One of the things I've really liked about B:TAS and subsequent animated features has been Batman's voice. And one of the criticisms I've had with Nolan's film's is Batman's voice.
Can I confess to being baffled about all the angst over the voice - both pro-Conroy and anti-Bale? The voice change is key in both performances, but I have difficulty understanding why Conroy's is worshipped and Bale's is the subject of so much controversy.
Two main reasons why the Burton films are weak for me. Burton's Gotham City doesn't impress me as a believable place. It feels like a huge isolated soundstage, which it really was.
And it's painfully obvious when Batman has a car chase down the same street where the theater is - in Burton's Batman, there are, apparently 4 streets in Gotham City, and they form a box.
My biggest issue with Burton's Batman is that Burton is a very idiosyncratic director - he's got his take on things and he can't see beyond it. (Which is why, in general, they should stop having him adapt material and just do his own original stuff, because whatever he does is going to get turned into his own stuff anyway.) In his vision, Batman is about transformation - a nebbishy guy puts on a big black rubber suit and transforms into a half-psychopathic vigilante. Granted we all thought the Batman-as-semi-psycho-antihero thing was cool back in the late 80s, but it wore thin pretty quickly and came to seem, to me, to be a big misinterpretation. Especially in a Joker story - that works best with Batman and Joker as opposite poles, not a game of crazier-than-thou oneupsmanship.
The perceptions revealed in these posts is as interesting as the choices themselves. There is such a diversity of viewpoint.
This is the secret to Batman's longevity - it's a very flexible concept: hard-boiled arbiter of vigilante justice; time-traveling, good-natured father figure off on adventures with his adopted son; tongue-in-cheek wearer of tights trading fisticuffs with grown men in silly outfits; world-trotting-James-Bond-in-a-mask; semi-psychopath fascist, intense gangster-fighting detective... it's all Batman. And there are probably iterations not yet thought of waiting out there. This is why he's eclipsed Superman, who is a far less flexible character, with his clear-cut righteousness and optimism.
I just read an interesting article in the book Batman Unauthorized that tries to sum up the essential elements of Batman (or at least the version of him favored these days). See what you think of author Lou Anders'
list as to what constitutes "an accurate rendition" of Batman:
1) acknowledges the supreme force of will of the character.
Anders faults the Burton Batman on this one, describing Keaton's Batman as "frustrated and confused... He was dark all right, but his anger was unfocused, his motivations unclear, his methods unrefined."
In contrast he notes that the Batman of today's comics can command the attention of superpowered beings and "send a chill down every spine there - despite having no powers of his own - by his mere presence and force of personality."
Likewise, he praises Batman Begins and the scene on the ice between Ra's and Bruce (one of my favorites) - "Trainnig means nothing! Will is everything!"
2) Batman has something to prove.
Anders' point here is really interesting - he compares Bruce Wayne, quite rightly I think, to Captain Ahab:
"Wayne set out to prove to the universe that death could not catch him unawares again. He chose as his territory Gotham City, and as his target the criminal underworld (as Ahab chose the whale), but his real target (and intended audience) was the cosmos itself... proving to the universe and himself that no matter what form death takes, it will find him ready."
3) A refusal to kill and an aversion to guns in particular
Burton's Batman gets another round of criticism here for torching the clown with the Batmobile's engines and attaching a bomb to another of Penguin's minions - something whch has bugged many a batfan. Anders notes Batman in DKR turning off all his tech and emerging from the Batmobile to take on the Mutant leader hand-to-hand precisely because he won't just blow him away, though that is obviously the smart thing to do.
4) "Finally, any accurate depiction of the Batman must include the understanding that, unlike the vast majority of costumed crime fighters, Batman's secret identity is not his core persona. Bruce Wayne, the millionaire playboy, is the disguise, whereas "the Batman" is his true nature."
Now, I've always found this idea to be slightly off. In my mind, Bruce Wayne's public persona and
Batman (as well as other disguises used to probe criminal activity) are tools Bruce uses. Denny O'Neil once said that he thought the truest picture of the character was Bruce Wayne in the cave in uniform, with the cowl pushed back. Christian Bale likewise said he thought of the character as having three distinct modes: Bruce in public - which was cover, Batman in public - which was a tool of fear and intimidation, and Bruce in private, planning which tool to use when.