Bill Finger’s creation The Joker has remained one of the most fascinating figures in all of pop culture and comic books medium. Every new generation finds an angle upon which to examine the Joker and how he’s so much more than a simple Batman villain. It has fascinated artists for decades how someone can sink so far in to the murky depths of madness that they can’t even see the light anymore. Christopher Nolan set a high bar that director Todd Phillips almost touches with the ugly, grotesque, depressing and yet quite fantastic “Joker.”
After the polarizing “adaptation” from 2007, DC and Warner take another crack at the taking one of the most controversial and news making comic book storylines of the nineties and bring it to the big screen. With a little tweaks, of course. The whole of “The Death and Return of Superman” is compact, but it takes a good effort in streamlining the entire arc for a movie. The whole epic storyline spanned a ton of DC titles from Supergirl, Green Lantern, and Justice League, so Jake Castorena and Sam Liu have to squeeze it in to two whole movies, and they do a pretty great job of it, save for glaring flaws here and there.
It’s not often I sit down to watch a DCAU movie and want to immediately desire the original source material instead. I’ve never read “Batman Hush” but from what I originally gathered it was an iconic storyline that made waves in the aughts. The movie however is a disappointing, half baked and painfully boring Batman adventure that never really goes anywhere. Rather than treading new ground or giving us something completely different, “Batman Hush” just feels forced and never quite rises above the anemic energy.
No matter what you feel about “Batman and Robin,” you can’t deny that it almost killed the comic book movie as a sub-genre. It also about killed the careers of Alicia Silverstone, Chris O’Donnell, and Uma Thurman, all of whom took years to recover. Even today with so much nostalgia and looking back on classically bad movies, “Batman and Robin” is still just bad. I understand Warner wanted kid friendly, and Joel Schumacher delivered on kid friendly, but in the process he also delivered a nigh unwatchable sequel that also killed Batman on film for years until Christopher Nolan swooped in to reboot the whole kit and caboodle.
I’m frankly surprised that “Batman Forever” doesn’t show up often on lists about homoerotic mainstream films. In the annals of homoerotic cinema, “Batman Forever” is right up there. While Joel Schumacher pretty much does what Warner asked by making Batman less menacing, less violent, and a lot more family friendly, it’s also incredibly homoerotic. That doesn’t hinder the experience, but it’s worth discussing how Batman goes from fighting with a Latex covered sex zombie to building romantic tension with a young man he takes in seemingly out of nowhere.
If “Batman” was the opening act of Tim Burton’s iteration of Batman, “Batman Returns” is a pretty epic second chorus that pretty much completes the picture. Whether or not you believe Burton dropped out, or was ousted by Warner for being too dark or violent, “Batman Returns” is a pretty good closing chapter in Burton’s Batman world, even in spite of its flaws. Hell, it’s a better film than “Batman,” despite the fact it objectively garners the more obvious flaws than the 1989 original.
It’s a new era and a brand new format for movie lovers and Warner Bros. is offering up their “Batman” movie anthology from the 1990’s on 4K UHD for those that have converted. With “Batman” also celebrating its thirtieth anniversary (where does the time go?) since its theatrical release, Tim Burton’s iconic adaptation of the DC Comics hero manages to appear once again in an even higher definition making it—uh—Battier? Burtoner? In either case, the good news is “Batman” is still a solid iteration of the Dark Knight, which is all that counts.
Every once in a while, I’m glad to break out of the doom and gloom of DC Batman movies and watch something that is just fun and exciting. I admit that I missed all the waves of comic books in the last few years where Batman crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so this movie was completely new to me. Suffice to say being a fan of both properties I was anxious to see how they would handle it, and thankfully DC/Warner and Nickelodeon delivers something for the fans and the general audience looking for a good pop culture crossover.