From a comic universe ice-packed with cold foes, and a franchise often shovelling snow and ice, Batman Returns sits at the top of the tree as the most festive of the Batman films. One of Tim Burton’s finest hours, and the one that pissed off McDonalds.
BATMAN RETURNS PUTS ANOTHER TYPE OF BIRD INTO THE CHRISTMAS STUFFING MIX. THE “YULETIDE CONTEXT” AS CHRISTOPHER WALKEN’S MAX SHRECK CALLS IT, IS UNAVOIDABLE IN A FILM WITH MANY A CHRISTMAS TREE POPPING UP, BUT IT’S HARDLY AN OVERRIDING MESSAGE. The Penguin may have been born on Christmas Day (unconfirmed, but he’s certainly a Capricorn), he may be ascending at the meaningful age of 33, but most of the Biblical strands woven through Returns are stridently Old Testament. The Book of Exodus is the most prominent. The Penguins origin echoes Moses’ – exchanging cyperaceae for sphenisciformes – And it’s the feathery fiend who later enacts his own variation of the Plague of the Firstborn in vengeance.
Packed alongside are more Christmas elements than you could shake a cute umbrella at. There are the pantomime villains, Dickensian grotesques (much to Alfred’s constant disdain) and even a morally flawed business man with the shock of white hair who obviously has little time for festivities beyond his annual Maxquerade ball. “Hard and sharp as flint” especially when protesting that he’s no monster. There’s also time for the type of remote controlled car that the Penguin might place under your tree (“I don’t like surprises”) and the anthropomorphic animals that still grace many a Disney film. And then there’s the omnipresent snow. Amid a high murder rate and constant explosions, there’s perpetual snow.
All of these elements and more combine to create an irresistibly stylised fairy tale tone and picture that could comfortably, and lazily, be termed Burtonesque. Even 22 years later.
Continue reading “Batman at 75: The Ultimate Festive Favourite – Batman Returns”
The tale of a paved and cracked actor. As Gotham turns one of the most the famous fictional cities into a television character, a look at how the city that has Batman as its guardian has fared on screen since the tun of the century…
THE FIRST PART OF THIS RETROSPECTIVE TOOK A LOOK AT THE FICTIONAL CITY AS IT WAS PORTRAYED ON THE BIG SCREEN THROUGHOUT THE 20TH CENTURY. With a new century the hero was fast entering his seventh decade, so what could that mean for one of America’s oldest cities? Well, the cinematic adventures of the previous decade had forced the bat glove, with a need to reboot and retune. It was time for something darker, edgier and less comic book. So, Warner Brothers turned to Christopher Nolan.
Batman Begins (2005)
Bruce Wayne couldn’t simply be a creation of his home town
It would be wrong to simply describe Batman Begins as more realistic, but its palette was instantly expanded to include it. No film had really touched the origins of Batman; the nearest stabs being 1989’s freshly minted suit and Forever’s trawling through childhood trauma. Starting with the discovery of the Bat Cave in the grounds of Wayne Manor, on the outskirts of Gotham’s Palisades, Begins then takes us out of Gotham for long swathes. Bruce Wayne couldn’t simply be a creation of his home town.
Continue reading “Batman at 75: Gotham City on Film II – Cracked Actor in the 21st Century”
The tale of a paved and cracked actor. As Gotham turns one of the most the famous fictional cities into a television character, the first part of a look at how Batman’s city that has fared on screen, From the Manhattan of the 1940s to the nadir of 1990s excess…
“GOTHAM CITY… CITY OF JUSTICE, A CITY OF LOVE, A CITY OF PEACE, FOR EVERYONE OF US…” IS HOW R KELLY SERENEDED GOTHAM CITY ON THE TIE-IN ALBUM FOR 1997’S BATMAN AND ROBIN. One of the greatest mis-readings in popular music for one of the stupendously misguided films in cash cow history.
A jump to the comics may help. “I’ve forgotten what Gotham feels like… Night after night, hopelessness just tries to beat down anything good”.
That’s more like it. An optimistic analysis from the primary coloured, long-livid and original Green Lantern Alan Scott on a rare occasion he worked with the Dark Knight (Ed Brubaker’s Made of Wood).
From Green Lantern, through Catwoman, Gotham Central, all the spin-offs, contagions, earthquakes, Scott Snyder’s skilful rebooting as a City of Owls in the New 52 through to Lego:Batman, Arkham Origins and the expansive animated portrayals… Gotham has probably been detailed more than any other fictional city. Since it replaced New York as the Caped Crusader’s hometown in the 1940s it’s become a character in its own right, a definitive part of the myth of the Batman.
But on the big and small screens it’s a different story. Continue reading “Batman at 75: Gotham City on Film I – Ill Met By Moonlight in the 20th Century”
On Comic Book Day, a Jokerside exclusive! After a soaring debut in the pages of Detective Comics #27 the comical Caped Crusader and his still inexplicable Boy Wonder have won their own spin-off title. In a packed first edition they take on three rogues across four rip-roaring tales – but do they, and the comic itself, have the Bat-durability to make it solo?
IN THIS FIRST ISSUE, BILL FINGER AND BOB KANE WISELY KICK OFF BY REPEATING THE AVENGING HERO’S ORIGIN STORY AS REVEALED IN DETECTIVE COMICS #33 A FEW MONTHS AGO: THE LEGEND OF THE BATMAN AND HOW HE CAME TO BE! This two-page summary concisely shows how Batman was borne of the tragedy of random crime, honing himself in science and physical feats to become, thanks to the timely arrival of a bat through the window, the “Avenger of evil, the Batman”.
Four Tales, Four Colour
In the four stories that follow, the Dynamic Duo battle three enemies each with a hook as outlandish as the last, with plots ranging from a jewel heist framed as an Agatha Christie-style mystery to homicidal clown mania. First and foremost is the debut of that deadly clown, a grim jester known only as the Joker whose statement of intent is immediately made clear when he makes a sinister ‘return’ before the book is even done. On the way to that rematch Batman and the Boy Wonder meet a debutante lady jewel thief you could only hope to find in a Caped Crusader comic, the Cat; which animal will prove to be the predator? And in between there’s just about time to thwart one returning rogue, surely a criminal set for arch-villain status. Professor Hugo Strange escapes and soon brings a band of mutant monsters to town. Strong stuff true believers! Continue reading “Batman at 75: Hot off the press… The Freshly Minted Batman #1 REVIEWED!”