About the Author
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X
Batman:Arkham City
Borderlands Series
Weekly Column
Champions Online
World of Warcraft
DM of the Rings
Good Robot
Project Frontier

The Dark Knight

By Shamus
on Thursday Jul 31, 2008
Filed under:


Yes, this movie was every bit as fantastic as I’d been led to believe. I will not attempt to review the movie, but I do want to know one thing:

The 1989 Batman movie reigned as one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. I was never that crazy about it, but a lot of people were, and the thing was an unstoppable juggernaut even before it went to video. People really loved that movie.

But nearly everyone agrees that this movie is far better. (I’m sure there are exceptions, there always are, but I haven’t run into them yet.) The consensus is that the new Batman kicks the old Batman’s ass, takes his lunch money, and then puts him into a headlock and makes him admit that he’s a little girl that likes wearing dresses and kissing boys.

So the question I want to pose is this: What if we somehow got this movie in 1989 instead of the Tim Burton version? Would it have been an even bigger success, or is the success of the new one a product of our current culture? Would 1989 audiences have recoiled at this darker version of Batman, or would they have been driven insane by the sheer awesomeness of the thing?


Comments (78)

1 2

  1. Vyolynce says:

    That depends… in this hypothetical scenario, when did we get Batman Begins? Because this one doesn’t quite stand up on its own without the previous installment laying the foundations.

  2. Eric says:

    I don’t think it would matter, the cinematography alone would be the best thing out of the 80’s in movies, This movie in the 80’s would have swept all the oscars away. I am assuming we are taking the film as is and putting it in the 80’s

  3. Strangeite says:

    They are both products of their time. The “Batman Begins” franchise taps into our collective subconscious that began to shift when we entered the 21st century. Burton’s Batman also tapped into society’s subconscious of the ’80s. Think about the underlying corporate symbolism of that movie. In many ways the first Batman was about the machinery of civilization being used against us; while, the newest is more about the fear that the same machinery might be destroyed by chaos.

  4. Patrick says:

    Thinking back to the culture of excess of the 80’s and considering other movies that had been released at the time I think that this (modern) Batman would have been seen as far to dark and far to disturbing and would not have been a successful blockbuster (I am not saying that no one would have liked it just that it would not have appealed to the masses in the same way). There have been some very significant events since then that inform our understanding of the movie, especially the allegorical treatment of terrorism some reviewers see in it. That allegory would have been completely missed and been completely out of place in a world that had not seen the attack on the USS Cole, 9/11, either Iraq war, Afghanistan, and the list could go on.

  5. Avilan the Grey says:

    I think the one thing that a lot of people was surprised by then (who were not comic book readers) was the “oh it’s so DARK” thing. Those were the people who either had never cared about Bats, or had only cared for the TV series.
    I remember, even as a 16-year old, having to explain what Batman REALLY was about and although I have always liked the corny TV series, it wasn’t Batman.

    I think this version, being even darker, would have been a virtual shock for those people. Being the 80ies, I would expect heavy censorship and cutting in it (we did that, back then, to protect the innocent brains of Swedish people. The Chainsaw massacre was BANNED until the late 90ies, if I remember correctly), as was the practice then. These days the Swedish Movie Censorship Bureau looks for only one thing: things that can be classified as Child Pornography. Otherwise their only job is to Rate movies age-wise.

    I also find it amusing that I STILL have to explain to people surprised that THIS movie (and Batman Begins) is not like the TV series…

  6. R says:

    ” Strangeite:
    July 31st, 2008 at 8:16 am

    They are both products of their time. The “Batman Begins” franchise taps into our collective subconscious that began to shift when we entered the 21st century. Burton's Batman also tapped into society's subconscious of the '80s. Think about the underlying corporate symbolism of that movie. In many ways the first Batman was about the machinery of civilization being used against us; while, the newest is more about the fear that the same machinery might be destroyed by chaos.”

    Quoted for truth.

    Also, Shamus, forgive me for the swearing and the caps lock I’m going to use in the next sentence, but it’s necessary.


  7. It’s definitively a product of current times bearing a heavy message about Evil, heroes and the questionable choices done by people and society.

    Let’s leave it at that :)

  8. Factoid says:

    The “generally accepted wisdom” of cinema is that hit films become so because it was the right film at the right time, attracting the right audience. It’s alchemical in a way.

    It takes a good deal of luck and a good deal more skill to make all three line up perfectly as has happened with Dark Knight. I don’t think this exact film would have spoken to the audience of 1989 in quite the same way.

  9. Richard says:

    “But nearly everyone agrees that this movie is far better. (I'm sure there are exceptions, there always are, but I haven't run into them yet.)”

    The review in the New Yorker is fairly negative, and explicitly contrasts it with the 1989 film:


    I don’t think I’ve seen either one, so I couldn’t comment, but I value the New Yorker’s film critics highly, and I thought you might be interested.

  10. Although I appreciated the nuanced shade of gray and the moral ambiguity of the characters and the plot, I honestly didn’t like the movie.

    I felt that none of the characters were particularly sympathetic. Or at least, no character that survived. Everyone seemed to be varying degrees of bad, to the point that I began thinking to myself halfway through the movie, “I really don’t like any of these people!”

