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Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

There are a number of ways one could approach the discussion of Todd Phillips’ Joker. One of the best jokes in last year’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies concerned a succession of spoof Batman spin-offs desperately trying to wring every last drop of commercial potential out of the character’s mythology – a movie about the Batmobile, a movie about Batman’s utility belt, and so on – and from a certain point of view the new movie does look like exactly this sort of thing.

Or, one could suggest that the new film comes from the same place as recent successes like the Deadpool films and Venom: there does seem to be a market for dark, morally ambiguous fantasy films aimed at an older audience, and you don’t get much darker or more morally compromised than the world’s most famous supervillain. (If you wanted to be really nasty you could start comparing it to the 2004 Catwoman film, which it likewise bears a passing resemblance to, but that would surely qualify as unnecessary cruelty.)

Then again, you could also view it as the inevitable next step in the rise of comic book movies to complete world domination: superhero films routinely make billions, and are beginning to acquire a certain sort of respectability – Black Panther was nominated for Best Picture, and it’s a reasonable bet that Avengers: Endgame will be, too – and Joker looks very much like a calculated attempt at a classy, serious film intent on receiving critical acclaim in addition to its almost-inevitable financial success.

Who knows? Maybe it’s all of these things. What we can definitely say is that it is set in a squalid, 1980s version of Gotham City, where we find Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix). By day, he is a white-faced, green-wigged clown for hire; by night, an aspiring stand-up comedian (unexpectedly, pretty much the only joke we hear him deliver is a classic Bob Monkhouse line). He is a deeply troubled man twenty-four hours a day, though, living alone with his mother, obsessed with a TV chat show host and comedian (Robert De Niro), taking seven different medications for various psychiatric conditions, and afflicted with a curious nervous complaint causing him to laugh uncontrollably in stressful situations.

But, over the course of one hot summer, with the city wracked by a financial crisis, those stressful situations keep coming, taking their toll on Arthur’s fragile mental state. The tipping point comes when he is attacked on the subway by three entitled, arrogant young employees of the Wayne corporation: in a matter of seconds his assailants are dead and he realises he feels much more cheerful and comfortable with himself. News reports of a killer clown preying on the wealthy are soon spreading, while it is becoming increasingly clear that a nihilistic force of chaos is incubating within Arthur, only waiting for the right moment to manifest itself…

It may be a coincidence, but films featuring the Joker have a tendency to attract controversy more or less in proportion to the acclaim received by the actor in the role: the 1989 Batman featured one of Jack Nicholson’s biggest turns, and was a very rare example of a film which required the BBFC to create a new certification for it (the 12 rating, should you be wondering). Heath Ledger famously won a posthumous Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight, but the film was again mired in controversy for supposedly glamorising knife violence. It should come as no surprise that Joker is also getting some commentators hot under the collar, the suggestion being that it may inspire copycats to perpetrate the same kind of violence that the Joker indulges in here.

There is certainly a question to be asked about what exactly is going on with a film like this, and it’s the same one many people asked about the last movie to feature the Joker, 2016’s Suicide Squad: why do a movie about the Joker without Batman in it? Isn’t the whole point of the character that he’s an antagonist and a foil to someone else? One of the many smart things about The Dark Knight was its handling of the unhealthily co-dependent relationship between the two of them. All the word on Joker is that this is a standalone film; any appearances of the character in the foreseeable future will feature the Jared Leto version, not Phoenix’s. So what’s the point of an origin film for a someone we’re never going to see again?

Well, the quality of the film is more than high enough to answer most criticisms along these lines: the depiction of a grimy, seething Gotham is as good as any other we’ve seen in the movies, and the film is built around a characteristically intense and committed performance from Joaquin Phoenix. This is quite a long film, with the recognisable Joker persona not appearing until the closing stages of it, and Phoenix takes us through every step of Fleck’s psychological disintegration and transformation. This is the kind of performance that normally gets award nominations when it isn’t in a comic book movie; it will be interesting to see how hard the old prejudices die.

Phoenix works hard to be pitiable and relatively sympathetic early in the film, but by the climax the character has convincingly become a genuinely unsettling and frightening psychopath. The film obviously owes a big debt to The Dark Knight – in both films the Joker chooses to paint his face, rather than having his skin chemically bleached in an accident – but the climax is equally obviously inspired by a sequence from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (probably the single most influential Batman story of all time). It’s Miller’s version of the Joker which Phoenix seems to be channelling.

