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BATMAN ON FILM, since June 1998!

Here you will find opinion pieces regarding BATMAN BEGINS and the BATMAN film franchise.

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To WB: Release a pic of the Bat-Suit!
Sunday, April 25, 2004, by Paul J. Wares

For most of my early twenties I worked behind a bar. It’s an interesting job that requires you to be one part psychologist, one part philosopher, one part counsellor and one part entertainer. One of the most fascinating parts of the job is the character you meet. I remember two distinctly – Johnny and Pete – these guys were both in their sixties and had probably been drinking buddies since their teens. These fellas would rib each other incessantly, one day Johnny gave me his opinion on Pete’s reluctance to cough up the cash for his round of drinks.

“Pete’s tighter than a duck’s arse!!” It made me laugh.

Now a good few years later it describes perfectly the security surrounding a certain movie we’re all waiting to see: “Tighter than a duck’s arse.” I think that adequately describes it.

Now, while it’s frustrating as a Batfan not knowing every little detail a year in advance of the films opening (ah the internet) I’m not too worried. I have the utmost confidence in Chris Nolan. I have followed Nolan’s work since his excellent 16mm black and white film – ‘The Following’ and have been stunned by his dramatic rise in Hollywoodland. If ‘The Following’ was his hop, then the skip and jump that were ‘Memento’ and Insomnia were considerable as they landed him Warner Bros most successful film franchise. Nolan is a storyteller, he is not a style over substance music video director and this should fill us all with a great deal of confidence. Now of course the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, but add to that mix an outstanding cast and crew and a studio that seems confident enough to give the Director a long leash and we have the promise of a very sweet tasting pie.

Across the Internet most fans feel the same way as me. A positive reaction such as this is rare indeed, particularly since most Batfans still have the acrid taste of Batman and Robin lingering in their collective mouths.

Of course there is still currently one bone of contention – The suit.

Even the mere mention of this topic has fans foaming at the mouth, partly because in recent years we have been privy to Marvel Studios very early release of pictures from their flagship movies X-men and Spider-man. So accustomed to this practice have we become that it has made us all very impatient. Last year it did seem that Warner Bros. were following Marvel’s marketing lead, by releasing an early picture of Halle Berry as Catwoman. We all know how that turned out and maybe WB is gun shy at the same thing happening with Bats.

Here’s the thing. Batman is not Catwoman. From the get go advance word on Catwoman has been bad. The online reviews of the Catwoman script have been terrible. Batman’s script reviews have been excellent. Fans reacted very badly to the news that Catwoman is Patience Phillips and not Selina Kyle. Fans have reacted extremely positively to the fact that Batman Begins is treating the characters in the script faithfully. The online community had nothing but negative responses to the casting of all the characters in Catwoman, but most notably to Berry as the lead. I have heard nothing but positive reaction to all casting decisions in Batman Begins with the casting of Christian Bale as Batman being considered a coup.

"Batman Begins" is not "Catwoman."

Now I ask you WB, nay I implore you, release the damn picture sooner rather than later. Even in the unlikely event that the suit is unpopular, so much goodwill has been created for this movie that most fans will excuse something that isn’t quite to their taste and those that don’t will grow tired of whining. By the time the film is released they will see it ten times just like the rest of us, but the longer you wait the more you risk that goodwill diminishing. You also risk one more thing. There is a photo of the suit circulating, I know, I’ve seen it, I’ve also had it verified by several sources to be the real deal. Now I know at least 5 people who have it, if they each share it with five people and they in turn share it with 5 people, then it is only a matter of time before it is leaked. You don’t want this leaked, the picture is terrible. It has been scanned, photoshopped, airbrushed, distorted and manipulated in order to disguise where it came from. If this photo hits, all the goodwill that you’ve achieved, you can kiss it goodbye. Surely it would make sense to release the best, high quality photo you can. A photo that shows this great design in all its glory. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a dude writing an online article. You guy’s greenlit, produced and distributed……Batman and Robin.

Finally, a word to the fans. I have read the endless debates on message boards all over the net between the Black and Grey Tights Brigade and the Moulded Rubber Armour Junkies. You all have legitimate points. I personally don’t subscribe to the view that the suit should look exactly like it does in the comic books, and here’s why. The movie isn’t being made for just us fans, it is being made for the widest possible audience. This is an audience that by and large consider the very notion of comic book superheroes silly. Comic book heroes are already stigmatised by the fact that many of them when placed in a real world setting – even if it is ‘just a movie’ look ridiculous to the general public. I believe there is no point in further stigmatising the characters by putting them in skin-tight spandex and making them wear their underwear over their pants. Now the average comic book fan sees that as completely normal, the thing is the general movie going public doesn’t.

UPDATE: Less than a week after Paul's column, Warner Bros. released the first official picture of Christian Bale as The Batman in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. The following day, two more pictures of Bale were posted on the movie's official site--two of him in costume and one as Bruce Wayne. So did WB release these pictures due to BOF's request? Probably not, but it was a good move nonetheless.

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