Batman (the Man and the Legend) has been fucked with big time more times than any other superhero that I can think of. I'm not talking "fucked with by supervillains" — though that may be the case as well — but instead "fucked with by shitty storytelling and inept directors in his big screen and televised exploits." In most cases, the writers and directors are bigger assholes to the Caped Crusader than most of his rogues gallery.
It all started in the 1940s when the really cheap (even by those days' standards) movie serials of the Bat were first released. After seeing a few, Bob Kane (the Dark Knight's creator, you goddamn retard) was quoted as saying, "That was horrible! About the only thing they got right was the names of my characters. Batman was actually fat in this shitty thing! I will CRUCIFY those directors and producers! I want them DEAD! Their families DEAD! Their dogs DEAD! Then I want to skull fuck their corpses in public so that nobody else gets any wise ideas to fuck with my Batman!" His exact words.
Then the 60s came around, and since Hollywood was stoned out of its collected gourd at the time it thought that a trippy, gay, tongue-in-cheek (actually, more like tongue-in-Liberace's anus), slightly doughy Batman, with a really lame Boy Wonder (who had to start every sentence with a "Holy fuck my sweet teen boy ass with a dildo covered in Tabasco sauce, Batman!") was a fantastic idea. Bob Kane was just a little too old and tired to fight it at the time, plus, for better or for worse, that 60s hippie, campy Batman did bring the Dark Knight back into the public awareness, but it made everybody think that the man in tights had a penchant for young men. Not really a good thing.
Then came the late 80s, and Tim Burton. Tim tried to do something new and cool with his 1989 Batman feature (which I loved at the time), but go back and watch it again now to see what an absolute mess it really is (it's almost as schlocky as the 60s Batman, only the color scheme is darker). Yeah, I still have a soft spot in my corroded heart for both Batman and Batman Returns (which also starred The Continental), but they just didn't do Batman properly, and neither makes any real sense if you try to follow their plots at all. But then came Bruce Timm and Paul Dini's Batman - The Animated Series in 1992, and all was right with the world (and the Bat)... At least until Joel Schumacher shat upon and then clogged the toilet with his "interpretations" of Batman's universe in his two follow ups to Burtons' flicks... But Schumacher's movies are universally panned and ignored, and so I will ignore them as best I can here as well. Batman - TAS though was an absolute work of art. The designs of everything (from the characters to Gotham City itself), the storytelling, the action, the drama... everything was pitch-perfect. I remember being in high school and having no embarrassment whatsoever over discussing the cartoon with my classmates. Everybody knew it was just GOOD.
Then came the Batman - TAS movie, The Mask of the Phantasm. Phantasm did everything right that every previous silver screen incarnation of the Bat did wrong. Yes, it was another origin tale, but the origin actually figured deeply into the plot (meaning it wasn't just shitty exposition for its own sake, and not simply a story that just so happened to take place at he beginning of the Bat's career. It was actually a tale of how Bruce Wayne almost didn't become the Dark Knight). Yes, it had a super villain in it, but it mainly focused on the Gotham mobs (which I always found much more interesting than the overused and overly colorful regulars of Arkham Asylum), and most importantly it was the best Batman movie ever made. Well, at least until... Fuck it, just keep reading.
Okay, so after soooooo much pure live-action CHEEZE, and several years after Joel Schumacher single-handedly stabbed the big screen Batman through the heart and then French kissed its dead body, thusly giving it the AIDS and some herpes, Hollywood announced that it was trying again — one more Batman restart movie by the guy who did Memento. I groaned. Yeah, Memento was a good flick, but really, did we have to do this all over again? It was apparent to me by this time that a live action Batman had to A). Be corny and campy as hell, or B). Suck gonorrhea dick. Or both. But they proceeded without my blessing, and in the end we had Batman Begins.