It’s still the case that the film-makers have made up a new genesis for the Joker from scratch (the Joker’s creators felt that giving him a history would humanise the character too much, something Christopher Nolan later agreed with) and so the decision to make the film about mental illness is a deliberate choice on their part. Again, one wonders whether this is a slightly portentous comic book movie which has adopted some very mature subject matter in order acquire some spurious gravitas, or if it’s a seriously-intentioned drama about the corrosive effects of urban alienation and isolation that’s roped in some of the Batman characters to make itself more commercial. I’m really not sure; the answer may actually lie in the film’s various homages to films made around the time it is set – most obviously King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, of course, but there are also surely references to Network and The French Connection.

All the call-backs are respectful and clearly sincere, but they seem to be the main reason why the film is set decades in the past. This is another decision which does have awkward consequences, especially when you consider that Joker seems to want to comment on various current social issues – for instance, the Joker finds himself adopted as the figurehead for an Occupy-style anti-capitalist movement (in line with this, the film features an atypically unsympathetic take on Thomas Wayne (played by Brett Cullen)). None of this feels especially thought-through, though, and the film doesn’t feel like it’s presenting a cohesive thesis. Heath Ledger’s enigmatic Joker was an agent of chaos and madness, demanding the other characters in the film re-assess their attitudes and moral choices; Phoenix’s more accessible Joker is just a symbol of chaos and madness, the film too introspective for him to be anything more.

Then again, in the absence of Batman, he doesn’t really need to be. I suspect that this is a film which is liable to be over-praised for the way it brings a grim, gritty, psychologically naturalistic approach to its comic book source material (ironically, the writers of comic books figured out that going dark and mature was essentially a blind alley over two decades ago). The film is impressively made and Phoenix, as noted, gives a brilliant performance, but it offers little in the way of genuine insight and it runs the genuine risk of taking itself too seriously. Without Batman or an equivalent figure to engage with, the Joker isn’t an especially interesting or significant character. Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix are to be commended for making a film which to some extent manages to avoid confronting this problem, but this doesn’t mean they’ve solved it. Joker is very impressive on its own terms, it’s just that those terms are undeniably odd.

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There are keenly-anticipated films, and then there are films with a genuine buzz around them, and then there are films people are desperately excited to see. And then there’s The Dark Knight Rises.

The first breathlessly agitated articles about Christopher Nolan’s final Batman movie started appearing nearly eighteen months ago – I should know, I wrote one of them myself. Even four months ago, respectable magazines were writing articles on the movie discussing the serious issue that some people were worried the antagonist’s dialogue might be completely unintelligible. Even in a perfect world, this film would still have received virtually blanket media coverage on its opening weekend.

This, of course, is usually a recipe for crushing disappointment, as many people who went to one of the midnight showings of Prometheus would happily tell you (and, judging from what I’ve seen, would do so at great length). Nevertheless, some kind of minor miracle has been achieved, because The Dark Knight Rises is… satisfying. I know that sounds like damnation by the faintest of praise, but it really isn’t. Thinking about this film the word I come back to time and time again is ‘satisfying’, and I think this is not something to be underestimated.

Ten years ago, a mysterious organisation calling itself the League of Shadows attempted to recruit vengeance-hungry orphaned billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to become one of its elite assassins. Wayne broke away from the League and transformed himself into the masked vigilante and defender of Gotham City, Batman, killing his former mentor.

Eight years ago, Batman’s attempts to save Gotham were critically imperilled when the city’s heroic DA was driven mad and went on a killing spree before ultimately dying. To protect the dead man’s reputation and his work, Batman framed himself for the man’s actions.

No one has seen Batman since that night, and Bruce Wayne has become a crippled, embittered recluse. But Gotham is, it seems, a much more hopeful city. Dark forces are gathering, however – morally-ambiguous jewel thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is amongst the least of them, but quick to catch Wayne’s attention. Much, much more of a threat is the masked mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy), another former member of the League of Shadows, who’s in town pursuing a machiavellian scheme of his own. Even if Batman returns to confront Bane, does he still have the ability to defeat him? And is Bane simply just following orders in expectation of getting a paycheck…?

