Friday, 10.35pm, UTV
Batman never really went away but by 1997’s Batman & Robin the franchise was in a parlous state, infused with too much ‘biff-bang-pow’ and not enough depth. In dire need of fresh blood, Christopher Nolan took the reins. Best known for his non-linear thriller Memento, Nolan, with screenwriter David S Goyer, brought Batman back to his Dark Knight roots, even more so than Tim Burton had in 1989 (see Tuesday).
Two things set Nolan’s effort apart from the other recent Batman films. Firstly, as the title suggests, a concerted effort to tell the caped crusader’s origins story and, secondly, a wide stride away from ‘kaboom splat’ comic book antics towards more realistic violence, if still one light on gore and actual bloodletting.
Part of the appeal of Batman is that he walks a fine line. Approaching his acts of heroism from a point of vengeance means he is one step closer to the villain than many other superheroes. An idea thoroughly fleshed out in Batman Begins. Burton’s Batman touched on the idea of Bruce Wayne being driven to don the batsuit by the murder of his parents; Nolan’s film explains the journey Wayne took in considerably more detail. Notably, how he turned his anger and frustration from pent-up emotion to meaningful acts of justice, through pain, suffering and hard work – as well as the Wayne fortune and the high-tech gadgets it could buy.
Some have criticised the film for being po-faced and too far removed from the fun and japes of the 1960s TV series. It is perhaps true that Christian Bale’s version of Bruce Wayne/Batman is harder to like, but there is no doubt that this time, he is an incredibly well-drawn character whose motives we completely understand, and admire.
The story behind the film
British actor Christian Bale (above) was cast as Batman after filming The Machinist, for which he had lost a lot of weight. He had six months to bulk up his emaciated frame. Not only did he rise to the challenge – but he actually put on too much weight. Simone Andrews