Batman...

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Warped9, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. billcosby

    billcosby Commodore Commodore

    We shall soon know for sure if Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman will be added to that list.

    I've been reading a lot of optimistic things about Anne Hathaway but it remains to be seen. Pfeiffer, I think was one of the few actors in those films who seems like they were having fun with their character. I'm not really sure even Keaton had fun playing Bruce Wayne or Batman.
     
  2. Zaku

    Zaku Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They would be dead. Or in prison :lol:
     
  3. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just ask Seattle's Phoenix Jones. He has been arrested and had his nose broken, but he and his cohorts keep patroling the night. :cool:
     
  4. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    God, I have that issue too. :lol:

    I'd love to have the Adam West series on DVD and short of buying a bootleg of it a con I'll likely never have it. :(
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Except that, as I said, the Batman and other DC comics of the day weren't played straight. They were full of deliberately goofy, zany, ridiculous situations and sitcom-like character plots. There's no way the writers who came up with the likes of the Rainbow Batman weren't trying to tell funny stories. The reason the producers of the show made it a comedy is because that's what the comics already were.

    Keep in mind that several storylines on the TV series were direct adaptations of comic-book storylines. For instance, the first Joker appearance on the show was a fairly faithful adaptation of 1952's "The Joker's Utility Belt," with material added to flesh out the first half-hour, but the basic story beats much the same. There was nothing particularly serious about the comics story that the episode twisted to be funny. They were both pretty similar in tone and approach. And the comics story definitely ended on a punch line, with the Joker sick to death of belts but being sentenced to do hard labor at a belt factory.


    From what I've seen in trailers, Hathaway's Catwoman has a very Newmaresque quality, which I think is great.
     
  6. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    As a kid I really loved Batman Returns... up until the ending with the army of rocket-loaded penguins. Even as a kid, that was just stupid :lol:
     
  7. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You are right, but a lot of the stuff you mention was jettisoned from the book two years before the series was made. DC was trying to bring Batman back into something resembling reality with the "New Look" because sales had dropped so low, they were considering killing off the character. Julius Schwartz took over and restored his status as a great detective and dropping the aliens, Bat-Mite, time travel, Ace The Bat-Hound and others. They even killed off Alfred and introduced Aunt Harriet (who was not created by the producers of TV series no matter what William Dozier said). Alfred returned well after the series was on the air. While the book was still fairly lighthearted, it wasn't the wacko sitcom it used to be.

    However, the TV series was more in line with the New Look (no aliens, Bat-Mite and the rest). The comedy was in the exaggeration of the dramatics and the colorful characters. They just made the good guys impossibly square and virtuous. That was actually the biggest change from the comics; for example, Commissioner Gordon in the comics was not as "constipated" as the TV series version (I got that reference from a book because I couldn't come up with anything on my own that was as dead on accurate). The BIFF! POW!! stuff was funny because it was not something you'd see on TV. Real sound effects do that job, and it wasn't still later they goofed around with them for humor (WHACK-ETH!).

    So, yes, you're right, they reflected the comics of the day, just more over the top. Unfortunately, DC let the series comedy spill back onto the comics. They themselves didn't get the joke and could have left Batman as he was and people would still have enjoyed it. They let the TV series hamper Batman's return to something more serious and he stayed campy until Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams took him back into the shadows.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^That's all true, but it's not as if two years is a great deal of time. Generally mass-media genre productions are 10-20 years behind whatever the current trends are in prose or comics. Or at least they blend elements from the past and present alike. Look at Batman: The Animated Series, which distilled the best of Batman comics from the '70s through the '90s. It's natural that the developers of the '66 Batman series would've also looked at the history of the comics as well as their immediate present, and tried to incorporate the most useful elements of both. And comedy was a large part of the source material they drew upon.
     
  9. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Batman: Sub Zero (1998) *****

    Victor Fries will go to any lengths to save his wife.

    After a string of really disappointing live-action films we get a good (direct-to-dvd) feature in this one. Michael Ansara as Mr. Freeze has it all over Arnie, but then the writing and everything else in this film has it all over the '90's live-action Batman movies.

    Victor Fries isn't a joke in this story. Here he's still a villain, but a tragic one. He desperately loves his wife---stricken with a terminal illness---and Victor will go to any lengths to save her, including sacrificing Barbara Gordon for an organ transfusion.

    There's some pretty dark stuff going on in this and I credit the producers for not shying away from it as it makes the story all the more compelling.

    One could argue that the pyrotechnics are a bit(!) over-the-top, but no more so than whats done in a lot of live-action films, particularly of the superhero genre. But in counterpoint like The Mask Of The Phantasm released five years earlier this is a well thought out story with lots of nice touches.