    I did appreciate Heath Ledger’s depiction of the Joker. It was creepy, icky and very unsettling. But ultimately, I think I like for my movies to have an ounce of discernible hope somewhere.

  11. WWWebb says:

    The current movie is only possible because of a decade of dark or anti-hero movies have preceded it. In 1989 it would have been a big budget, arthouse, horror flick with a NC-17 rating. That’s not a sub-genre that spells success.

    These days it’s considered mainstream action. It’s only “edgy” to people who are comparing it to the Batman they remember or other “comic book” movies…and by comic book movies, I mean the ones based on comics people have heard of, not all the “based on the graphic novel” flicks like Sin City or the Watchmen.

  12. SkeevetheImpossible says:

    I think Sean Baby would put it best by saying, “this movie would get in their 1989 heads and kick their heads ass.” Also I would like to reiterate Erics earlier comment in another post.
    “And, the french will buy you cheese”

  13. Yonder says:

    I am going to be one of the minority that thinks it would be recognized for greatness, while each time period has movies and media for which it is known, eventually it breaks out into something different, does this happen because the audience had been wanting that change for awhile, or just because a movie good enough to show them that other way came along? I think that you just need a movie that is brave enough to do something different, and is good enough to get other people to imitate them.
    I suppose it is impossible to tell for sure, many people attribute a large part of Star Wars success to the fact that it was one of the first Science Fiction movies to paint a positive picture of the “future”. Where humanity had developed advanced technology but not been twisted by it and turned to cannibalism, or died in a robot rebellion, or whatever. But as to whether the audience was finally willing to listen, or a director was finally ready to tell that story, I suppose there is no way to be sure.
    What in TDK goes against the mindset of the 80’s? In that time our concerns are the power of unchecked corporations, and of course the cold war. Both very large, faceless, emotionless enemies. I think that that time period would make TDK more powerful, not less. It would shake up the conventions of the time to have the main villain be the chaos and lunacy introduced by one man, and I think that that unexpected twist would improve it, it is always the things that are unexpected and unknown that jar us the most.

    EDIT:: I am, of course, assuming that somehow movie escapes the censors, widespread religious condemnation, etc, and is actually made available to the audience

  14. Brandon says:

    I did like this movie better than the 1989 version, however, given a choice between Christian Bale and Michael Keaton as Batman, I’d choose Michael Keaton.

    Christian Bale is just a turn-off for me.

  15. Bard says:


    Here’s a simple gauge I use for the hopelessness of a work of fiction: if any given scene would look jarringly out of place in A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s not hopeless. The boat sequence in particular, which was incidentally a freaking masterpiece, is a powerful demonstration of hope for humanity.

  16. Deoxy says:

    The consensus is that the new Batman kicks the old Batman's ass, takes his lunch money, and then puts him into a headlock and makes him admit that he's a little girl that likes wearing dresses and kissing boys.

    Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I really enjoyed that line. Heh.

  17. Kevin says:

    That’s kind of funny. The biggest thing I DIDN’T like about the old Batman movie was Jack Nicholson. I always thought that he was just hamming and it looked like he didn’t take the project seriously enough to memorize his lines. You can hardly say the same of Heath Ledger, who is absolutely incredible in the role.

    As for Batmen, I liked Keaton a smidge better as the Dark Knight himself. For me Batman is supposed to be just a little crazed, and Keaton’s role did a better job with that. (Batman is NOT supposed to be wishy-washy about actually fighting crime.) On the other hand, I like the new movie’s Bruce Wayne MUCH better. He is a playboy and hard to take seriously, and 180 degrees away from the kind of guy you’d suspect of being the Caped Crusader, unlike Keaton who was pretty much brooding and serious 24/7.

    Overall, I always felt a bit let down with the Burton vision. It was all we had so I flocked to along with everyone else, though there were certain elements of it I really hated. (Joker dies at the end? What the hell is THAT?) The result of this is that the new movie IS a better movie, and if it had come out first, I would have embraced it with much less reservation. Of course it was the sequels that really murdered Burton’s Batman, and so far sequels only seem to be enriching the product with Chris Nolan’s. Would this movie have exceeded the draw of the first? Maybe, but I bet the studios of yesterday would have ultimately bastardized the end product just the same.

  18. Neil D. says:

    I think it would have gotten a lot of praise for acting and directing, but it would have gotten equally hammered for being so relentlessly dreary. I’ve been prepping people who haven’t seen it by saying “it’s a fantastic movie, very well done, but it really isn’t a lot of FUN”.

    The Joker was amazing. Heath Ledger deserves every bit of credit he’s getting, but a lot of credit must also go to the writers and designers who created this unique version of the character. They didn’t just get it right, they created a new “right” while they were at it. The Jack Nicholson Joker was fun, but really only showed us what it would be like if Jack Nicholson became the Joker.

  19. Patrick the Malcontent says:

    I still think that without the precursor (batman begins) that even today this would have been poorly recieved. And in the 90’s people would have been shaking their heads and disgusted. The first movie laid the backdrop so that such an amazing piece of cinema was possible. I am in fact even MORE impressed with ‘Batman Begins’ for doing so. Try to imagine wathching ‘The Dark Knight ‘ without having seen ‘Batman Begins’. Wouldnt make much sense would it? I think this is one of the reasons this one is far superior to the 90’s Batman. Well, that and Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart and some dude named Heath Ledger….

