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Oh, dude. I will always champion Donner's Superman as not just the greatest superhero movie of all but one of the greatest movies period! You talk about theatricality, that movie has it in spades. In fact, Nolan cites it as an inspiration when he made the Dark Knight trilogy. Even elements of Burton's Batman make it into the Nolan trilogy. When Bale is barreling toward Ledger in the Batpod as Ledger is goading him on was directly mimicking Keaton in the Batwing with Nicholson goading him on to take a shot.I'm with you all the way on this, Ron. I don't mind the fantasy of the super-hero genre. In fact, I prefer it! The theatricality, the drama of the Burton films, perfectly match the tone of the material that was being presented. They're not perfect films and there's a huge tonal shift halfway through the film that can be marked precisely at Vicki's apartment after the museum sequence. It is what it is, and while Nicholson was much older and fatter than when the producers initially wanted to make Batman in the early 80's, I still think he's come closest to the purest vision of the Joker in any live-action adaptation. And that's with him having an unnecessary backstory and being killed at the end!
I like the Nolan movies but they too are far from perfect. Immediately after Begins, the films became less and less designed until it was just Batman in New York. I don't mind the tinge of realism in fiction as something to ground the story in, but super-hero fiction is pulp fiction; it can never be "real" nor should it strive to be. It completely saps the fun out of the source material. The Nolan films are the curse of the modern day super-hero film by either making them too arbitrarily long or too serious and grim.
I've not seen The Batman and I really don't think I ever will intentionally. It looks too much like other things I've seen and that's the result of sapping the "super" out of "super-hero." I was sold Joker on the trailer but when I went to see the movie, it was just a more shallow and inept version of Taxi Driver. Joaquin's performance elevated sub-par material but other than that, it was just a guy in make-up that could've been anything else if it hadn't been called "Joker" and had ham-fisted tie-ins to the Batman universe.
The best superhero film to date is still Donner's Superman, in my book, because it took the source material seriously and had fun at the same time. That kind of film-making now seems to be an either/or situation now and I don't think it's for the better.
Yeah, I liked how Gotham looked in Begins. It was a nice mix of real world authenticity with comic book inspired locales sprinkled in. But then it just became basically Chicago in the Dark Knight and New York in Rises. I'll say The Batman does a good job of giving Gotham a comic book feel while setting it in actual city and not a sound stage. It reminded me of a more realistic version of Gotham from the Arkham Knight game. I admittedly still like Burton's Gotham the most but there is absolutely something visually satisfying about shooting in an actual city at just the right angles. Just look at the chase scene in the Dark Knight.
But yeah, I still prefer that fantastical element to my superheroes. I loved Phoenix's performance but it's not the same Joker and that was my main issue with the movie (and yeah it was Taxi Driver lite). He's too far removed from what the Joker is and there's no way to reconcile it. You never got the sense he was evil or intelligent. There's no way his joker could take on Batman. But again, it was a great performance. If you just accept he's not the same Joker, you enjoy it more. But, it you have to do that, does it really work?
Yeah, like you said, different strokes for different folks. I can't tell you the Nolan movies are bad because they're definitely not. Well, the first two anyway. Rises was...questionable lol.This is a perfect example of different strokes for different folks. I much prefer Nolan’s films over Burton’s BECAUSE they’re more serious. I like Burton’s films...the other pre-Nolan Batman films not so much...but they’re Burton films through and through. They’re weird and cheesy, which there’s nothing wrong with, but I prefer the realistic take on these characters a lot more.
I guess the way I look at it is this...if superheroes and supervillains really existed, the villains would be downright terrifying. They certainly wouldn’t be putting dance numbers together while pulling a pistol out with an 8 foot long barrel. They’d be doing things like blowing up hospitals.
One of the things that I like about modern superhero films is that so many of them are just genre films that happen to have a superhero in them. The Dark Knight is a great film about the good guys trying to stop a terrorist. That terrorist just happens to be Joker, and the good guys are Batman, Gordon, etc.
I can understand how this aspect of them could be a turn off...particularly if the fantasy of comic books is what you look forward to seeing. However, in my opinion the films are all that much better for it.
Like you mentioned, a big reason for why they work is because they're not tied to being only superhero movies but crime dramas as well. I think that's the double-edged sword for me. Because they have to function as grounded stories, it sacrifices the fantastical fun that is part of why I watch superhero movies to begin with.
Yeah, that's what it felt like to me as well. Begins felt like a Batman movie. Dark Knight did as well. Rises felt like a guy in a bat suit rather than Batman which you could say symbolically was how that whole movie felt. Even in The Batman, can't we have the Riddler look like the Riddler? I realize it wouldn't work to have him in green tights, purple eye mask, and carrying a question mark shaped cane laughing maniacally but can we at least give him something to make him look somewhat like the Riddler? Paul Dano in the movie looks like he would be the one buying Batman comics, not starring in them. You look at Penguin in the movie and you know it's Penguin. Same with Catwoman although I hated her ski mask. Couldn't they have had Riddler in something with a little flare? When he broadcasts videos, how about have him stand in shadow maybe wearing a Bowler/Derby and a suit with a visible question mark on it? Would that have been so campy? There's already a guy who runs around dressed like a bat and another dressed like a clown. I mean if we can't mimic the comic books at least somewhat, where's the fun in that?Burton's first movie looked darker than it felt when you watched it. That's how Burton's movies are in general.
Same with Schumacher's Batman movies. IMO they felt more like updated versions of the 1960s Batman TV show than the comic source material.
Nolan's Batman had a lot of strengths but it got so real that it lost the theatrical fun element. The 'bat' aspect of the character was little more than a formality by the 3rd movie. He was basically the Punisher with a no-kill policy and a bigger budget. When Nolan presented Catwoman and Robin, he was barely even admitting that's who they were.