One can understand the reluctance of Christopher Nolan and his team to make this final return to the world of Batman, given their massive achievements with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and the less-than-stellar record of many third instalments in series. Just making a good movie would have been a significant success; making one as good as this is a stellar achievement.

The Dark Knight Rises has the same virtues as Nolan’s other movies: effortless technical grace and polish, a very intelligent script, strength in depth in the cast list, and the overall sense that while this may be a major studio production, that doesn’t mean the film has to assume the audience is composed entirely of morons. One has to commend DC for giving Nolan the latitude to make the film he wanted to make (completely free of the stereoscopic scourge, as well), even if this means letting him do some slightly surprising things to the characters and setting.

This is not to say that Nolan cuts loose entirely from the existing Batman mythology, as many characters from the previous movies return, and a number of iconic scenes from the most famous Batman comics are brought – here it comes again – very satisfyingly to the screen. Impressively, he even manages to largely rehabilitate Catwoman, following the number done upon her reputation by Pitof and Halle Berry – although Anne Hathaway doesn’t have quite the obvious intelligence or wit to completely nail the character.

The film’s powerhouse performance and most memorable creation is, however, Tom Hardy’s Bane. Following a possibly-dodgy start to his career playing the Picard clone in Nemesis, Hardy has been steadily popping up in recent films, always threatening to give a magnetic, movie-stealing performance. Here I would say that finally happens. Hardy’s physical presence is imposing, but his vocal performance is even more remarkable, giving the character an almost-Shakespearean delivery without making him feel corny or hammy. I’d say there’s quite a big difference between the comics Bane and Nolan and Hardy’s version, but if anything the film-makers have improved on the original this time.

(As to whether there are any surprise appearances in this film from other notable Batman villains, either from the earlier movies or new to this one – well, the film-makers have decided to keep quiet about this, which seems to me to be an eminently sensible plan and an example I will be following.)

I could spend quite a long time going through all the things which are great about this movie, even just the performances: Michael Caine as Alfred, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an idealistic young cop, Tom Conti in a cameo role I’d better not spoil. Hans Zimmer’s score is rousing stuff, if perhaps a bit too fortissimo in places: some of the dialogue gets a little drowned out. Nolan also feels much more comfortable integrating comic relief into the story, something which occasionally felt a bit awkward in the past.

One of the most striking elements of this film which I do feel deserves a fuller mention is the level of its social commentary. All of the Nolan Batman films have had interesting things to say about the difference between law and justice and the real consequences of someone like Batman operating, but there’s a long sequence towards the end of this film which seems to me to be saying very sharp and unusual things about current politics and economics. Throughout the film the people in the firing line are stockbrokers and bankers and businessmen, who are nevertheless not presented tremendously sympathetically. (This is clearly a film fully aware of the economic realities of life in 2012 and how this has shaped people’s attitudes.) Bane’s organisation basically presents itself as the militant wing of the Occupy movement, intent on bringing about some degree of social justice and redistribution of wealth – but, as this is Bane’s organisation, we know that they are in the wrong. Even the ‘morally flexible’ Catwoman realises this. And yet the film refuses to offer easy answers or pat solutions: it’s mature enough to suggest, as these films always have, that the world is a complex place which does not lend itself to such things.

Lots of stuff blows up, too, of course, orchestrated with Nolan’s customary verve. Perhaps the great achievement of this series has been the way in which it has blended intelligent themes and characterisation with the demands of a blockbuster superhero movie (I notice a cliche developing: the hunt for a clean, renewable energy source is a crucial plot point here, as it was in The Avengers, and a couple of movies prior to that – and, while we’re on the subject, watching The Dark Knight Rises back to back with The World is Not Enough might prove an illuminating experience in some respects).

I imagine one of the pleasures to be had when returning to this film will be to admire Nolan’s legerdemain in setting up the conclusion. All the elements are there, in plain view (sometimes jarringly so), and yet come the end of the film he manages to arrange them in a manner which is both ingenious, quite moving, and – yet again – very satisfying as a genuine end to the story (suffice to say, Batman does something he’s never done before). The real trick is that the film presents something which is very definitely a proper ending, but still makes you want to revisit this world and see what happens next to the characters: but it would be brave of a director to attempt to follow in Nolan’s footsteps so closely, and brave of DC to let them try.

