Do I look like I'm Joking?
MikeInMotion - wrote on 08/13/12
When this film was released, it was at a time when superhero films meant nothing to Hollywood. They were not blockbusters, they weren’t critically acclaimed, and there certainly wasn’t high demand for them. Tim Burton bringing Batman to the big screen was not only important for this particular superhero, but for the superhero genre as a whole. He created a world that is gritty and more realistic than what people had seen up to that point, focusing more on the drama and less on campiness. Tim Burton’s Batman is definitely an important film, but he backed that up by creating a film that still holds up very well to this day.
Bruce Wayne is a man who witnessed the murder of his parents when he was very young. Vowing to avenge their deaths and stop these kinds of things from happening again, he devotes his life to fighting crime as Batman. However, the city of Gotham is corrupt, and even those in the police force are not ones to trust. With a new villain in town, The Joker, Gotham is in a state of complete chaos, and it is solely on Batman’s shoulders to put an end to the madness he is bringing to the city. He must do all of this while also fending off those who intend to figure out who Batman is and reveal him to all of Gotham.
The thing that stands out the most in this film is Jack Nicholson’s fantastic performance as The Joker. He creates a character so psychotic, and yet so funny and likeable, that he steals pretty much every scene in the film. Whether he is rolling off a hilarious one-liner, or selling Joker products on TV, he is simply one of the most spellbinding villains to ever be in a superhero film. Jack Nicholson was perfectly cast in this role, as he definitely had experience with psychotic characters prior to this film.
However, this does not mean the acting is lacking elsewhere in the film – quite the opposite. Michael Keaton is great as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He is dark and brooding as Batman, but as Bruce Wayne he is a very kind and respectable person who appears to have created an image that does not represent who he really is. He is a complex character, and Michael Keaton plays all aspects of him wonderfully. Rounding out the cast is Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Bruce Wayne’s main love interest, and Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler. Both of these characters are vital to fleshing out Bruce's back-story, and are essential to him overcoming some inner demons.
The most important thing that this film gets right is the atmosphere of the source material. Gone are the campy characters, the shark repellent bat spray, and the “BANG BOOM POW” that represented Batman before. Here, we finally have the character is his true form: a dark, complex character who exists in a dark and complex world. There is nothing campy about Gotham. In fact, it can be a very frightening place, and that is all represented here. Tim Burton was the perfect man to direct this movie, because he is one of the best directors out there in terms of creating an immersive atmosphere, especially those that are Gothic.
Tim Burton’s Batman was a fantastic beginning for the Batman franchise, laying down a solid foundation for all future parties to build on. It was finally able to accurately bring the comic book hero to life, and at the same time create a world that attracted people who were not familiar with the comics. Take with that an iconic performance from Jack Nicholson and an engaging story, and you have a very satisfying superhero film.