Batman’s back. Seriously?

THE LATEST Batman movie, “Dark Knight”, is breaking all sorts of box office records, as at least one blockbuster seems to do each summer. I liked the previous movie, “Batman Begins”; it was dark (inevitably) and serious and tried to make Batman believable and threatening. But despite all that, I still liked it.

I’m a fan of American comics but even I can’t quite see the sense in trying to make a serious movie about a superhero. They’re not supposed to be taken seriously – they’re escapism. That’s why the first two Spider-Man movies were so successful – because they didn’t take themselves too seriously – and why Ang Lee’s “Hulk” was so awful – because it took itself far too seriously.

The best superhero movie of all time (and we’re talking movies here, so for “all time” read “last sixty years or so”) was Richard Donner’s “Superman”. It wasn’t brilliant because it took itself seriously, but it wasn’t a spoof either. It had humour, great writing and a charismatic and modest lead actor. But it didn’t try to convince its audience that these events could actually have happened.

Incidentally, I never really understood why most people’s objection to the Superman myth was his Clark Kent disguise. “How can Lois Lane be fooled so easily by a pair of glasses?” is the refrain I’ve often heard. So, you believe the guy’s an alien, and you believe a man can fly, that he’s got super vision and super breath, that he can lift trains with one hand, that he can travel backwards in time by flying round the world really, really fast… but you can’t accept his glasses are a proper disguise?

And if you’re interested in pursuing that line of logic, I recommend you read Larry Niven’s short story, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex”.



Filed under Hinterland, Movies, sci-fi, Whimsy

8 responses to “Batman’s back. Seriously?

  1. wrinkled weasel

    I can agree with you there about Superman. At the time, it was marvellous and believable. In fact the tag line went something like, “You’ll believe a man can fly’. They deliberately kept the flying sequence back until about twenty minutes into the film. It was astonishing and the realisation of a dream that began with me buying DC comics every week in the sixties, with all those adverts on the back for BB guns and GI Joe, neither of which you could get of course.

  2. Rebel Without a Sauce

    I know how you feel… I’d like to find fault with ‘The Dark Knight’ too, but it’s really hard! It really is just a great movie… it has everything: romance, action, poignant yet fiery death… clown punching!


  3. Laurie

    Batman has been portrayed many times as a dark character in comic books. Take the seminal graphic novel ‘Arkham Asylum’ and, indeed, the comic mini series ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as early as 1986 (the series was written by Frank Miller, of ‘300’ and ‘Sin City’ Fame. The dark side of Batman lead to a significant revival of the characters popularity, perhaps showing that escapism can exist in a serious comic book and so forth, mutatis mutandis, in a serious film about a comic book character.

  4. Chris H

    Superman sucks. Batman rocks. Hard.

    Never forget that Batman served Superman’s ass back to him in the Dark Knight Returns.

    For further discussion, try:

    Batman has always been serious. It’s that whole Nietzschean staring into the abyss thing.

    Try reading the Batman Chronicles when he’s busy offing criminals in a way that Suckyman would never dream of.

    Anyway, the movies will never be as good as the comics, but the best ones give proper nods to them. Like that scene in the Spider Man movie where he leaves his cowl in the trash can and walks away down the alley in the lightening and rain. Ace.

    I’m so excited about Dark Knight. I might have to go and sit in the toilet until I calm down.

  5. Jane Spencer

    We all remember when Batman was portrayed as a comic character by (Mayor) Adam West. *shudder*

    I think a bit of darkness and realism is good. Witness X-Men as an example.

  6. When you’re right, you’re right, Jane. X-Men 2 was, for my money, the best of the recent crop. Pity X-Men: The Last Stand was so dreadful.

  7. Chris H

    All the X Men films have been rubbish. Wolverine was far too tall, and they really screwed up the Phoneix story arc.

  8. Stu

    Strange, I preferred X-Men to X-Men 2, and I think Batman Begins was the best superhero movie of the past few years. Barring The Incredibles, of course, which was… Incredible! I don’t really feel I can watch any superhero/comic book movie without enjoying it, though – even the ones I really expect to hate, like Spiderman 2 or Fantastic 4, generate such a childlike sense of entertainment and wonderment in me that I can’t help but be entertained.

    I await The Dark Knight with baited breath and great expectation. I still preferred Tim Burton and Michael Keatons’s Batman to any of the subsequent incarnations, though. I can but hope that the new film is as good as the first two.

    Oh, and the Batman series with Adam West was wuuunderful! Endlessly quotable and truly brilliant. I’ll never forget the Shark Repellent Bat-Spray. Genius.

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