Bruce Wayne

Culture Warrior: James Bond

Warning: this post contains mild spoilers for Skyfall. At some point during the middle of the first decade of this century, it felt like the practice of rebooting franchises would not see an end anytime soon. A gritty, realist new Batman origin story was followed quickly by a new blonde James Bond who, supposedly modeled after the new spy paradigm of the Bourne series, seemed as messy as he was vulnerable.

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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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Boiling Point

The long awaited climax to director Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is finally coming to theaters this week. While we’ll all have answers soon enough, the question on everyone’s minds during the advertising campaign has been “Does Batman die?”. It’s not so insane a question as it once was. I mean, the hero dying in the film? An icon falling? Certainly comic books have done this (and gone back on it almost immediately…) and movies have a long history of “killing” villains only to bring them back. But this is Batman! You can’t kill Batman! Yet, the advertising and the general darkness of the films lead a lot of credence to the idea that the legend might actually end. In the trailer, Selina Kyle says that Batman has given Gotham everything, to which he morbidly responds “Not everything.” Will Batman die? I don’t know. But I know he shouldn’t, and here’s why.

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Culture Warrior

Enduring cultural figures like Batman endure precisely because of the slight but notable changes they incur over time. Batman has had a long history in the moving image, and while the character has maintained both the central conceit of being a crime-fighting detective, the cinematic Batman of seventy years ago bears little resemblance to the Batman we’re familiar with today. The character and his myth have been interpreted with variation by a multitude of creative persons other than Bob Kane and Bill Finger. In the moving image, Batman has been embodied by a range of actors including Robert Lowery, Adam West, and George Clooney, and Batman has been realized by directors and showrunners prone to various tastes and aesthetic interpretations like William Dozier and Christopher Nolan. While Batman is perhaps best-known by a non-comic-astute mass culture through the many blockbuster feature films made about him, including this summer’s hotly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, the character’s cinematic origins are rooted in the long-dead format of the movie serial. Batman first leapt off the page in a 15-part serial made in 1943 titled Batman and another six years later titled Batman and Robin. These serials did not influence Batman’s later cinematic iterations realized by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher as much as they inspired Batman’s representation on television. Batman’s presence in film serials and on television have had a decisive and important impact in terms of how mass audiences perceive the Batman of feature films. At the same time, these serials […]

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, the editor of The New Ledger and podcast host of Coffee and Markets Ben Domenech brings his velvety voice to the show to suggest that John Lithgow play a werewolf-hunting FDR, question the Spider-Man casting, and create a list of movie characters that should run for office (we’d totally vote for Judy Dench’s M). Plus, we find time to review Megamind, Due Date, and implore you to see Four Lions. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Movie Style Guy: The Dark Knight

Robert Fure discusses the finer points of living on opposite sides of the same coin.

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Batman Comic Origins

Batman first appeared on the scene to fight off the evils of Gotham City back in 1939. And now, nearly 70 years later his following is bigger than ever, with him at the forefront of one of Hollywood’s most anticipated films of 2008. We walk you through his history on paper, from the first time he was drawn by Bob Kane to his most modern incarnations.

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