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Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Talk about your favorite developments in licensed themes from popular lines like Indiana Jones, Batman, Spongebob, Harry Potter, etc.

Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:13 am

Batman is one of pop cultures enduring icons. Over seven or so decades, the man with the ears and the cape has been relevant to every generation and, far as I know, there are plenty of Batman fans here on the FBTB forums. I decided it would be interesting to hear discussion about the many iterations of Batman on the small and big screen, from the 40's serials and Adam West in the 60's to Batman: The Animated Series and The Dark Knight. Michael Keaton, Kevin Conroy, Christian Bale, Val Kilmer and even (ugh) George Clooney have inhabited the role of the Caped Crusader. All versions, no matter how cheesy or gaudy, have formed cornerstones of superhero media and popular culture at large. Which one is your favourite and why? Which version got a certain villain (Joker in almost all versions, Catwoman in the TV shows and portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer and so on) right, or almost right?
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Solo » Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:23 am

The first thing that comes to mind thinking back on the past Batman incarnations is Julie Newmar made the hottest Catwoman ever. The only other thing good about the original live action Batmans was the goofy sound effects, and theme song. Also, I grew up watching Batman: The Animated Series so the theme song is one of the most memorable lyricless tunes of my childhood. Bale has done the best job portraying him in any movie, and the Dark Knight in un-toppable and I think they should really retire the franchise before they ruin it again. Lastly, Burton's Batmobile puts the rest to shame. Sorry Tumbler, you're cool and all, but no where near as classy.

That is all.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Chosen One » Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:46 am

Have to agree with the mobile appearance status when comparing the Burton to Nolan's design. However Nolan's movies are of a realistic approach, and the design was intended to be the bases of the first Batmobile. With that, I come across that in the next movie, the new Mobile will have a more classic look, yet a functional military design like the tumbler. I'm really hoping that they will take a Ferrari California, paint it black, add couple of fins and Bat budges, and there's the new car. XD

But yeah, hands down, Burton's Batmobile wins it at this stage. But the Tumbler still beats that glow in the dark job of the Schumacher films. :lol:
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Jettbacca » Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:37 am

Having only watched TDK, I don't have much to say. But according to my best friend, Frank Orshin (sp.?) is the best actor ever.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Azaghal » Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:27 pm

I gotta agree that the Burton Batmobile was by far the best. I also found something appealing in the slightly weird Gotham of the earlier films that the ultrarealistic Dark Knight doesn't quite capture - not that it's trying to, and what it does try to do (which is to say make the Batman mythos something that could really happen) it succeeds at spectacularly.

In fact, I wonder if this isn't part of Batman's overall appeal, the fact that is story is both possible, but highly, highly improbable.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Logan » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:40 pm

Not only is Burton's Batmobile (mind you, not that separating nonsense from Batman Returns, but the first..) the epitome of comic-meets-reality design, but think to the scenes in the film showing the scale and scope of Gotham City. It's realistic architecture expanded comically. By that, meaning that it looks both realistic and wholly exaggerated all at the same time. Burton's vision is still ahead of its time.

Nolan's Batman is simply real. This is what some nutjob is actually going to do one day... There's an enormous sense of this being completely feasible, and there's the well-developed darkness brought out in Bale's portrayal that serves the character (and the realism) well..
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:52 pm

Personally, I love the Tumbler. It has a functional military design and the concept of a Lamborghini/Hummer is fantastic, exactly what Nolan's Batman would drive. I think that the Batmobile of the Burton films was a little too showy, its turbo engine blazing even at 20 miles an hour. The sleek look was nice, but I would have loved some angular touches. The wings at the back were far too rounded. I do have to say, however, that the Bat-coccoon with the armour plating coming out from nowhere was a stylish if impractical touch. I quite like the Batmobile from the New Batman Adventures and Justice League. The newer Batmobile in The Batman is basically a souped-up, stretched-out Lamborghini with fins, and I love that design. Whenever I see a Lamborghini on the street I just imagine what it'd look like painted matte black and with two fins out the back and then get chills.

As for the appearance of Gotham City, I do have to agree that there is something oddly appealing about Anton Furst''s neo-gothic, New York-on-steroids look. However, this aesthetic was carried too far and marred beyond repair by the Schumacher era's exaggerated spires and oversized statues of naked men. I think The Batman, with its perpetually green or red night sky, perfected the neo-gothic look. I also loved the design of the slums and narrows in Batman Begins. The Gotham of The Dark Knight was possibly a little too clean and bright for me.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Dr Scott » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:45 am

I've been reading Batman comics since I was a kid. When I saw the Burton film at the movies when it came out (twenty years ago, don't I feel old...) I thought it was great, but it's aged badly. In retrospect, the best thing about that film in my opinion was that it raised the profile of the character and allowed Batman: the animated series to be greenlit, which remains the most faithful adaptation of the comic book in my opinion.

