11 February 2016

Batman v Superman

If you are like me, you were there on opening night way back in 1989 to see Michael Keaton turn in a capable performance as the Batman in what was -none of us would have admitted it at the time- a not great Batman film. It wasn't bad, but on some level it missed some of the fundamentals, and disregarded completely the physicality of the character. It straddled, uneasily, the line between the camp of Adam West and Burt Ward and more straight interpretations of the character and his world. That first film was a master piece of art direction, and design and a failure, minor to be sure,  as a character piece. The design extravagance only increased with the Burton produced films and culminated in the pure camp of Joel Schumaker's final two films in that series. Burton, the producer of the Schumaker films, would later go on to blame Schumaker for killing both the Batman franchise and the unmade Superman film he had begun pre-production on. Given his status as producer that seems like a cheeky claim.  As fans we settled for the ego driven Burton/Schumaker approach until in 1997 they shat out Batman and Robin. A uniformly great cast could not save the train wreck and the franchise died a very public death.

Eight years later Christopher Nolan gave a truly worthy Batman trilogy that opted for cleverly interpreting key aspects of the Batman mythology in a more real world kind of way. There was no instagram filter for what he did, but if there was it would Batman through a crime noir lens. It worked. It really, really worked. Or maybe the filter he used was a Marvel filter. Kevin Smith wasn't hyperbolizing when he called the Dark Knight the equivalent of The Godfather II. It was better, deeper and more clever than its predecessor. But even the very physical Bale wasn't quite the Batman in terms of physicality. Average street toughs could still give him problems. Still it was an interpretation we could embrace. Nolan and Bale gave us a blend, Batman was a bit of the detective, and a bit of the martial arts master.

I have no idea what to expect from Zac Snyder's Batman v Superman. I liked Man of Steel enormously so I am prepared to be optimistic. Whether BvS lives up to MoS or not, I think, finally, after nearly 30 years of waiting, I will finally get (on the big screen) Batman as unstoppable fighting force. I am sooooo looking forward to that.  Enjoy the brutality....


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