Top 10 Differences Between The Gothams Of Nolan And Burton

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1. ‘Stylized’ Dark vs. ‘Bleak’ Dark

Tim Burton had already proven himself as a master ‘film aesthetician’ by the time he made the BATMAN films, with his trademark look featured in BEETLEJUICE and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. The style for his BATMAN films is no exception, with gothic architecture and artfully macabre scenery galore. While everything in his films has a specific design and influence, Christopher Nolan’s style is entirely more haphazard, gritty and, well, bleak. Before production began on BATMAN BEGINS, Nolan invited the entire crew to a private screening of Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER, and went on record saying, “This is how we’re going to make “Batman”.” That in a nutshell captures the different priorities, notions and visions of these two Bat-directors.

Speaking recently at Comic Con, Tim Burton mused on how his Batman films look now, stylistically: “I recall at the time, people worried about our version being too dark. It’s like, well, it looks like a lighthearted romp in comparison.” And what is he comparing his films to? The Nolan films of course, which he is thoroughly impressed by.

Author: Dan Heching

Photo Credit: Flickr: Stefan the Cameraman
lightAmazingly, Bruce Wayne is about to don his Batsuit for the seventh time in a little over 20 years, with the role of Batman becoming a nouveau-James Bond of sorts—a grand total of 4 actors have portrayed him thus far. When the original BATMAN came out in 1989, superhero films were far from guaranteed successes; effects and makeup still 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 more realistic BATMAN BEGINS, which in turn was also followed by a superior sequel, THE DARK KNIGHT.


While comparing the drastically different Batman universes of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan might seem a fruitless endeavor, an interesting way to explore them is through the directors’ treatment of the Dark Knight’s beloved Gotham City. 


Author: Dan Heching10. Product Tie-ins: Coca Cola vs. Mountain Dew9.  Jack Nicholson vs. Heath Ledger8.  The Bat-Signal7. Greys and blacks vs. Washed out ochres6.  Henchmen5. Crowds of Gothamites
4. Soundstages vs. On location3. New York vs. Chicago2. Pat Hingle vs. Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon1. ‘Stylized’ Dark vs. ‘Bleak’ Dark