Bat­man Be­gins

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - SEVEN DAYS -

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

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