Friday, September 21, 2012

Ranking the Batman Movies: #2

2. Batman
Directed by Tim Burton
Batman…Michael Keaton
James Gordon…Pat Hingle 
Alfred…Michael Gough 
Vicki Vale…Kim Basinger 
Alexander Knox…Robert Wuhl 
Harvey Dent…Billy Dee Williams 
The Joker…Jack Nicholson 
Carl Grissom…Jack Palance 

Believe it or not, the prevailing thought in Hollywood was once that comic book movies don’t work. Sure, there were the Superman movies but they were the exceptions. Anything not involving the man of steel flopped at the box office. Worse yet, any studios interested in making a Batman movie wanted to make it along the lines of the 1966 movie. Eventually, in the early 80s it was agreed upon that The Caped Crusader deserved a big screen treatment more in line with the way the character was initially conceived by Bob Kane way back in 1939. By the end of the decade, director Tim Burton brought it all to life. Heading into theaters we were skeptical of noted comic actor Michael Keaton getting the lead role. Thankfully, he nailed it. However, as seems often to be the case, The Joker is really the star of the show. It’s pretty obvious he would be since he’s played by the world’s greatest Lakers’ fan, Jack Nicholson. The old pro gives us a Joker that’s part Cesar Romero and part Jack Torrance (his character in The Shining). Batman himself was appropriately humorless, as was the overall tone whenever Joker wasn’t on-screen. The most enduring part of this movie’s legacy is that it forever changed the way studios, critics and the public viewed comic book movies. Not only was it an event before it ever hit theaters, it lived up to the hype earned massive amounts of money and was generally praised by critics. The fact that superhero movies dominate the theaters every summer can be traced back to this film. By the way, it’s also given us what I consider to be the coolest Batmobile (if a bit impractically designed) and the best soundtrack (courtesy of Prince).

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