Batman & Robin

Batman and Robin

Let’s get this on the table right from the start – I hate Batman Returns. If I were to rank every Batman film in order of preference – including the 1966 film based on the Adam West TV series – Returns would easily bring up the rear. It is so terrible that I’m astounded that it not only never turns up on “Worst Comic Book Movies Ever Made” lists, but that there are some people who defend it as the best of the series. I’ve long thought it’s not only a bad Batman movie but a straight-up bad movie in general. A recent article on Uproxx nailed so much of what I’ve long hated about the film. I think their list of 15 points is padded with a few jokey items that don’t totally count, but it utterly pegs the nonsensical nature of the Penguin’s backstory, the randomness of his plan to run for mayor, and the overall WTF-ery of Max Schreck. It also indicts Batman on charges of senseless, gratuitous murder (everyone who called for Zack Snyder’s head after Man of Steel needs to go after director Tim Burton 17 years ago) and the laundry list of plot contrivances that even a half-attentive viewer should spot. Beyond all of that, I’ve just never liked Burton’s conception of the Penguin. The gentleman criminal of the comics is turned into a deranged former circus freak who spews bile and bites noses. It’s a much more egregious warping of the comic forebearer than just about anything […]

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Watchmen (2009)

Some superheroes have their origins in ways unavailable to your average person. Batman and Iron Man rely on their own personal well-funded technology. Captain American is a result of a highly complex super soldier program. Thor is a space alien god, which could also be said for Superman. And someone like Ghost Rider or Jonah Hex has his origins in the supernatural. Still, there are plenty of superhero origins that rely on pure chance, often a result of a horrible accident. That got me thinking… could an industrial accident really turn you into a movie superhero?

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IntroOneLiners

A good method of determining the realism of a film isn’t by body count so much as it is the weight a writer puts on each death. For example, if the death is preceded by any of the following one-liners, it probably wasn’t valued very much. That isn’t to say these are bad films by any stretch, just films that you wouldn’t want to be caught dead dying in, lest your final breaths be a gentle laugh at the lunacy uttered by your attacker.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises (and other Christopher Nolan films). Christopher Nolan is the first director to make more than two Batman films. In the past, a second Batman film has provided a space for filmmakers to explore their excesses. In the case of Batman Returns, Tim Burton was able to further develop a vision of Gotham as an elaborate fairy tale. Batman & Robin was Joel Schumacher’s venue for exploring Batman as full-blown camp. For Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight manifested a mammoth vision of the summer superhero blockbuster by way of Jules Dassin and Michael Mann, where the Gotham setting gave way to an intricate, sprawling matrix of a metropolis that contains an eternal struggle between order, chaos, and every gray gradation in between. Until Nolan released The Dark Knight Rises, however, a Batman story reaching a third and final act was without precedent in the hero’s manifestations within the moving image. Not only has no previous director articulated a vision of the Caped Crusader in three parts, but no film, serial, or television show has attempted to bring a definitive end to their particular version of the superhero’s arc. The Batman of the moving image is one that largely exists in perpetuity. That Nolan has attempted a completist, closed vision of the Batman universe is relatively anomalous. Despite The Dark Knight Rises’s virtues and shortcomings (and the film has both of these in spades), perhaps the major reason for the film’s comparably […]

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Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

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Ten Superhero Movie Mistakes

The biggest superhero mistakes that Hollywood seems to finally be avoiding this Summer. Don’t worry – we mention the rubber nipples.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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