The Many Faces of Batman

Shawn M.

Batman is truly an amazing work of fiction. He is the idol of many: a strong, rich, intelligent young man who under the cover of his costume and the darkness of night becomes a detective and crime-fighter who puts terrible murderous criminals in the tight lock-down of Arkham Asylum.* There are many different version of the hero, all keeping the same basic premise, but changing his personality. This article hopes to show that while there are a few other great versions of Batman in film, Tim Burton’s is truly the best. I will be comparing three very different adaptions of Batman including the Tim Burton one.

Leslie H. Martinson (1966, Batman: The Movie)

The version of Batman played by Adam West is an American hero who fits most truly to the comic books released at that time. He and his sidekick Robin (note that this is the only famous version of Batman that starts the series with Robin) are two great partner detectives in the dangerous place that is 1960’s Gothem.

While this is a wonderful version of the Dynamic Duo, there is much wrong with it. What comes to mind is the questionable knowledge of riddles that Robin has (he knows the answer to the riddle “What is small, dangerous and sits in a tree” is “A sparrow with a machine gun” like it’s common knowledge.) This Robin is cocky and seems too young. Plus, he seems really short. To be fair, Adam West was 6’ 6” in his full Batsuit, but this Robin just seems like a child. Another thing wrong with this movie is the “I have just the gadget that I would never need except for this once!!” type of style with the Shark-Repellent Spray that he carries at all time for some reason. Finally, he runs around a dock with a bomb (with a rope fuse) that doesn’t explode until the movie needs it to. Don’t believe me?

Christopher Nolan (2005/2008, Batman Begins/The Dark Knight)

Now I know what you’re saying: “But how is the Tim Burton Batman movie better than this?” Well be quiet, you’re making it hard for me to defend myself. I will start by saying this: I have nothing against these movies and I think they’re great. Christian Bale’s Batman is one of the best film adaptions. He looks great, his costume isn’t silly, and he doesn’t have Robin. The best part of this is of course that he doesn’t have Robin, and that already makes it better than the 1966 version.

The only problem with this version is that he’s too morally straight. I understand that he’s a superhero, of course he will have extremely straight morals. But this one has no dark side. In both movies, he’s trying to save everyone at the same time, all the time. The only dark instance he has is going to save his childhood friend Rachel Dawes first instead of Harvey, and even that is an understandable choice. Going away from that point, the Joker as portrayed by Heath Ledger (rest in piece) is the 3rd best overall, 2nd best in movies, with Mark Hamill taking lead as the best Joker. Ledger did do a great job of making the Joker believable, insane, and darkly funny, he just couldn’t do the maniacal laugh like even Ceaser Romero could.

Tim Burton (1989-1995, Multiple titles)

Here we go. The best Batman movie(s) of all time, directed by the great, dark Tim Burton. Batman, played by Micheal Keaton (and in Batman:Forever, Val Kilmer) is exactly the opposite of the morally-trapped comic book Batman. He actually kills some of the criminals he fights, instead of doing the “right thing” and leaving them unconscious for the police to later find and arrest. In fact, he kills the great Joker, played by Jack Nicholson. Which brings me to another point: While the 1966 Batman had great actors of that time, and the 2005-8 Batman movies have Morgan Freeman (no more need be said about how great he is), the Tim Burton have an amazing cast all around, aside from the aforementioned Batman and Joker. Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Danny DeVito, the list goes on. Amazing performances are expected by all of these great actors, and they perform as expected. Tim Burton does a great job of writing and directing all three movies as well. There are stupid parts in the movies, sure, but the stupid parts are performed amazingly to make up for it. None of these things so why the Tim Burton movies are the best, though. It all boils down to one scene in the first movie. The one scene that defines the greatness of these movies. Jack Nicholson, playing The Joker, dancing on top of a gigantic birthday cake, throwing money into the streets of Gotham, to a song by Prince.

*Please note that our own Arkham Asylum is a very great, safe holding place for the dark criminals of Gotham. Ignore the numerous escapes that seem to happen all the time, every new comic book/movie, etc.



2 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Batman

  1. I disagree that the dark knight is not the best…

    Who said the joker needed to have a maniacal laugh? I do think that tim burton’s batman is the most like the comic books and I love Tim Burton, but his batman is not even close to how good the dark knight is. The thing I love the most about batman is that it is the most believable of all the superhero comics because batman did not have any super powers. I think that the dark knight captures this aspect of batman very well. I also like how to a certain extent, you could sympathize with the villains, like harvey two face and the joker. I do not see, at all how you can say that Heath Ledger is not the best joker. Ledger would lock himself in his hotel room at times, and would do nothing but practice his part until he got it perfectly. I sincerely doubt that any of the other jokers were that “passionate” about their role. I think that being so insensitive about your own best friend is as dark as you can get. Batman also is responsible for Harvey becoming a villain. I think that is dark enough. Batman indirectly killed many people. I don’t know what more you want. Do you want Batman to kill innocent people directly? Super heros are SUPPOSED to be good, otherwise they would not be called super heros, they would not be called heros. I have to say though, Jack Nicholson made a great joker.

  2. I just watched the bomb scene and some others from 1966. I know the battle rages on between the newest movies and the ones directed by Tim Burton, but I think we can all agree that the Adam West Batman is the cheesiest of them all.
    “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”
    -Adam West as Batman

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