The Batman

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BATMAN_BEGINS - 111.jpg (50047 bytes)                             

Batman is my favorite "Super" hero. The fact that he's human, not an alien (Superman) or some mutated human (X-Men, Spiderman), makes him more attractive, since in theory, one could actually become The Batman (providing you have several billion dollars and are willing to train for years both physically and mentally). The first Batman movie with Michael Keaton was a ground breaking movie in the Batman in real life productions. The original Batman serials from the mid to late 1940's was poorly written, produced on a thin budget (a result of WWII?), and acted poorly. The costumes were a joke, and the movies had a racist tone, with the main villain in the first movie an evil Japanese mastermind. It's not surprising due to the war with Japan and Germany underway during filming and release. 

The next incarnation of Batman was the TV series starring Adam West as The Batman and Burt Ward as his ward and sidekick, Robin. This TV series was the personification of "Camp". The corny dialogue, the BIFFs and POWs superimposed on the poorly choreographed fight scenes, and the constant "Holy whatever's" uttered by Robin. A feature length movie was filmed at the peak of the TV show's popularity, which was equally campy. A highlight of the series was the cameo appearances of many of the most popular celebrities of the time, including Sammy Davis, Jr.

The first 2 Batman movies in the late 1970's and early 1980's, starring Michaels Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Danny Devito were significant improvements over their predecessor's. However, the 3rd and fourth installments quickly slipped back to the campy style of the Adam West era. The inclusion of nipples on the Bat-suit and the ridiculous storylines and gags all but destroyed the Franchise. I think George Clooney would have made an excellent Batman, but the script and poor directing guaranteed a flop.

Then along comes Christopher Nolan, David Goyer, and Christian Bale. Mr. Nolan wanted to make the film "believable". Granted, the thought of a grown man dressing as a bat and terrorizing criminals isn't what is generally considered believable, but the use of minimal numbers of gadgets and the rare usage of computer graphics in favor of real stuntmen whenever possible set the stage for a believable character and city. The conscious decision to make this an origin story was important to restart what could be one of Warner Brothers most lucrative franchises, rivaling James Bond for longevity and box office profits. 

Mr. Nolan included logical explanations for the Batsuit, the Batmobile, and his gadgets (mini-mines, magnetic grappling gun, electronic gadgets, etc.). His seven years of physical training shows how he became one of the most deadly martial artists in the world. The fight scenes were designed to provide the viewer with a criminal's point of view. It was fast and close-up, giving the impression of a whirling dervish that wastes no time on dramatic martial arts "dances".  The movie introduced a new martial arts style called Keysi Fighting Method. It's only about 20 years old and is considered a brutal, close-in style of fighting, utilizing the forearms and elbows as devastating weapons. I have watched the special feature DVD in the Batman Begins deluxe DVD. They showed several scenes demonstrating the Keysi style. It was breath taking in it's speed and effective brutality on the opponent. Even in slow motion it was astounding. This is exactly the style of fighting I would picture Batman using. It's fast, brutal, and the intent of the style is to disable your opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The supporting cast was chosen with great care, and the choices of Morgan Freeman as Lucious Fox, the creative genius behind all of Batman's gear was excellent. Mr. Freeman has been one of my favorite actors over the years, and would be someone I would want to have dinner with just to hear his thoughts. Michael Caine played Alfred much as the comic books do, an important cog in the Batman's fight with evil. He's highly intelligent, loyal, and dedicated to Bruce Wayne. And he also brought a father's love to the relationship with Bruce. As a Batman fan, Batman Begins was the ultimate film incarnation of my favorite hero. I am one fan hoping WB keeps the team of Nolan, Bale, Freeman, et al intact and working regularly for years to come. Here's the reference photo I used for this portrait.



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