Decades Blogathon – Batman Begins (2005)

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 10.17.43 PM

They say all fun has to come to an end sometime. Here we are at the end of the first ever Decades Blogathon and I know Mark has said it already, but I would just like to reiterate how much fun it’s been getting to read everyone’s contributions and seeing the variety with regards not only to genre but to the years in which they came out. It’s been a great time, and Mark and I thank you for participating. We hope to be back next year with another version. Let’s round out this year’s version with a look at 2005’s reboot of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins

m7jEW

Release: June 15, 2005

[Theater]

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

From Wikipedia: [Batman Forever‘s] tone is significantly different from the previous installments, becoming more family-friendly since Warner Bros. considered that the previous film, Batman Returns (1992), failed to outgross its predecessor due to parent complaints about the film’s violence and dark overtones.

Poor Joel Schumacher. Pressured by an industry where — not unlike many others — the bottom line is defined by the dollar bill, he was only trying to expose Bob Kane (and yes, Bill Finger)’s creation to broader audiences. Unfortunately (and naturally) in so doing, he lost the trust of more than a few of the long-been faithfuls. Though everyone regards the variations on cape and cowl as a singular symbol of hope for a city desperately needing it, very few are likely to conjure images of Val Kilmer in the process. Michael Keaton is to this day more often than not understood to be that presence lurking in the shadows, occupying the space between hero and antihero.

How to explain the 2005 re-boot? How do we go from Batman and Robin to Batman Begins? And how did they do it without coaxing Keaton back? Batman Begins, representing a heightened sense of thematic and literal darkness, is on one level a natural progression of a long-running story. Other proposed continuations of the saga (what about a Batman Triumphant, or perhaps Batman: DarKnight?), looking back now, just don’t feel . . . right. On another level, Batman Begins is highly memorable cinema independent of the legacy preceding it throughout the decades.

Call it a culmination, call it enigmatic, call it what you want. Me? I call this film the best thing Christopher Nolan has ever done. He may be a filmmaker by title but what Nolan really is is a magician. Wave a little magic wand and presto! Memories of a family-friendly era of Gotham’s Knight in not-shining armor, who hunts down the vilest criminals from the rooftops and down back alleys — they’re all but gone. Christian Bale is in as the handsome but aloof billionaire Bruce Wayne, a man who has a legitimate fear of bats because of a childhood trauma. And the metaphorical rabbit to be pulled from the hat? Setting the film in our world, our reality — or at least paralleling it with remarkable precision.

Batman Begins operates fundamentally as one of the most celebrated reboots in all of cinema . . . or at least in an era where reboots and revisitations became an acceptable trend. A proper origin story that affords the night-abiding vigilante a plausible and compelling resurgence. The story, and eventually the titular hero, thrives on fear and the instilling of it in others. For Bale’s Bruce (and by extension, in Nolan’s interpretation) fear goes far beyond those nocturnal little creatures. Having lost his parents at an early age and fled to all corners of the globe to seek justice — this isn’t the kind of grief you might mistakenly label as teenage angst in things like Spiderman — Bruce Wayne is afraid not so much of life beyond his parents but of one devoid of meaning or purpose.

That a film — a Batman film, no less — plays so well to people’s fears (you don’t have to have any special powers to deduce the simultaneous death of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne was a pretty horrible event) speaks to the power of good storytelling. Nolan has proven himself a talent in that regard with previous films like the mind-bending Memento and perhaps it was a matter of inevitability that he took the Batman legend and bolstered its image for an entirely different generation, a generation more tolerant (is that the right word?) of violent and brooding imagery and action that fails to become cartoonish.

Passionate requests from reinvigorated fan bases notwithstanding, Nolan’s take could also function as a comic in and of itself. It’s not difficult to imagine an overhauled DC strip based upon this new chapter in Gotham history, one that would see the introduction of Rachel Dawes and versions of Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow that no longer need revamping. Given the way The Dark Knight trilogy eventuates, this too might be a matter of inevitability. This is all assuming such a comic doesn’t exist already.

Batman Begins is a sign of the times. The first installment in one of the most commercially and critically successful trilogies in cinematic history is a challenge to the status quo, at least when it comes to first comprehending and then translating to the big screen such celebrated super-heroic beginnings. 2005 is the year Warner Brothers realized taking a drastic step away from Batman’s more cartoonish roots — no more Bat-turn or Bat-nipples, folks — not only could work, but had to work. Realism blends with the fantastical in Batman Begins in ways that, while not expected, when all is said and done, just feel . . . right.