I really feel that in order to do justice to a guy in that comic book costume, who swing around on grappling hooks with that cast of pretty colourful villains, that animation is the way to do it.

Having said that, I'm now really enjoying Nolan's take on things. I think he's got it right. To make Batman work on film as live action and sell it as somehow believable, you have to make it functional. Superman works on film because he's not a real guy, so you can just have him flying and defying the laws of physics, but Batman has to be a real guy, so grounding him in a sense of (heightened) reality seems more relevant.

I gotta say that I do hold a candle for the old Adam West show too though, I watched it on tv when I was a kid and thought it was great.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Inzane » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:36 am

Solo wrote:Julie Newmar made the hottest Catwoman ever.

Bale has done the best job portraying him in any movie

Lastly, Burton's Batmobile puts the rest to shame. Sorry Tumbler, you're cool and all, but no where near as classy.


Highly agree on all 3 counts! :)
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby onions » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:56 pm

i agree with don's post.

although i'd have to say that the batmobile from batman: the animated series was my favorite rendition. i'm a geek for the art deco style.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:58 pm

As for the hottest Catwoman, I think Julie Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer kinda tie. Michelle Pfeiffer was slinky, sexy and so into character it was spellbinding. Lee Meriwether was no pushover either, but in the Adam West series nobody could beat Julie Newmar at the part. However, I really like Adrienne Barbeau's voice acting as Catwoman in Batman: TAS. She effortlessly dripped party appeal just using her voice. I believe Gina Gershon, who voiced Catwoman in The Batman, tried to hard to follow in Barbeau's footsteps, but was still a decent version of Catwoman. And no, I'm not going to discuss Halle Berry as "Catwoman" (notice the quotation marks) at all.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Logan » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:34 am

Couple of quick hits on things that need to never be mentioned in this thread ever again.

Halle Berry in that ridiculousness they called "Catwoman". I wholly endorse those quotations and redub this film "Gimmick for Young Boys Who Want To See Halle In Pleather". Dismissed. Horrific comes to mind.

The names Joel Schumacher and Batman should never again be placed within the same sentence, unless the sentence is (and only is) "Joel Schumacher should never be associated with anything Batman related ever again, for all of eternity, and then a day or two." And then he should politely decline. Ruinous comes to mind.

Any vehicle mention other than the Batmobile (which is a pretty engaging discussion), and possibly the Batwing from Burton's Batman (which was an awesomely designed vehicle that was used for only one scene, which was lovingly given a bit of an homage in Nolan's The Dark Knight) should be excluded from discussion on grounds that it was poorly designed, poorly conceived, poorly executed, poorly used, poorly acted in, on, around, and with, and just a poor judgment call altogether. Campy comes to mind.

Adam West is a god. Not "the" god (whichever one you fancy). More like a Greek or Roman type god. The god of self-depreciating humor. Each and every shot and phrase that he utters on Family Guy is ridiculous humor, and I honestly can't get enough of that. How is this related to Batman? It's not... but that show still sets the bar for pretty much every comic of the mid 80's. I can watch the show nonstop and enjoy it (mostly), but the storylines for the most part in the series were just... off... I don't even have the right word. Emptyhanded comes to mind.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Flynn » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:09 pm

Am I the only one that likes the Burton films?

One thing, though, I don't get why so many people like Christian Bale as Batman. IMO, he's probably the worst one yet (Okay, okay, second to Clooney). As Bruce Wayne, he sounds like Keanu Reeves, and as Batman he sounds like he has lung cancer. I always like Michael Keaton as Batman.

JeddtheJedi wrote:I think that the Batmobile of the Burton films was a little too showy, its turbo engine blazing even at 20 miles an hour


That's because the jet engine they used consumed so much fuel that it could only run for 15 seconds of screen time. ;)

I don't know, I always preferred the original Burton films to the Nolan films. Yes, they were unrealistic, but why does Batman have to be realistic? Sure, it's a nice touch, but it's not absolutely necessary. Also, Anton Furst's Gotham beats the hell out of Chicago any day. And what about Danny Elfman's fantastic score? The Batman and the Penguin themes are probably two of my favorite movie themes of all time.

Also...I'm going to die for this...I preferred Jack Nicholson's Joker to Heath Ledger's. I mean, you just can't beat this scene.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Logan » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:36 pm

Flynn wrote:Am I the only one that likes the Burton films?


Ummm... no..?

Solo wrote:Lastly, Burton's Batmobile puts the rest to shame. Sorry Tumbler, you're cool and all, but no where near as classy.


