Your favourite Batman...

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Warped9, Jul 28, 2012.

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Your favourite Batman...

  1. Batman (1943 serial)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Batman and Robin (1949 serial)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Batman TV series (1966)

    9 vote(s)
    11.1%
  4. Batman (1966)

    3 vote(s)
    3.7%
  5. Batman (1989)

    16 vote(s)
    19.8%
  6. Batman Returns (1992)

    3 vote(s)
    3.7%
  7. Batman Forever (1995)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. Batman & Robin (1997)

    1 vote(s)
    1.2%
  9. Batman Begins (2005)

    16 vote(s)
    19.8%
  10. The Dark Knight (2008)

    25 vote(s)
    30.9%
  11. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

    8 vote(s)
    9.9%
  1. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    George Clooney was still on ER at the time, he seemed tired and unfocused to me at times. Even with a better script I doubt if could performed any better in the role.
     
  2. scnj

    scnj Captain Captain

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    If they wait a few years, I'd totally be up for Clooney in a Dark Knight Returns adaptation, provided he's still in shape.
     
  3. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Good to see Batman Begins having more votes than TDKR.
     
  4. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If we're just restricting this to live action, then I'd have to vote for Keaton. I'm not the biggest fan of the Burton films by any means (I rather prefer the Nolan films) but I can't deny that Keaton trumps Bale.

    If we're to include non-live action performances, then it's easily Kevin Conroy by a MILE!
     
  5. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    A few months back I was reading Death in the Family, and I didn't even realize until I was over half-way through it that I'd been unintentionally reading it with Conroy's Batman and Hamil's Joker voices in my head. I think that right there shows just how much of an impact those two have had on me. As good as some of the other people have been, they are the first voices I hear when I picture the characters.
     
  6. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. And when B-TAS debuted I was already in my early thirties.


    The perceptions revealed in these posts is as interesting as the choices themselves. There is such a diversity of viewpoint.

    It reminds me of a point that came up in a thread I started regarding Lost In Space. Some couldn't understand how I couldn't accept LIS on its own terms. My reply was simply that my perspective had changed and I could no longer accept it thought the perception of youth. I simply couldn't just "turn off" my adult perspective.

    So much seems influenced by the expectations we bring into the theatre with us.
     
  7. Lapis Exilis

    Lapis Exilis Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Fascinating! I'll look up this book because I'd like to read more.

    I like Conroy's voice because from the beginning it seemed to hit just the right tone. It was deep without being unbelievable. The
    Nolan growl could come across as so affected.
     
  9. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    My favorite TV show in childhood was Superfriends so the animated Batman will always be Olan Soule in my mind.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The problem with Bale's voice change is that it's too overdone and unnatural-sounding and gets in the way of both performance and simple clarity. It's hard to understand what he's saying, and it's hard for him to convey much range of emotion while using it. Conroy managed to distinguish the characters without needing to resort to such awkward contrivance. In early B:TAS he did give Batman a Clint Eastwood-like hoarse-whisper quality, which eventually gave way to just the rough, forceful deep voice he uses now, but it simply works better in terms of clarity, emotional flexibility, and subtlety than what Bale does. And he did a good job giving Bruce a very different vocal persona in the original series, though that was inexplicably dropped in the later continuation. Basically, he managed to make both voices sound good and fairly natural while still making them very different. Bale totally fails at the former.

    Adam West also did fairly well at differentiating Bruce and Batman. They're both recognizably the same voice, sure, but his Bruce was mellow and naturalistic while his Batman was ultra-intense and melodramatic.


    Hear, hear. That's why it's so wrongheaded to say "Batman has to be this way, he shouldn't be portrayed this other way." He's been all those things and more, and that's why he's endured and thrived beyond other superheroes.

    Really, Batman is a liminal figure. By his very nature he exists on the border between categories. Between pulp vigilante and four-color superhero; between intellectual crimesolver and physical brawler; between defender of the law and extralegal vigilante; between privileged rich boy and deprived outsider; between orphaned loner and perennial team-builder; you name it. He's a figure of contradictions, straddling opposing possibilities, and that's why he can be -- and has been -- taken in so many different directions.

