Batman and Me
My Own Retro-Spective of Bat-Mania from the 80s-00s.
What?! Oh No! Not ANOTHER Retro-Junk Batman Article! These Soil Panted Fan-Boys don't know when to quit do they?
Sure, Batman articles have become a cliched interest as of late, but you know what? He has been an Iconic character to the whole world since he was created by Bob Kane in 1939, so its not a surprise on how much impact he has on so many people.
The creation was inspired by various mystery-related media, such as The Shadow Radio shows, The Sherlock Holmes Novels, and the film, The Bat Whispers.
He had his first appearance in the #27 issue of Detective Comics in May 1939.
He is known as The Batman aka Millionaire Bruce Wayne, or if you want to get really technical, his mantel has been replaced by many others, in various stories, but for this article, im sticking to the classic Bruce Wayne Batman.
Batman and his endless list of friends and foes have been a beloved and cherished by yours truly since 1989. Some people will say 'since birth' (which for me is 1986), but why did i choose 1989? its because it was the year i layed eyes on the first live action "Batman" film. Being my either very first or second theater experience (the other being Ghostbusters 2 ), it has made Batman ( and the Joker) two images that has been permanently tattooed into my memory.
Watching the film today is still a great experience, it has good action, good acting, and a very stylistic look, though not as faithful to the comics as it has been said before, such as; Joker being the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents, Batman actually killing people, Batman being the cause for the Joker's transformation, Joker being scared of Batman, its these things that are its only real flaws, but there are not noticeable to casual movie-goer, just Nit-Picky Bat-Fans. Though, the ending could of been longer, instead the writers just get lazy and drop the villain to his death, there could of been alot more done with the film's climax. Still, Burton's Batman is indeed a very good movie in its own right, and back in the 80s, it was fresh,dark, and fun. I loved it as a kid, still love it now. Tim Burton sure knew what he was doing back before he lost steam as of nowadays ( ie; Big Fish, Sleepy Hollow, Chocolate Factory)
It even introduced me to the great Danny Elfman..
Who wrote the original Batman score, which to this day i still listen to, and Danny Elfman has become a personal favorite of mine due to discovering Oingo Boingo in my late teens, would of never heard of such a great and underrated band, have i not ever witnessed the first Batman film.
Prince who supplied the soundtrack, is also a personal favorite.
The Prince soundtrack was the first cassette tape i ever owned.
Jack Nicholson, who played a hilarious Joker, became of my favorite actors over the years, and i think Batman helped push him to that point.
Being 4 years old, an age were you usually have the inability to read, comics were pretty much an issue, so my only Batman fix would be to try and catch the classic and campy "Batman" 60s television show with Mayor Adam West.
I loved watching it all its colorful glory, though i could never understand why Batman's ears were so short..
It featured all my favorite villains, from the Kool cigarette influenced Penguin ( played by the late Burgess Meredith )
To 'The Man who Laughs' inspired Joker, who was played by Cesar Romero.
The 1989 Film and 1960s Show, had such an impact on me as a kid, that during my early years my mind was set on three things Video games, Batman, and Ghostbusters (sadly, that's what my mind is still set on today, but we'll leave the other 2 out for this article ). Every Christmas, i would ask for Batman figures and playsets, wear around my batman mask and accessories when it was months away from Halloween..
Speaking of Halloween, i think around Kindergarden, me and brother were Batman & Robin for Halloween, my parents made me a homemade Robin outfit,which turned out pretty good. Shame, i still can't fit in it..
I wanted to be Batman, which by next Halloween, which was first grade i took that chance.
I would doodle the Batsignal and the Batcowl in my notebooks (it was 1st grade, notebooks were pretty much only used for doodling, and still are in my college years )
Which brings me to say that i think Batman has inspired me to the world of art and drawing, im currently attending classes for animation and film, so you could say Batman has influenced my station in life aswell.
So back to grade school years, i would sit in class staring at the clock, drawing Batman strangling the Riddler, and then rush home from school to catch "Batman: the animated Series" on Fox Kids (in which Mark "Skywalker" Hamill played an amazing Joker), even though i had to sit through god-awful Power Rangers first...