Chosen One wrote:But yeah, hands down, Burton's Batmobile wins it at this stage. But the Tumbler still beats that glow in the dark job of the Schumacher films.


Azaghal wrote:I gotta agree that the Burton Batmobile was by far the best. I also found something appealing in the slightly weird Gotham of the earlier films that the ultrarealistic Dark Knight doesn't quite capture...


Logan wrote:Not only is Burton's Batmobile (mind you, not that separating nonsense from Batman Returns, but the first..) the epitome of comic-meets-reality design, but think to the scenes in the film showing the scale and scope of Gotham City. It's realistic architecture expanded comically. By that, meaning that it looks both realistic and wholly exaggerated all at the same time. Burton's vision is still ahead of its time.


Jedd the Jedi wrote:As for the appearance of Gotham City, I do have to agree that there is something oddly appealing about Anton Furst''s neo-gothic, New York-on-steroids look.


As far as ranking Batman performances go... in order, I'd have it go like this (with reasons):

1.- Bale: Simply for the realism. Not too many fancy Bat-gadgets, conception is solid with military-type functionality lending to plausibility. The growling is a bit on the irritating side. Keanu Reeves though? THAT'S someone who looks confused by his own hair.

2.- Keaton: While Burton's films did not have the decidedly darker nature of Nolan's recent forays into the character, there is a depth of character built into the storylines. Keaton masterfully plays the part with the phenomenal development team (Burton, Furst, Elfman). Nicholson's Joker is an icon, and comparing that to Ledger's performance is like comparing apples to rocks and saying they're the same because they're roundish.

3.- Adam West: Because mainstreaming a comic book and becoming an icon for doing it isn't exactly easy. People can name other stuff that Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney did (just for fun, and without looking it up... Reign of Fire, Multiplicity, Heat, Ocean's Eleven right off the top of my head). Name something else Adam West was in without searching for it (before Family Guy, which makes it my second reference to it in the same thread). Christopher Reeve was Superman. Adam West was Batman. End of story.

4.- Val Kilmer: Because it wasn't as awful as Clooney.

5.- George Clooney: Because I can't just go on a vulgar tirade and rank him last in life.

And just to keep the discussion going... seriously, what is the idea behind the Penguin? I just don't get it.. I understand that different things appeal to different people, but that character just seems like someone's really crappy idea one day that stuck. You know the saying, if you throw enough mud, something's bound to stick... But I'm open to correction on the subject.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Flynn » Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:43 pm

I know that other people mentioned liking Gotham and the Batmobile, but the only comments I heard about the actual film were negative. Also, Penguin was originally just a mob boss that had a thing for penguins. The TV series upped that to the extreme, and then Burton did something different with the character. Personally, I like it. I'll go into more depth about Burton's Penguin later, when I have more time.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Logan » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:13 am

Ahh... I see what you're saying. I'll expand on my original statements then..

Burton's Batman was (and still is) ahead of it's time. From set and costume design, to acting and casting, the film gave the sense of a comic book come to life. The set design was over the top, but heavily based in realistic architecture (neo-Gothic, classical, post-modern, etc.). Costume was true to the comics in the case of the Joker and other supporting cast, but Batman's design had to be different. It wouldn't and couldn't be taken seriously if it was a redux of the Adam West type costume (spandex-ed superheroes just don't work anymore... Even Bryan Singer's Superman had a textured costume). How do you stay true to the original yet bring it into a modern light? Armor. Use the costume not only to portray the symbol and historical nature of the comic-book versions, but make it functional to the plot and the realism aspect of the story. "Batman Begins" ventured into that territory beautifully, giving everything a backstory and reason, showing how each functional piece was conceived and where it came from... but Burton's version did the same thing without the story. The essential function of the suit is exactly the same, and Nolan's version in Batman Begins is obviously an updated homage to the Burton classic. We've already talked about the Batmobile, and I've always had a special place for the Batwing, so let's diverge onto the villain for a moment..

Joker. It's the beans to Batman's rice. You cannot think of one without the other. Nicholson's version is full of the verve and style prominent in the comics.. Loud, obnoxious, flashy, showy, and most of all, supremely confident and twisted. Nicholson pulls it off beautifully. I said before that you can't compare the two at all, and I stand by that statement. It's a different interpretation of the subject matter altogether. Heath Ledger's version (as popularly known) was partially inspired by the storyline "A Killing Joke" (miniseries). The reason it is disturbing in nature is that it's a story of a man's downfall, and resurrection, only gone awry. It's like a Vader-esque rebirth... nothing positive about it. The story simply spirals downward, and never quite hits the bottom... there's always more beneath. The character's lack of compassion altogether strikes a chord with Frank Miller fans.. read "The Dark Knight Returns" and you'll see where it comes into play. That Joker claims to be rehabilitated, only to completely reverse course and go on an unprovoked killing spree, with the only motive being Batman's death. Find a similarity there? (cue sarcasm)

Back on tangent... think to the original LEGO Batman line... which film inspired the first wave? Burton's. Followed by loose ties the second Burton film, the Schumacher films, and the Adam West and animated TV series, and finally, Nolan's film. Burton did it first, and arguably (as evident by this thread) best.

