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Batman Begins (2005)

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Christian Bale.

That's the big news at AICN.

With Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) at the helm, does this story have anything more to give audiences?

I'd venture to guess that in Nolan's hands, we might finally have a Batman film of serious substance. He's all about conscience, the guilt of violence, the difficulty humans face in trying to deal out justice that resolves anything...

Well, he's got a great leading actor. I wonder if the project will make it to the screen.

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So what's the status of Darren Aronofsky's adaptation of Batman: Year One?

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: I'd venture to guess that in Nolan's hands, we might finally have a

: Batman film of serious substance. He's all about conscience, the guilt of

: violence, the difficulty humans face in trying to deal out justice that

: resolves anything...

Apparently the villain this time will be Ra's al Ghul, who I gather was popular with comic-book fans in the 1970s but was pretty much before my time. Based on the handful of stories with this character that I have read in the past, I would say that he COULD be the first Batman movie villain who will be an actual character and not just a caricature.

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YES

biggrin.gif I'm so stoked for this now. I can't wait. I called this casting decision months ago before I had even heard of the final casting call for "Batman."

I am seriously excited about this movie. I can't describe. I'm a HUGE "Batman" fan and while somewhat enjoyable (at least better than the old 60's show), the Tim Burton films never did anything for me.

IMO, if Nolan can get a solid crew on set and costume design, he'll be a great choice to direct Batman, given his previous subject matter.

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So what's the status of Darren Aronofsky's adaptation of Batman: Year One?

From what I've read on the web, it's status is "On Hiatus." I believe that Aronofsky has moved on to other stuff for the time being. But the Frank Miller script is still kicking around.

I'm also excited to hear that Ra's Al Ghul is going to be the villian. He is a very interesting character with interesting personal ties to Batman.

In the comics, Ra's is basically an immortal who wants Batman to be his sucessor. Bruce falls in love with Ra's daughter, Talia, and they have a child, who still exists in the current DC universe. Also, Talia is currently running Lexcorp for Lex Luthor as he serves as President of the USA in the DC world.

Lots of potential in this one.

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This is from TV Guide online:

An American Psycho is taking over the role of Batman. British thesp Christian Bale

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etpetra wrote:

: My hope is that with Nolan and Bale involved, this will be a departure from

: the cartoonish offerings we've had with the last couple of Batman movies.

What, like the FIRST couple weren't pretty cartoonish too? They sure didn't live up to the quality of the comics. (I'm about to go into my Sam Hamm monologue again...)

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What, like the FIRST couple weren't pretty cartoonish too? They sure didn't live up to the quality of the comics.

This may be like comparing wormy apples to rotten apples, but I certainly would rank the first two over the last two. Especially with the shot of a bat flying in slow motion meant to represent what's going on in Val Kilmer's brain -- I knew that's all that was going on in there! (Or was it George Clooney's brain?)

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etpetra wrote:

: This may be like comparing wormy apples to rotten apples, but I

: certainly would rank the first two over the last two.

I dunno, I saw each movie more or less when it came out, so I certainly haven't done a side-by-side comparison, but I find it hard to believe that any movie could rank below Oswald Flipperhands.

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Jeffrey said:

With Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) at the helm, does this story have anything more to give audiences?

I'd venture to guess that in Nolan's hands, we might finally have a Batman film of serious substance. He's all about conscience, the guilt of violence, the difficulty humans face in trying to deal out justice that resolves anything...

If Nolan goes Hulk-esque like his fellow director Ang Lee what's the bet the box office drops by 70% after the first week. If Hollywood has learned from that maybe the producers of the next Batman might want Nolan to tame down his sensibilities in order for something more user-friendly for the public. The 1989 Batman reached the masses and was not notable for its substance. Nolan has mainly reached the indie crowd and this commerical departure may isolate his fan base.

Having said that, maybe it is a time for more introspective heroes like in the Daredevil mould, a sign of the times, and producers have probably brought Nolan on board for this very - albeit commerical - reason.

Yet Daredevil made $100 mill. - surely Batman is expected to make more and so marketing and making the film to fit in with the popular conciousness is the formula they will go with. This year's big films - Matrix, Nemo, and Pirates - don't wreek of thoughtfulness, and so to make Batman a popular film may lose much of the "nolan-esque" for want of a better expression. When you get up with the big boys in the business then out goes auteurism to some extent, unless that very signature style has proved profitable.

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peter veugelaers wrote:

: Nolan has mainly reached the indie crowd and this commerical departure

: may isolate his fan base.

Then again, there is the example of Bryan Singer, who reached the indie crowd with The Usual Suspects and did anything BUT isolate his fan base when he made the X-Men movies. (Which I guess would mean that Apt Pupil was to Singer what Insomnia was to Nolan -- except Nolan's transitional film was a modest hit and Singer's wasn't.)

