The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Batman begins to grow up

Los Angeles, June 16 (Reuters): Forget comic books. Forget superheroes with super powers. The once-powerful Batman movie franchise returns to theatres this week, bringing a new dose of adult reality to a series that fell victim to cartoonish villains.

Eight years after the last screen version failed to impress fans of the caped crime fighter, its makers promise action and adventure that could take place in today’s world.

Director Chris Nolan and writer David Goyer wanted to bring a new measure of reality to comic book-based movies. Christian Bale, the latest incarnation of the Dark Knight, said long-form graphic novels influenced his characterisation far more than the comics.

Batman Begins, which opened in theatres on Wednesday, paints a bleak picture of a city, Gotham, besieged by drugs and run by recognisable underworld gangs.

Gone are cartoonish villains like Mr Freeze of 1997’s critically panned Batman & Robin, and in their place is mob chief Carmine Falcone and a bad guy named Scarecrow who dresses in business suits and covers his face with a sack ' a gas mask, really, that allows him to breathe amid the noxious chemical fumes he unleashes on his victims.

“We were looking for the textures of today’s world,” Nolan said. Added Bale: “This is our answer to what went wrong with the other ones.”

For non-fans, it may be hard to imagine anything went wrong with four films that in nine years sold over $1.2 billion of tickets worldwide. But for true fans, the lame story in Batman & Robin and a plastic batsuit complete with breast nipples were too cartoonish.

So when Warner Bros considered reviving the film franchise, it liked the “reality” take of writer Goyer and director Nolan, who scored a big hit with Memento and Insomnia.

Email This Page