EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: I’M BATMAN

Christian Bale as Batman. The American Psycho donning the cowl and cape of comicdom’s resident psycho hero. (No, comic geeks, that would not be Wolverine. Yeah, he’s nuts, but Batman is the dictionary example of “damaged goods.”) How do I, America’s Favorite Son and lover of comic books, feel about this turn of events?

I like it.

Bale, even in the crappiest of crapfests, has always been a solid actor who is respected by his peers. His title role in American Psycho sealed the deal for me when it came to his acting chops. When I sat in that quiet theatre during the chainsaw chase scene, I knew he was one to watch. It was an edgy role that would’ve sunk many a career, but he came out ahead of the game. Yes, the movie was blasted by many critics, but I enjoyed it, and I think I’ll find an equal amount of pleasure in his upcoming role as the Caped Crusader.

For those who don’t follow the exploits of Batman (and to be honest, the only Batman books I pick up on a regular basis these days are “Batman: Gotham Knights” and “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight”), it’s worth noting that the character is dark and disturbed. He is as much a menace to himself as he is to villains, and the movies have sometimes missed that point.

When I heard a new film was in the works, I speculated as to who would fit the role. Bale never came up, but now I can’t picture anyone else really pulling it off … at least not as well as him. That said, I think this movie may be a tough sell.

People still remember how the Batman franchise ended up in the toilet, and comic book superhero movies only seem to do well when they follow people’s expectations of what a comic book should be about. Witness the disparity in people’s reactions between Spider-Man and the vastly superior Hulk. “Spider-Man” was exactly like the common joe’s idea of comic books, while “Hulk” pushed the boundaries of what a superhero movie could accomplish. The new Batman film sounds like it’s going to use the trappings of the comic medium while at the same time delving into the psychological elements that make Batman a well-rounded character. People who don’t read the Batman comics will be fairly ignorant to the emotional aspects, though. They may only want to see Batman kick some “ass,” much like they demanded of the Hulk. They may not want to see Bale lament about the death of his parents. So, yeah, it could be a hard sell, but if done properly it could revive the entire franchise and give DC Comics a much-needed boost in the comic book superhero movies department. (Just where is “Superman,” by the way? And why not a Deadshot film?)

Bale as Bruce Wayne is a brilliant idea. His casting won’t surprise anyone like Michael Keaton’s did back in the day. People knew Keaton was a good actor, but didn’t think he could pull off the Dark Knight. Nobody is second guessing Bale. He’s got the skills, and he will bring something to the role that is uniquely his own.

And this time — no bat nipples!

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Posted on September 23, 2004 in Features by

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