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Batman Begins

Now that I've come down from the high following my first viewing of Batman Begins, it's time to think objectively. Overall the movie was a blast, I had to hold myself back from shedding tears it was so good. Though Nolan took some liberties with the official history, all his modifications and additions were welcomed, even for the fanboys like me. Some spoilers ahead, and somethings you may not have known about Batman's history.

It was never explained in the comics what movie/play the Wayne family was watching the night Bruce lost his parents. Through the years, retellings of the origin has given clues such as Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb's Mark of Zorro marquee (a nod to Batman's creator Bob Kane?). But Nolan and Goyer's script does the Lee and Loeb retelling one better by incorporating the mythos of the bat into their version. In Batman Begins, the Wayne family goes to watch Die Fledermaus (The Bat) an opera where the actors on stage dressed in bat-like costumes scares Bruce. At his request, the Wayne family leaves the opera early through a side door that opens into an alleyway. Aside from incorporating the 'bat' opera into Batman lore and linking that to the guilt Bruce feels for causing the death of his parents it does away with some of the things in the original history I had problems with. If the Wayne family had left the theater when everyone else was leaving that means there should have been a lot of people on the streets, and why would they have walked into an alleyway? I also appreciated how Dr. Thomas Wayne had jumped in front of his wife when the thief, Joe Chill, went for her necklace. Rather than just gunning them down, he was startled by Thomas Wayne's move to protect his wife which led to him gunning down the two adults.

I would have been just as happy with the movie if it hadn't included any fight scenes. The purpose of him donning his costume was to instill fear into his opponents. That scene where he lured the henchmen and grabbed them into the dark shipping container is exactly what Batman is about. I know some of the fight scenes were hard to comprehend but honestly, it's not a big deal. He's not exactly superhuman so standing out in broad daylight fighting twenty people at once or letting the villains shoot at him would be a grave mistake. FYI (courtesy of Frank Miller), the reason he had yellow surrounding his bat icon on his chest was that in his cloth suit, the only bulletproof area was a metal piece behind his chest. The yellow insignia was there to capture the attention of anyone wielding a gun, trying to get them to shoot at the center of his chest rather than the other exposed regions of his body. Now that technology has progressed far enough to allow him to wear a completely bulletproof suit that still gives him freedom to move around an all black costume without the nipples sounds about right.

What makes Batman a great character is his rogues gallery. No other superhero has enemies that come anywhere near Batman's archenemies. The villains make the hero, and there is no greater hero than Batman. In any other Batman movie, I would have been bothered that not enough screen time was given to his adversaries, but since this movie specifically concentrated on the origins of Batman, I'll let that go. In the original history, Ra's Al Ghul does not train Bruce Wayne, but Nolan and Goyer makes the connection in the movie and it all seems very plausible. By the way, if you didn't get it, Liam Neeson's character, Ducard was just a cover. He is in fact Ra's Al Ghul, Ken Watanabe was just a decoy. A lot of liberties were taken with the Ra's Al Ghul character and like Batman's origin, was fleshed out in a very positive manner. As for Scarecrow, again some liberties were taken and the connection made between him and Ra's Al Ghul was another brilliant move. I'd like to see the Scarecrow mature into a more powerful villain in a future film.

Now the only problems I had with the movie. How did the rest of the city get cured in the end? In one scene why was there laundry out in the rain. Katie Holmes was pretty much an expendable character. Perhaps my biggest qualm with the movie was the fact that it didn't really spotlight any of his detective skills. Batman may be the greatest hero in the DC Universe because of his mind. You can have all powers you want, but even Superman can be duped. If given the time to prepare Batman can pretty much take down ANY villain or hero in the DC Universe and yes, that includes Superman (see Frank Miller's work). So why no mention of this? Afterall, DC Comics stands for Detective Comics and the Dark Knight is known as the world's greatest detective. They could have at least mentioned what he studied in college (Princeton was mentioned right? Perhaps because of Jim Lee?). If they had just mentioned that he studied forensics or something along those lines at Princeton that would have appeased me somewhat.

And that about does it, my rumination on Batman Begins. Thanks to Jamie's mother for treating all of us to dinner and the movie.

Update: Made a mistake on the Opera featured in the movie, it wasn't Die Fledermaus it was Boito's "Mefistofele" thanks Shabana Tajwar (who are you?).
At 8:03 PM, Anonymous terry said...

Ah, this is just what I needed. The insight of a true fan. I don't know what kind of a comic book fan I was, but my only real exposure to Batman comics was in Knightfall and Frank Miller's Spawn:Batman (which I remember as crap). I liked the movie because they explained everything and made Batman feasible, or at least as feasible as a superhero can be. Sound design was impressive, and like some review I read, they managed to make him 'scary.'

I'm of the belief that the rapid cuts in the fighting were an intentional decision by Nolan to emphasize the confusion/scare factor. Also, it helps to hide the limited mobility Bale has in the suit. I imagine the fights would look awkward in continuous, wide shots. If I remember correctly, the old movies have those and they looked really awkward.

Damn, I loved it (and not just because it has ninjas). So worth my umm paying to see it Wed and Fri, haha. Liked it so much that I bet any sequels will only disappoint me. I think I'll pick up the source material sometime.

 
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