I also remember the first animated Batman film, Batman:Mask of the Phantasm, which i wasnt too crazy about as a kid, but viewing it as an adult, it is probably one of better bat-flicks.
My toy collection was comprised of every incarnation of the Batman franchise, from the movie-based figures to the Comic based-figures to the huge playsets and vehicles and micromachines tracks that followed...
While i was searching for pictures of the toy's i owned as a kid, to serve you with eye-candy. I came across this Batman toy..
Wow,I don't know about you, but i would kill to have this, you pour water down Batman's rectum, then squeeze Batman's bulging crotch to have him spit on your friends. brilliant.
Sorry, it just really caught my eye, had to share it..
Anyway, when i wasn't playing with toys or dressing up and knocking down my mom's lamps, i'd sit still and pop-in some of the Batman video games on my NES.
Basically, I havent missed anything "Batman" had to offer to the pop-culture media, having seen every Bat-Film in the theatre in its opening week. I remember the summer of '92 marking the release of Batman Returns, i was swimming at the local pool club my family belonged to, but a thunderstorm was on its way and the day had to end early, but my Grandparents had other plans for me, they were taking me to the movies to see Batman Returns.
Starring Danny Devito as the sludge spewing Penguin, my Grandmother kept complaining how disgusted she was by the Penguin, and also how cold the theatre was.
Watching the movie now, im not really sure what the plot of this movie is, Penguin tries to gain control of Gotham by running as mayor and then freeze it over? But when it doesn't work, he wants to blow up all the children in Gotham? its never really explained what his ambition was, and Catwoman wants to..i dunno, destroy shopping malls? The movie is entertaining in its own right, though the story is all over the place, but the performances from the leads are what save it from being a throwaway.
I used to love playing the Batman Returns 3-D board game. It would fold up into Gotham City, and the Gotham City sewers, your standard 'race to the end' board game, and if no one wanted to play, it doubled as a decent cardboard playset for my action figures.
I remember doing my homework one day, and my uncle comes into my room ( yeah, go ahead, make creepy uncle jokes in your head, okay.) and tells me "they're making a new Batman"
I wait a dragging mundane school year of hard work in the 3rd Grade, because i knew that Summer 95' marked the release of Batman Forever.
I generally like this movie, i'll always a soft spot for it because it was the fist Batman i was old enough to look forward to; and to boot the story's good, the character's were interesting, the villain's plot was actually coherent this time around, but still, there are some things that REALLY ticked me off about it. It could of been better than Batman 1989, if Burton had directed this one.
The design of the new Batmobile is completely ridiculous, looks more like the retarded offspring of Darth Vader and a catfish. Why did they have to change the original??
Tommy Lee Jones was completely wasted as Two-Face, seems as if he was just thrown in to have an extra villain, he has nothing to do with the story's arc at all, all he really does is flip a coin and laugh, pretty much a carbon-copy of Jack's Joker.
It featured a new look and feel compared to the first two films, which i still can't get over the drastic change. The new 'unique' and oscar nominated (yeah)cinematography doesn't really mesh well with the vibrant colors that were used for EVERYTHING, and the set-design which is reminiscent that of a urban Rave Dance Club rather than a gritty and Gothic crime infested city.
Tim Burton was booted out of the director's chair in place of Joel Shumacher, and Danny Elfman was also booted out of the composing room for no reason, instead the music is an over-the-top parody of heroic theme music with loud vibrato horns and poor quirky synth-like arrangements, it perfectly accompanies the new neon-esque look of the film (which isnt a very good thing in the first place) as it takes away from the film, but the core story itself was interesting enough and at least, we had Jim Morrison as Batman.
Jim Carrey was actually really good as the Riddler, which was an updated version of Frank Gorshin's, which is kinda funny, because both made their careers as impersonator-comedians.
I liked the Riddler so much, i was him the following Halloween.
It was the phase where i had tons of Batman Forever stuff.
I remember owning an awful Batman Forever video game for my birthday, i couldnt even get passed the 2nd level.
