Still Not Found My Perfect Film Batman

25 Jul

Warning: Here Be Spoilers

I’ve recently seen The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) and I thought it was a great film and a good continuation of the current run of Batman films. Most of the characters and story were brilliant and Bane stole the show as one of the most imposing and threatening villains I can think of.

Most comic book fans will know that the film version of Bane is different from the comic one; he’s been adapted for the Nolanverse. The core ideals of the character are still there though, he’s strong, he’s smart and he broke the bat [1]. I have no problems with the changes they made to Bane, but the film did bring to light some changes to characters that I do have a problem with, namely Batman and Alfred.

For those that don’t know, one of Batman’s pseudonyms is The Worlds Greatest Detective. He’s basically a ninja version of Sherlock Holmes and his CSI skills and deductions make up a huge portion of his character; they’re some of his most defining features. Nolan however has seemingly removed all this from the character, instead reducing him to muscle. The only bits you could call proper detective work in all the three films are when he reconstructs a bullet from brick fragments in The Dark Knight (TDK) [2] and the occasional uses of the batcomputer. His lack of detective skills was made evident in TDKR with regards to Bane’s origins. Throughout the film the audience and Batman are spoon-fed information about Bane and then a twist is revealed at the end. The twist is one that can be worked out from the information provided, which makes it all the more annoying that Batman was surprised. I don’t get the rationale of removing his intellect from the films – is it so unbelievable that he studied criminology as well as all his martial arts?

Another aspect of Batman I feel they completely messed up was his attitude toward being Batman. The whole idea of Batman is a man who has wholly committed himself to helping others. After taking the rap for Harvey Dent’s murder he would not have run off with his cape between his legs. I know that Gotham is meant to be virtually crime-free after the Harvey Dent Act but as long as there is one criminal left in Gotham he would be out there stopping them, as both Batman and as Bruce Wayne using his WayneTech billions. I don’t buy that he just gives up after what happened in TDK. Nor do I like that he just gives up the cowl and fakes his own death at the end of TDKR, especially given the state Bane left Gotham in. It seems that Nolan’s Batman is one whose ultimate goal is having a normal life for himself, and for me Batman should not be like this. He should be completely committed to being Batman. Who goes through all that time, money and effort becoming Batman to just give up? Where does all his legendary drive and willpower go?

I also take issue with the way Alfred was portrayed in TDKR, essentially leaving Batman when he needed help the most. Alfred should be 110% loyal to Batman and having him just leave and not return till the fake funeral felt very wrong. For me the Batman-Alfred relationship was nicely summed up in the pages of Batman 683

I did once consider resigning from my position in the Wayne household. “I need a disguise”, he said and I thought he’s finally gone mad with grief. But when I saw what he meant, when I watched how he surrendered himself to an ideal, how he used each ordeal, each heartache and failure, to become a better man, in the service of others what could I do but stand in humble awe? And keep his wounds clean and his uniform tidy and send him safely on his way. “Alfred,” he said not long ago. “If anyone ever asks for an obituary, thell them Batman’s biggest secret was the classic whodunnit? Only it’s not about who killed Batman but who kept him alive all these years.” And he stopped there, leaving the rest to me.

Don’t get me wrong, the Nolan films are the best Batman films and amazing comic book films in general, I just feel they’ve yet to show off the Batman I know from the comics, games and TV shows. There’s definitely going to be another Batman film, so I’ll live in hope that someone can finally get him right on the big screen.

  1. As far as my understanding of the character goes.

  2. For a realistic take on Batman Nolan sure does like to pack the films with outrageous movie science.


Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Films, Review


Tags: , , , ,

4 responses to “Still Not Found My Perfect Film Batman

  1. matthewcro

    July 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I think a lot of people had a problem with the way Batman did just disappear after TDK, but also the lack of how Gotham felt towards him. Yes we got he is now a ‘criminal’, but the only way the audience knew he was the most wanted man in Gotham was when he came out of hiding a the egocentric detective wanted to catch him more than the criminals they were originally chasing.

    As for detective work, the roles were reversed. Alfred seemed more like Sherlock Holmes, with Batman/Bruce Wayne as his Dr Watson, doing the digging up on Bane. Bruce did seem a bit more…. whinny in this one, than the last.

    The film was spectacular, no doubt there, and in some ways, it wasn’t long enough (it definitely didn’t feel like nearly 3 hours), and almost need splitting in 2, just to develop the characters even more. Catwoman was well done, as was the new ‘Robin’ John Blake character. I think Nolan has said he won’t be doing anymore Batman films, but I wouldn’t rule out a Catwoman sequel, featured in Gotham, after all, even with Bane defeated, its still in deep shit.

    • Fred

      July 26, 2012 at 6:20 am

      I agree with your point about Alfred and was going to mention it in the post that they seemed to have moved some of the detective work to him.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if WB just got another director to carry on the story with Robin Blake, although how he’d manage to be Batman without all of Bruce’s money and with an orphanage over the cave would be interesting to see.

  2. John Coxon

    July 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I find it interesting that you thought the twist was one that could be worked out; one of the criticisms I heard from the group I saw it with was that it couldn’t have been worked out, because there weren’t enough clues. I wonder whether this is a combination of casting spoilers and DC universe knowledge? (I didn’t guess, but I am historically completely rubbish at getting twists in movies.)

    I thought the entire subplot with Alfred leaving was rubbish and it added nothing at all to the film, but perhaps that’s just me.

    • Fred

      July 26, 2012 at 6:07 am

      In the comics Ra’s child is a girl so I did have extra knowledge about that, but I think there is enought info there to work that it wasn’t Bane that was the child that escaped. I think at one point Bane says something like “I was born in the shadows… I didn’t see the light till I was a man, and it burned”, and all the footage we see of the child escaping is sans mask where as Bane got his mask in the prison. I want to see the prison footage again to see how they switch between saying “the child” and “Bane”.


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