Yeah, that was a long way to go to get to the meat of this review, but I feel it was quite necessary. Without remembering what came before it you probably wouldn't have had the same appreciation for the final product that I currently do. Anyway, Batman Begins is — just as its title suggests — yet another origin tale... Oh my GOD! "Really," I thought, "do people STILL not know what turned Bruce Wayne from a simpering little billionaire bastard into the world's coolest superhero?" Well, even though we cover basically the same ground as ALL THE OTHER Batman movies that came before with yet another retelling of "Wayne family goes to the theater, they walk down a dark alley right afterwards, Daddy Wayne and Mommy Wayne get shot, little Bruce Wayne wonders what the fuck just happened, then Brucie turns his grief into vengeance and takes it upon himself to clean up the streets of Gotham as a lone, ass-kicking warrior of the night," Christopher Nolan (the writer/director) takes his cue from the Animated Batman and makes the origin integral to the plot of the movie. I don't just mean that the start of Batman's career is the plot, and thusly it's needed to see Bruce's parents gunned down in front of his eyes, but the training to become Batman (who trains him, and how he overcomes his fears in order to strike terror back into the superstitious and cowardly lot that is the underworld of Gotham, and eventually against the plans that his sensei had for him and his city) leads him back to his own worst enemy... That sounds awkward, but if you've already seen it then you know what the fuck I'm talking about. Once again my point is that the origin isn't just exposition for its own sake.
True, Batman Begins is not terribly original, but Nolan did a titty-suckingly awesome job of making Batman seem real. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Bat-toys and the physics-bending action pieces went over the top most of the time (Batman can hang glide for HOW long with just his cape through the man-made valleys of Gotham?), but Bruce's drive and character were a lot more realistic than anything done before.
No doubt you've seen Batman Begins 32 times by now — you know the story: Bruce goes out in the world, learns martial arts and self control, and is taken in by Ra's al Ghul and the League of Shadows, trained to be their leader in the fight against corrupt Gotham in order to burn it to the ground. Along the way he remembers what started him down this path for vengeance/justice, and soon turns down Ra's' offer, thusly destroying what he thinks is the entirety of the League. He then returns to Gotham City (after 7 years) in order to take back control of his family's company from Roy Batty, and to clean up the rotten streets of his beloved city, just like his pop originally tried to do... Only with more theatrics and gas bombs and military tech than dear-old daddy ever thought to use himself. And thus Batman was born. And soon he finds himself embroiled in a plot filled with fear, corrupt cops, mob bosses, and his old group of trainers all trying to get a piece of his crime-fighting identity. Good stuff all around, but for those of you claiming that "Batman Begins is so realistically sound and life-like! It could really take place in our world!" reeeeeeally need to watch it again. Sooooo much bullshit science going on throughout it all... But beyond that, Nolan did a smash-up job on this baby.
What I loved about Batman Begins (a list): Bruce Wayne is obviously the mask and Batman is who the man truly is; it used a villain that WASN'T the Joker or Catwoman as its main threat; we see how Bruce and Alfred (the best butler ever!) create everything about the Bat persona from scratch (from costume to weapons and vehicles); Batman enlists people to help him as he realizes sweeping up Gotham is more than a one person/legend job; the acting is actually really good (exception being Mrs. Tom Cruise who's pretty wooden the whole way through, just like she [Scientologologically] "acts" in real life); the theme of the movie was "fear" (what causes it, how to overcome it, and how to use it on others); Gotham City feels real and alive and not just another set piece on the Pinewood Studios lot; Lucius Fucking Fox is da man!; and quite honestly the piecemeal Batsuit is just so awesome. I loved how it looked like it was just assembled piece by piece as they found the separate parts.
What I wasn't too crazy about: The whole "microwaving machine" to nuke the water supply into vapor, thusly turning all of Gotham into pure crazy; Batman's "I won't kill you... But I don't have to SAVE you!" line to Ra's at the end; the fact that Batman just fucking HAD to let somebody else know that he was really Bruce Wayne... Honestly, this seems to happen in every goddamn superhero movie in which the main character has a secret identity... What's the goddamn point of having one if you're just going to tell every piece of tail that comes your way?
Except for those small nit-pickings, good stuff all around.
After Batman Begins banked a bunch of Benjamins at the box office, it was obvious that there would be more of Nolan's Dark Knight. What was greatly appreciated was the fact that Warner Bros. not only supported a $180million sequel to Nolan's revamp of the Bat franchise, but they also put the cash up for an Animatrix of sorts for the Batman: A series of short animated films written and directed by big names in the (Japanese) animation industry, that tell some side stories of our hero, and lead up to the next official movie release. Only Gotham Knight (the title of the animated package), unlike the Animatrix, kind of missed the mark entirely. I mean, it really didn't live up to its potential (in any possible way). In other words, it sucked mangy donkey balls covered in lice.