  20. Fosse says:

    One little feature of The Dark Knight that stood out to me was the way the film kept teasing us that it was going to Get It Wrong. Three specific times in the movie I was aghast that they had done so wrong, only to have it revealed that they had in fact gotten it perfectly. It felt like an inside joke for people exhausted with Hollywood desecrating their beloved stories.

    The spoilers follow, in case anyone who has seen the movie doesn’t know what I’m talking about:

    1 – In the drug bust scene at the beginning we see Batman with a gun. This seemed like such a basic thing to be getting wrong in the first ten minutes of the film. I’d say there was a thirty second period before it’s clear what’s going on.

    2 – The subplot of Jim Gordon’s death. It would have been truly preposterous for a movie like this to kill off such a character from the source material (You know, like X-Men

    It really looked like they had done it. This one went on for a uncomfortably long time. And I couldn’t believe I doubted them when Gordon is revealed.

    3 – The first two seconds of Joker falling after his last battle with Batman. Yeah, I thought they were going to kill him off just like always. But Batman saved the day.

  21. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    This movie doesn’t get made in the ’80s, or certainly not the ending anyway. Back then, movies – even “dark” and “edgy” ones – always needed to redeem themselves with a hopeful or upbeat ending.

    Not that the people of the ’80s felt the need for hope any more than people today, but movie studios back then weren’t sold on the idea of “…it’s ok if the audience goes home feeling bleak, they’ll still say good things about the movie to their friends”.

    If you want gritty realism and social commentary – this movie does kick the 80s versions butt six ways from Sunday. But if what you’re looking for is a slightly more edgy version of your Saturday morning cartoon where the good guy always wins in the end, no matter how bad it looks when the bad guys have him in their clutches, the 80s version would seem like the better movie.

    My biggest question about The Dark Knight is this: “While Ledger did a fantastic job as the Joker, would we be hearing all this Oscar buzz if he hadn’t died tragically?”. I mean, he’s great. I won’t argue that. But it’s not the sort of movie, or movie role, which generally gets any consideration for “Best Actor” nods.

  22. Steve C says:

    Answer: Success of the new one is a product of our current culture. Why? For 2 reasons:

    The 1989 Batman was unfairly snubbed by the Hollywood “who’s-who” back in the day. It was “just a superhero movie” and therefore had no merit in many eyes. I remember the entire cast was drunk at that year’s Academy Awards, and I specifically remember Kim Basinger making a drunken public statement about it on live TV. 19 years later and the old farts have died, and superhero movies are acceptable to the new “who’s-who”. Therefore a movie of this genre now gets the support it needs to excel.

    Secondly and most importantly the economics of the industry has changed. There are more theaters, bigger theaters, and they charge more. The market is bigger both on a $ scale (despite some claims to the opposite) and also in potential unit sales. The weak US dollar helps too as in 2008 it’s “World Wide box office sales” vs in 1989 when it was “North American box office sales”. (World wide was = to NA sales in 89 because movies were released several months later to the rest of the world.)

    Simply put it was not possible for a movie (any movie!) in 1989 to make $155 Million in it’s opening weekend, especially for a “sub-genre”. BTW throwing the opening Box office into an inflation calculator = $62.38 million in today’s money for 1989 Batman, vs $155.36 for The Dark Knight.

  23. Nixorbo says:

    Here's a simple gauge I use for the hopelessness of a work of fiction: if any given scene would look jarringly out of place in A Song of Ice and Fire, it's not hopeless.

    Ha, I love it. I might have to steal that.

  24. Strangeite says:

    Thanks R.

    I had never heard of the term “Quoted for truth”. Learn something new everyday.

  25. Tacoman says:

    To answer the question of the 1989 audience’s reaction, I believe they would have hated it. It would have been too dark, too creepy, and not related to what was happening to them.

    The Dark Knight, coming out in July of 2008, with Heath Ledger as Joker, that’s what made this movie. It was the right time, right people, and right setup.

    I agree with Fosse about how they played with us. It was amazing. I was in this film from beginning to end. I found the Joker to be genuinely terrifying. It was an excellent film.

  26. Hawkehunt says:

    @ fair_n_hite_451
    No, we probably wouldn’t have all the Oscar buzz, because as you said, it’s not the typical movie/role – but I can’t think of a single role that was performed better. Of course, either way it goes, people will claim it’s “because of his tragic death.”

  27. Al Shiney says:

    Shamus, you have posed a tough question here. Since everybody has (and will) add their own subjective opinions about the differences between the movies plots, darkness, the culture at the time, etc., I have chosen to just focus on the actors, the director, and the screenplay. I would also mention that TDN looks and sounds far better than Batman, which at the time was heralded as a ground breaking film in both areas, but this is as much a function of evolving technology as anything else, so it’s not fair to compare the two.

    1) Bale vs. Keaton – I think Bruce Wayne is supposed to be more modest in his public persona, which makes any hypothesis about him being Batman all the more unlikely. Bale’s Wayne is too full of himself, a trait that Batman must have in order to survive.

    Batman wins – very slight edge to Keaton, based on their performances in the film, not on their personal lives.

