BATMAN ON FILM, since June 1998!
OPINION

Fanboy's Trippin' Out!

Author: Bill Ramey, Founder of BOF
Email: BATMANONFILM@MSN.COM
Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fanboys and the Internet, a match made in heaven!

Or perhaps a match made in that, um, other place. Anyway…

All the recent online flack over SPIDER-MAN 3 got me thinking about the many times over the years that fans went nuts -- also known as “trippin' out” -- over various things when it comes to comic book movies. It could be over casting, costumes, changes in character mythos, and on and on and on -- y’all know what I’m talking about.

You’ve heard of “Girls Gone Wild,” right? Well, here’s my first edition of “Fanboy’s Trippin’ Out!”

Today I take on the BATMAN movies and spotlight the best “Trip-Outs” I’ve had the privledge of witnessing (and participating in) over Batman on film during the last 18 or so years.

BATMAN FOREVER VS. BATMAN RETURNS

During those dark days between BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997) and BATMAN BEGINS (2005), one of the biggest and most passionate online debates I’ve witnessed amongst Bat-fans is the one over the first two sequels to 1989‘s BATMAN.

Both of these films are either reviled or adored and there‘s no in between. In fact, you are more likely to have a UFO land in your backyard than encounter someone in Batman fandom who likes both movies.

RETURNS fans will argue that director Tim Burton produced a cinematic masterpiece that is misunderstood and its detractors simply don’t “get it.” To RETURNS aficionados, FOREVER is a mindless mishmash of neon and camp and an insult to the Batman character.

Those who like FOREVER will say that director Joel Schumacher fashioned a fun and hip “popcorn” Batman film that saved the franchise after Burton sent it to gothic hell. To FOREVER devotees, RETURNS is a macabre, weird, netherworld fantasy and a “Batman” film in name only.

Neither side will concede their position nor will they accept any arguments made by the opposing side. To this day, the RETURNS vs. FOREVER battle continues in Batman message boards across the Net.

NIPPLES ON THE BAT-SUIT

When Joel Schumacher took over Bat-directing duties from Tim Burton, he made a number of changes. A new look and tone for the series…A new Batmobile…A new actor to portray Batman…Nipples on the Bat-suit.

“Nipples on the Bat-suit? WTF!”

Schumacher said that he wanted the Bat-suits to depict the perfect male anatomy -- like Greek statues. Fans saw this as nothing more than Schumacher’s attempt to add homosexual subtext into the film.

THE MARKETING FOR BATMAN BEGINS SUCKED!

BATMAN BEGINS made $205 million domestic, $166 million overseas, and raked in about $372 million overall. Despite these nice numbers -- and the fact the film was considered a huge success by both movie pundits and Warner Bros. themselves -- many a Bat-fan believes “poor marketing” caused BATMAN BEGINS not to do SPIDER-MAN-like numbers at the box office.

I guess none of these marketing critics allow for the fact that BEGINS was the 5th Batman film in 16 years and just 8 years removed from BATMAN AND ROBIN -- one of the worst comic book super hero films ever produced. I’m also assuming that none of the complainers take into account that despite underwhelming numbers its opening weekend, BATMAN BEGINS had excellent box office “legs” thanks to extremely positive word of mouth throughout the summer of ‘05. Perhaps letting the film market itself was the marketing strategy for this film. And a strategy that worked, by the way.

HEATH LEDGER CAST AS THE JOKER IN THE DARK KNIGHT

On the eve of Comic Con International 2007 in San Diego, word leaked that Aussie thesp Heath Ledger had been cast as The Joker in the sequel to BATMAN BEGINS. Not Lachy Hulme, Paul Bettany, Hugo Weaving or any of the actors rumored during the 2 years after BEGINS‘ run in theaters.

The Joker was going to be played by the guy from BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

Upon hearing the news, fanboys absolutely flipped out! Ledger’s casting was the talk of Comic Con (bad marketing for the upcoming THE DARK KNIGHT, eh?) with many a fan cursing Chris Nolan and his Joker choice to hell! Doctors saw a rise in carpal tunnel syndrome due to fans posting their displeasure of Ledger’s casting on internet message boards. THE DARK KNIGHT -- according to many -- was already doomed.

Of course, the man who cast Ledger as The Joker was the same guy who provided Bat-fans with BATMAN BEGINS. Also, none of these dissenters seem to acknowledge that Ledger is a pretty good actor -- one that was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (HELL of a film, BTW) -- and actors do act, right?

So who’ll have the last laugh? Ledger or those already dismissing him as The Clown Prince of Crime? I’m betting on the former.

THE JOKER IN THE DARK KNIGHT WILL WEAR A MASK!

During a couple of interviews, Heath Ledger used the term “wearing a mask” when referring to his upcoming turn as The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT.

Do I even need to explain what resulted due to these comments? I didn’t think so.

There’s this term that actors use when describing a role, OK? They often refer to playing a part -- especially one like The Joker -- as “wearing a mask.” Of course this fact didn’t stop the fanboys from taking Ledger’s comments literally and began cussin’ Nolan for screwing with the character.

MICHAEL KEATON CAST AS BATMAN

Bar none, the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman back in ‘88 caused the greatest trip-out of them all!

Back in the late 80s, Keaton was known primarily for his comedic roles in films such as NIGHT SHIFT, GHUNG HO, BEETLEJUICE and of course, MR. MOM. Consequently, when it was announced that Keaton would play Batman in a new, live-action feature film, thoughts of a Adam West-esque Bat-flick was on the horizon. Bat-fans, naturally, went ballistic.

Can you even imagine what would have happened if we had the Net, movie websites, and message boards back them?

“Replace Keaton” petitions were sent to Warner Bros. and boycotts of the film were threatened. Bat-fanboys everywhere were convinced -- I mean totally convinced -- that there was no way Keaton would successfully pull off a dark and serious Batman.

Oh real-ly?

BATMAN went on to rake in $411 million worldwide and Mr. Keaton is still considered by many a Batman fan to be the definitive live-action movie Dark Knight.

Hmmm, I wonder if any of those Ledger-as-The Joker haters like history? You know what they say about failing to take into account the lessons of history….

OK, that’s about it -- or at least the ones that stood out for me. Yeah, yeah I know you are probably asking why didn’t I include BATMAN AND ROBIN? Hell, everyone tripped-out over that one and trippin'-out was more than appropriate for that piece of crap!

Others I thought about and that are worth at least a mention include: Batman killing in BATMAN and RETURNS…Bale’s “Batman voice”…The cape-clasps on the BEGINS Bat-suit…The Tumbler…The “Billy Dee Williams is Black and Harvey Dent is White” nonsense…The BATMAN: YEAR ONE script by Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller…David Goyer can‘t write “dialogue“…”Burtonites” vs. “Nolanites.”

Next, I’ll take on a few that are not Batman related -- like Nic Cage cast as Superman, Superman’s got a kid, and others. And those non-DC films ain’t getting a pass either! Does “organic web shooters” ring a bell?

And FYI: I'm a "Fanboy" too and damn proud to be called one!

(Thanks to all the guys and gals on the BATMAN ON FILM MESSAGE FORUM for their contributions!)

"Jett" is the founder and editor-in-chief of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM,
BATMAN-IN-COMICS.COM, and ON-FILM.NET.

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