Shadows Of The Dark Knight: The History of Batman – Part 3 of 3

Published 7 years ago by

batman forever Shadows Of The Dark Knight: The History of Batman   Part 3 of 3This is the final part in a 3 part series covering the history of Batman. You can read part one here and part two here.

1995 saw Joel Schumacher take the directing reins with Batman Forever. Recasting Batman, with the younger and more athletic Val Kilmer – this version of Batman was more child-friendly and commercial, right down to Jim Carrey’s casting as The Riddler. An introduction of Robin also helped to lighten the character and Tommy Lee Jone’s Two-Face was a half-lightened version of his comic character. Financially more successful than Batman Returns it appeared Schumacher’s neon lit Gotham City was what enthusiasts of the franchise desired.

Then he delivered Batman and Robin.

With Kilmer filming The Saint (much to Schumacher’s annoyance) George Clooney was brought on board for a third incarnation of Batman. Batman was now once again a guest star, this time in his own movie, due to the influx of villains such as Bat-Girl, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr Freeze and Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy.  Effectively a plot-point-by-plot-point reworking of Batman Forever, Batman and Robin returned Batman to the camp caped-crusader of the 1960′s television series. The film was critically mauled and the low box office led to the franchise being left dormant.

batman and robin Shadows Of The Dark Knight: The History of Batman   Part 3 of 3However, that is not to say that Warner were in complete despair about the franchise. Wolfgang Peterson had a Superman VS Batman script in development and Requiem For A Dream helmer, Darren Aronsosky, even tackled a Batman origin story. It was Christopher Nolan’s take, along with David Goyer that was the first project to appear like a success. Casting fan favourite Christian Bale as Batman, Nolan decided on a much more pragmatic take, transporting the Dark Knight to the real world.

Hauling characters such as Ras Al Ghoul and The Scarecrow into the narrative enhanced the psychological ante of the film and Nolan was able to display a diverse side to Batman and for the first time, gave the hero centre stage in his own film. The critical and commercial success of Batman Begins led to Nolan having creative control over the follow up, though unlike Burton and Schumacher, this would not be his undoing.

The Dark Knight, now free from the shackles of an origin story, is the Batman film that fans have been waiting for. Delivering a Joker that harkens back not only tonally to that of Frank Miller and Alan Moore, but also to that of Denny O’Neil from the 1970′s, it displays a character of malicious immorality, (not the giddy clown, Prince of Crime, associated with the 60′s series.)

The comics were able to illustrate that the Joker and Batman demand co-existence, and until now, no form of moving image was ever able to truly capture this. Heath Ledger’s Joker lacks an origin story and rightly so. At a time when Hollywood is trying to demystify it’s villains it is delightful to observe a character that goes against the grain. After all that is what the Joker does.  Ledger’s Joker is winning shining reviews and also murmurs of an Oscar nomination. Whilst it is a tremendous performance, I feel that many have over looked Aaron Ekhart’s charismatic portrayal of Harvey Dent; no-one before had shown the complexities of the character who started out as an ally of Batman only to become one of his adversaries.

heath ledger as the joker Shadows Of The Dark Knight: The History of Batman   Part 3 of 3Nolan’s recent film expands on the Batman mythos, while also delivering a film that is faithful to the comic book.  Where the franchise goes from here is anybody’s guess. It sets up a sequel flawlessly and again it should demonstrate Batman as a tortured soul who does what he does, not because he wants to, but because he has to.

Batman and his enemies exist in a strange world, and in effect, Batman is as insane as the villains that he is fighting. He is caught in a battle night after night to exorcise his own inner demons, with his sanity (his true mask) positioned on the surface. However, Batman and the Joker are a necessity for each other, more than any other hero-villain combination in comic books. It is a battle that has been in existence for the last 70 years and it will persist long after we are gone.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Nice, I seemed to have missed part 2 of this somehow, guess I’ll check it out now. You kept mentioning how Batman’s character took a backseat in the other films and in my opinion the same thing happened in TDK. Although unlike the others, TDK was actually good, lol.

  2. I don’t think people are over looking Eckharts performance I just think most people don’t find it to be all that impressive. I wasn’t at all impressed with his performance as dent. He didn’t do bad I just didn’t see anything special in it.

    I also don’t think that Batman took a back seat in TDK at all I thought it was fairly equal. He may not of been the only main focus but he was certainly in the main focus.

  3. I thought the casting of Christian Bale was inspired, for reasons more than just his performance; consider this:

    Bale had a following from his performance in American Psycho, yes?

    Now I ask you…is there anything more psycho than dressing up as a bat, jumping off great big buildings and gliding to a frakking tank your company built?

    And, since Bruce Wayne is American…then that makes him the most beloved American Psycho ever.

  4. interesting writing.

    Bale’s Batman is the definitive Batman because we see everything in this character finally on film. Cunning, great tactical thinking, martial arts skills,forensic application and intimidating personality.

  5. I agree with everything but forensics. That lame excuse for forensic/detective work in TDK doesn’t count. It looked like they threw it in there just so you can’t say they completely excluded it. And in the end, it turns out useless anyhow with no impact on the story or how it ends. Further proof it was an afterthought.

  6. I don’t know about your commment against the forensic side of the film Ken J. While it certainly didn’t have a big impact on the film, I think it atleast attempted to show he is still the detective.

    Now don’t get me wrong. It didm’t make him the detective we know and love from the comic series and it didn’t show the classic image of Batman brooding in the cave going over the same evidence again and again like in the graphic novel “Identity Crisis.” But it was an attempt to appeast another of the many sides of Batman.

    Lastly while I love the detective side of Batman I don’t feel like there was room for it in this film. The concept was that the Joker was keeping everyone in a state of constant panic I think it would seem odd to have things slow down and have Batman sitting down and questioning everything and breaking things down. Story line wise if he did that everyone would be dead lol.

    I’m just happy that they made an effort to include that in the film. Along with the video survillence he had of people and the pictures of the joker that were running across screens in the back ground scanning his face. Just my opinion

  7. Hola