    2) Ledger vs. Nicholson – both stole the movie from their Batman counterpart, but Ledger’s Joker should now be the gold standard for a thespian immersing him/herself in a role and making it his/her own. For God’s sakes, it has been documented that the Joker role played a hand in Ledger’s tragic death … it’s hard to get more intense than that.

    TDN wins … huge edge to Ledger.

    3) Aaron Eckhart vs. Billy Dee Williams. I bet most of you don’t even remember that Harvey Dent was in Batman. Enough said. This performance will skyrocket Eckhart’s already impressive acting portfolio.

    TDN wins … unmeasurable edge to Eckhart.

    4) Maggie Gyllenhall (sp?) vs. Kim Basinger. Ummm, yeah. Different characters for both leading ladies. Only problem is, Maggie didn’t “lead”, although in fairness, she wasn’t given much to work with.

    Batman wins … unmeasurable edge to Basinger.

    5) Michael Caine vs. Michael Gough. Both were the epitome of what Alfred Pennyworth should be.


    6) Morgan Freeman vs. nobody.

    TDN wins.

    7) Gary Oldman vs. Pat Hingle. Oldman was boring and completely uninteresting in TDN, something I never thought I’d say about one of my favorite actors. But he wins this based solely on two things: he’s against Pat Hingle and he has pretty much been awesome in everything else he’s done, including Batman Begins.

    TDN wins.

    8 ) The Nolans vs. Tim Burton. No contest, he’s Tim freakin’ Burton. Is it any coincidence that the Batman movies tanked as soon as Burton stopped directing? I think not.

    Batman wins.

    9) The screenplays were both excellent, but TDN gets the nod here because of the constant themes of darkness and light, good and evil … not just between Batman and Joker (the interrogation scene alone was worth the price of admission), but with Dent, Lucious Fox, and the ferry scene.

    TDN wins comfortably.

    Therefore, these things considered, I have to give the nod to TDN being the bigger hit if it had been released in 1989. Although I have to say that whenever I have the chance to watch Burton’s Batman films, I watch them.

  28. Groboclown says:

    “Christian Bale is just a turn-off for me.”

    I whole-heartedly agree with this sentiment. I’ve never liked the guy as an actor, although I think his wooden delivery is a good portrayal of Batman / Bruce Wayne.

    As for the film, the only characters who actually interested me were The Joker and Alfred. The rest of the cast were either intent on over-acting or looking bored.

  29. Jeremiah says:

    I feel like I came away from the movie somewhat disappointed. I still enjoyed the movie, though, and I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on why, exactly, I didn’t enjoy it more.

    I also wasn’t all that impressed with Heath Ledger’s Joker. I liked him, but I didn’t come away feeling amazed like I thought I would. He just didn’t particularly scare or creep me out. I’m not sure why.

    I know one thing for sure that was disappointing: I was really hoping to see more of Batman’s struggle with not killing people and how far he was willing to go to get the Joker.

    Really, I think I just need to see it again and hopefully some things will resolve themselves in my head at that point.

  30. Ben says:

    I felt that none of the characters were particularly sympathetic. Or at least, no character that survived. Everyone seemed to be varying degrees of bad, to the point that I began thinking to myself halfway through the movie, “I really don't like any of these people!”

    See… and here, I thought it was a movie about good people having to make choices between horrible and horrid. I find that choice very interesting. On the other hand, I also found the Joker somewhat sympathetic (especially his “schemers” speech to Harvey). Perhaps that’s my latent anarchist leanings showing. I may not be a good example of the average viewer.

  31. ima420r says:

    Why DID this Batman movie become such a big hit? It was too long, it was very slow, there wasn’t enough action (or enough Joker), the love triangle thing was poorly done, Batman sounded like he smoked 10 packs a day, and Katie Holmes wasn’t in it.

    I think Batman Begins one did well enough for people to want to see this one. The previus Batman moves got pretty bad and I think they made people very uninterested in Batman.

  32. GAZZA says:

    This movie is a timeless classic – it would have rocked even back then, assuming it were possible to make it in 1989 (which it may not have been – the effects technology has come along, and of course Heath Ledger hadn’t yet reached his peak at the age of – what, about 12 or so?)

    Come on, it’s made of 100% pure awesomeness. Anyone who didn’t like Dark Knight probably didn’t like Dr Horrible either – and I don’t want to live in a world where that sort of person is common. :)

  33. Nyeh. I was too young (10) when Batman came out to evaluate it critically, and I’m not really interested in watching it again, so it’s hard for me to say whether this movie would have survived and flourished in 1989.

    I think that increasing The Good Guys in The Dark Night into a six-person committee all fighting for screen time and relevance really tanked this movie, in my opinion. I enjoyed it, but I DON’T think it was GREAT. Heath Ledger was GREAT. Batman got sidelined.

  34. Eric says:


    Your right in the 80’s this movie would be excessively dark. I guess I should really hold my tounge in this conversation since I was born in 85, and only really remember 88 and up, but Tim’s batman never really sat well with me even at my young and age, Batman never shot or blew up people. Batman returns I believe, was just as dark as the dark knight.

  35. krellen says:

    My favourite Batman movie is the 1966 one, so I’m a horrible judge. I wasn’t a huge fan of Burton’s Batman, so I probably won’t like this one (I haven’t seen it, nor Batman Begins.)