However, however, however. The Dark Knight Rises is cleverly written, strongly acted, flawlessly realised and directed with indisputable virtuosity – but for all of this it is still quite a difficult film to honestly connect with – for all of its many satisfactions, the overall impression I got was of a vast, intricate, high-powered, precision-tooled machine: a phenomenal piece of engineering but quite hard to engage with emotionally for an extended period of time.

I suppose this has been true to some degree of all the Christopher Nolan films that I’ve seen – perhaps the sheer scope of his imagination and ambition prevents them from having a genuine human centre. Even so, Christopher Nolan is still arguably the most exciting director working in the world today, and if he finds a way to invest his movies with authentic heart a place amongst the all-time greats is his to be had. The Dark Knight Rises is proof enough of that – Nolan has made a terrific film on so many levels, and one which deserves to be remembered as that and that alone.

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From the Hootoo archive. Originally published July 31st 2008:

And finally, just when you thought you could get through an entire column without one of those movies showing up… yes, it’s Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which has finally rumbled into public view trailing the kind of rapturous notices most producers would happily cut off a limb to receive – and I’m not inclined to disagree with the consensus on this occasion.

For those of you recently returned from a holiday on Neptune, this is another tale of goings-on in Gotham City. The crusade against crime launched by the Batman (an apparently laryngitic Christian Bale) and Lt Gordon (Gary Oldman) seems to be bearing fruit, in the form of the city’s new fiercely idealistic and dedicated District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) – even if he is dating Batman’s old girlfriend Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal). However, the city is about to be plunged into a nightmare as Batman’s continuing harassment of the mob forces them to accept the assistance of a demented psychopathic genius calling himself the Joker…

Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker has, for obvious reasons, attracted a lot of attention – but one would hope that this would have been the case anyway, as he is utterly mesmerising. The Joker is hilarious and terrifying at the same time: he does a piece of business with a pencil that left the audience I saw this movie with trying to gasp, groan, and laugh at the same time, while later on there’s a scene where he wanders out of an exploding building in (comically unconvincing) drag that’s simply jawdropping in its audacity and confidence. This is the first screen version of the character who can credibly take on Batman in a physical confrontation, something Nolan fully exploits. Even more impressively, Ledger manages all this without seeming obviously hammy or over-the-top like some Nicholsons – sorry, I meant to say actors – who have played the part in the past. He’s aided by a script which allows the character a chance to actually develop in the course of the movie, progressing from a (relatively) simple insane killer to the more complex Joker of recent comics.

But, surprisingly, he isn’t allowed to dominate the film – although he does rather eclipse the movie’s other classic villains, who either make cameos (a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearance from Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow) or show up rather near the end. Eckhart gives an intelligent and plausible performance as Dent, and it’s a bit of a shame he doesn’t get more room to display all the facets of the character. The biggest miracle of all is that Christian Bale, who as Batman doesn’t get to properly use his voice or most of his face, isn’t reduced to an onlooking cipher as happened in the 90s Bat-movies, although his performance is necessarily understated. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman show up from the last movie as well, and give neat demonstrations of how to steal scenes from the younger actors.

The technical virtuosity of Christopher Nolan’s direction shouldn’t really have surprised me as much as it did, but this is probably simply because he gets Batman right in a way other directors have never managed. For example, rather than being merely a menacing icon waddling around in inch-thick rubber, here Batman is a convincingly agile and skilled martial artist. Nolan also opens the movie out to a global scale, giving his hero a brief but typically energetic encounter with the Hong Kong Triads on their home turf. There seemed to me to be a bit less reliance on Bat-gadgets than usual, too, with the obvious exception of the new Batpod – which looks undeniably cool but struck me as rather silly in both name and concept. Such is Nolan’s command of the medium that, for a few shocking minutes, he even had me believing that he’d been allowed to permanently and properly kill off one of the central Batman characters. The only real weakness in Nolan’s direction, in fact, is his slight awkwardness when it comes to comic relief: Caine and Freeman have no problems delivering their one-liners but elsewhere his editing is a bit too staccato.

This is a piddling little criticism considering the colossal level of crash-bang-wallop the movie delivers, especially when coupled to its interest in the deeper morality of the issues involved. This finds its most obvious articulation when the film repeatedly asks how a principled man can hope to counter one wholly without moral compass, and intersects rather neatly with a meditation on how one can repeatedly confront evil without becoming contaminated by it (one would have expected this Nietzschean line of thought to turn up in a Superman movie, but never mind). Implicit in the film is the notion that it’s the mere existence of Batman himself that has conjured all the maniacs he must battle into existence, and that all the death and destruction which occurs is ultimately his fault. On this level, The Dark Knight isn’t an especially cheerful movie: its view of human nature for most of its running time is so relentlessly bleak that when it does attempt to offer a ray of hope it almost doesn’t ring true.