: This year's big films - Matrix, Nemo, and Pirates - don't wreek of

: thoughtfulness . . .

You don't think Finding Nemo does? Heck, even The Matrix Reloaded arguably reeks of thoughtfulness, albeit sophomoric and overly philosophical thoughtfulness, as opposed to the sort of thoughtfulness that asks, "Now what would make this a better film?"

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What, like the FIRST couple weren't pretty cartoonish too? They sure didn't live up to the quality of the comics. (I'm about to go into my Sam Hamm monologue again...)

Yes, the first two Batman films were cartoonish, but at least Tim Burton's films avoided any trace of the idiocy that was the 60s Batman TV series (which IMHO completely misses the entire point of the Batman mythos).

Just out of curiosity Peter, how familiar are you with the Batman comics? I just want to know if we're on the same page (pun intended).

I think that the only Batman film that really understands the character properly is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (I know SDG agrees with me). Hopefully Nolan takes some cues from Paul Dini, who seems to know how to write a Batman that is true to his dark roots, yet still a crowd-pleaser.

I think Nolan is on the right path casting Bale as his Batman.

If Nolan goes Hulk-esque like his fellow director Ang Lee what's the bet the box office drops by 70% after the first week. If Hollywood has learned from that maybe the producers of the next Batman might want Nolan to tame down his sensibilities in order for something more user-friendly for the public. The 1989 Batman reached the masses and was not notable for its substance. Nolan has mainly reached the indie crowd and this commerical departure may isolate his fan base.

I don't think so. I think in the case of Batman, we're not dealing with a semi-popular comic book character like Hulk or Daredevil. Batman is an icon, voted one of the best fictional characters of 20th century, and recognizable by people who have never picked up a comic or even watched Saturday morning cartoons. I'm pretty sure that this Bat-film will be guarenteed to make money. Because of the icon status of Batman people will see the movie over and over, much like The Phantom Menace or The Matrix Reloaded, regardless of how well it received critically. I would say a $200 million box office pretty much ensured, assuming Nolan can do better than Schumacher in the slightest.

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Anders wrote:

: Yes, the first two Batman films were cartoonish, but at least Tim Burton's

: films avoided any trace of the idiocy that was the 60s Batman TV series

: (which IMHO completely misses the entire point of the Batman mythos).

You damn Burton's film with faint praise. smile.gif

: Just out of curiosity Peter, how familiar are you with the Batman comics?

I started collecting them the day I heard that Robin had been killed, back in 1989, and I went back a few years, to around the time they revisited the character's origins post-Crisis on Infinite Earths. I stopped collecting comics in the mid-1990s when money got tight, but I still have my old comics, stashed in boxes downstairs; things get a bit murky around the time I phased out of comics, but according to the index I kept at the time, including compilations like Year One and A Death in the Family, I have Batman issues #404-407, 410-512 and annuals #11-17, Detective Comics issues #575-679 and annuals #1-6, Legends of the Dark Knight issues #1-30 and annual #1, Batman: The Cult #1-4, The Saga of Ra's Al Ghul #1-4, and a few other items like the Batgirl Special, The Killing Joke and the hardcover editions of Arkham Asylum, Son of the Demon, Bride of the Demon, etc. Oh, I also got into the Justice League International comics around that time because Batman was a member of the team.

In other words, I was collecting Batman comics when the two Tim Burton films came out, and from my point of view, there was a decline in the quality of those comics around the time that those two movies came to dominate the public perception of the character. I was especially disappointed in the first film because screenwriter Sam Hamm had written a fantastic, complex, character-driven three-part story for Detective Comics #598-600, and the film that followed it certainly did not live up to the promise of those comics. For that, I have always blamed Burton.

: I think that the only Batman film that really understands the character

: properly is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (I know SDG agrees with me).

As do I, actually. As I wrote in a zine that I used to put out (this was well before I thought that I would ever become a 'real' writer):

Oh, I liked it. This bit of animation was easily better than the live-action films directed by would-be-animator Tim Burton, no doubt about it.

Phantasm
isn't terribly original, of course. The plot seems lifted straight out of the comics -- something that could not be said, incidentally, of the live-action films -- and is very similar to
Batman: Year Two
. The scenes in the Joker's abandoned amusement park bear the imprint of
The Killing Joke
and even the chase at the end of part 3 of
The Dark Knight Returns
. I could also see one or two plot elements from
Dick Tracy
.

But it was a good, solid 85 minutes of entertainment that showed more creative thought than anything else Batman has done on the big screen lately, and probably even more than he's done in the comics. I'm told that the TV cartoon is also very good; I should check it out sometime.

Alas, not being a big TV buff, I never did check out the show.