    I loved the heck out of Batman and Robin, though!

  36. Eric says:

    I forget who said it, but it was iterated that Gary Oldman’s performance was not liked. I am just gonna say that doing a good job, sometimes requires you to be boring. Commissioner Gordon was a middle aged cop. He wasn’t a really exciting character. I agree with the rachel dawes character, It wasn’t at all interesting, and when she was killed I cheered. Every one else I’m cool with.

    Edit: tell your brother to not take my posts out of context, it makes him and me(but him especially) look retarded.

  37. Tom Gunn says:

    Interesting question. I am amused by the full circle of events leading to this version of Batman. The Tim Burton movie was made possible by the success of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns series that enlivened the Batman comic and to a large extent the entire comic industry.

    Miller put Batman in much darker terrain, just as this new movie does. Comic lovers ate it up but I don’t think the general populous was ready for the full Dark Knight version of Batman at that point. The 60’s camp TV show version of Batman was far more well known among a general audience. I think the new Dark Knight movie would have been rejected as being to violent a departure for the general audience back in the 80s. I think Tim Burtons version at least set the ground work in place so that this new Dark Knight movie, a true in spirit adaptation of Frank Millers Dark Knight, found its audience.

  38. Erkenbrand says:

    Regarding the sensibilities of the 80s, I would point to a couple of the top grossing films of that decade:

    1986’s third highest grossing film was Platoon, a film that hardly shied away from dark imagery, complex characters, and intense violence. In response to Patrick, I’d say Vietnam was a pretty significant cultural event that pushed us toward accepting a much grayer depiction of heroes and villains.

    1982 saw The Wrath of Kahn coming in at number 5. Remember its disturbing moments (the flayed bodies hanging from the ceiling and the parasite in the fellow’s ear) and dark villain?

    When Keaton’s Batman arrived in 1989, it was the highest grossing film of that year (approximately $251.2 million in ’89 dollars, which comes to about $435 million today). Clearly people could handle a film based (however loosely) on a comic book.

    I contend that a film that combined darker and more complex sensibilities with a comic book hero could have been made in the 80s and would have performed successfully. The Dark Knight would have performed well.

  39. Eric J says:

    My comments are similar to Tom Gunn’s – I think in 1989 you had a hard enough time breaking through people’s perceptions about Batman as a character and superheroes as a vehicle for storytelling, for The Dark Knight to have been a hit.

  40. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    Anyone who didn't like Dark Knight probably didn't like Dr Horrible either – and I don't want to live in a world where that sort of person is common

    I loved Dr. Horrible. Dark Knight I did not.

  41. Osvaldo Mandias says:

    —Anyone who didn't like Dark Knight probably didn't like Dr Horrible either – and I don't want to live in a world where that sort of person is common—

    I loved Dr. Horrible. Dark Knight I did not.

  42. R says:

    ” ima420r:
    July 31st, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Why DID this Batman movie become such a big hit?”

    At the risk of sounding like a squealing fanboy, I must disagree on your views.

    – Too long: thank god, at least I’m not paying 8 euros to see a 60 min film.
    – Too slow: good, you have the time to realize what is happening in a intricated plot.
    – Not enough action: I was SO happy that the movie didn’t resolved in boring, repetitive CG scenes that costed 10 million dollars each. This made this movie stand out in a crowd of superhero movies full of all that fizzle-dazzle.
    About other action scenes, like Batman fistfights, I agree, there could have been more, but how do you justify them? If you put action scenes just for the sake of it, it looks out of context.
    – Not enough Joker: I agree, Ledger was incredible, but it’s a BATMAN movie after all…
    – Batman sounded like he smoked 10 packs a day: it was IN CHARACTER :)

    – Katie Holmes wasn't in it: and I was glad about it. She isn’t hot, neither necessary. Maggie Gyllenhaal handled the role better.

    Poit is: this movie created so much expectations (Ledger’s death, the continuous teasing and the critics approval), and, to me at least, all the expectations were satisfied. It actually went beyond what I was expecting, and I’m probably going to see in the theathers again soon.

    Almost Off topic: Is anyone else going to try to put his hands on “BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT”? If it’s good as it was ANIMATRIX, then is going to be sweet.

  43. Nilus says:

    The real question to ask is would the 80’s Batman movie have been as well recieved if we did not have the 60’s Batman TV show to compare it to. All three franchises are really products of there own eras. I do think the new series will hold up better over time. About the only complaint I have is the Batman voice which is okay when he says a quick few words but sounds really bad when he talks for a while with it.

    I was glad to see Dark Knight lived up to the hype in my opinion. I was very unhappy when I saw Hellboy 2 just a week earlier, it seemed like a lot of reviewers love that and I thought it was terrible.

  44. Skelnik says:

    I don’t think the latest batman would have worked in the 80’s, because it would be missing the following pre-requisites:

    1) Batman Begins, as mentioned above.

    2) The Matrix for blowing us away in 1999 when we were a little edgy about the whole 2000 thing, and the Matrix sequels for disappointing us a little.

    3) Spiderman and the other string of superhero movies that got everyone thinking lately that blockbuster movie = superhero movie.