So, yes: we have a new and very strong candidate for the title of best superhero movie ever (not that this isn’t much more than just a superhero movie). One is obliged to wonder just how on Earth Nolan and company can possibly top this one (not least because most of the classic Batman villains aren’t really usable for various reasons – my money’s on the Riddler showing up next time, though), but they’ve already repeatedly demonstrated that no-one else is better qualified to try. Highly recommended.

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It must have been nearly four years ago, and as usual I was boring regaling a colleague with news about upcoming film releases. He turned out to be completely ignorant of the then-around-a-year-off release of The Dark Knight, and utterly aghast when I revealed that Heath Ledger was playing the Joker.

‘You can’t have Heath Ledger as the Joker!’ he cried. ‘Jack Nicholson’s the Joker! Nobody else can play that part!’

Less than four years ago, like I say: how things can change, huh? (And to be fair I was very dubious about the wisdom of casting Ledger myself for quite a while.) But it does show what a massive pop-cultural presence the 1989 Batman movie remained for quite a long time. Certainly it was inescapable that summer, almost omnipresent on TV, radio, and in terms of merchandise. (A friend of mine constructed his own batarang in metalwork class, with which he then proceeded to give himself a spectacular black eye – and unless he gets in touch with my people regarding a financial settlement, I will find it hard to find a reason not to reveal his identity. Hello, Steve. Hope you’re well.)

Christopher Nolan’s Batman films have reaped such deserved popular and critical success that the four movies that came out between 1989 and 1997 seem to have been largely forgotten about. And a good thing too, you might say, given the embarrassing excesses and general incoherence the series was prone to for much of that time. Well, maybe – but watching the original Tim Burton film again for the first time in ages, I can’t help feel this is a film that doesn’t really deserve it.

You could make a good case for arguing that Batman is the first modern superhero movie, in that it genuinely attempts to bring the essence of the comic-book to the screen. (The Christopher Reeve Superman movies are terrific – the first couple, anyway – but don’t bear much resemblence to the book in terms of their tone and plots.) The plot is certainly archetypal stuff – masked hero makes his debut, shortly followed by a grotesque villain of some kind, and the two of them battle it out in a succession of big set-pieces. And indeed much of the script just seems like the result of an exercise in ticking boxes and hitting marks.

However, the memorable stuff in this movie isn’t in the script, anyway – not that the screenplay is entirely mechanical, neatly undercutting the audience’s expectations from the very beginning (what looks like it’s going to be Batman’s origin turns out to be something slightly different). As a director of motion pictures, Tim Burton’s always seemed more interested in pictures than movement, and the visual style of this movie is rather more impressive than its action choreography. The look of the film – Gotham City seems to exist in some odd time-warp, stranded between the 40s and the 80s – may not be especially coherent, but at the time it was groundbreaking: such overt art-direction of a film with an ostensibly present-day setting had never really happened in a blockbuster before.

And so where Nolan created a realistic Batman who could plausibly exist in the real world, Burton creates an unrealistic world in which a fantasy figure like Batman seems entirely at home. I think this is a considerable achievement, and not something to be dismissed out of hand. You can see the excesses that would come to define the series lying in wait, of course, as first Burton and then Joel Schumacher chose to frame the later films solely in terms of their visuals, but the plot and script here are strong enough to support the visuals.

Acting-wise – oh, well, let’s face it, we’re talking about Nicholson. All the work, excellent, good, indifferent and poor, turned in by Michael Keaton (second-billed, tellingly), Kim Basinger, Jack Palance, Robert Wuhl, Michael Gough and every other performer – all of it is utterly obliterated by a giant, ravenous performance by an off-the-leash Jack Nicholson. Nuanced and understated it isn’t – neither, to be perfectly honest, is it especially sinister – but on this occasion it really sort of works, simply because it means your eyes are magnetically drawn to something other than the art direction.