Y'know something funny? I just checked that same zine to see what I had to say about the Batman comics that came out then, but I don't seem to have written anything on those -- in my alphabetized comments, I jump straight from Aquaman (when Peter David was inventing yet another origin story for the character) to Bloodbath (whatever that was). I do go on and on at length about how irritated I was that Hal Jordan (the former Green Lantern) had become a villain, and I comment on the Superman and the Star Wars and Indiana Jones comics of the day, etc., but nothing on Batman. Huh.

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Peter Veugelaers: This year's big films - Matrix, Nemo, and Pirates - don't wreek of thoughtfulness . . .

Peter Chatterway replies: You don't think Finding Nemo does? Heck, even The Matrix Reloaded arguably reeks of thoughtfulness, albeit sophomoric and overly philosophical thoughtfulness, as opposed to the sort of thoughtfulness that asks, "Now what would make this a better film?"

Peter Veugelaers: I guess when people go to see movies they don't ultimately consider the film's themes. They're more interested in how entertaining it looks and if that sparks curiosity into the deeper elements of the film so be it. What are the defining elements that intrigue people about Finding Nemo, Pirates, and Matrix? What made Titanic a big hit? Marketing the look of the film plays a part and all these films weren't sold on philosophy although that is part and parcel of the film's package which is something an audience discovers while watching the film, presumably not before it. Nemo is sold on a computer animated look with a well-worn and successful formula; Pirates is sold on the lead actors, the action, and a traditional yarn about good verses evil; Matrix Reloaded was sold on the previous film of 1999 and action - the trailer speaks for itself and the film's producer Joel Silver is a veteran of marketing the generic action film. Really, do producers care whether a film is thoughful or not? It's about whether the project is going to get bums on seats and formulas do that in commercial cinema. The above films are entertainment and sold to an audience interested in that very pleasure. Aren't we all? That's what Hollywood is about. Illusionary fantasy to make money. The new Batman will inveitably go down the same track of selling a certain look and style and Nolan will probably utilise more of his accomplished technique (as evdienced in the backward story-telling narrative of Memento) than his elementary thematic pallette.

I believe the art house exists for something more than making a buck, and that again is marketed to a specific demographic.

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peter veugelaers wrote:

: I guess when people go to see movies they don't ultimately consider the

: film's themes.

(1) Then you have come to the wrong forum. (2) Are you really saying that fans of the Matrix films do NOT consider the films' themes? (3) So you are saying that whether or not a film "reeks of thoughtfulness" ultimately depends not on the films but on the people who see them?

: Marketing the look of the film plays a part and all these films weren't sold

: on philosophy . . .

The Matrix sequels certainly were, though the look was also part of it too.

: Really, do producers care whether a film is thoughful or not?

Some do, some don't. Really.

: I believe the art house exists for something more than making a buck,

: and that again is marketed to a specific demographic.

So, in other words, you believe that 'art' movies are just commercial movies by another name -- they may exist for more reasons than simply making a buck, but certainly not for less, otherwise they wouldn't be 'marketed' to a niche 'demographic' etc.

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Peter T Chatterway said: (2) Are you really saying that fans of the Matrix films do NOT consider the films' themes?

No. Fans would. It is not marketed as such to the general public.

Peter T Chatterway said: (3) So you are saying that whether or not a film "reeks of thoughtfulness" ultimately depends not on the films but on the people who see them?

Well, one's man meat is another man's posion. Even the critics disagree. A film cannot really speak for itself, it needs to be interpreted and that is often subjective although open to similiar readings because we are dealing with the same base subject matter. What is thoughtful to one person can be dull to another.

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Anders said: I think in the case of Batman, we're not dealing with a semi-popular comic book character like Hulk or Daredevil. Batman is an icon, voted one of the best fictional characters of 20th century, and recognizable by people who have never picked up a comic or even watched Saturday morning cartoons. I'm pretty sure that this Bat-film will be guarenteed to make money. Because of the icon status of Batman people will see the movie over and over, much like The Phantom Menace or The Matrix Reloaded, regardless of how well it received critically. I would say a $200 million box office pretty much ensured, assuming Nolan can do better than Schumacher in the slightest.

Peter Veugelaers replies: your point about Batman able to survive on its own merits is granted, but my point was that based on the films the public have flocked to this year (Nemo, Piartes, Matrix) it would seem introspective heroic films that Nolan could pull off might not do really big business at the box office like the first Batman (1989), which had drawcard Jack Nicholson and not too much psychological intrigue. That's if Nolan made something with overt psycholgical action rather than physical action, like Hulk, which fell substantially at the box office after the first week. People may have expected something else.

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peter veugelaers wrote:

: : Are you really saying that fans of the Matrix films do NOT consider the

: : films' themes?

:

: No. Fans would. It is not marketed as such to the general public.