Yes, Gotham Knight was produced by Batman - TAS' Bruce Timm, AND it has Kevin Conroy (the only 100% perfect Batman in my book) reprising his voice role [from TAS] ... but that's pretty much all it had going for it. The individual stories were simply a mess as each director had his own style and idea of what Batman was. Some kept the storytelling grounded in a sort of real world mentality, but others went bat-shit-loco with their creative freedom and had Batman doing shit that not even his ultra-cartoony TAS counterpart would have ever done. They even stole a story idea from the Dini-Timm animated show with the first Gotham Knight tale: The one with the kids telling each other tales of what they thought the Batman really was. Remember that one? Only in the original TAS show they really made it good (and made some funny as fuck jokes against Schumacher while they were at it). In Gotham Knight they made it really retarded and even more over the top than its predecessor. Oh, then there was the story with Killer Croc in it. Yeah, in the "more realistic" and "based in Batman Begins timeline" they brought in the mutant Killer Croc. Killer Croc wasn't even that good a villain in the Dini-Timm universe! Was he just the only bad guy they were allowed to use? Honestly, the only mini narrative that I liked in GK was the one that told how Bruce Wayne learned to work through pain — the one where he met the hot woman yogi. That was surprisingly well done and touching.
Anyway, the main problem I had with Gotham Knight was its discombobulation. I couldn't tell until the very end what it was trying to accomplish. I thought that it was just a mess of half a dozen unrelated stories that had nothing to do with Nolan's original movie... And I was right for the most part. There were a few very forced sub-sub plot points that they obviously crammed into a few of the stories to make it look like everything was tied together, but it simply felt like those subplots were more forced than a mouse getting raped by a hippo — the end result was just as ugly and gooey too. What a wasted awesome opportunity this could have been.
THE DARK KNIGHT
But I could ignore GK and pretend it was non-canon; I couldn't do the same with Nolan's follow-up to BB though. The Dark Knight came out three years after BB, and there was unbelievable and unprecedented lead up to its release. Firstly, everybody who read the script that got out said, "Holy shit is that dark and twisted! No trace of camp at all! Is this even possible?! Is the WB really letting Nolan do this?!" Then there was the controversy of hiring pretty boy Heath Ledger to play the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. "He can't act!" they all said. "He's just a beautiful face and a hot piece of ass. What were they thinking making him the Joker! He'll be behind heavy make-up the whole movie anyway. Why bother with him! Mmmmmmmm, hot piece of assssssss." And after that there was the added Ledger controversy when the dumbass died from a drug overdose (prescription meds my ass... Didn't know heroin was a prescription drug). "Oh noes!" they all cried. "Oh noes! Now they'll HAVE to tone down the darkness of The Dark Knight! It might be uncomfortable to see Heath in a role where he's dark when he's now really dead!" Ugh... I swear, everybody in this world other than me (and you, my awesome readers) is a fucking inbred retard. Thankfully (and OF COURSE) the show went on.
The Dark Knight hit theaters and everybody ran to all the message forums online to spew their [in]glorious opinions [about the movie] out onto everyone else like a load by Ron Jeremy onto the face of one of his many cock-craving leading ladies. Nobody could say anything bad about the film, and they just wouldn't shut the fuck up about how super-tastic it was. This is a dangerous time to see a movie, with so much hype about it fresh in the air. People were talking "Oscars for Heath and Nolan!" and "Greatest superhero movie ever fucking made!!!!!" Even if you try to distance yourself from that kind of talk, it's always there in the back of your mind, and it will always lead to disappointment. Always until now that is.
Even with all that buzz going around, all that hype, TDK lived up to my unlowered expectations. The Dark Knight is everything everybody said it was, and as soon as it was over I wanted to see it again. I could not believe just how far Nolan and company pushed things in this movie. Everything that was good to great in the first movie was made even better in this one. Everything that was weak with BB was fixed and made beyond bat-riffic in the sequel. Yeah, they used the (over-used) Joker and Two-Face in this movie, but the Gotham families featured just as much of a menace to the city as either of those freaks. Batman has more friends in this one, and I'm not talking Robin or the Wonder Twins, but instead Commissioner Gordon and all of his special crimes unit, Harvey Dent, and [a fully integrated into the Bat-family] Lucius Fox. And everything except those really gay sonar phones made me think this entire movie could have taken place in our real world. Really, were those fucking phones really necessary? Couldn't they have done something a wee bit more based in fact and science? Small grumble.
