Since the last time I wrote about this topic, the first trailer for this film has been released.
It was received pretty well by its target audience, of which I am a part of. I think there are things to praise in it. First of all, the fact that they were able to put a trailer like this together which looks complete while the film is still being made is quite impressive. Jeffrey Wright looks totally in character as Commission Gordon, even if he’s the first Black actor to portray the character. The few shots we get of Zoe Kravitz’s Catwoman also look good. I’m still not crazy about Pattinson’s suit. But so far the only live-action Batman suit that I’ve really liked was Ben Affleck’s.
But my biggest problem is the tone. The utter darkness of it. I mean, at least we’re not getting another Batman origin story with this latest reboot, but it’s the grim and gritty Batman that’s been all the rage since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was published.
And I’m just tired of it.
Okay, I already know I’m probably going to sound like the grumpy old man that I keep telling myself I’m not although I very well may be, but can’t Batman smile once and a while?
Seriously, this take on Batman as a brooding and brutal vigilante whose still haunted by nightmares of his parent’s deaths and goes out at night to seek vengeance among the criminal scum of Gotham City is just, to me, played out. I’m not saying that that take on Batman isn’t valid, I think that’s one of the strengths of the character that it’s well-suited to different genres. He can be The Dark Knight but he can also be The Caped Crusader. And in my opinion, we’ve had more than enough of the former, let’s see more versions of the latter. Let’s have a Batman movie that’s truly for all-ages, something parents could take their young kids to see and enjoy, something you can sell toys from.
Yeah, I know, the last time they tried that on film we got. . .
That’s going a little too far in the opposite direction. That’s not what I meant.
But surely there’s a filmmaker out there who can strike a happy medium between this:
If I were to use a character as a template for how I’d like to see Batman portrayed on screen, it would one of Batman’s biggest literary predecessors.
Yeah, Zorro. See that smile on his face? That should be Batman. When he’s leaping off from a rooftop or crashing through a window to take on a gang of crooks, there should be a smile on his face. This is what he lives for, he should be enjoying himself.
This is why grim, obsessed Batman doesn’t work for me so much anymore. Character-wise, it doesn’t make sense. I think it was Grant Morrison who once said in an interview that Bruce Wayne/Batman should actually be the most “zen” man alive. Completely in tune with his emotions and mentally well-balanced. This is a man who figured out what his purpose in life was when he was a child, and he’s fulfilling it. Think about it, how many of us know what our purpose in life is now? How many of us are truly living out our dreams? Most of us will live our whole lives not sure of what we’re really meant to do, nor achieving everything we dream of achieving, but Batman is.
Sure, the incident that triggered this realization, the murder of his parents right in front of him, was a deeply traumatic event. But he found a way to work through it. And decided on his goal, and spent the rest of his youth learning the skills he needed to achieve it. And that’s the thing, an “angry” man, a man wracked with guilt over his parents’ deaths, a man who is often emotionally closed off to those closest around him, as he is often written to be, wouldn’t have been able to acquire all of the skills and knowledge that he needed to become Batman.
This is someone who is said to have mastered 127 different forms of martial arts, both unarmed combat and skilled use of weapons. He’s also mastered skills like archery and sword fighting. He’s a master detective, a master of disguise, skilled in things like lip-reading, and morse-code, he’s an escape artist, a scientist, has at least some medical skills, he’s also an engineer, and he speaks multiple languages. He’s mastered special meditation techniques and is so in control of his body that he’s able to slow his breathing and heartbeat enough to appear dead. And on top of all of that, he’s a brilliant businessman.
You want us to “suspend our disbelief” to accept that it’s actually possible for a man to do all that? Well then he can’t be “crazy.” All of that would take extreme discipline for him to learn and to put into practice. This is a man who can’t afford to make mistakes, because any mistake can mean death in his line of work. He can’t ever lose control or get distracted or let anger (or any other emotion) cloud his judgment.
So let’s look at who he is. A handsome fabulously wealthy man, living in a mansion, with a cave beneath that’s full of all the greatest high-tech “toys”, his tricked-out car, private planes, helicopters, boats. He puts on his costume and goes swinging from building to building through the air.
Think of how FUN that must be!
And punching (or kicking) punks in the face has got to be a great way to work out any aggression he’s ever feeling.
So, yeah, I want to see a fun Batman movie that’s not silly. Going back to my Zorro comparison, I want to see a movie that shows him enjoying himself in his private life, partying with hot babes in the most exclusive Gotham nightclubs, to maintain his public image as a spoiled playboy, then discreetly slipping away when he sees the Bat-signal shining through the window, getting into his souped-up car to meet Commission Gordan. I want to see him enjoying the challenge of figuring out the Riddler’s latest clues, smiling and laughing as he takes down a bunch of Two-Face’s henchmen, trading one-liners with Catwoman as he chases her across rooftops, etc.
Just my opinion.