Personally, I can debate for days on the merits of Burton's original, and Nolan's two (which are best viewed back-to-back, Matrix-style). Each is a distinct, original, fun, brilliant interpretation of an iconic and polarizing character... and each delivers completely.

One more point though... how can anyone not love the fact that Prince did music for Burton's film? That's so over the top ridiculous in itself that it deserves more credit than I can possibly think of giving..
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:06 pm

Wow Logan, that's an incredible retrospect on the films of the Burton era. Honestly, I'm not the biggest fans of the Burton movies. I liked the first one quite a bit and there were many things that they got right, but equally many things that I can't get over. For one, the Joker's death was awfully anti-climatic. The Joker's death in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was a far better moment and had me on the edge of my seat. By the way, I'd love if this discussion moved towards the animated series and films and away from the Burton era, but that's just me. I also couldn't stand how Vicki Vale was just let into the Batcave. Everyone loves Michael Keaton and I'll give him credit for the performance, but when he was out of the suit I just didn't buy it. Bruce Wayne has never been a skinny nerd or socially-inept geek, always a charming, handsome, debonair playboy, so that's one aspect I didn't like.

Batman Returns I thought was far too stylised and was more of a horror film and quite a pointless exercise in Burtonism. The villains, especially the Penguin and Max Shreck, were far too over-the-top and it sounded like the filmmakers were unsure whether to make it cartoonish or dark and gothic. The best thing of the film, however, was certainly Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. I loved the slinky se xiness that dripped even from her words, and the crazy bits like the eyes fluttering and the bird-in-mouth sequence.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Masta' Bo » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:29 pm

Well, I loved reading the comments so far, and I can't help but agree with Logan on a lot. Props to you for stating what I, and others, were thinking but had the complete inability to know how to say it. ;)

Burton's film was fantastic and over the top, as previously stated, and that makes it great. The only bad part of the film was Joker's death. Yet, I love it when the Joker starts painting on displayed art, with Prince music in the backround. That is something Ledger, and his Joker, could never do. That is why they differ so much.

Everyone says, "te Dark Nite waz sooo wicked badass" and while I agree, I think that it should not be considered the best of Batman as a whole. Batman is a winning franchise, and has many spectacular aspects. It saddens me to see only one, albeit popular, aspect of it rise to glory (in the public's mind).
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby Jedd the Jedi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:47 pm

Interesting points 'Bo. I have a love-hate sorta relationship with the Burton movies. Batman 89 was magnificent and dark, but it was nowhere as epic a treatment as I thought Batman deserved. There were many good moments, but on the whole the story wasn't solid enough for me. Over-the-top is good to an extent, but the design of Gotham and the look of the films slowly but surely degenerated into the garish, neon, naked-statue-filled cityscape of the Schumacher era. I liked how the Nolan films grounded Batman in reality. However, I prefer the look of Batman Begins to that of The Dark Knight, as the Dark Knight was just...Chicago. I enjoyed the griminess of the Docks and Narrows in Begins, and those were actually sets built in a massive soundstage. It was difficult for me not to believe that the Batcave was an actual environment, it was actually a soundstage that was partially flooded, which I found amazing. I like the look of Batman's tech in the Nolan movies as well. Lindy Hemming is a costume design goddess, having worked on James Bond and Tomb Raider. Both Batsuits were fairly realistic yet interesting to look at, and the belt, grappling gun and Batarangs were different, realistic yet stylish.
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Re: Batman on film: Past, Present and Future

Postby AlternativeRadio » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:35 pm

Jedd the Jedi wrote:Everyone loves Michael Keaton and I'll give him credit for the performance, but when he was out of the suit I just didn't buy it. Bruce Wayne has never been a skinny nerd or socially-inept geek, always a charming, handsome, debonair playboy, so that's one aspect I didn't like.

Well, that might have been one of the reasons that "Batman" was so popular. Bruce Wayne was not the perfect, handsome playboy, he looked like a normal guy. He was more relatable. When you make him "wink-at-the-camera" charming, you get George Clooney. But if you get a healthy mix of both, I think you get Bale.
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