There were eight years between "Batman & Robin
" (1997) and "Batman Begins
" (2005), which became a blockbuster hit, and it was no wonder considering the extremely negative backlash "Batman & Robin" received. With cringe-worthy puns from all of the main actors - George Clooney
, Uma Thurman
, Alicia Silverstone
, etc. - and a lack of any plot substance or inner contemplation the previous movies had showed, it seemed like the Batman movies would be given an early grave.
Then Christopher Nolan
signed on to the "Batman Begins" project, a film loosely based off of "Batman: Year One" written by Frank Miller
") where Miller brings the readers into the tragic world of Bruce Wayne on his road to becoming a superhero. It was a brutal and dystopian comic, and while Nolan did not take a great deal of specific details, his take on "Batman Begins" was heavily influenced by the darker overtones and chaos of Miller's vision. This is not the cheesy Adam West
Batman, or even the thoughtful but whimsical Tim Burton
Batman. "Batman Begins" shined a fresh new light on a favored vigilante superhero, and it was rewarded with six awards and an Oscar nomination.
The last scene of "Batman Begins" had the audience talking because the Joker is an iconic character nearly as well known as Batman himself. They are arch enemies, twisted mirrors, and go hand in hand together. Fans and non-fans alike were excited by the idea of seeing the Joker return to the movies - Jack Nicholson
famously played him in the original Burton "Batman
" - and very early on "The Dark Knight
" was getting hype.
With the new influx of comic book movies like "Iron Man
," "The Fantastic Four
," and "The Incredible Hulk
," Marvel has mostly taken the spotlight. DC's "Catwoman
" and "Superman Returns
" were not exactly the hits that they hoped for, so there is a lot of money and hope resting on the formidable power of Nolan and main actor Christian Bale
Here are a few things that the audience does not want to see in "The Dark Knight" to keep it from falling into the old Batman traps.
1.) Heath Ledger's Joker Being Overrated
Heath Ledger's casting in this movie was discussed in great detail from the beginning, and few thought the young, handsome Australian would fit into the role of the insane, terrifying mass murdering Joker. As pictures and clips were released, the fans warmed toward the idea, and it was rumored that this performance would shock and amaze everyone. Then Ledger's life was tragically cut short, and "The Dark Knight" will be seen as his last full finished performance. This caused a great deal of focus, especially since there were whispers that it was partly due to the Joker's darkness that Ledger had insomnia and grew troubled. Ledger's death could very well cause a sympathetic turn toward the movie, but it could also cause a backlash for those who expect a star performance from Ledger and find him merely mediocre. Or perhaps the Joker might have been amazing if the news did not circulate so strongly around Ledger's untimely death and therefore the movie becomes a spectacle in memoriam of him rather than standing on its own.
2.) Too Much Talk, Not Enough Action
The first movie was mildly criticized for its lack of action in the first hour, although it was gradually accepted due to Bruce Wayne's slow change from angry orphan to vengeful anti-hero. This was a story about how he became Batman, and it featured a great deal of character development and a study on Wayne's inner torment. This is an important part of the comic book hero, but for a movie there was a certain amount of slow pacing that could have lost the quick attention span of the average moviegoer. When the action did happen, it was confusing and chaotic and difficult to follow. Now Wayne is Batman, and the previews indicate plenty of action with still that gentle element of introspection that Nolan does so well. It is a difficult balance, but one that needs to be carefully walked because although the audience does want to know Wayne and care about him … they also want him to beat the bad guys!
3.) Loss Of Joker's Humor
The first movie was careful about the amount of humor it invested, and it will be very difficult with the addition of Joker in the film. Joker is known for punning, and his terrifying sense of humor is so ingrained in the character that without it there would be a very important element gone. This does not need to degenerate into a "Holy rusted metal, Batman!," but if Joker ends up just being another dark minded straight faced villain, it will not have the same punch. This will be difficult to juggle because making the movie too funny will take some of the intensity away. Nolan might enjoy the dark humor of Joker, as will the audience if it is written correctly, but due to the overall feel of the film, he has to be careful about being too light hearted at the wrong times. Not an easy place for a director, or the screen writers!
4.) Batman Being Overshadowed
A lot of this article is about how the Joker has to be handled very carefully, but the truth is the most important part is to make sure Batman is still the focus of the movie. A villain as charismatic and fascinating as the Joker can easily take attention away from the main character, and this is problem the first "Batman" movie felt, as well as the regular comic series. Jack Nicholson's performance was well received and beloved and probably remembered much more than Michael Keaton's
. However, this movie is named "The Dark Knight" for a reason, and that is because Bruce Wayne is the title character and should be the most important of the film. With the introduction of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart
) as well as Joker, Bale has to be careful about letting his character get overshadowed by the compelling new villains. Batman has always had fascinating bad guys, but it is his world and his comic. Let's hope the movie reflects that.
In general, Nolan has to bring the audience a movie that reminds us why we loved the first one but go 10 steps more over the line. He has to show there is an endless world of possibilities in Batman and keep people wanting more. The fine actors will no doubt draw the fans in, but there has been severe competition now in the comic book movie world, so "The Dark Knight" has to exceed all expectations on July 18.
What don't you want to see in "The Dark Knight?" What DO you want to see? Make a comment!
Watch 'The Dark Knight' trailer:
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Story by Chelsea 'Dee' Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer