"The Dark Knight Trilogy" Was NOT "Too Real," AND... it DID "Respect the Comics!" (Part 1 of 3) Author: Rick Shew (Follow @SHEWRICK)
February 14, 2015
One of my all-time favorite movie critics was the late Roger Ebert. I often disagreed with the man, but always respected what he had to say.
So, you can imagine my anticipation (as a lifelong Batman fan), in 1989, opening The Dallas Morning News for his syndicated review of Tim Burton’s BATMAN.
The first live action screen version since Adam West’s wholesome Caped Crusader captivated us all with words of wisdom, catchy phrases and a sycophantic obsession with Julie Newmar, in the 60’s. (OK, I wasn’t born yet, but those cheesy-fun, reruns helped define my childhood and armed me with the encyclopedic Batman knowledge I obnoxiously abuse friends, family and the greater online community with today.)
Meanwhile, back in 1989, Ebert said of Burton’s BATMAN...
“BATMAN is a triumph of design over story, style over substance - a great-looking movie with a plot you can’t care much about.” (Roger Ebert, June 23, 1989)
Personally, I give the film a lot more credit than that, but he had a solid point: What WAS the point of that movie, anyway?
As the franchise continued, Ebert’s Bat-Movie reviews got worse. Of the last installment of the Burton/Schumacher era, BATMAN & ROBIN, he says…
“My prescription for the series remains unchanged: scale down.
We don't need to see $2 million on the screen every single minute.
Give the foreground to the characters, not the special effects.
And ask the hard questions about Bruce Wayne.” (Roger Ebert, June 20, 1997)
Again, he was correct. The question should be “Who is Bruce Wayne?” Not, “Who is Batman?” Batman IS Bruce. It was the man behind the mask that we needed to learn about. Batman is, as Christian Bale brilliantly states in BATMAN BEGINS – “just a mask.”
After the disastrous BATMAN & ROBIN, Warners put the Batman film franchise on hiatus until hiring independent filmmaker Christopher Nolan to take it over in 2003.
And what did our dear, friend, Mr. Ebert, say about Nolan’s “reboot?” Well…
“BATMAN BEGINS at last penetrates to the dark and troubled depths of the Batman legend, creating a superhero that, if not plausible, is at least persuasive as a man driven to dress like a bat and become a vigilante. The movie doesn't simply supply Batman's beginnings in the tradition of a comic book origin story, but explores the tortured path that led Bruce Wayne from a parentless childhood to a friendless adult existence. The movie is not realistic, because how could it be, but it acts as if it is.” (Roger Ebert, June 13, 2005)
Finally, a filmmaker who understood what makes this character tick; and so, gave us a beautiful, haunting story about the trials and tribulations of one Bruce Wayne.
After the success of BEGINS, Nolan returned with THE DARK KNIGHT, in 2008. And four years later, Nolan concluded his trilogy with the highly anticipated finale, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012).
Nolan gave us the best movie trilogy since the original STAR WARS. Furthermore, I would argue, that it’s better than the enchanting universe in that galaxy far, far away.
One of the reasons I love Nolan’s films so much is because of the passion that the entire cast and crew put into all three movies. Christian Bale took the role seriously and didn’t play it for laughs, nods or winks. He approached the role as seriously as Laurence Olivier approached Shakespeare; and the end result was a Bruce Wayne that we cared about, worried about and cheered for. We wanted to see Bruce Wayne succeed, not just Batman.
Chris Nolan on the set of THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)
When I talk to people about these films, or God forbid, argue in Facebook comment threads, I often come across two schools of thought; one being that they loved the first two films, but thought RISES didn’t deliver. Or two, the films were “too real” or “didn’t respect the comics.” (The latter happens mainly when arguing with misguided, angry fanboys and self-proclaimed “Batman Purists.”)
In Part 2, I’ll address the criticism towards THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and that “The Dark Knight Trilogy” was “too real.” Finally, in Part 3, I’ll dismantle the ridiculous claim that Nolan’s Batman films “didn’t respect the comics.” - Rick Shew
His love for Batman traces back to the ripe age of 5 when he became obsessed with the 1960’s TV show and later a diehard Batman bomic book reader (THE KILLING JOKE remains his all time favorite).
As an actor, Rick has appeared in numerous films, local & national commercials and over a dozen theatrical productions. However, his favorite gig of all time was playing Superman, alongside Batman, Batgirl, The Green Lantern & Wonder Woman in the "DC Comics Live" show at Six Flags San Antonio, TX.
Although Rick attended The University of North Texas, he is a diehard Texas Longhorns football fan. He is a HUGE fan of THE Dallas Cowboys as well (#DezCaughtIt).
Other likes include cooking, reading and hosting his left leaning political page LeftShewPolitics.
Rick resides in Dallas with his 3 beautiful women (his wife and their 2 daughters), his kitty cat and his dog, Cooper.
Even though Rick has a full-time job with a hospitality/software company based out of San Francisco, he also helped conceptualize a bar in Dallas (where he also sits as a financial investor), NICKEL AND RYE. So, when in Dallas, please come have a bite and a drink!