To commemorate this week’s release of the cinematic event of 2012, The Dark Knight Rises, I was privileged to attend a screening of Batman Begins presented by Warner Bros. The film is a integral part of my DVD collection so I had seen it a million times before, yet watching it again on the Big Screen it was still as original and brilliant when I last saw at the cinema.
When it opened back in 2005, Batman Begins made over 300 million dollars worldwide and then came The Dark Knight, which redefined the superhero genre and brought out that iconic Sid-Vicious-like performance from the late Heath Ledger. Christopher Nolan has revamped the Batman franchise and with suggestions there will be a further reboot after The Dark Knight Rises, I wonder who is going to even try to top his trilogy.
…an incredible backstory…
Chris Nolan‘s Batman universe is darker and more interesting then the Burton movies. During his childhood Bruce Wayne loses his parents in the most tragic of circumstances. In the first half of the movie we are treated to an incredible backstory, where we get to understand how this motivates him to become Batman. Therefore Bruce runs away from his home and colludes with common criminals in order to understand morality and how they are driven to commit crimes. This leads him to Ra’s Al Ghul and The League of Shadows, the secret society who train him into the crime-fighting machine he will envelop.
The sinister tones resonating throughout the story mean Batman’s foes are more realistic than the previous movies and their intentions are clearly defined. Tom Wilkinson is the nasty crime boss, Carmine Falcone, whose only intention is to flood the streets of Gotham with crime and drugs. Cillian Murphy, who originally auditioned to play Batman, is excellent as the psychotic Dr Jonathan Crane (better known as Scarecrow), who likes to experiment with fear toxin and expose the frailties of individuals. Finally we have Liam Neeson as the devious and highly intellectual Henry Ducard as Batman’s main adversary. His ultimate master plan is to release a toxic gas which will mean “there’s nothing to stop Gotham from tearing itself apart through mass panic”.
…dual identity of our hero…
If his enemies have sharpened their senses Batman will also adapt. His batmobile is no longer a cheap pile of junk but a tank-like creature. The batcave is literally a cave with a waterfall and not some fancy basement. We also get to experience the dual identity of our hero, therefore we have the wild egotistical billionaire Bruce Wayne who likes to date movie stars and drive fast cars versus the silent protector, Batman, who will seek out criminals and beat them to a pulp.
Gotham City alone is a character with a voice. Given that the city is rotting with crime and injustice, Batman is impelled to save it. There is so much at stake and it is those around him who remind him he has a duty to the city where his parents tried to fight poverty: “What chance does Gotham have when the good people do nothing?”
…make a difference in the world…
The most important point I want to make about Batman is he is not a superhero but a human being who just happens to be exceptionally wealthy. Therefore he uses his wealth to make a difference in the world through the symbology of Batman. This means Batman doesn’t fight his battles alone, he relies on the help of others including the reliable Lt Gordon. If he needs advice he seeks wisdom from his butler Alfred who essentially is the father figure in his life. Also he lacks the resources and time to make the suits and equipment by himself which is why he communicates with Lucius Fox, a member of Wayne Enterprises. All of these elements are what make Batman great and unfortunately they were lacking in the previous films. Thankfully, Nolan got it spot on.
It was clear going into the summer, the box office battle would involve The Amazing Spiderman, Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises. The former two have performed exceptionally well, but I still think The Dark Knight Rises will be the big winner. You only need to know three things about this movie to wet your appetites: 1) Christopher Nolan has once again brought together a stellar cast including Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon Levitt, 2) this will be the last in Nolan’s Batman universe so it will be a conclusion on a colossal scale and 3) there are suggestions the theme surrounding this movie will be societal injustice caused by human greed, given its main inspiration: A Tale of Two Cities! I see another epic on the horizon and I can’t wait a week to see Batman save Gotham from the relentless Bane.