With people analyzing Justice League, trying to figure out why it failed so spectacularly, I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents. This isn’t about the movie though, it’s just about what I think Warner Bros. and DC are doing wrong with specific characters and the first character I want to look at is Batman. I don’t want to lay the blame on any particular actor or any particular director because I think Warner is primarily responsible, but here we go, why I think that movie Batman just isn’t resonating with anyone and what they need to do to fix it.
So I’m going to start off explaining what my favorite movie Batman has been and why everything that’s come since has been a pale imitation. If I had to pick one version of Batman that’s been on the big screen, it would be the 1989 Tim Burton Batman, played by Michael Keaton. As far as I’m concerned, nothing else has come even close.
Why? Because Keaton’s Batman was a duality. You had the dark side, Batman, who was brooding but not excessively so, and the light side, Bruce Wayne, who was a millionaire playboy that had a life outside of the Batcave. A lot of what made that character special is how he tried to balance the two sides of himself. The dark side wasn’t all dark and the light side wasn’t all light, there were shades of gray across the entire portrayal and you needed both sides to have a balanced and complete whole. The Batman side was afraid of life as Wayne and the Wayne side was afraid of life as Batman. There was synergy.
But when you got to the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, all of that synergy went away. It was all dark all the time, owing primarily to the Frank Miller stories that the films were loosely based on. There was no duality, it was a uniform darkness that honestly, I can’t stand. Now I’m not adverse to having a dark character or a dark story, but if there’s no light, nothing to contrast that darkness against, then the whole thing becomes pointless. And that’s really what Nolan gave us. Three entertaining, but ultimately flawed movies that were so skewed over to the dark side that Batman stopped being a hero and was really little more than a psychopath. Now that’s been done in the comics before, but that’s never been my Batman.
Of course, Batman has never been a favorite of mine, I’m not a big DC guy, but of the DC heroes, he’s toward the top of the pile. But I’ve never been a big fan of the Frank Miller disgustingly-dark Batman and really, that’s not the Batman I want to see on the big screen. Batman, regardless, is supposed to be honorable and want justice. I haven’t seen a lot of that in most of the recent DC movies. That doesn’t mean make him Adam West Batman by any means, although that can be fun from time to time, but there has to be a balance and I think that balance has largely been lost.
Bring back some light to Batman’s darkness. Justice League tried to do that to a certain degree and it was certainly needed, but it’s not enough. Bruce Wayne can’t be brooding all the time, locked up in a mansion with very little human interaction. It’s that interaction that gives the darkness perspective. It lets him know what he’s fighting for. Otherwise, he’s just fighting for the sake of fighting and I think a lot of what I disliked about the Nolan movies came from that. There was no higher purpose. There was just someone to punch so he punched them. There was an enemy to kill so he killed them. What’s the point in that?