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Ciaran says

My favorite live action Batman movie.

Darren says

Executed in fine form, Nolan brings a new vision to the character, a fantastic origin story that is rooted in the visceral weight of reality.

Tym says

This classic is what BATMAN (’89) should’ve been, and had no clue how to do. Thanks, Chris!

History

There are only three real Batman films, and Christopher Nolan made all of them.

He did it by reducing to the essence and starting clear. In Duck Soup the Marx Brothers were lost in a mix where everthing was crazy; by stripping things back to normal around them in a Night at the Opera and a Day at the Races, they were able to shine again. Nolan strips out all the excesses of the ’90s films—the surreal sets, the preening villains, the gothic delirium—and goes back to the basics of the best material. This is a first-rate filmmaker who truly knows the character and respects the audience.

Frank Miller and David Mazzuccelli had redefined the origins in the comic series "Batman: Year One" (1987). In the mid-2000s, there was a competition to adapt this to screen, with Darren Aronofsky (Pi) and Miller on one side, and Nolan (Memento) with an original take on the other. Thankfully the odd man won out. It turns out that the former would have been a compromised disaster, and that Nolan’s take—with screenwriters Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer—retained the proper spirit in an expanded way. Nolan’s vision also had an understanding of Bruce’s training years, as seen in the premium anthology series "Legends of the Dark Knight". His version reflects Ra’s al Ghul as created by O’Neill and Adams in the classic early ’70s stories, but straining out the troublesome hand-me-down Fu Manchu aspects of its inspiration. Like the early ’70s, he grounds his Batman as a haunted and highly-trained man with a night-demon persona in a real metropolis, with a relentless mission and a growing support system. By grounding it in practicality at every turn, he creates a believable world with a singular hero that we understand and care about.

Burton didn’t know the comics, and apologized around them with a shellac of goth style. His Bruce is a cipher at best and irrational at worst, his Batman a rubber robot, his Joker a hammy payday, his Gotham a gothic overkill. Nolan understands the comics, and uses his craft to respect all the works of its best creators. His Bruce is a complex and noble person, his Batman is heaven’s devil, his al Ghul a corroded idealist, his Gotham your real city. His Dark Knight is the real thing.

Cannily, in the wake of 9/11, the film challenges fear as a chance to overcome and excel. It posits integrity as the heart of actions, and ethics as the balance of character. The Batman’s villains are him, if he slips in this code. But he won’t. The next film will take this challenge to higher heights, and reset the bar for graphix films as high as it can go.

The Dark Knight