THE RANK­ING

Four Em­pire writ­ers tackle the on­go­ing cin­e­matic adventures of the Dark Knight, and try to come up with a de­fin­i­tive Ba­torder

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Holy long-run­ning se­ries, Bat­man!

Chris: Bat­man has been go­ing for over 75 years. He’s been rein­vented a num­ber of times. Dif­fer­ent di­rec­tors have had a take on him. Why is that?

He­len: I think there’s lit­tle to him that’s canon, and that means you can rein­vent him at least once a gen­er­a­tion for a whole new au­di­ence. He’s weirdly flex­i­ble in that way. I think Adam West’s Bat­man is as much a Bat­man as the Christo­pher Nolan Bat­man.

Dan: That’s the two sides of it. Ei­ther you treat it as stupid and all a big joke, or you can take it se­ri­ously and say, “Here’s some­one with some­thing so wrong that they’re us­ing all their money to do this ridicu­lous thing.”

Olly: Isn’t that why he’s great cin­e­mat­i­cally? You could ar­gue that peo­ple have made the in­ter­pre­ta­tion that he is a weird sicko pervert who just likes dress­ing up. Or he is this messed up man who is very dam­aged and is vaguely psy­chotic.

Chris: I love that the Adam West Bat­man is nei­ther of those things.

Olly: He’s a lit­tle bit sicko pervert.

Chris: He’s just a paunchy mid­dle-aged bil­lion­aire who likes to dress up and get his kicks by pun­ish­ing peo­ple… hang on.

Olly: Ex­actly. It’s the fact he runs around in satin that is a lit­tle bit strange.

Chris: Does Bat­man re­flect the era around the movies?

Dan: I think Bat­man ends up more re­flect­ing the di­rec­tor. The Tim Bur­ton Bat­man movies are Tim Bur­ton movies. The Chris Nolan Bat­man movies are Chris Nolan movies.

Olly: I don’t think he re­flects the world so much as what the cin­e­matic trends are.

Dan: The Nolan ones did re­flect the world. In The Dark Knight, they set fire to a fire en­gine. That would have been a de­lib­er­ate thing in terms of 9/11 and the War On Ter­ror. The Dark Knight Rises…

He­len: Ugh.

Dan: What?

He­len: Its politics are the thing I hate about it most. It came out the sum­mer af­ter Oc­cupy, and it cast its vil­lain as the guy stand­ing up for the 99 per cent, and it had a bil­lion­aire sav­ing the day. It is the most po­lit­i­cally tone-deaf film of my life­time, and it ir­ri­tates me be­yond rea­son.

Dan: Selina Kyle is also on the side of Oc­cupy. Her and Bane are the two sides of it.

He­len: There is no part of that film that can le­git­i­mately be read as prooc­cupy, and that an­noyed me a lot. Our hero shouldn’t be stand­ing up for the one per cent against the 99.

Chris: I don’t think he was. He had to go through a cleans­ing of the soul and the bank ac­count to strike back against Bane. I’m go­ing to stand be­hind Bruce Wayne on that one. And his in­cred­i­ble ar­ray of won­der­ful toys that he paid for with his bil­lions.

Dan: How­ever you in­ter­pret it, Nolan was all about mak­ing it as re­al­is­tic as you pos­si­bly could, given the genre. Chris: Bat­man Be­gins isn’t.

Dan: I sup­pose not.

He­len: This goes across all Chris Nolan’s Bat­films. It’s so frickin’ por­ten­tous. I find it a bit much, to be hon­est.

Chris: This is why He­len has cho­sen

Sui­cide Squad at num­ber one.

Dan: I loved that in Bat­man Be­gins, the sense of ur­gency and the re­lent­less­ness of it. The drive that it has. It’s weaker at the end, its fi­nal third doesn’t match up to what went be­fore.

Olly: It’s not my num­ber one. But of all the di­rec­tors who’ve taken it on, Nolan has most con­vinc­ingly told the story of who his Bat­man is. Bat­man is not the main at­trac­tion in any­one else’s.

Chris: Let’s talk about the movie that, as much as any in his­tory, changed cinema. It was a phe­nom­e­non. It was Bat­man.

Dan: 1989.

He­len: I loved it. It was a 12 and I still got to go see it.

Olly: I didn’t see it at the cinema but I re­mem­ber its ex­is­tence be­ing the most ex­cit­ing thing. I re­mem­ber see­ing that poster, which was just the sym­bol, all over. When I saw it, I was slightly dis­ap­pointed. I thought it was go­ing to be life-chang­ing. Bat­man Re­turns was. Chris: I know you love Bat­man Re­turns.

Olly: Ab­so­lutely love it. My favourite thing about Bur­ton’s take on Bat­man is that he’s in­ter­ested in these weirdos who de­cide they are go­ing to turn them­selves into some­thing else. That is done best in that film with him and Cat­woman.

Dan: I’m not a fan of Bat­man Re­turns.

Chris: Holy shit, the Bat­cat is among the Bat­pi­geons.

Dan: I don’t dis­agree about Pfeif­fer at all. But that movie doesn’t feel like a Bat­man movie to me.

Olly: That’s not a loss to me.

Chris: Bur­ton made way for Joel Schu­macher. Bat­man For­ever and

Bat­man & Robin are, for me, two of the worst block­busters of the mod­ern era. The lat­ter is a hor­ror show.

Olly: It has a camp value. The Sny­der ones are so down­beat, they’re a slog to get through.

Chris: I do some­times won­der if Keaton would have made a bet­ter fist of Bat­man For­ever.

He­len: I love it for the bit where Robin goes, “Ho­ley rusted metal, Bat­man” It’s rusted metal and it’s full of holes!

Olly: The thing you have to say for Schu­macher is he had an aes­thetic. He knew what he wanted it to look like. It was gar­ish and hor­ri­ble, but he had a take.

Chris: Right, enough squab­bling. Let’s vote!

The Bat­man movies are avail­able now on DVD, Blu-ray and Down­load

To lis­ten to the full Bat­man movies de­bate as a pod­cast, go to www.em­pire­on­line. com/pod­cast

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