    This is why so many Batman stories have been along the lines of "The Batman Nobody Knows" in the comics and "Legends of the Dark Knight" in The New Batman Adventures -- stories where we see how ordinary people perceive Batman and learn that each of them imagines him differently. Batman, as Nolan's films made clearer than ever, is a symbol. The persona, the costume, and the paraphernalia are tools of propaganda to send a message of fear to the underworld and hope to the innocent. And what makes that symbolism so effective is that it's adaptable, that people can read what they need into it.


    If anything, I think this tends to be overdone in the comics these days. And I'm not sure Nolan's Batman really measures up by this standard, since he was so willing to give up being Batman. He did show supreme willpower on a number of occasions, notably in escaping from Bane's prison, but it was intermittent. (And really I think his escape was more a matter of physics than will. Naturally the rope would've exerted a centripetal force and pulled people down in an arc before they could reach the ledge. The only way it could be done was without the rope.)


    I think it's more about proving something to himself. He was helpless to save his parents from Joe Chill, so he resolved never to let himself be helpless to stop crime ever again.

    Nolan's Batman in TDK is impressive here because he has a bigger strategy for battling crime than just beating up muggers and flamboyant supercriminals. He's engaged in a larger project of social engineering to clean up Gotham, and recognizes that his own methods are limited and he needs to foster a successor who can pick up where his ability ends and help build a city that doesn't need him anymore.

    Of course, that kind of falls apart in TDKR, and I have my problems with its ending, since in the wake of all that happened, all of Gotham's progress is pretty much gone and the city will need a Batman more than ever.


    Not to mention dropping bombs from the Batmobile and blowing up a whole warehouse full of goons.

    Nolan's Bruce/Batman has some hits against him here too. Bruce tried to assert a refusal to kill, but then totally blew it by deliberately tossing a hot poker into a munitions dump and blowing up a lot of people. Then there's his passive-aggressive "I don't have to save you." And he was a little too comfortable letting Catwoman do the killing for him in TDKR. The only time they really got this right was in TDK in the final confrontation with the Joker.


    Right. Batman's methods involve theatricality and roleplaying. The Batman persona and the billionaire-playboy persona are both roles he plays to serve his mission in different ways.

    Still, I agree that the Batman is the true persona, because strip away the costume and the theatricality, and the mission to stop crime, serve justice, and protect the innocent at all costs is what truly drives the man. So Batman is a truer embodiment of who he really is at the core.
     
  11. Set Harth

    Set Harth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Almost immediately followed by him breaking his one rule with respect to Harvey.
     
  12. Jax

    Jax Admiral Admiral

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    Personally for me Batman Begins is my favourite but thats only because I am a sucker for origin stories. The Dark Knight and TDK Rises are probably better made film due to the scope of them but Batman Begins is the easiest to rewatch and enjoy IMO due to the fact it's an origin story.
     
  13. Lapis Exilis

    Lapis Exilis Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Excellent point - and probably the source of my affection for the character. Got a thing for those liminal characters...

    Certainly the "send a chill up everyone's spine" bit is WAY overdone in the comics these days (I almost remarked on it in the original post, but it was lengthy as it was), but then superhero comics have long been going the way of supersteroidal - from the physical bodies depicted to the exaggeration of character traits. It's a lot of why I don't much care for them anymore. Drama exists in limitations.

    I argued with someone else about how Nolan's Batman was always looking to retire, but then I rewatched Begins and TDK - and while he was saying he wanted to retire, the stories did seem to be pushing him toward not being able to realize that dream, which would have felt more like a Batman story to me, because, what Anders leaves out is that Batman's story is ultimately tragic (how strongly that is emphasized is up to a particular author), and I mean in a way more fundmental than the core tragedy that forms him. Superman comes from a tragic beginning as well - but his story isn't ultimately tragic. There's a futilty in Batman that is part of that liminality - he crosses the border between hope and despair as well. I was rather encouraged when that theme showed up in TDKR, and then disappointed that it went nowhere.