If it seems a little hypocritical for the same studio that tried moving away from the ‘darker’ side of Batman is now passionately embracing the box office numbers in the same way fans have embraced the gritty new films, it’s because it is. But I don’t know how anyone can blame Warner Brothers for reversing course. Blame is not even the right word. We should, in some ways, be thanking the studio for greenlighting these very dark, very real stories and recognizing the power laying dormant in this legend. Perhaps Warner Brothers ultimately decided the timing just felt . . . right.

Recommendation: Dark, moody and yet unbelievably enjoyable, Batman Begins is the film that started it all (again) for the Dark Knight et al. I challenge anyone to watch this film and not have a great time. Of course, fans of the comic version should find even more to latch onto with Christopher Nolan’s stunning attention to detail, and it should go without saying that fans of his directorial CV have this one high up on their list of favorites. For me, personally, a film doesn’t get much better than this.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 140 mins.

Quoted: “It’s not who I am underneath . . . but what I do that defines me.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.dcmovies.wikia.com

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Decades Blogathon – Batman Begins (2005)

  1. Pingback: Top That: Five of My Favorite Directors | digitalshortbread

  2. Pingback: Batman Begins (2005) | Super Formula PC

  3. Love Batman Begins. It’s such an excellent film. The world building Nolan does here is on another level. One of the strengths of the movie and the entire franchise is how much Gotham herself is a character and not just a setting. Fyi, the foundation for this world was laid in the pages of Batman comics and graphic novels. There was no need to revamp anything. Like Burton’s Batflicks, Nolan borrowed liberally from the work Frank Miller put in during the 80s. Nolan is particularly grabby as his Batflicks really resemble the Gotham Miller created.

    • Thanks for the comment Wendell! Yeah I’m a huge fan of this franchise myself. I haven’t bothered catching up with all of the installments in the Batman universe so I talk mostly from my experience with the things I’ve seen in this review. Haven’t paid a lot of attention to the comics themselves either but I’ve heard they’re a good read.

  4. Pingback: Everybody’s Chattin’ + Question of the Week: Favorite French Film(s) |

  5. I loved Batman Begins. But I wish it hadn’t caused the current stampede of reboots, which has kind of gotten out of hand. Those that follow in your trail are not your concern though, I guess. Anyhow, good review, great blogathon, and thanks for having me.
    Ren

  6. YES!! Nice to see Batman Begins get some nods. People always talk about how great TDK was and indeed it is, but I have a soft spot for this phenomenal origin story. Fantastic film that I always love to revisit time and time again.

    • The praise and hype for TDK is certainly warranted but yes — someone needs to also make mention of how great its predecessor was! 🙂 This one was so much fun and when you think about the gap that came before this film — the last one I believe was Batman & Robin — the quality of this film seems even greater in my eyes. One of the strongest starts to any franchise ever.

  7. Brilliant mate. I simply love this film (it’s eclipsed by The Dark Knight for me, just) and it redefined both the comic book movie and the blockbuster. I couldn’t have said it any better.

    Thank you also for doing a sterling job with co-hosting the blogathon mate. Couldn’t have done it without you!

    • Very bittersweet knowing it is all over. But this was truly a great idea Mark, I’m appreciative you gave me a chance to support it as well. Wish I could have been around more with commenting and stuff but perhaps I’ll have some free time this weekend to do just that. 🙂

      As per this film, I actually think I prefer this over TDK. The follow-up is certainly amazing and features one of the most unforgettable performances of all time but at that point Nolan and his crew were already in rhythm. BB was such a gamble; who knew it was going to start off with such a bang like this!

    • Thanks Cindy! All of you helped make it one to remember. Not a bad first experience for this blogger, either! 😉

  8. Great stuff, Tom. Yeah, I think this reboot set the stage for the last 10 years of comic book hero movies. For good or bad, this heralded a new era with that genre. It is what you saying it is, “…Dark, moody and yet unbelievably enjoyable…” Great way to close out the blogathon.

    Thanks and congrats on a wonderful event, Tom and Mark.

    • Thank you for reading Michael. I have a lot of catching up to do this weekend. Work schedule has really put my daily blogging perusal in the background right now and it makes me kind of sad. haha

      I absolutely love this film and Mark had a great idea with having us hosts close it out, I felt this and back to the future were great send-offs for a great blogathon.

      And of course, don’t forget: you helped make it great! 😀

Comments are closed.