It began with Tim Burton’s 1989 damp, murky and slightly odd Batman. With Michael Keatons older weird chinned Batman and Jack Nicholson’s wacky yet unsettling and maniacal Joker. The cheeky splash of yellow in the batman symbol and utility belt against an all black batsuit. A Batman that most encapsulated the moniker of ‘The Dark Knight.’ It was forever dark in Tim Burton’s world of the cape crusader, in fact I don’t remember too many scenes in the daytime in either Batman or the Tim Burton’s sequel Batman Returns.
In Batman Returns, a familiar face in Danny DeVito turned up and freaked me out a young me as the small, disgusting and terrifying Pengiun. I still shy away from umbrella’s to this day. Tim Burton might be know as a man of magic but he sure does love the violence as well. Michelle Pfeiffer started a million latex fetishes as Catwoman
Then came two less so impressive Batman movies. A lot has been said about Joel Schumacher Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Almost entirely about how trash these two films are. But even with bat nipples the film had some cheesy charm for a young me. Arnold’s awful puns and some big names including Jim Carrey who’s the perfect man to play The Riddler.
Then came the excellent Christopher Nolan Trilogy. Christian Bale’s conflicted Batman with the growling voice did battle with an underwhelming Scarecrow, an immortal Liam Neeson, a Joker that would go down as one of the best villains in cinema history and finally, a Bane who traded steroids for a funny voice. These brought a realism to Batman and superhero films never seen before. It made Batman cool again and reestablished his position on the top of the superhero food chain.
With Arkham Asylum I finally got to step into the shoes of the Batman. Thrown into the lion’s den, with every villain in the Batman universe, I was given access to every gadget to truly be the hero Gotham needs. Asylum and the sequels City and Knight let the Dark Knight explore his ‘worlds greatest detective’ tag like no film had done previously and in these games it became just as much as about looking for fingerprints as smashing a thug in the face.
Now as an adult I do the things that would probably better suit a child. I buy Batman comics by the dozen and pride myself with the fact that I wash with Batman’s very own shower gel.
I think what resonates most about Batman for me and what’s keep me interested after all these years is that he is human. He has no amazing super power, no super strength or super speed, but he is still a superhero he just uses his brain instead, to get the job done. I like Batman because he lives up to his name, he doesn’t seek the limelight, he stays forever in the shadows. I like that the greatest villain of all time, The Joker is just human too. I like that they’ve never truly given up his origins, enough though I’m sure that they’d sell more comics than ever before if they did. I like the world of Gotham and it’s seediness.