I've been a fan of Batman for about as long as I can remember. There hasn't been a time that I wasn't fascinated and entertained with Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter ego. More than just the whiz-bang cool of the super heroics of it all, the character of Batman - who he is and what he does - as always been the big draw for me. Bruce Wayne is a regular guy who is driven by extreme situations to make himself into force feared by criminals. Batman is the struggle to establish order in a world of chaos.
It's because of this deep love of the character that I always take great interest when he is represented in different mediums. Be it comics, novels, animation or live-action - I want to see how others envision and interpret the mythos of the Batman. Most times these versions sit well with me, sometimes they seem a bit off - but I usually end up enjoying how ever Batman is presented by appreciating how many different ways Bruce Wayne/Batman can be recast by different creators.
Think about it. Superman is always Superman - blue tights, red cape, played straight as the ultimate Boy Scout. Spiderman will always be Spiderman - wise-cracking young everyman Peter Parker struggling to keep a personal life and a superhero life in balance. Batman though, can swing from camping Adam West to Superfriends Saturday morning cartoon vanilla to the dark and violent version Christopher Nolan put on the screen in Batman Begins
All last year on this blog I talked about the development of Warner Brothers' relaunch of the Batman movie franchise. Under the direction of Christopher Nolan, with a script from David Goyer, Batman was given new life on the silver screen this past June. Next to Star Wars Episode III, Batman Begins was the movie I most desperately wanted to see in the theater this past summer. I was pretty excited about the film coming out. Unfortunately, situations as they were, I was unable to get out to a theater to see the film.
A quick DVD release was as inevitable as me picking the DVD up as soon as possible. After taking some birthday money to get myself a new overcoat to battle the cold winters in Chicago, the remaining cash went towards obtaining Batman Begins and another exceptional comic book character-based movie, Spiderman 2.
This past weekend I finally got to sit down and watch Batman Begins - almost six months after it debuted in the theaters and five months later than I thought I would be seeing the movie. Between following the movies production, reading all the reviews, and seeing the trailers and previews, I had built this version of Batman up considerably in my head. My expectations were that this film would be the best movie yet at bringing "my version" of Batman to life. Like I said before, Batman can be, and is, reinterpreted all the time. It's inherent in the strength of the character. However, Batman fans each have their own "version" of Batman that they consider the right one. That was what I was expecting from this movie - a dark, driven Bruce Wayne with a keen mind who is driven to restore order to the chaos and protect those who can't protect themselves. I also expect an equally driven and smart James Gordon - my second favorite character in comics and one who has continually gotten shafted in the movies with how he was portrayed.
So with it was with much relief and excitement that about forty-five minutes into the movie I realized that Nolan's Batman was hitting it right on the mark for me. The character, his motivation, his actions - everything was falling into place as what I loved about Batman. Seeing the movie proved to be worth the wait. Sure I would have enjoyed on the big screen - those exterior scenes up in the mountains near Ra's Al Ghul's lair probably looked fantastic - but at least now I can watch it whenever I want. Which, incidentally, was the first thing I thought of when I finished the movie late Saturday night. When can I find time to watch the movie again?
Nolan's and Goyer's script give the story emotional depth and resonance with the audience, while blending the fantastical with the real in a believable way. By grounding the story in a world that resembles real life - not a fictional/stylized world like most fantasies do - it heightens both the impact of the story and the accessibility to it. Because everything is boiled down to play in a "real" world, you approach the characters as real people - not cartoon characters or icons. It makes for a much more exciting film.
And James Gordon was finally played like the tough, hard working, no-nonsense cop dedicated to justice with a true sense of ethics. Gary Oldman is perfectly cast and delivers a wonderful performance as the one uncorrupt cop in Gotham City.
I thoroughly enjoyed Batman Begins. Disappointed that I had to wait as long as I did to see it, but happy that the move was made and that I own it to enjoy it again whenever I want.