    (Oh, and the scene with the two boats? Completely cheesy and unnecessary. Who would trust or follow rules set up by a madman? The only way to win is to not play the game.)

  45. The Unknown says:

    “(Oh, and the scene with the two boats? Completely cheesy and unnecessary. Who would trust or follow rules set up by a madman? The only way to win is to not play the game.)”

    And that’s exactly what happened in the movie. The scene was there to prove Joker wrong.

  46. The Claw says:

    I think people should start off by putting their pants back on, sitting down for a moment, and being honest about The Dark Knight.

    In videogame terms, The Dark Knight’s hype matches that of the Halo series. You’re led to believe it’s the absolute pinnacle of human entertainment but once you put your hype blinders up and have a good focused look at the title you see that it’s actually quite mediocre, and held aloft by a few distinct saving graces and a plethora of corrupt mainstream reviews.

    The most obvious problem The Dark Knight has is it’s atrocious editing. The movie has roughly half a dozen sub-plots and a main plot that it doesn’t give enough attention to because it can’t shutup about some lame love triangle that isn’t particularly convincing because no one really seems to love one or the other. Between the plot(s) and the mishmash of unnecessary characters you’ve also got scene cuts that ebb and flow like a stick-shift car that’s being driven by a drunk orangutan.

    The most obvious advantage The Dark Knight has is Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker, and while I think it was a good Joker I don’t think it was an “oscar-worthy” performance that doubtlessly defined The Joker. There’s no definite advantage that Heath’s Joker holds over Nicholson’s which would allow it to do so. In one case you have a Joker that’s an introvert and is defined by the actor, in the other case you have a Joker that’s an extrovert and defined the actor. Both portrayals of the character laid down some good ground work but neither really nailed the schizophrenic mix of flamboyant extrovert and murderous introvert that the “true” Joker is.

    The Dark Knight is a comic book movie trying to be a brooding dramatic film with deep morals but ends up just being a somewhat boring comic book movie with rather cliche morals. Like a singer struggling to reach a high note and ultimately falling flat; such is The Dark Knight as a finely tuned film. With that said, I think crowds in the 80’s would have prefered the original Batman movie, not because it was easier on their cro-magnon brains, but because it’s a better comic book movie than The Dark Knight.

  47. Strangeite says:

    krellen, how exactly did you escape from Bizzaro world? There are soooo many things wrong with your comment, that being from Htrae, is the only logical explanation.

    “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!”

  48. Yonder says:

    Al Shiney in comment 17:
    I think Bruce Wayne is supposed to be more modest in his public persona, which makes any hypothesis about him being Batman all the more unlikely.

    I actually believe the opposite, with a modest, quiet person you have to wonder if he has any secrets. Take a showboaty, full of himself person that is always demanding attention and you think that you know all there is to know about that person, that if there was some awesome secret about the guy he would brag about it himself. Not to mention the feeling that he is seems like a loser that doesn’t have much interesting about him anyways.

  49. Shawn says:

    I really don’t think you could have gotten away with a dark, brutal superhero movie before the last couple of years. (Watchmen for example, I don’t think could have been done correctly if The Dark Knight, Hancock, and even Spiderman hadn’t laid some of that groundwork.)

  50. blah blah blah says:

    I think the thing is, “Batman” is not a single character. In different eras of comics and culture, he is different things. The ‘original’ Bm of Detective Comics wasn’t averse to killing his enemies now and then. It was only after the end of the Golden Age and the arrival of the Comic Code that Batman got a case of the morals, and it was in this period that his villains evolved from pretty basic, ordinary criminals (‘Catwoman’ was an unmasked cat burglar) that Batman beat through detective work into the colorful super-villains that are always coming up with one grandiose scheme after another. The Batman of Adam West’s TV series accurately reflected the Batman that people knew then. The comics weren’t quite as campy, but most of the episodes’ plots were in keeping with the sort of things the comics Batman dealt with. Secret indestructible metals being mined out of the Batcave, obvious traps, etc. Remember that Adam West’s Batman was as old when Tim Burton’s film came out as the Burton version is now, and in the comics the character changed just as much, or more.

    It wasn’t really until the 1980s (Dark Knight Returns, etc) that there was a movement away from the fairly corny Batman to a darker, moodier character. Tim Burton captured the weather change pretty effectively with his first movie: it was very Gothic, very 1940s, very pulpy, but also had a lot of modern elements, which reflected the comics of those days pretty well. It also introduced, or popularized, the idea of Batman as a sort of outcaste anti-hero that no one trusted or particularly liked. Most importantly, Batman was scary again. He didn’t get captured or tied up, he just breezed in and scared the Bejeezus out of people.

    This helped create a resurgence of interest in the character, including the Fox Animated Series (which I still think is the best non-comics adaptation). That, in turn, influenced the characterization of Batman in the comics. The Bruce Wayne persona become more developed, and along with it a greater understanding of the turmoil that must be going on inside his head.

    So I don’t think it’s a legitimate question to ask if this movie would have succeeded in 1989, because there would have been no one and no impetus to make it back then. Dark Knight succeeds because of Heath Ledger’s Joker and in spite of the other characters; the quality of Tim Burton’s cast’s portrayals was a lot more balanced (Batman Returns notwithstanding).

