No, I see what you’re saying. But all I’m asking for is one good live-action Batman movie – or a few – that sticks to the formula. You can riff once those are out and established, but note that Miller took, what, 50 years before he made his alternate version? You need that background in the medium for the new version to have any meaning.
The way it stands, you have a public who thinks that Nolan’s Batman is somehow representative of what Batman is. All I’m asking for is a few live-action Batman movies that match the brilliance of something like Under The Red Hood. That’s all.
Yeah. That’s why the Nolan Batman movies sit perfectly in the Batman canon. They’re a different interpretation that builds on what came before but does something different.
But they don’t. That’s my point, man. You can’t riff until there’s an established status quo. And there isn’t in the cinematic universe. They parade around as if the definitive version of the hero. That’s what people call his films over and over.
But the comics are the status quo. Isn’t that the point you’ve been making?
They’re the status quo for people who like comics, but not for the movies.
Here, let’s backtrack.
Batman has a defined status quo, yes? From the comics. That status quo is known to people who read the comics. Alright.
Batman had something like half a century or more of complex commentary on that status quo in the 20th century. In the 80s/90s, a few people like Miller came in and made a new version of the character that acted as a direct commentary on the original. But its power came from the established canon.
And, might I add, people quickly got sick of that new take; by the time The Dark Knight Strikes Again came out, people were done with this psychopathic, gritty, murderous version of Batman.
But anyway, back to the point. People were reading the comics up through Miller. I doubt almost anyone jumped into Miller’s weird alternate universe version. Meanwhile Nolan, who is the equivalent in many ways of Miller (but for film), used Miller’s take to make a series of movies.
Except he did so without anyone first setting up a standard for Batman in the movies. And now people have set Nolan’s universe as some sort of gold standard for Batman, when in fact, it’s merely a riff – but this point is lost on people who never read the comics (or watched Batman: The Animated Series, for that matter).
Miller was more respectful of the original property, in other words. Also, I doubt he’d ever refer to the concept of Batman as “ridiculous.”
Everything that the general public needed to know about the comic version of Batman they knew from pop culture. Like you said, there’s not much to him. And that’s what Nolan is riffing on. Nolan made a version of Batman for a post-9/11 America. It tackles the way that the country is feeling at the moment. In 25 years we’ll get another version of Batman better suited for our times. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Man, I don’t even know what to say at this point – post 9/11 America is a whole other can of worms. But this conversation was a lot of fun regardless. I still hold to my points! But I leave you with this very accurate description of my face right now.
One last thought:
My argument above is why I approve of Abrams’ Star Trek reboot films. They come in the wake of a long history of cinematic status quo. Just as TNG did in the wake of TOS. The Abrams Star Trek didn’t suddenly appear and try to pass itself off as original Trek…
But anyway, that doesn’t really change our standstill. I just felt I’d offer a positive example of how to do what Nolan thought he was doing.
(Side Note: You said “Everything that the general public needed to know about the comic version of Batman they knew from pop culture.” And yet, I talk to people about Batman and tell them he’s The World’s Greatest Detective, and they look at me like I have two heads. So I wouldn’t say people are as cognizant as you might think.)
On a related note:
I’d say Marvel understands the need to set up a base canon better than anyone. They came out the gate with very straightforward adaptations of their properties, with minor tweaks here and there, and they’ve met with unbelievable success. This sets them up well for future iterations:
If they came out with Marvel Zombies now, for example, everyone would instantly know it is a riff on the MCU as it stands. But had they come out with Marvel zombies from the outset, it would have confused what the baseline is.
The only DC property where they have some leeway in that department is Superman, because the Donner films were pretty faithful to the comics in a lot of ways. Because of that cinematic history that Superman has, but not Batman, DC can go many different directions with that particular hero. Alas, all we got was Man of Steel – but still, the point stands.
And of course, all of this is to say DC has boxed themselves into a corner as far as competing with the MCU. Because they made this weird “Otherverse” version of Batman via Nolan, they have no basis for a Justice League series. So they’re stuck with this weird Man of Steel franchise which seems beholden to the Nolan series in tone while still trying to build a cohesive universe. This is why Batman vs. Superman has me intrigued – not because it’ll be good per se, but because I have no idea how they plan to fix the situation they’re in.
Personally, my solution is and always has been: bring in Bruce Timm to manage all DC cinematic properties (as he’s the only guy with the resume to make such decisions/take creative control) and have Paul Dini help him out. Until that happens, I have very little hope for any attempts at a JLA.
So what do you think? Who made the better argument? Sound off in the comments!