On another level, it’s interesting to compare Burton’s Batman with Nolan’s The Dark Knight, simply because they both owe an obvious debt to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which came out in 1986. Miller’s book brought an iconic grandeur to Batman and Gotham City, as well as unprecedented moral and psychological complexity – and while Burton chose to concentrate on the former elements, Nolan has opted for the latter.

At the moment, of course, it’s Christopher Nolan’s approach which is in fashion, with Burton’s style somewhat out of favour. However, it seems highly unlikely that people are going to stop making or going to see Batman movies after Nolan moves on, and it’s quite possible things may swing back the other way, or achieve some sort of fusion between realism and fantasy. If that leads, in passing, to a reappraisal of the 1989 Batman, then all the better.

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And so t’internet explodes as Christopher Nolan reveals who the bad guys will be in next year’s most anticipated film, The Dark Knight Rises (Chris, if you’re reading this – at least think about changing the name). Nolan is clearly a guy who relishes a challenge: not content with trying to better a film which was a deservedly massive popular and critical success, not content with trying to beat the final-chapter-of-a-trilogy jinx, he’s also decided to do so while attempting to rehabilitate characters who were fairly comprehensively slimed the last time they showed up on the big screen.
Ever since the opening weekend of The Dark Knight there has been avid (one might even say fervid) speculation as to who Batman’s opponents were going to be in the final film. The Riddler was a popular choice for a long time, although a fake leaked screenplay recently led some people to suspect Nolan was going for a bunch of rather more obscure characters – namely Professor Strange, Talia al’Ghul, Black Mask and Killer Croc. All of which turns out to be complete hoo-hah. The winners of the Who Gets To Be In This Movie contest are… (drum roll) Catwoman and Bane.

On one level it shouldn’t be any surprise that Catwoman (to be played by Anne Hathaway) has made it into the Nolan series, as she’s in the premier league of Batman characters – created by Bob Kane in 1940 for the first issue of Batman’s own book, she was in the TV show (my favourite was Julie Newmar, other opinions are equally valid), and Batman Returns, and supported 170+ issues of her own book. Basically, nearly everyone knows who she is, and she’s not completely weird – so she’s a good fit for one of Nolan’s street-level blockbusters. 

Try not to think about this sort of thing. Yes, I know it’s difficult.

On the other hand, two words: Halle Berry. When I first wrote on this topic my opinion was that Catwoman was ‘unusable’, simply because of the toxic legacy of the 2004 Catwoman movie, which your correspondent reviewed at the time using words like ‘ham-fisted’, ‘offensive’ and ‘depressing’ (and I cut it some slack compared to a lot of people). That said, the Berry movie will be comparatively ancient history by the time TDKR comes out and if Nolan thinks he can restore Catwoman’s credibility I’m happy to believe him.

Bane, on the other hand, is a relatively new and obscure character, first popping up in 1993 when he set about terrorising Gotham City, wearing down Batman both physically and psychologically, and then breaking his spine and putting him in a wheelchair (relax, readers, this is comics: he got better eventually). In the comics, Bane’s wont to wear a slightly garish costume that makes him look like a Mexican wrestler (you can bet that Tom Hardy won’t be so attired in the movie), but the character has a lot going for him – extremely physically formidable (albeit with a major steroid problem), tactically brilliant and deeply perceptive. If they get Bane right in the new movie the results could be very exciting.

 

 

At least it’s easier to stop yourself thinking about this sort of thing.

On the other hand, two words: Joel Schumacher. Although he wouldn’t thank me for reminding people of this, Bane’s already made it to the big screen, in the notorious piece of junk Batman and Robin (I still think it’s better than Batman Forever, but that’s just me). Bane’s demoted to the position of being Poison Ivy’s chief henchman in this film and is generally a grunting, shuffling travesty of his comics incarnation (though the costume is almost exactly the same). That said, being such a minor character, he escapes the worst of the indignities heaped upon all the leads and I expect most people won’t realise that Jeep Swanson in the Schumacher movie and Tom Hardy in TDKR are actually meant to be playing the same character. Unless they see something like this blog post. Damn. Move along, everyone, forget what you’ve just read…

Anyway, at least now people can stop their endless speculations as to who the bad guys will be, and start their endless speculations about costume choices and script elements. I’m rather more interested to see what Nolan does with Bane than Catwoman, to be honest, but either way the final movie should be compelling stuff – not that we didn’t know that already, of course.

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