See Part One of our countdown here.
4. Batman Returns
Returns is a movie that grows on me the more I watch it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the hell out of it when I saw it in theaters at the age of 11, but where some movies tend to lose their luster after repeated viewings, Returns somehow has grown better in my eyes.
As with 1989’s Batman, there is stuff that isn’t exactly canon, like Batman straight up murdering guys and Selina’s transformation into Catwoman, which I am sure has happened in real life because I can guess that Christopher Walken has pushed at least one woman from a high rise building. That’s just how he rolls. Danny DeVito is The Penguin…literally. Burton took the character and accentuated everything, even having him raised by penguins which I am still unsure how that works. If Bender can do it, why not Oswald Cobblepot. DeVito sometimes goes too far into loud, squawking territory. His best work is when he is being cold, calculating, low-voiced Penguin, which is how I imagine the character.
The reason Returns works for me after so long is Michael Keaton. He was settled into the role of Batman and it came with more nuance this time around. He was noticeably more comfortable as Bruce Wayne in his scenes with Michelle Pfeiffer. It was more natural than with Kim Basinger. He had the Batman voice down which was a darker variation of Bruce’s voice, not as grating as Bale’s performance.
Watching Returns make me wish that Burton and Keaton could have had one more go round.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
Ok, here we go. This is where the shit storm begins.
After The Dark Knight became the biggest superhero movie of all time at the box office (until The Avengers), everyone waited with baited breath to see if Christopher Nolan could finish up his trilogy with a bang. He totally did. People have bitched about The Dark Knight Rises ever since it was released in 2012. What is it about Bane’s goofy voice? How come cops don’t grow beards when they are stuck underground for three months? How does Bruce get back into Gotham so quickly?
-Tom Hardy’s voice was one of the best changes for the Bane character to me. I don’t want a deep-voiced Taco Bell dog yelling “Yo Quiero Batman”. When I read Bane in comics now, it is with Hardy’s voice.
-Is it so past the realm of possibility that with Bane’s thugs feeding and sending toiletries down to the cops that they could send a few goddamn razors?
-When Bruce gets out of the pit there is still a little under a month left until the bomb goes off. Could you not believe that a man as resourceful as Bruce Wayne (aka the goddamn Batman) could not find his way to Gotham in that amount of time?
Anyway, people like the movie or they don’t. I love Rises because it brings Nolan’s trilogy full circle playing almost as a sequel to Batman Begins instead of The Dark Knight. And can we just all agree with Kevin Smith and just be thankful that nerd society has become so big that we can have a character like Talia al Ghul in a fucking movie in the first place?
Watching Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman should be a nerd rage affair. Joker killed the Wayne family? Alfred lets Vicki in the Bat Cave? (WTF Alfred?!) Batman’s “no kill” rule is about as useful as chewy bacon. Yet, I still watch it with nine year old eyes.
Burton was the right weirdo to bring Batman into the gritty Frank Miller bat-verse that the 80’s brought us. Now today the movie does not seem near as dark, but I blame that on us as a society slowly devolving into a Purge-like state that has sat through seven Saw movies and three Hostels.
It was one of those wacky Hollywood moves that should not have worked. The director of Beetlejuice with Mr. Mom as Batman and a reluctant Jack Nicholson, who required a big payday and much convincing, as The Joker. But I’ll be damned if it still doesn’t entertain the hell out of me 25 years later.
It’s me, sugar bumps.
1. The Dark Knight
I am guessing when you began to read this you thought this would be number one, unless I went different just for the sake of being different. No surprises here. The Dark Knight is still the quintessential Batman movie.
One amazing thing about The Dark Knight is not just Heath Ledger’s performance (which has been talked about constantly for six years, deservingly), but the fact that he accomplished it in 33 minutes of screentime in a two hour and 40 minute movie. Mark Hamill will always be my favorite Joker. Sorry, I can’t change that. Ledger will have to settle for best live action psychopath.
The Dark Knight was the first comic movie to take a premise and build it around the hero. Before Marvel said their movies would be like this (Ant-Man is a heist movie with a hero, etc.), The Dark Knight was a crime drama with Batman in it. What happens when someone takes on the mob? What are the repercussions of these actions?
The Dark Knight is not perfect. Bale’s voice grates ears more than the first and last in the trilogy. I am glad that we got the Harvey Dent/Two-Face story even though it was truncated in one movie which lessens the character some. But with so much good, everything else feels like nitpicking.
I think Ben Affleck will do a fine job in Batman v Superman, but his solo movie is where he will be fully judged and it will be against The Dark Knight.
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