So this time we don't have to worry at all about backstory, and we just jump straight into the plot. TDK is all about Batman, Gordon, and eventually Dent teaming up to smoke out the mobs in Gotham, and bankrupt them all while imprisoning their heads of family. The mobs are feeling the pinch, and into this whole mess comes the Joker: A fucked up sociopath (with an amazing "disappearing pencil" magic trick) who claims that the only way to stop the pressure from destroying them all is to kill the Batman — which he volunteers to do for an assload of money. The mobs shoo him away at first, but when their Chinese accountant runs away with their money (like the Joker claimed he would), they call in His Smileyness to cause a little anarchy in Gotham and put them all on top once again.
Unfortunately for all involved, the Joker really, really loves chaos, and he starts to go a bit crazy with assassinations and explosions, with many (innocent and guilty) people getting caught in the crossfire. The Joker gets most of Gotham to start calling for Batman's head on a pike as the Clown himself continues to assassinate the policemen, judges, and prosecutors who were cracking down on the mob. Things really get disturbing and very cynical during the course of this narrative, and no character is safe. Once a few people you didn't expect to die kick the bucket, you realize that all bets are fucking off, and for the first time ever in a superhero movie I wasn't sure if the titular hero would win... Hell, after seeing the flick I'm STILL not sure. And I LOVE all those involved because of it!
TDK does pretty much everything right. Characters, plot, tone, everything is absofuckinglutely perfect. What I loved most about it is the characters though. Not just Batman and the Joker, but the white knight himself, Harvey Dent (whose descent into fucked-up madness is a disturbing, beautiful thing to watch), Gordon, Alfred, Rachel, and even that fucked up inmate on the ferry played by Tiny Lister. Everybody's role is integral to the story, and they're all given so much to do. I am in awe as to how well Nolan tied everything together so effortlessly.
Oh, and all of the Joker's plans are so evil and fucked up, but also so goddamn meticulous. He's psychotic, no doubt about it, but he's pretty truthful in his twistedness; if he says he's going to blow up a hospital, or that he's kidnapped two people and tied bombs to them, you better fucking believe him (just don't take his word on every detail). He backs up his threats like no villain before. My only teeny, tiny gripe about TDK also lies with Ledger's portrayal of the Joker. Yes, his version was perfect for this movie, but it wasn't the REAL Joker. The only person to ever give up a definitive Joker performance is Mark Hamill from Batman - TAS... Hear me out.
The Joker is one fucked up guy, yes. But his fucked upness comes from his ability to keep the people he interacts with on their toes — not knowing if he's going to throw a pie or a squirt a flower full of acid into their faces. The Joker laughs at his own dark jokes (which he cracks all the time, and where he's usually the only one who ever gets a chuckle out of them), and if he had a chance to either cut you with a meat cleaver or smack you around with a 3 foot salami, he'd go for the salami every time... Except when the meat cleaver would be funnier. Plus, Hamill's laugh is so creepy and insane... Not even Jack Nicholson's laugh in Tim Burton's Batman movie came close to it. And that is why I think that Mask of the Phantasm and The Dark Knight tie as the greatest Batman — neigh, the greatest SUPERHERO movies of all time. I want to fondle both with my manly love touch for hours on end. I want to whisper sweet nothings into their pointy ears and tell them both that I love them, and that Spider-Man never meant a thing to me. I want to reach around both of them, slip my hand between their—...... You get the idea. And as much as I want to do to them, they've already done 10Xs as much for me.
Yeah, Batman is probably the coolest superhero ever, but that's really not saying much. Batman doesn't use any guns to take down the freaks of his town, he uses his own FISTS. He's dark and talks like he's gargling gravel most of the time.... But he walks around town dressed like a flying rodent. At least in the movies he doesn't wear tights, but in the comics he does. He's a tough, badass motherfucker, who wears dark undies on the outside and tights. Honestly, who was the first dickweed who thought this superhero fashion accessory up? "Hey, I know! Let's make our heroes really righteous and powerful mo'-fo's, give them really strange, but cool, abilities, and then dress them up as trannies."
Really sick, sick minds there.
No, I did not see either Batman Begins or The Dark Knight with the Rossman, but he wanted to know what I thought about them anyway. I kind of figured that he was gizzing all over the place with his love of costumed losers coming to batty fruition with these movies, so it is with great pleasure that I state that I feel Christopher Nolan's Batman movies are the gayest things ever put to film. So homo-erotic. Anybody who likes them is obviously craving the cock.
(Note from the Rossman: If what Angry Amy says is true, then it confirms something I've long since believed. She wrote "Anybody who likes [Nolan's Batman movies] is obviously craving the cock." And she says that she hates them. Therefore, ergo, Angry Amy does NOT crave the cock. That explains quite a bit.)