    I will point out that I hated Batman Begins intensely, for being boring, having a dumb Batman, and committing the cardinal comic-book-movie sin of giving everyone the same origin. Wow, you’re a member of an ancient order of ninjas that are obsessed with fear? Me too!

    I would also like to point out that, from a psychological perspective, Batman is not his own enemy, he is ALL of his enemies. Each villain represents, or has come to represent, an aspect of his psyche. Scarecrow is the obsession with fear, Joker is monomaniacal obsession with a phantom enemy, Two-Face is the dual existence, Catwoman is sneaky, the Penguin is a wealthy man who feels isolated, Clayface is the loss of his own sense of self, etc.

    It sort of explains why he can never kill them, since they are him.

  51. Illiterate says:

    ima420r —

    Speaking as someone who STILL hasn’t seen it (want to), I think the Heath Ledger buzz was good for the box office, but not as good for potential sequels.

    I mean, they show the picture of him in white face-paint in the ad, and it looks like a death-mask. It’s hard to resist.

  52. Cuthalion says:

    I never saw any other Batman stuff except the 60’s movie (which I liked, in a hah-that’s-corny way) and maybe a couple cartoon episodes at friends’ houses. But I liked it, and I thought it stood on its own pretty well. So for those saying, “Imagine seeing it without Batman Begins!” I did so, and thought it was good.

    My favorite character was actually Lt. Gordon, ’cause he was the only straight-up good guy I noticed. I also really liked the Joker, but more in a morbid fascination kind of way.

    Oh, I also never read the comic books. So I knew only what every other non-Batman-initiate knows: he’s a zillionaire who is secretly a guy who goes out and fights crime in a costume and without superpowers. And the Joker and Riddler are the bad guys, and Robin’s his sidekick.

  53. Martin says:

    I’ve seen it twice in the movies. Watch *cough* clips of it at home now and then, and will see it in IMAX at least once.

    Btw, the second time I saw it, I left right after the Joker was finished. The ending with Two face and Gordon’s family was too long.

  54. SiliconScout says:

    In ’89 I was SO bitter at how stupidly cartoony batman was.

    He was more like superman (mr nice guy) than the “Dark Knight”.

    The new take on Batman is infinitely superior in every respect. Look Jack was an AWESOME joker in that Ceaser cartoon style. A HUGE improvement over the TV joker for sure but come on.

    I think it would have been an even bigger hit myself, but then again that is because I would have liked it more. For those mom’s n pop’s who remembered TV batman and went for that, well they would have liked it not so much I expect.

  55. R4byde says:

    – Not enough action: I was SO happy that the movie didn't resolved in boring, repetitive CG scenes that cost 10 million dollars each. This made this movie stand out in a crowd of superhero movies full of all that fizzle-dazzle.

    – Not enough Joker: I agree, Ledger was incredible, but it's a BATMAN movie after all…

    – Katie Holmes wasn't in it: and I was glad about it. She isn't hot, neither necessary. Maggie Gyllenhaal handled the role better.

    I second all of these points, especially the last one. ;)

    I don’t think The Dark Knight would have done as well in the eighties; but the public taste from the time sucked,(How else do you explain the success of things like those ugly arse troll dolls or musicians like Michael Jackson and Prince?) so who cares? :D

    To compare the films:
    Concerning acting, The Dark Knight wins. I think Bale is a MUCH better actor than Keaton, and a far more suitable Batman. Heath Ledger played Joker perfectly, Nicholson doesn’t even compare. Not to forget it has Michael Caine in it, I mean what more do you need for a kickarse film? He’s MICHAEL FRICKIN’ CAINE!

    In regards to directing, I like most of Tim Burton’s work, it has this wonderful whimsical feel to it, but I think Batman is definitely his worst film, period. The Dark Knight wins here too.

    Now, on to the music. I like the parts in Batman done by Elfman he is a giant amongst composers, but Prince sucks. Horribly. How the hell he ever became popular is still a mystery to me. So, if the film had been all Elfman’s work, it would have been fantastic, but it wasn’t. So it isn’t. The Scoring in The Dark Knight was well done, but not blow-you-away amazing in any regard.

    So I guess my original opinion of the eighties film remains unchanged, -It’s a piece of shit.- and I like -But don’t love.- The Dark Knight.

  56. Elise says:

    “Try to imagine wathching “˜The Dark Knight “˜ without having seen “˜Batman Begins'. Wouldnt make much sense would it?”

    er, sure it did.

  57. Alex says:

    I’ll always like the Burton films for what they were, but “The Dark Knight” stayed with me a lot longer than most superhero movies. I honestly think it breaks the barrier between a “superhero movie” and a “Film”. The opening scene in the bank ended in a way I can’t possibly believe, and Batman’s voice is unintelligible at best, but I think those are the only two things that weren’t handled magnificently. I also appreciate how the story actually surprised me more than once(the boat scene, for example).

    While I do think Ledger’s sudden demise factored into its reception, I think he’d be getting just as much praise for The Joker as he is now if he were alive. I’m still kicking myself for doubting that casting decision about a year ago.

    You can also count me in as one of the people who saw this one but not Begins. Didn’t have any trouble following it.

  58. Patriarch917 says:

    @ Teh Claw
    “In videogame terms, The Dark Knight's hype matches that of the Halo series.”


