As much as we’d love to chain our favorite actors and creators to the wall and force them to continue working on the projects we love oh so much, that’s just not feasible. Or legal.
It’s always hard on fans when a creative team moves on to their next comic, television show or film but that’s life. Like most people, actors and creators don’t want to do the same thing for the rest of their lives if they can help it. They ned change. But as fanboys and girls it’s our job to complain about it when it happens.
So, that being said, I know doesn’t hit theaters until July 20, 2012 but I had Batman on the brain recently (When don’t I?) and I started to get a little worried. The reign of Christopher Nolan on Batman is almost over! What’s going to happen to my favorite character after that? Now, not that I’ve been thinking of chaining Christian Bale to anything *cough, cough* but I, as a fan, am truly concerned with the ending of the Nolan/Bale trilogy. With every high there must be a low and their films were just about at Mount Everest height. You know what that means, don’t you? Get ready for the Mariana Trench series of Batman films post-2012.
Let’s take a look back at the past Bat-films and see if we can predict where things are headed. I’m going to preface this by saying, I enjoy every one of these movies. Yes, even . I’ll explain when we get there.
The original film from 1966 is and always will be one of my favorites. Perhaps even campier than the show itself, was a truly entertaining romp for the caped crusader. Directed by Leslie H. Martinson and starring Adam West and Burt Ward, had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR villains taking on the main man and he still managed to win the day. Exploding sharks, dehydrated Security Council members, a random marching band, you name it, it was in this movie. It may not have been a blockbuster but the exaggerated performances and tongue-in-cheek jokes by just about everyone made this one to remember.
Then came the film that changed a lot of our lives.1989’s . Directed by Tim Burton, who was previously known for and , the film showed us the Dark Knight like we’ve never seen him before. Starring Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, for anyone seven years old at the time like I was, it was an eye-opener. I remember having nightmares about the Joker, which to me, meant they did their job. Not everyone loved Burton’s vision of Gotham or Batman himself but it was a critical and financial success. Hence, the sequel.
In 1992 came . Once again Burton took on the directorial duties and Keaton donned the Bat suit. This time around it was Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer who took on the roles of Batman’s villains the Penguin and Catwoman. Even darker than it’s predecessor, was also a huge success but some thought too dark. Again, as a kid, the Penguin was a scary character and seeing Selina Kyle interact with Batman made me want to be Selina Kyle. I always loved the imagery in this film and it’s another favorite of mine.
Even though Tim Burton produced the film, I think we can safely call 1995’s a reboot of sorts. Directed by Joel Schumacher, has Val Kilmer step in as Batman as well as add Chris O’Donnell to the mix as Robin. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey rounded out the cast as Two-Face and the Riddler but there was a marked change in the overall tone of the film from the two previous efforts. Most will just come out and say “bad” and leave it at that but I honestly enjoyed this one. Sure it had some corny dialogue but the Riddler’s plot to steal information from the minds of Gotham’s citizens was something you could see happening in the comics and I appreciated that. It was a more “family friendly” film per Warner Bros. request and that turned a lot of fans off.
1997’s served as a sequel to even though Kilmer was replace with George Clooney. Chris O’Donnell was along as the second half of the Dynamic Duo with Joel Schumacher again in the director’s chair. All I remember was bursting with excitement over the fact that Poison Ivy was going to be in the movie. She was played by Uma Thurman but they also added Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, as an added bonus and let’s not forget Alicia Silverstone playing a *gasp* blonde not-quite-Barbara-Gordon Batgirl. It had super campy dialogue and action. Like, so much so you can barely keep a straight face while watching it. And that’s not exactly a good thing. Though I took it for what it was and enjoyed laughing about it. Even thought it was what it was, what it was was not good for the majority of the viewing audience. It would be eight years since we saw Batman on the big screen again.
It was almost like we needed the bad to appreciate just how good could be. In 2005 we were blessed with undeniably awesome . Nolan revolutionized Batman in the same way Frank Miller did in the comics. Obviously that’s where a lot of the inspiration for the film came from but it made such a big impact in movie form. It had a few problems, Bale's gravely interpretation of Batman’s voice and Katie Holmes just to name a couple, but overall it was just the breath of fresh air fans were looking for. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Nolan outdid himself with 2008’s . The dependence on realism in these films is what kept everything working and made everyone happy. Nolan’s choices of villains, not to mention the actors who portrayed them, was essential to making this Gotham a believable one.
With on the horizon, I feel like holding up a sign that reads, “The end is nigh!” I can’t wait to see what Nolan will do of course. The weird thing is, unlike most other directors put in this kind of position, I don’t expect Nolan to choke on his third and final outing with the character. He’s had a clear vision for his films and I don’t expect that to change for . But, what about after he’s done?
We’ll have several years without a Batman film, that’s for sure. As much as these films are worth, no one’s going to attempt to go near them for a while. But how does anyone possibly follow in the gigantic footsteps Christopher Nolan left behind with his trilogy? It’s my fear that we’ll see a rehash of the camp. Sure, it be done but after these films, no one’s going to want to see it. We’re too used to this kind of Batman now. And that’s where my other fear comes in. I’m worried about a copycat. Someone who comes along and says they’re also going to make a “realistic” Batman film then fail miserably when it doesn’t come close to Nolan’s run. It could ruin Batman on film for another eight years.
Sure, we don’t want to see Nolan/Bale end their successful series but we also don’t want to see it run into the ground just for the sake of making more money. Will Warner Bros. try to develop a Batman who can fit into a future shared film continuity next? While pretty much all of the DC films have a separate continuity, there’s nothing to say they won’t see the success Marvel is having with their interconnected films and attempt to duplicate it in the future.
Oh Christopher Nolan, you were a blessing as well as a curse.