Halloween is almost upon us. With All Hallows’ Eve comes costumes, and you know what costumes mean, don’t you? BATMAN!!!…Yeah, I didn’t really have an intro for this one…Where was I? Oh, yeah. Batman.
When Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy first began in 2005, many people praised Nolan’s interpretation of the Caped Crusader as the first loyal live-action adaption to capture the famous character. I remember people bashing Tim Burton’s 1989 and 1992 Batman films as missing the point and not being true to the the Bill Finger and Bob Kane character. Obviously, this point of view wasn’t held by everyone, but it was by myself and others at the time. With Batman: Arkham Origins coming out tomorrow, I’ve been thinking about the universe of our favorite bat and have had a change of heart when it comes to Mr. Burton. Well, kind of.
Burton’s films still have a lot wrong with them, but there’s one crucial facet to Batman’s world Burton got right or at least more right than Nolan. The city of Gotham is a strange place. It’s not only filled with enough “weirdos,” “freaks,” and crazed super villains to keep Batman busy for decades but the city itself is out of the ordinary. It can be dark, Gothic, art deco, film noir, and have a touch of the supernatural.
Nolan certainly had elements of film noir in his movies and there’s no denying the city was dark. He purposefully avoided the supernatural, though, and I wouldn’t say there was much of the other elements I mentioned earlier. I still love Nolan’s ventures into the world of Batman (well, The Dark Knights Rises was a bit ‘meh’) and his Gotham. After all, the city’s design does need some realism to it. If it was too outlandish and otherworldly, it wouldn’t be a true representation of Batman’s world. I do, however, miss those aspects Nolan left out. They’re aspects of Batman’s universe I adore. Part of me hates to admit it, but I think Burton, who apparently did FAR less research into the world’s greatest detective, managed to capture this essence of Gotham and Batman’s universe.
Gothic is kind of Burton’s forte, so it’s no surprise those elements are present in his version, but his city also had those three bits absent from Nolan’s movies. Yeah, it had its flaws and wasn’t the most realistic film city, feeling like a Hollywood set at some points. But why should it have to be super realistic? I love how certain Batman properties can take me by the hand and pull me into a world with so many weird places and characters I’ve never seen before.
If you want to know a property that I think has captured my ideal version of Gotham then look no further than the Arkham video game series. It’s the perfect mixture of weirdness and realism. It’s not your everyday city, but at the same time, it’s not so far fetched to be unbelievable.
I shouldn’t be too hard on Nolan. He was trying to do his own thing, and I admire that. Like I said, I still love Nolan’s Gotham. It just lacks certain ingredients I relish, and I hope whoever takes the helm of the next solo Bat feature is inclined to sprinkle those ingredients back in. Nolan’s three course meal was pretty tasty. I’m ready for the next cook’s recipe, though, and I’m hoping he/she imbues the city with some of those same qualities Burton and the recent video game series did.