    That’s all.

  59. Chris Arndt says:

    Try to imagine wathching “˜The Dark Knight “˜ without having seen “˜Batman Begins'. Wouldnt make much sense would it?

    It would have made a lot of sense.

    Believe it or not, most children and newbie adults that watch or read Batman adventure stories do so without reading or watching a depiction/portrayal of his origin or early days in the suit.

    Frankly I find origin stories to be boring and irritating. It’s time spent watching Secret Identy Man, aka the Fetus, where what I paid damn good money to see was the Super Hero.

    Batman Begins was good where we finally had Bruce Wayne scenes that weren’t filler and just there to break up the action and give the main actor face time. But it still wasn’t necessary for me. I know who Batman is. Most people who watch Batman have a short, concise, (possibly overly) simple idea of who he is, what he does, and to some extent why. In fact, the words snuck into dialogue “my parents were murdered as a boy so I vowed to fight crime” basically describes the main character’s motivation and to some extent his origin, if not for the specific training. It does it without making thirty minutes to two hours be about the origin.

    I enjoyed Batman Begins. It is an origin movie and I am fine with it. It is a good movie. The whole story is origin. It is what it is. I like it.

    But it is not necessary.

    To prove it… I watched every episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Not one episode was dedicated to how Batman came to be. The first episode was Batman fighting Man-Bat and the second and third dealt with Catwoman and Red Claw.

    So I can see Batman versus the Joker any day of the week and not need another story that fully forms the writer’s Vision of Batman FIRST.

    Frankly, if you need that much of a primer for Spider-Man or Batman to see a Spider-Man or Batman movie, your Sense of Wonder is absolutely dead and you shouldn’t be trying to enjoy these movies.

  60. Chris Arndt says:

    The review in the New Yorker is fairly negative, and explicitly contrasts it with the 1989 film:


    I don't think I've seen either one, so I couldn't comment, but I value the New Yorker's film critics highly, and I thought you might be interested.

    Considering that some of The New Yorker’s descriptions of events in the movie is just plain inaccurate, wrong, I wouldn’t trust any judgment they make regarding those events or scenes.

    Hell, they referred to Tim Burton’s conception of Batman as the “original conception for Batman”.

    In 1989, of course, there were folk referring to the stuff with Adam West as Batman, and Tm Burton’s stuff as a deviation from THAT. It’s funny and more than a little stupid that these sub-literates think a conception of a character is only relevant if it is featured in a medium that they are familiar with.

    Any review that contrasts with the Tim Burton film as “the original” anything is generally one that I ignore.

    I just stop reading if they start to describe the movie and tell me things happened that didn’t.

    This is why I don’t read the New Yorker.

  61. Lain says:

    At first, i didn’t see the new one by now.

    What I want to mention is, why did the old Batman movie came out 1989 and why does it was so dark for that time?

    I think because of a genius who let murder a superhero in the 70’s,
    made Batman the psychopath, he always should have been and created comics like “300” and “Sin City” thereafter.

    Frank Miller

    In 1986 he created the masterpiece Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

    I am totally sure, that Tim Burton read it, and was hooked.
    He needed (only) 3 years to make a screenbook and find some financiers to make his version. I am also sure, he wanted to make his movie much darker than he did, because of the strong influences of the Producer.

    Also the computergenerated F/X was not so impressive and cheap like today.(thats why they made the Fantastic 4 so late).

    So could the made such a movie like the new one in 1989?
    I don’t think so.

    In the 80ties it wasn’t so dark like todays feelings. In the 80ties there were some moral tendencies left, some thinks, we could never imagine shown to us in TV or Cinema.

    To mention only one scene:

    Then there was no Jack Bauer murdering an suspecting person IN A CELL IN THE FREAKING HEADQUARTER BEFORE THE EYES OF HIS BOSS AND CHOPPING THE HEAD OF THE CORPSE (Season 2, first episode).

    A “HERO”.

    In the 80ties there was the A-Team and Miami Vice to mention only two. Even Judge Dredd, imho a little more darker comic book adaption, would look much more harder today.

    Now, we are influenced by Al Bundy and his humor, cold and amoral realities (not to mention some certain politics again)and shows like 24, Sleeper Cell and Dexter (Almost forgot him!).

    So now, it is time for an even darker Batman who saves our day in his even darker ways. 1989 the audience was not ready for that.

  62. Jeff says:

    The question really is if your dad would enjoy it.
    If all our moms and dads (’89 being almost 20 years ago), utterly ignoring our generation, would make it a blockbuster, then it would be.

    I doubt it though.

  63. Chris Arndt says:

    Actually Lain, depending on who you ask, the 1989 Batman film is based off of Steve Englehart’s Detective Comics run. That was published in the late seventies… or the early eighties, about a decade before the Dark Knight Returns.

    More significant is the fact that Tim Burton will insist, to your face and anyone’s, that he is does not read comic books and never did. He is rather a snob about it. Your total certainty flies in the face of Tim Burton’s Total Snobbishness.

  64. Chris Arndt says:

    Oh, and when Jack Bauer shot and decapitate the witness in 24 season 2, it was after the narrative established the dude was a child molester and all that, so that makes it okay for Jack to kill him and remove his head.

1 2

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *


Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>