Nolan's Batman vs. His Predecessors
Christopher Nolan’s epic conclusion to his Batman franchise comes to an end on July 20th, and Nolan has done what no Batman director has done in Bat history: his Bat franchise has brought in more box office money individually than any of its predecessors, especially Dark Knight for breaking the one billion mark. Nolan has set the bar for any future Batman movies extremely high due to his technique with his trilogy.
Typically speaking, Christopher Nolan is extremely well crafted and precise in his direction and screenwriting, giving an extra edge to his films. In Batman Begins, Nolan stays true to his movie eye by having a carefully designed and perfectly developed story. Batman Begins analyzed Bruce Wayne’s inspiration and motivation to become Batman and why his enemy, Ra’s Al Ghul, targeted Batman and Gotham for annihilation. However, in The Dark Knight Nolan took a step back from his usual defined and miraculously crafted story telling abilities to portray a chaotic, incoherent masterpiece. “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness and I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to this forever”, one of the lines that the Joker says to Batman. The Joker is all about chaos and havoc, trying to rip Gotham apart by turning Dent into Two-Face. The Joker had opportunity after opportunity to take down the Bat, but refused to because his mind is beyond corrupt; he feeds on the fight. For Nolan this was a step away from his traditional take on his movies, making it a truly hectic masterpiece.
In the pre-Nolan Batman films, directors and screenwriters strived for either a dark tone or a funny tone and both have failed to do so by comparison. Adam West’s Batman movie did well in the box office, and still remains a kitsch Batman movie, but it does not stir the same emotions as Nolan’s franchise. Tim Burton’s take on the caped crusader had a very promising reaction due to Michael Keaton playing Batman and Jack Nicholson playing the Joker. The movie was dark, certainly darker than West’s Batman, but it portrayed the Joker as a comedian of sorts which is typically how he has been portrayed, but lessens the Dark Knight’s true meaning. Fear is only as powerful as you let it be. Embrace the fear and you can accomplish anything. That is what Nolan has done with his franchise making it significantly better than any of the other Bat franchises/movies to date.
Joel Schumacher cast Val Kilmer for Bats, Tommy Lee Jones for Two-Face, and Jim Carrey for The Riddler in Batman Forever which was more of a comedy than an action movie. Jim Carrey used his own comedic genius in this Batman movie, which did make the movie fun and enjoyable, but again lacked provocation. It was just there, and then faded away after watching it.
Both Burton and Schumacher massacred the Batman name for what it was meant to be. Yes, their movies were fun and entertaining, but let fans down and left a disappointing feeling lurking within. They provided the entertainment, but not the discussions, the debates, the confusion, the willingness to press against hard problems in current events. Nolan has done this with his Batman franchise; he provides the entertainment followed with why things happened in his trilogy. As to why the Joker was the way he was, no explanation, but then again one wasn’t needed. The Joker was there as a statement. A statement that Gotham is corrupt and even their masked vigilante will be forced to choose the impossible choice. Nolan has embraced everything that Batman stands for and ignites the franchise into something fans have never witnessed before with their caped crusader.