the Joker, but he never screamed the the Joker, where's the gadgets, the gas, the things that made the Joker stand out from just being another loonie.

For the upcoming movie I am going to be severely disappointed if they do not include Bane's venom.

Might I just point out that there is a typo in the beginning of the video.
It says Revisted in stead of Revis[I]ted.

And now I just really want to see Bob do an episode or two on the 90s comic book boom and crash.

In terms of marketing, merchandising and home video turnaround time, yeah, Burton's Batman set the modern standard. Especially the video thing; that a blockbuster film would be in theatres in late June and be on video before Christmas? Unprecedented. To give it context, Batman hit video about the same time as Roger Rabbit, which was released to theatres in June... of 1988.

In terms of visual aesthetic, though, Batman is pretty much just lifting wholesale from Blade Runner and subtracting the neon. As far as the craft of movie making goes, there are dozens of films that have come since Star Wars that have had a far greater impact than Batman '89.

For those who are interested in what usually goes wrong with superhero movies I recommend this article:

Uhggg next weeks review, I hate that movie.

Grrr. Bane may not have been built to be enduring, but he was great.

After Gail Simone got her hands on him in Secret Six? He could have been a VERY good, and lasted a long time had the New 52 not hit...

Tim Burton's Batman was the first and still one of the very few times I ever took Joker seriously as Batman's arch-enemy. Not that he isn't almost always a great villain, no matter in what version, but the character very rarely ever feels like THE villain that Batman should know and fear the most. Ra's Al Ghul, Jason Todd as Red Hood, Two-Face, Bane even Hush are all more deserving of the title of Batman's nemesis (and this is coming from someone who fucking hates Hush)
Turning Joker into the murderer of Batman's parents is probably the smartest thing anything has ever done with the character. Yes it's cheap, but it's the quickest and least convoluted way to make the Joker threatening to not just Gotham and Batman but to Bruce Wayne on a personal level.

The two Burton Batman films are my favorite incarnations of Batman. They just seem suitably dark and morbid, with Batman not shying away from violence to fulfill his objectives. And the soundtrack in those films is phenomenal. And they have the best Batmobile.

The new movies are great, don't get me wrong, but the originals will probably always remain to be the best, in my opinion.

I can't imagine a world without Batman Beyond...

Incidentally, is it still canon that Oracle can't walk yet she can in Beyond, or am I just getting mixed up and/or forgetting The New 52's reboot?

I think Burtons Batmans movies are pretty fantastic and Returns may be my favourite Batman movie period. Though i also have a soft spot for Adam Wests Batman. It's just so delightfully Sixties.

May I just add:

Tim Burton's Batman is easily my favorite Batman movie.(Not too difficult considering how much I hate Batman and Robin, Batman Begins and don't particularly care about Batman forever)

Oh please tell me we get a Batman and Robin episode. That movie is at the top of my guilty pleasure list along with Forever so I always want to talk about them.

Guys, remember, this movie only cost about $30 million. It was cheap and risky. They had to pay Nicholson buy offering him a piece of the action (he may have gotten as much as $80 million from the deal, highest pay for an actor ever.)

I think most people know this was NOT a good movie. But it was just about the only game in town. Unless you wanted to watch Superman 4, or marvel heroes Dr. Strange, Daredevil or Thor on TV. It gave us visuals of a version of Batman we'd never seen before.

It did have huge problems. In the script, there was very little interesting for Batman to do. The screenplay had 50 pages (minute) with NO Batman! Nicholson was never a physical presence that was threatening to him in the way the younger, larger and manic Heath Ledger was at the end of DK. Speaking of physical presence, while Keaton does a great Batman, you don't get the impression he should be able to do much physically. Too skinny, soft and unathletic. Much of it was tongue in cheek. Kim Basinger screamed too much.

To be honest, after Nolan's Batman, my buddy can't even watch the Burton stuff, but I still "like" it.

Looking at that final picture, I can't help thinking Catwoman is about to bite Penguin's nose. Am I alone in this?

Can't wait for next week's. When you watch the original Batman, you'd almost never guess Tim Burton made it with the schlock he's put out lately. But the second one is where we see his stylings really start to come into play. There's the black, sunken in eyes, a staple of all his major characters from then until now, emotionally damaged people with a fondness toward animals, the misunderstood, disfigured outcast, and HUGE, misshapen hairdos that might as well be their own characters. The first movie was revolutionary in all the ways mentioned - it put movie producers on a path that would eventually lead us to the Avengers, but the second one was pure insane, silly, dark Burton.

No Batman movie, no Nightmare Before Christmas?!

Thank Jim for Batman movie!

OT: The first Batman movies made me laugh. I thought this was normal until someone told me Batman was supposed to be some sort of serious badass. Then I felt really dumb.

However, Jack N. was a great Joker. Hey, hey, just because Heath died doesn't make him the best actor of all time. I feel sorry for him and all but Jack was also good. Not saying one was better than the other because they both had different representations of the role. Just sayin' Jack is being ignored as of lately.

Wait, The Phantom was a success?

These are the kind of Big Picture videos I really like, Bob explaining the history of a subject, what it meant then and what it means today. The fact that we're going to get 3 more weeks of this has me pretty stoked.

it has flaws but that is okay...You know why? It is batman

I hoped that "retrospective" was going to be about all Batman lifespan
Especially The Rainbow Batman
What the hell was that?

Every time i use the Line Launcher in Asylum/City:

That's how awesome Batman was.
Keaton was awesome btw, i liked his Wayne.

I get all the symbolism behind it, but I've always hated that cat suit.

I've always wondered how she managed to get THAT MUCH material out of ONE raincoat.

OT: Yes the Burton Batman movies weren't perfect but what movie is?
You name any movie and I bet we can all find at least 5 things wrong with it.

No matter what the result is for the next movie; I think we can all agree that it can't do worse than Catwoman!

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