But i was saved on Christmas, when Santa shoved an epic 3-foot long Batman Forever Batcave Playset down my chimney, complete with Batmobile parking spots, Elevators, Zip lines, and other neat contraptions.
I was in a Batman-Revival mode, and lucky me, My aunt lives next door to Michael Keaton's nephew, so my aunt was able to plug me an autograph from Batman himself!
...I have to talk about this, even though, i really don't want to but..the worst of the worst, one of the mothers of modern bad-movies, the poster sums it up...
I was, of course excited to see this, because i had to see every Batman movie, duh! but REALLY? How can a movie be this dumb? I can sit through it, only because i watched it 1000 times when i was younger, viewing the film now, its more like watching one of those b-movie, you watch because you're amused by it's ridiculousness. It's really a shame though, because even if the script was crap, Schumacher could of pulled it out of the water, and made it work in some ways, because Schumacher is actually a pretty decent director and is responsible for some really good movies, such as Falling Down and The Lost Boys.
Arnold was given shit-loads of money to do this, but probably lost his dignity in the process, they brought Frankenste...er.sorry, "BANE" in for no reason, one of the most intelligent Batman villains is turned into a mindless, monosyllabic, Sloth-like creature, who just grunts what he's doing at the moment: "BOMB!".."BOMB!"
Which makes me think, Basing the movie off of Knightfall would of worked, with ARNOLD as Bane, and would excuse the use of throwing in all those characters. It also would of been kinda neat to see the high-tech Jean-Paul Batsuit, though im not sure how well a ridiculous suit like that would transfer to film, but it still make a LOT better movie than this!
Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael) as Batman
We could of got a cool movie like that, but no we get a really big stupid mess of cartoonish action scenes, and over the top acting, dumb jokes ( Bat-credit card, anyone?) , and awful set design. Robin, is for some reason wearing his Nightwing suit already, and Batgirl is now the niece of Alfred Pennyworth, nope, she's not Gordon's daughter anymore, no, developing Gordon's character and role in these movies would be a bad move...ugh.
In Retro-Spect, it seems Forever and 'Robin act as an entirely different film series than the 2 Burton started out with, by that, i mean lacked everything that made the first Batman so enjoyable, well 'Robin atleast. At the very least, the Shumacher films did incorporate use Wayne Enterprises and Arkham Asylum, two essential pieces of the batman mythos which were completely ignored in the first two.
After the abomination known as that mess of a film, which was around 1997, there was only a few Bat-related things to watch, from the Justice League shows (which i only watched cause of Batman and Flash, never cared for the others ) to the very awesome Batman Beyond, which an elderly Bruce Wayne mentors a new Batman in the future, it was canceled no more than a year or 2 later.
The early 00s come around, i was in my highschool years, and i still loved Batman, but since the 00s were so Marvel laden, my focus was put on the Spidey and X-men films/franchises.
During most of my teens, i became familiar with the paper-based Batman stories and novels, such as Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns and various others.
It wasnt till after i graduated in 2004, where i heard the news of a new Batman film in the works, I kept reading rumors of a Batman 5 since after the release of Batman and Robin, all with several different plot devices, but the most common was a film based on Frank Miller's Year One.
Pretty soon, Batman Begins was on the verge of release, my mind exploded, and i was soon on the verge of falling in love all over again with an old friend by the name of Bruce Wayne ( Don't care how awkward that sounds).
"Batman Begins" came out in 2005, and i rushed to the theatre to see it, though i wasnt too crazy about it at first, it grew on me over the years, and at this point, anything's better than Batman and Robin, and it helped revive my love of the great character. Christopher Nolan was in the director's chair now, returning to the gritty roots that Tim Burton started with, but added a bit more realism and depth, bringing the universe to a more believable level, it's also nice to finally see Batman portayed in a darker and intimidating manner. It introduced a new cast to take over the characters ( as usual), Liam Neeson takes the role of the villain,Rah's Al Ghul, Michael Caine as the loyal Alfred Pennyworth, though in all respect i think Michael Gough is the better Alfred, theres just something that screams Alfred about Gough's perfomance in the previous movies, Michael Caine is always just Michael Caine.
