On the Big Board
||A truly outstanding film. Comic adaptations keep getting better. Great cast, great direction. Still fantastic on second viewing. How long until the sequel?
||Tim Burton who?
||Dark, stylish Gotham caper returns franchise to the high life once more.
||The film makes clever usage of the notion of fear in all its iterations. Simply marvelous.
After the train wreck that was Batman & Robin was released on an unsuspecting public, it was reasonable to assume that the Batman franchise was deader than Ralph Fiennes’ stand-up comedy act. Now that comic book movies are all the rage, plans for a Batman film are moving ahead at a brisk pace. Batman is one of the holy trinity of comic book icons, with Superman and Spider-Man being the other two-thirds of that group, and a new film is sure to make Warner Bros. a ton of money providing that people have forgotten Joel Schumacher’s rape and pillage directing of Batman & Robin.
Perhaps it is the prospect of the potential money to be made that has kept the film in production hell for the past two years. First, it is important to note that this is one of two ongoing Batman projects, the other being a proposed “Year One” project, with “Year One” pointing towards an origin story. With many creatives signing on and off the project, it looked like the film would never be made; that is, until Warner Bros. officially signed critically-acclaimed director Christopher Nolan to lead the project.
Nolan signed on to the project at a point when the story was based on a script called Batman: The Frightening, which featured the Scarecrow as the main villain. It was a back-to-basics kind of story. This script featured a return to the dark, brooding, violent, noir world of Batman from the comics. Think of the first Batman movie but with an interesting title character. Since Nolan signed on, David Goyer, comic book screenwriter extraordinaire, has signed on to rewrite the project. The story at this point has been kept secret and no casting decisions have been made, though there have been strong rumors that Nolan is angling to cast his Memento leading man Guy Pearce as the caped crusader, which wouldn’t be a bad decision at all.
Whether this project will be ready for a 2004 release is up in the air currently and depends on when the production actually starts. More likely, Batman: Intimidation will be ready for Summer 2005 where it could very well rule the box office. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
January 31, 2004
With filming set to begin in early March, the Batman cast and production are almost completely finalized. Donning the cape and cowl will be Christian Bale, the buff Welsh actor who showed off his super-hero bod in American Psycho and Reign of Fire as well as showed off his chop socky capabilities in the bleak-future thriller Equilibrium. Michael Caine has also been cast as Bruce Wayne's butler and caretaker, Alfred, while 28 Days Later's Cillian Murphy has grabbed the main villain role. Rounding off the cast is Dawson's Creek alumn Katie Holmes, who needs a hit about as much as anyone in Hollywood does. Filming will take place in London, Iceland and New York. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
February 9, 2004
Christopher Nolan has now shed some light on the Batman project and proved the entire Internet wrong. Instead of being based on the Batman: The Frightening script, Nolan will be taking a “Year One” approach, a term originally coined by the Batman comics. Filming will indeed take place in London, Iceland and New York, however, the tone of the film will be serious but nor necessarily as dark as once thought. The cast is in place and ready to run full tilt but the project still does not have an official title.
The Year One concept originally appeared as Batman: Year One as published by DC Comics and written by comic book legend, and Batman god, Frank Miller. Miller’s originally story took Batman back to the basics and focused on what happened to Bruce Wayne after his parents’ brutal murder. The story showed how circumstances led to Batman being created by the orphaned billionaire. The “Year One” title refers to Wayne’s first year on the job and will feature Batman’s early struggles with his demons and the demons that littered Gotham’s dangerous streets.
Miller’s true genius, and what made his book such a great achievement, is that he fleshed out and developed Batman’s supporting characters. Miller explored Alfred the butler, who became young Bruce’s keeper, mentor and conscience; he also explored the young Detective Gordon who would later on become chief of Police along with Assistant DA Harvey Dent. Watching these characters develop into the characters that readers knew and loved, which is ultimately the most interesting part of any story, made the story endearing and gave it much longevity.
Now Nolan is looking to recapture that magic and there is absolutely no reason to think that he will fail. The take on the Batman mythos is fresh, to mainstream media anyway, and will prove extremely appealing. The idea lends itself to a great story and will likely be masterfully executed by Nolan whose strength as a director is storytelling. This also explains the casting of a young actor to play the lead role as much of the film takes place while Wayne is in his early 20s.
Gone will be the retro-chic world of Tim Burton’s Batman; even more joyously, gone will be the hyper-techno, nipple-laden, homoerotic schmaltz of Joel Schumacher. This generation’s Batman will be young, insecure and flawed. His world will be contemporary and tragic and therefore brutally realistic, which is at the heart of what makes Batman a truly intriguing character and makes him an icon of pop culture. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
February 26, 2004
What will likely be the last major casting decision, the WB has announced that Oscar-nominated actor Ken Watanabe will play the role of the Ra’s Al-Ghul, the main villain that will go head to head with the Caped Crusader. The Japanese actor will play the main villain, who in the comics is of an Arabic background, but he will not be the only villain in the piece as Cillian Murphy’s Jonathan Crane will also serve as a nemesis of Batman’s. Watanabe is nominated for an Oscar this year for his work in The Last Samurai.
Ra’s Al-Ghul is similar to Batman in that he does not possess any super-human qualities except for his intellect. Ra’s Al-Ghul’s uniqueness comes from his use of a “Lazarus Pitt” that restores his youth and allows him to continue his war to rid the world of mankind, which to him is driven by his environmentalist beliefs. How the character will be translated to the big screen is still unknown at this point but the presence of the villain promises to present a heavy psychological thriller element to the project.
The official cast now includes Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Ken Watanabe as Ra’s Al-Ghul, Michael Caine as Alfred the Butler, Katie Holmes as a childhood friend of Wayne's; Liam Neeson as Wayne's mentor, Henri Ducard, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, a former Wayne Enterprises employee and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow. The only question left is, can we really wait a whole year to see this? (Walid Habboub/BOP)
March 3, 2004
Warner Bros. has announced today that Batman Begins has commenced production in Iceland and that the project has added Gary Oldman to the main cast. Oldman will play Leiutenant James Gordon, a detective on the Gotham City police department. Oldman's Gordon is the same James Gordon who would later on become Comissioner of Police in Gotham City, the title he is most famous for in Batman lore. (Walid Habboub/BOP)
Comparison films for Batman Begins
|X2: X-Men United
|Batman and Robin