    This feature is based, of course, on the (deservedly) well regarded Batman TAS since 1992. In extent I'd argue that Batman has generally been done better in animation until the Nolan live-action films. Even then I'd say the occasional direct-to-video animated Batman features are pretty much on par with the Nolan films. They're each different and unique to each, but not really that far apart in overall sensibility.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2012
  10. Zaku

    Zaku Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes, but you said like Batman :) This guy has a PhoenixMobile that is a tank that brings mayem in the streets of Seattle? Or does he try to bring down, I don't know, a mafia family or corrupted police officers?

    In your opinion, how many minutes a "real" superhero can survive in the "real" world?
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The point isn't to exactly duplicate reality -- if that's what you want, you could just turn off the TV, put down the comic book, and go outdoors. Naturalistic fiction is just about creating a convincing illusion of reality, an imaginary story that feels convincing to the audience, at least for the duration of the story. It's like the old bromide about sincerity: "If you can fake that, you've got it made."
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Have you seen My Week with Marilyn? Kenneth Branagh (as Laurence Olivier) does a funny variation on that:

    "Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you'll have a long career."
     
  13. Argus Skyhawk

    Argus Skyhawk Commodore Commodore

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    Same here. Despite all of the legitimate complaints people have about Batman Returns, I still just love the look and feel of that movie, and have a great time whenever I watch it. It's by far my favorite of the Burton/Schumacher Batman films.
     
  14. nightwind1

    nightwind1 Commodore Commodore

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    Batman:The Brave and The Bold had a episode that showed, in nearly perfect execution, the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, down to the scattering pearls and everything.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^It's not incorrect, because if you look more closely, you'll see I said "one of the only times," not "the only time."
     
  16. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

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    Much as I love the Nolan films, I hate the fact that, ever since they came on the scene, they made it fashionable in the fan community to slag off on the Burton films.

    Schumacher was mocking the whole exercise because he didn't know what he was doing. He didn't understand the material, so he resorted to camp. As a piece of camp, the Schumacher movies achieve their objectives. However, there's something hugely garish about doing big-budget camp. I think that's their greatest offense. (That and giving the camp treatment to fundamentally serious, thoughtful villains like Two-Face & Bane. If you replaced them with King Tut, Egghead, or the Mad Hatter, it would have been less bothersome.)

    On the other hand, I think it's totally inaccurate & unwarranted to call the Burton films "campy" or "mocking." The Burton films aren't camp. They're gothic melodrama.

    If anything, Nolan's The Dark Knight seems to be the movie least comfortable with its superhero origins. I get the sense throughout the movie that Nolan just wants to make a straight crime drama about Lt. Gordon & Harvey Dent trying to take down the Joker. For the most part, Batman only shows up for some perfunctory action scenes (or to mope about Rachel).

    And I like Tim Burton (generally), so that's just fine with me. I think Batman can tolerate multiple interpretations and I think Burton's gothic approach worked beautifully. I like how Batman (1989) & Batman Begins work so well as companion pieces. Batman Begins is an earnest look at how Batman could plausibly exist in the real world and why a sane man would do these things. Batman (1989) takes the opposite path. As Tim Burton once described it, for Batman to do what he does, he would have to be, on some level, insane. So the movie is about him meeting a woman and discovering, somewhat to his horror, that the man who has his entire identity wrapped up in his insanity is starting to go sane.

    Part of why the Burton movies work so well, IMO, is because Burton embraced the material and made it his own. I think that kind of innovation is being valued less & less among the fan community. There is such a demand for fidelity to the source material, to the exclusion of anything else. No one wants to see things adapted for another medium with different demands anymore. They just want Hollywood to put a film camera in front of what they're already familiar with. And as a result, we get uninspired, "faithful" messes like Watchmen or Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows.

    People often forget just how many "definitive" elements of their favorite mythology resulted not from the source material but from one of the many adaptations. It was already mentioned that Barbara Gordon originated on the 1960s Adam West TV show. Harley Quinn--a fan-favorite to judge by the number of women dressed like her at conventions--originated on the beloved 1990s Batman cartoon. Kryptonite was originally created by the Superman radio series to explain why Superman was off the show for a few episodes (covering for Bud Collier's vacation). Superman originally didn't fly. He just jumped really high until the 1940s cartoon animators realized how stupid that looked.

    Don't get me wrong. I love the Nolan movies and I think that he got some things right that previous adaptations didn't. But in the end, I don't attribute his movies' success to slavish adherence to the source material but to a healthy respect for it combined with a desire the make it his own.

