Next year we’ll be getting a brand new Batman movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directed by Zach Snyder. But while we’re waiting, let’s take a look back at 25 years of iconic Batman movies dominated by directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan.
Very few people speak ill of Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN trilogy. The series shattered box office records, earned multiple Oscar nominations (and wins), and is often considered the greatest superhero trilogy in movie history. And yet, deep down in my heart, I’ll never be able to forgive Nolan for wasting precious years of Christian Bale’s productive career, when the versatile actor could have been making more passionate, provocative films like Werner Herzog’s stirring RESCUE DAWN — airing tonight at 10P on Sundance Channel.
Photo credit: Flickr: Stefan the Cameraman
Amazingly, Bruce Wayne has donned his Batsuit for the seventh time in a little over 20 years. The role of Batman has become a nouveau-James Bond of sorts, with a grand total of 4 actors portraying him thus far, in films directed by three different men. When the original BATMAN came out in 1989, comic book and superhero films were far from guaranteed successes, since effects and makeup hadn’t quite risen to the standards of what the deliriously imaginative comic creators could come up with. Nevertheless, Tim Burton’s BATMAN was a commercial and (mostly) critical success, enough to ensure delivery of the arguably better sequel BATMAN RETURNS three years later. Fast-forward (remember that?) to 2005, and MEMENTO director Christopher Nolan resuscitated the franchise with the much darker — and more realistic — BATMAN BEGINS, which in turn was also followed by a superior sequel, THE DARK KNIGHT. Pretty much across the board, the newer Batman films are considered to be the most relevant and successful, but there remains a small and embattled contingent of film fans who actively miss the old days of (pre-SLEEPY HOLLOW) Tim Burton.
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With THE DARK KNIGHT, Christopher Nolan established himself as a director with the ability to translate the artfulness of a film like MEMENTO into a blockbuster that packs equal parts action and story. Even with an ensemble case, THE DARK KNIGHT manages to retain a singular character study that remains the heart of the story, no matter how many explosions go off in the background.
Almost the opposite is true of INCEPTION, Nolan’s ‘break’ while finishing up the Batman trilogy.