Classic Thoughts: Batman Films

With this week’s release of The Dark Knight, I will follow the the lead of my Indiana Jones classic thoughts and take a look back at all the previous Batman films (with the exception of the 1969 movie based on the TV show, which I haven’t seen).

It all began with Tim Burton’s original adaptation of the comic book. It is also probably the best of the original movie series.

Burton took a risk in casting Michal Keaton, who previously stared in Burton’s Beetlejuice, as Batman, but it worked out. Anyways, Keaton was overshadowed by Jack Nicholson stealing the show as The Joker.

Another thing that I like about this film is how it stays somewhat grounded in reality, while the sequels began to move away from that.

I should also say, in a testament to how much I liked this movie, that when Batman Forever was coming out in 1995, I watched this film religiously once a week in anticipation.

Yeah, I liked this film.


Batman Returns
This was the first Batman film I seen in theatres (even though at 10, I was probably too young at the time for some of the stuff in the film).

I would say that this film seems a lot more like a Tim Burton film than the first film did. It would probably be because Tim Burton had more creative control now and was able to include elements similar to the ones found in Edward Scissorhands (which Burton made in between his two Batman films).

While the extra Burton influence wasn’t a perfect fit for a Batman movie, there were quite a few things that worked, such as Danny DeVito’s twisted turn as The Penguin.

Batman Returns was definitely the end of the high point of the original series.


Batman Forever
I remember being really excited to see this film when it came out in 1995. It was also notable for being the the first film that I saw without adult supervision.

I only wish I had better memories of it.

To be honest, this film is the better of the two Joel Schumacher directed Batman films. Tim Burton was still involved as producer and that probably helped prevent Schumacher from changing the direction of the film too much.

However, the series was starting to move in a more campy direction. Jim Carrey was hugely popular when the film was made and his performance as The Riddler was one of the best things about the movie. Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face was only fine early in the film, before he took a slightly more goofier turn later in the film when he teams with The Riddler.

I am not even going to talk about the nipples on the Batsuit.


Batman and Robin
When your most fond memory of a Batman film is the Smashing Pumpkins song on the soundtrack, you know that this is the worst in the series.

Tim Burton was gone, and Joel Schumacher from totally free to create the campy comic book movie of his dreams.

Any of the dark realism from the first film was now gone and replaced with Batman and Robin fighting goons on ice skates and Batman outbidding Robin for Poisen Ivy’s affections with a credit card.

The orginal series was officially dead after this film and it would be 8 years before another Batman movie surfaced.


Batman Begins
Who would have thought that the saviour of the Batman films would be the man that directed Memento?

Christopher Nolan directed this reboot to the Batman series, which for the first time showed Batman’s complete origin (though there was a scene involving the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents in Tim Burton’s original film).

It was a bit of a risk choosing lesser known Batman villain in Ra’s Al Ghul. However, this allows us to concentrate more on the origin story (and the inclusion of Scarecrow makes up for it).

The Batman series is now back in full swing and it will continue this Friday with The Dark Knight!