M@Movies: The Goddamn Batman
July 25th, 2008

Posted by Matt

As Ben Affleck said it in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, “The internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.” There’s still one niche there you’ll have to look elsewhere for, (though possibly not much further than Morgan’s MSN info), but I got to thinking that there’s no reason I can’t make an attempt at filling the other.  As a result, M@Movies has been born. (Please forward all complaints about the choice of name to graham@lo[email protected]).  Putting the cheesy puns behind us though, M@Movies blog posts will come along whenever I’ve got something I want to say about a film (or just films in general).  It might be a review, it might be an observation, it might be a complaint.  You’ll just have to keep your eye out for them to see what every update brings.  For now, though, On with the show…

Batman.  At this point, it’s safe to assume that most of the world has seen The Dark Knight.  A fantastic film that everyone should enjoy.  (Well, unless you’re Keith Uhlich – Seriously?  Thinly veiled endorsement of the Bush Administration’s surveillance policies?   I’m pretty sure batman has had a big bank of computers that let him watch Gotham long before Bush was in office.)  But that’s not what I want to talk about.  Graham pointed me in the direction of a YouTube video last night featuring a clip from the fourth season of Batman: The Animated Series.  The clip surrounds Joel, a flambouyantly gay batman fanboy, enamoured of a pink feather boa, expressing his adoration of Batman’s “fabulous” rubber muscle suit and car, while standing in front of a store named “Shoemaker’s”   (Check it out, funny stuff).  This obvious dig at Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies naturally inspired a great deal of debate about the batman film franchise (and by debate, I mean swearing and poorly-spelled insults), as well as the inevitable ranking of the films.  Typically, the rankings went like this:

  1. Batman
  2. The Dark Knight
  3. Batman Returns
  4. Batman Forever
  5. Batman Begins
  6. Batman & Robin

Now back up the batmobile a second here.  What?  Why is Begins at the bottom of that list?  When did this happen?  Last time I checked Begins was everyone’s favorite.  Aside from laying the foundation for Dark Knight, which is singularly the best comic-book movie I’ve ever seen, it provided a compelling and believable origin story for Batman, and revitalized a franchise that had seen some serious damage done to its credibility. To rank it down with Forever and B&R makes a big statement.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that the Joel Schumacher Batman films employed art direction and a consistency of style the we have rarely seen since.  I hated it, but at least it was comprehensive and complete.  (I put it forward to you that Schumacher’s films were going for a very specific goal – a revisit not of the previous films, but that of the 1960′s Adam West Batman.  In that regard they were a total success – the campiness, the rogues glalery, the whole bit.  It was neon colours and crappy pop music instead of comic-book sound effects and the Bat-Dance, however the end result was fundamentally the same.  This topic could probably constitute an entire post of it’s own though.) And in fact, the film Batman & Robin was brobably the breaking point for that style.  After a film that bloated and overwrought, who could ever hope to pull that style off again? (And who would want to?)

For reference:

We needed the reboot of the franchise that Christopher Nolan gave us, and I’m sad to see that it’s not getting the kind of respect that it deserves.  The film was a credit to everyone involved, and if the Dark Knight’s box office take is any indication, it made us care about old bats once more.  So, when constructing your best-to-worst lists, don’t just remember what Batman Begins was as a film, but what it meant for the franchise it rescued.

See! Now youve made Batman sad. I hope youre all happy.

See! Now you've made Batman sad. I hope you're all happy.

-M