Batman Begins: Comic Cinema Keeps Growing Up

The 'Batman Begins' logo

I saw it this weekend, and Batman Begins is better than or equal to Burton’s excellent Batman. This is Batman and Bruce Wayne as they always should’ve been done. The depth of one of the most enduring comic characters comes out brilliantly in this rich, powerful, thematic film.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the people involved in determining Batman Begins direction both plot-wise and visually. Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer did a spectacular job with this film.

Batman descends, cape spread

One of the many beautiful action shots in Batman Begins.

Most people know the story behind Batman’s origin, so telling this tale was an uphill battle from the start, even leaving out the terrible Batman Forever and the insultingly horrible Batman & Robin that immediately preceded it. Begins overcomes these potential threats by telling the story as a series of concurrently developing narratives, some new, some familiar, which are handled very well. The opening scenes of the film had me worried that we’d be served another vacuous, linear, ham-handed treatment, but those fears were completely dispelled by the mid-point.

And, most importantly, Bale makes a great Batman. They character is so much more brutal and dark. Wayne uses his potentially laughable masked crusader-ism with menacing, lightning-fast ferocity, giving the entire idea a much greater degree of believability. Also, it kicks ass. Bale’s deep snarl as Batman, and his tortured anger and focus as Bruce Wayne work very well together to give a full picture of the character’s depth.

Batman interrogates Detective Flass

Bale’s Batman is a brutal ninja, descending out of nowhere, terrifying his targets, and vanishing. Here Batman interrogates Detective Flass, who’s a far cry from his comic book counterpart, in one of the coolest interrogation scenes I’ve seen in a while.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say these few things. Every actor does a spot-on job with their character, and Nolan and Goyer had a lot more guts than I thought they would. This is not a bloodless, nice-guy Batman film. The threats are visceral, and tap directly into the well-developed theme of fear, which is handled expertly. The best part is that Nolan and the production designers never lose sight of the comic origins of the film, but they never fall into trite or silly traps.

Batman is overtaken by an enraged mob

One of the best parts about the plot is that it succeeds in placing Gotham in real peril, and that sense of jeopardy carries over to our view of Batman. He’s a superhero, but he’s not invincible. Nolan and Goyer did things I wasn’t sure they’d allow themselves to do with this plot, and it’s so much better for it.

The film develops it heros, its antagonists, and its secondary characters with unexpected subtlety and depth. The villains in particular are an excellent assortment of types, which keeps the film consistently fresh and always moving. None of them are tossed to us with a careless, dull thud, as they were in some of the earlier Batman films. They emerge each in their own manner, revealing themselves from behind masks and subterfuges, making them all the more dangerous.

Batman Begins is great. Go see it as soon as you can.

One reply on “Batman Begins: Comic Cinema Keeps Growing Up”

  1. Oh, I forgot to mention the new Batmobile. Easily the best one. Even better than my former favorite from the Burton version.

    Imagine if the Lamborghini Countach was designed with the help of Japanese mecha engineers, who were given the theme of ’drivable gauntleted fist on wheels’.

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