It also starred Patrick Bateman as Batman (which i thought was an awesome choice).
The movie is a bit slow in the beginning, but picks up when you start to see Bruce becoming Batman, designing the Batcave, the Bat-suit and all the bat-gadgets, going out on his first crime-hunts. good stuff.
Ever since then, I have unearthed an unhealthy obsession with the Character and his gallery of villains and sidekicks all over again.
One story, which isn't really considered "Retro", since it only happened a couple years ago, and according to the rules the article should've ended when i hit the year 2000, But it was a fun summer and this is a Batman-related article, so i'm gonna share it with you, No? oh well, im writing this so im going through with it anyway..
And here we...go.
Yes. I'm going to talk about..the Dark Knight. If there's a Batman article post-2008, you're gonna get some TDK-mentions. So bite your upper lip.
The first teaser-trailer is where i heard my first audio clip of a new Joker, a new Batman film with the joker? my personally most cherished villain in a 2000s film!? This trailer sparked a whole new disturbing interest in the Batman mythos for me, i heard Heath Ledger was to don the purple suit and green hair of the manic Joker, this of course was a shock to me, this was the same Heath Ledger that i saw in a teen movie i was forced to watch with an ex-girlfriend during high school, whose name i will not speak of, but the film was called "10 things i hate about you", she wouldnt watch something like Back to the Future or Ghostbusters when i reccomended them, but she'd watch "10 Things I Hate About You", the dumb skanky rag had a taste for dicks but certainly not for movies, God that movie was so bad, the only redeeming quality it earned was hearing Madness' "Wings of a Dove" in the closing credits...
But anyway! when i heard, the news of Ledger, i said 'hold up a minute.....WHAT?"
Ofcourse, people had the same reaction when Keaton was cast as the first Batman. So i was like 'well i'll give it a chance' that was untill i saw the first officially released picture of our new "Joker"...and this is it?
THATS the Joker? piss off! that is NOT the Joker, he looks like a confused man who got bored and went through his wifes makeup box and smeared Lipstick on
his face. And why on earth isn't he smiling? All this angst had been built up until around December when i saw the first trailer of "the Dark Knight" where i saw clips of the film, I literally ate all my previous negative words. I also heard that Harvey Dent/Two Face was to appear who is now played by the Aaron Ekhart from Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking, Harvey/Two Face was played horribly and stomach achingly bad by Agent K and cool and suave by Lando Calrissian, though Billy Dee was never given the opportunity to play Two-Face, he signed on as Harvey in the first Batman in hopes to play Two-Face in the planned sequel, he was contracted for 2 movies, but that obviously never came to be.
So as the time of release came closer and closer, I bought our tickets about a few weeks ahead a time, i bought two, one for me and one for my girlfriend.
The following week, We took a trip to Six Flags for the day, there was a new attraction that had been built on the famous amusement park, and you guessed it was called 'the Dark Knight' and..yes you guessed again, i HAD to ride it. I had to ride the other Batman-related rides aswell, even the infamous Chiller, which was known to decapitate an innocent bystander running under the track to retrieve his hat one day, common-sense doesn't come for free nowadays.
After standing in line, in the dying heat for about 2 hours watching a screen that looped the Dark Knight trailers and six flags commercials, my girlfriend was on the ground passed out in a puddle of her own sweat, while i got by spending 6 dollars for a bottle of lemonade to keep my hydrated. When we finally made it inside of the building ( it was a indoor roller coaster, mind you, and its possibly the most well built Attraction i've seen in recent years, ( havent been to DisneyWorld lately so im going by my own experience ). The entire interior was built as an underground Gotham City street leading into the Subway, it was very cleverly put together, there was a screen of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent given speeches and what not, the lights go off, you hear Joker laugh and you get on the coaster... AND...
what a disappointment. That was possibly the most mediocre roller-coaster i've ever been on, i hoped to god that wasn't foreshadowing the hype i had for the film it was based.
As the 18th rolled around, i called up my friend to give me a ride ( no car at the time). I threw on my "Batman" shirt, and headed out the door with no hesitation. we rush to the theater as im humming the Danny Elfman "Batman" theme in my head. We hand in our tickets, and head to the 'first one on the right'.
