I obviously abhor the idea of using a nonsensical word in the title of any review but it’s worth mentioning this time as I think it succinctly points out which cinematic series of the Batman I want to discuss. In case it is too subtle, I wanted to touch on the Batman series as done by the brothers Nolan. Apparently there’s a fine line when it comes to subtlety.
The films were acceptable but I won’t be giving any more praise than that. There’s more than enough positive, glowing, and even excessively indulgent reviews and compliments kicking around the internet and I don’t need to throw my hat into that ring of contention. Rather, I’ll voice a major concern I have with the trilogy instead. There aren’t that many concerns but of course there are a few that stick out for me. I’ll see if I can eloquently voice them without being overly critical or harsh.
Right off the bat, I should like to remind myself that the films were decent. I recall attending a screening and for only twenty-five bucks I was able to partake in three films and eight hours of entertainment at the theater. That’s a price I was more than willing to pay. I got insatiably excited about seeing them a few hours before the show for no discernible rhyme or reason. I left work early to attend the viewing – that’s how excited I was.
Now as far as I see it, this telling of the Bat was very much Nolan’s own interpretation. Borrowing ideas liberally from the comics that had come before it; the Nolan’s had much material to pull from to weave their own web. They took from lots of Bat comics and graphic novels throughout their three film series. Some examples would be Bane breaking Batman’s back, the League Of Shadows being tirelessly meddlesome, and even Gordon working his way up to Commissioner through a dirty system. Bits and pieces were taken for each character as well. Bruce Wayne was a playboy billionaire orphan, Selina Kyle was a burglar, Joker was kind of nuts etc. They were fortunate to have such great material to work with to create their vision.
Here comes the biggest issue I have: to me, superheroes and villains are supposed to be larger-than-life. They are supposed to be grandiose, exceptional people in grandiose and exceptional situations. The super powers, technology, altered time etc. all adds up to the fantastical draw of the super idea. Even a normal guy like Batman is supposed to be a notch above the average man with his near-flawless intelligence, speed, strength, training, deductive skills, and so on.
What the Nolan’s did which admittedly lost me was make this “Nolanverse” a feasible reality. There were simply no super powers, no super situations and no super anything really. Bruce Wayne/Batman was simply a rich guy that lost his parents at an early age and his anger fueled him to become a vigilante/symbol. Ra’s Al Ghul (the antagonist of Batman Begins) was simply a man who learned to control his rage and anger and tried to impart his trickery to Wayne. The Joker was simply a man hell-bent on showing the world (and more so Batman) that people are inherently evil and anarchy would destroy civilization. Two-Face was a district attorney that ended up using duality as the judge and jury. On a side note, I felt this interpretation was most like the comic book character but the movie character was wholly wasted. Back on track, Bane was a thug/assassin/mercenary, Catwoman was simply an acrobatic thief, and that’s it. These people were… I guess they were alarmingly normal. They could exist in our reality. They didn’t have any crazy superpowers or nuclear reactions causing side effects or anything superhero like. It just felt a bit small when all’s said and done.
The plots very much mirrored reality. I felt they were social commentaries. They weren’t whimsical and extravagant and lacked the larger-than-life feel that I think comic-related material is supposed to have. Would someone read a comic book about the plain Jane existence of a person doing humdrum boring every day things? Doubtful. Would someone read about an average Joe that develops some crazy strength after falling into a vat of nuclear waste? Definitely.
Like I say, the Bat trilogy was acceptable. The acting was done well, the actors played the characters they were given with grace. I guess I just dislike the reality of it all. I think that the Nolan spin on it was not to my liking, but in all fairness; it is the best Bat work to be done to date. Would I recommend them? Sure I’d recommend them. Just don’t go into it expecting a high-octane adventure like Captain America. That this is not. I’m ambivalent about the series not because of poor acting or the stories themselves. I chalk it up to a mixture of the hype and my expectations of superhero stories continuing to get in the way of my appreciation for these films. I genuinely appreciate what the Nolan’s were after but am not a fan of the finished product.