And that's why Keanu talks in interviews about his martial arts training AND the fact that the Wachowskis made him read post-modern theorists. Uh-huh.

: : So you are saying that whether or not a film "reeks of thoughtfulness"

: : ultimately depends not on the films but on the people who see them?

:

: Well, one's man meat is another man's posion. Even the critics disagree.

Well, no, perhaps not as much as you seem to be implying. If Doug Cummings were here, he would talk about the fact that critics across time and space have sifted through all the films out there and have come to recognize a number of films as worthy works of art. There is an agreed-upon body of cinema out there -- a canon, you might say, however loose and blurry its boundaries may be -- that merits the agreement of most critics.

: A film cannot really speak for itself, it needs to be interpreted . . .

This is true, at least to the degree that your posts to this board cannot really speak for themselves but need to be interpreted ... wink.gif

: . . . my point was that based on the films the public have flocked to this

: year (Nemo, Piartes, Matrix) it would seem introspective heroic films that

: Nolan could pull off might not do really big business at the box office like

: the first Batman (1989), which had drawcard Jack Nicholson and not too

: much psychological intrigue.

What if we looked at other years BESIDES this year? What if we looked at, say, LAST year? Would you say Spider-Man, the top box-office draw of 2002, was an "introspective heroic film"? It certainly had a rather strong psychological element, what with Peter Parker being motivated in part by guilt over his role in the death of his uncle, etc. Or what about The Two Towers, which was the second-highest grossing film of the year? Was there no introspection there? Did not audiences marvel at the fact that a special effect (i.e. Gollum) could be so moving? But then, never mind last year, let's stick to this year -- do you really think there was NO introspection in Finding Nemo!?

: That's if Nolan made something with overt psycholgical action rather than

: physical action, like Hulk, which fell substantially at the box office after

: the first week. People may have expected something else.

The problem with Hulk was that it was bad storytelling, not that it had too much psychological action -- you could feel it TRYING to be something more, but settling for less.

But now I see where you're going with all this -- your use of phrases like "rather than" would seem to indicate that you think film-making is a zero-sum game between 'psychological action' and 'physical action', and to have more of one is to have less of the other. Well, I disagree.

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Peter said: But now I see where you're going with all this -- your use of phrases like "rather than" would seem to indicate that you think film-making is a zero-sum game between 'psychological action' and 'physical action', and to have more of one is to have less of the other. Well, I disagree.

my reply: I thought about what you said above and maybe I just do think that although I hadn't really conciously thought about it that way. I will have to evaluate that eventhough Joel Silver-produced films don't tend on the whole to be balanced between indepth 'psychological action' and 'physical action'. Thanks for the observation - when I see what I could be implying through my language it is proabably too much of a generalisation. The Two Towers, at least, was strong on ambiguity.

My points were made probabaly out of a diet of seeing many multiplex films this year and so I started to pick up on things in those films and formed some opinions and discovered things like: mainstream films tend to start the film with an opening sequence of action (begin with a bang), and producers give screenwriters formulas to work with beacuse they get bums on seats. As I can get free tickets to these showings I tend to go there instead of treking 14 kms into the main city to see art house (and it is good to go for a balance, but never get around to it).

Peter said: do you really think there was NO introspection in Finding Nemo!?

I found the film touching particuarly towards the end and there was a strong thematic element of the pearl of great price that Jesus talked about in the gospel - where the father sees a large amount of worth in even one of his people.

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About Batman, now it seems that movies.com (among others) are reporting that both Dennis Quaid and Kurt Russell are up for the role of Commissioner Gordon. Seriously, they copied me on the Kurt Russell one, I said that last week! Though, I never thought of Dennis Quaid, and in retrospect I really like that idea. Perfect as a middle-aged Gordon to be reckoned with.

Oh, and I (actually, my friend Jen kinda sparked this idea) thought of my choice for Ra's Al Ghul: Ben Kingsley.

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Oh, and I (actually, my friend Jen kinda sparked this idea) thought of my choice for Ra's Al Ghul: Ben Kingsley.
Hell. Yes.

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8O

OH MY!

That coudl have been amazing! I feel almost like crying as someone whose favorite films include Touch of Evil and Citizen Kane, and to whom Batman is such an important character.

And as for the credibility of the article, all I can say is that Mark Millar is a pretty big comic book writer. His Ultimates is probably one of the most cinematic comics out there. Highly recommened.

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Millar has publicly stated that that story is fabricated. Welles never actually worked on a Batman movie, Millar just wrote that piece to experimant with the possibility of "what if he had?"

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Too bad Millar is such a good writer.

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Guest Russell Lucas

Call it the spite of the gullible, but it's not all that funny or clever a joke.

"We all know Custer died at the Battle of Little Big Horn. What this book presupposes is-- what if he didn't?"

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