I was so excited, i didnt know what to do with my pants.
"The Dark Knight" was a pretty good film, Ledger and Eckhart both did tremendous performances as the villains, so did Bale and his supporting cast of other
heroes such as Michael Caine as Alfred and Gary Oldman as James Gordon ( who was completely wasted in the original series as a character, here he's actually part of the story and portrayed as an ally to Batman ).
The story contained twists and internal conflicts, the action was great, and like the modern take of Batman, it was a Detective Story/Crime Drama (afterall it IS Detective Comics ) we've seen dark and stylized like the Burton movies, and vibrant and campy (and mindless ) like the Schumacher films, the last Bat-film tried the realistic approach, but TDK perfects it. Viewing it now, it kinda lost a bit of steam, the story drags in a few parts, but seeing Heath as the Joker never gets old.
It had everything, though the only thing missing was Danny Elfman's awesome and roaring score, which really sets the tone for the Batman atmosphere, Batman the Animated Series, contained nods to the Elfman score, but instead in the Nolan-films, we get what is kind of an anti-score, of random noises and chords. The new Superman film, contained the original John Williams theme. I guess beggers can't be choosers.
Even though Batman, has always been on the forefront of the radar. There has been a resurgence of Batman marketing and merchandising.
The new Batman video game, Arkham Asylum..
..Is everything a Batman game SHOULD be, loaded with all of the colorful Bat-villains running amok, Using your bat-gadgets to track down clues that lead to the Joker and other villains, hiding in the shadows and swooping down to knock out enemies, it's a great experience. If you haven't played it yet, i will not give too much away of the story, But i suggest you rent it as soon as possible.
The Voice actors from the Animated series returned to their rightful roles, including Mark Hamill as Joker, and Kevin Conroy as Batman. Can't get any better than that.
It was voted the Most Critically Acclaimed Super Hero Game in Guiness Book of World Records, a sequel is also in the works.
I think the last good Batman game was probably, Batman & Robin on the Super Nintendo.
It was you're basic 'Side-Scroller Beat Em Up', but the fluent controls, smooth sprite animation, and addictive game-play make it worth while. So we've definitely come along away.
Going back to the 00s..
There have also been 2 really awful cartoons, The Batman, and Batman:Brave and the Bold.
Though i do prefer, The Brave and The Bold, cause it can be clever and funny at times.
Christopher Nolan will close the book on the Batman franchise with his third and final film, due in theaters by 2012, which makes me wonder how their going to end on an even higher note than the Dark Knight?
or even without Batman's greatest foe? (or even someone who can pull off Ledger's performance) ? Who will be the next star-studded bat-villain cast? Time will tell..
All this Batman-revival, is assurance that everyone loves a classic hero, or is it that he just has a really cool suit and it looks good on t-shirts?
But what does makes "Batman" so appealing? maybe its the subtle belief that there's a slight possibility of there actually being one, ofcourse not someone who dresses as a bat, but a moral driven vigilante. Is it that we can relate to in our minds the passion and emotion the comic character creates for himself?
And i use the term "Comic character", because he is indeed not a superhero, he is a vigilante, man who is disgusted with the world and aims to make balance to it.
At the end of the day, The Batman franchise has been very important to me, could i pick one thing one 'why'? Is it because the franchise is a focal point in some of my dearest personal interests? Or is the more psychological qualities? Is it that he's just a regular guy who uses mind over matter? Is it because he sticks to his high morals even under the most stressful and sacrificial of circumstances?
Or Maybe it's the reality that these moralistic qualities can help one see and despise all the poison and injustice that our society has come to live by nowadays; drugs, promiscuous and underage sex, prostitution, murder, rape, a fallen economy, corrupted politicians, and in all of this chaos and madness, it's nice to escape into a fictional world, where all these injustices are apparent, and a man like Batman can bring order to these problems, you can say that it a little spark of hope that someday, the world will finally be better place.
If you liked this article check my similar article to my GHOSTBUSTERS obsession which was sadly plagiarized a couple of months ago..