    I imagine that's how the character himself thinks about it, but I think Anders is on to something from a dramatic poitn of view. Lots of people are out to prove something to themselves - what makes a mythic hero is wanting to prove soemthing to the cosmos. It sets a somewhat higher bar, you know?

    Tell me about it - that's a lot of why the ending, while superficially satisfying, ends up not making much sense in the scheme of the overall story.
     
  14. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Same here--even as Danny Dark will always be Superman to me.
     
  15. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Some people see things differently.

    1. The triumph of the will is nonsense, commonly pernicious nonsense. The notion that there is some sort of divine gift, a charisma, that enables heroes to overawe all and sundry also is nonsense. There's always a Thersites. If Homer knew it, so should we all.

    What I saw in Batman was brains over brawn, and the victory of heroism against brutality.

    2. No, I'm pretty sure that the real target is street criminals. And I'd put it that it's that Bruce has to make up for the deaths of his parents. But the important thing is that Bruce can't win. There's no making up that.

    3. This is by far the most comic-booky thing about Batman, motivated solely by the desire to keep it from being too real for kids reading the funny book. A vigilante who doesn't kill avoids all the serious moral questions of vigilantism. That's why Burton's more serious take dropping this didn't bother me greatly.

    4. Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy, certainly isn't the real man. But then, Batman is not really a character. It's a costume and a symbol. Those aren't, and can't, be a real man. If Batman is still yet the core, then the core is hollow.

    Obviously Anders has done a pretty good job of identifying the essentials of the Batman character of today. But it also explains why Batman is no longer a comic book character for whom I feel any affinity.
     
  16. Lapis Exilis

    Lapis Exilis Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm sure many people see things differently than Anders does in this article.

    I think you're arguing semantics here. No one said anything about a divine gift or charisma - the way I see it, will here is the courage common to anyone who can lay down at the end of a horrible day and say, I will try again tomorrow.

    Also, could you elaborate on what you mean by heroism versus brutality?

    And it's possible to interpret Moby Dick as just a crazy dude obsessed with a white whale. But that's not really how stories work - at least not when they're good.

    I'd agreed that a fundamental part of a good Batman story is the futility of his basic quest.

    You've got a real point here - it's a contrivance in many ways. Anders elaborates on the point as having to do with Batman challenging himself by seeing how close to that line he can get without crossing it, but his point is a little tortured. As for Burton's Batman, the thing that seems to bug him about how that Batman kills is that he does it in a rather cowardly way.

    Some stories have tried to get at this idea - that ultimately there isn't really anything at Bruce Wayne's core, except a kind of obsessive self-pity, thus making his story even more futile, and not particularly heroic. Sam Hamm wrote a comic that was all about that, but I forget the name of it at the moment.
     
  17. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, Keaton is my favorite live action Batman.

    Bale's Batman voice just sounds so stupid.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Right. Nobody's talking about charisma or overawing people. "Force of will" means determination, dedication, refusal to give up. Force of will is Spider-Man in the iconic issue #33, refusing to surrender even when a whole building is pinning him down.
     
  19. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Anders is most definitely talking about charisma. And if "supreme force of will" was supposed to just means the will to continue, it is a remarkably misleading way of putting it. The sensible reading is that "force of will" means the ability of the will to actually change things. And "supreme" would mean supreme.

    Part of the appeal of Batman is that a hero would take on thugs on their own turf and beat them and save those of us who couldn't. Street criminals stand for anyone who would use violence or threats of violence against us, something we all know of from the playground. I think nowadays some people have a resistance to admitting to feeling weak and powerless and daydreaming of being saved. Cosmic conquest is more rewarding I suppose.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  20. Takeru

    Takeru Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I voted for the 1966 series, it introduced me to the characters and I remember it fondly.
    I watched the Burton movies and liked them but not as much as the series.

    The Nolan movies are good movies but I don't like Bale's Batman, it's the voice, I have no idea what Bale was thinking, it sounds ridiculous. I also think that the look of Nolan's films is forgettable, Gotham for example, it's so realistic that it becomes just another generic city.
    As I said, good movies but not batmanny enough to be my favourite Batman.