    I also love the performances that Danny DeVito & Christopher Walken give as the Penguin & Max Schreck.

    And it sure seemed like Uma Thurman & John Glover were having a great time vamping it up in Batman & Robin. It's a terrible movie but they're very good in it because they seem to be the only ones whose performances are matching the tone of the overall movie.
     
  17. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree with everything you say here, except I'm pretty sure that Batgirl actually originated in an early 1967 Batman comic book, and then was almost immediately added to the third season of the TV series later that year.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Is it really "fashion," or is it a sincere recognition that the Burton films weren't really all that good an adaptation of Batman? I think even before the Nolan films came along, there was a consensus that the live-action Batman films had been far exceeded in quality and fidelity by Batman: The Animated Series. So I'd say the bar had already been raised well past Burton before Nolan came along.


    I don't think they do. I find Batman and Robin a very inconsistent film, because there are moments when it tries to be serious and thoughtful and other (far more) moments when it just goes for sheer lunacy. So it was trying to be two kinds of Batman story at once, both the modern more serious approach and the Silver-Age, insanely weird and over-the-top approach. It should've picked one or the other and stuck with it.


    The second movie's climax featured remote-controlled, missile-launching penguins. I think that kinda qualifies as camp.


    But The Dark Knight was very much about Batman, in the terms that Batman matters most in the Nolan films: as a symbol. The whole story was about the consequences of Batman's existence -- on the one hand, driving criminals to escalate to a new level to match him, and on the other hand, inspiring the people of Gotham to stand up for justice themselves and make their city a better place.


    I'm usually the first person to point out that adaptation means change, that there's no point in doing a new version of a story if you're not going to do it differently. But there should be some fundamentals preserved; it should be a new way of presenting and exploring the same essential ideas. The way the movies told the stories of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America was different from how they happened in the comics, but the characters were true to themselves. Burton's Batman characters and world, on the other hand, are so far removed that I barely recognize them. I have never once in my life been able to look at Michael Keaton in that unwieldy piece of rubber and think of him as Batman. I have nothing against diverging from the source material, but there are reinterpretations that work and ones that don't. Burton's interpretation kinda works in its own bizarre Burtonesque way, as long as you can look past the incoherent scripts, but it just doesn't work in a way that feels like Batman to me.


    John Glover is always excellent. And I did think Thurman's Mae West-style performance was sexy and fun.

    I also think that, of all the actors who've played Bruce Wayne/Batman in live action in the past quarter-century, George Clooney was the best fit for the role. He was easily the most convincing Bruce Wayne (I find Val Kilmer almost as completely miscast as Keaton), and he could've been the most convincing Batman if he'd had a good script and a less ridiculous costume.


    Technically, yes, but the producers of the show asked Julius Schwartz to develop a new female character for the Batman comics that could be adapted for the show to boost its female viewership. So it was a joint effort, although I guess the main creative input came from the comics side (specifically Gardner Fox & Carmine Infantino).
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The funny thing about Batman Returns is that I like it for its visual style and the performances and twisted sense of humor at the same time as I find the story mostly a bore. The scenes with Batman and Catwoman are great. It's not Batman the comic any more than The Ten Commandments is the book of Exodus, but that doesn't bother me. Burton's thing is about freaks and how they live being freaks. I agree with him: anyone who thinks being a vigilante in a bat-suit would be nuts on some level. That's why Keaton worked: he was nuts.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't like the idea that Batman is insane. I think it's misunderstanding the character on a fundamental level. He's obsessed, yes, but he's supremely rational and focused in how he manages that obsession, using it to drive him on a relentless quest to protect innocent people, to try to ensure that others don't have to suffer from crime the way he did. I think Nolan's presentation came closest to the truth; he doesn't dress up as a bat because he has some sick fetish, he does it because it's a symbol -- a piece of carefully designed and managed psychological warfare to strike fear into the hearts of superstitious, cowardly criminals.

    Heck, in the context of the comic-book world where costumed superheroes are commonplace, it makes no more sense to say Batman is insane for donning such a widely utilized form of attire than it does to say that a mercenary is insane for dressing in military camouflage or that a football player is insane for wearing a brightly colored helmet with an animal's face printed on the side. In such a universe, the cape and tights are an established custom that serve a specific purpose and represent a specific subculture that Bruce Wayne has chosen to identify with. He not only wants to terrify criminals, he wants to give hope and comfort to the innocent, to reassure them that they will be protected, and that's what the superhero attire symbolizes. But Bruce has customized the superhero gear into very functional battle armor, which is another sign of great sanity and pragmatism.
     

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