The Batman dir. Matt Reeves (2022) A brave production in that it foregrounds the grey areas of Batman’s existence and is structured around his failures. Reeves borrows heavily from noir and opts for murky cinematography (to the point of obscurity). Not much re-watch value but a laudable one-off.
The Batman vs. Dracula
The Batman vs. Dracula dir. Michael Goguen (Warner Bros., 2005) Beyond the outrageous title lurks a half-decent concept (Batman imagery as an offshoot of the vampire legend), undone by some truly indigestible dialogue and Bruce Wayne’s ludicrously troll-like physique. This is dark Batman done in a cartoon fashion, which doesn’t quite work.
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders dir. Rick Morales (2016) An energetic and suitably madcap, often tongue-in-cheek animated feature based on the 1960s TV series. Adam West, Julie Newmar and Burt Ward reprise their roles, their talents proving undiminished by the intervening half century. Tremendous, self-parodying fun and yet a fitting tribute.
Pennyworth, Season 1
Pennyworth, Season 1 (Epix, 2019) A slick but disturbingly visceral action crime drama set in a reimagined (Gotham sister city?) post-war London. While any given episode is diverting enough, the overarching plot lacks focus and the Batman character prefiguring is distracting and strained (in truth totally incongruous).
Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome
Batman: The Lazarus Syndrome by Simon Bullivant & Dirk Maggs (BBC Radio 4, 1989) A nostalgic fiftieth anniversary celebration, authenticated by Michael Gough’s appearance as Alfred but with a storyline more suited to comic book form than audio drama. Commissioner Gordon hears word that the Batman is dead. Bruce Wayne, meanwhile, seems not to be himself…
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight dir. Christopher Nolan (2008) Too much guttural Batman, not enough Bruce Wayne. Heath Ledger’s virtuoso Joker raises the stakes for a mould-breaking dénouement: the recasting of Batman as villain; yet, with the Joker a more obvious scapegoat for Two-Face’s crimes, this carefully structured transformation lacks credibility.
Batman Begins dir. Christopher Nolan (2005) Batman Begins gave Gotham City its first ever truly serious treatment. By spurning CGI in favour of real (and far more gripping) action scenes, by casting quality actors and bringing top-drawer cinematography to an intelligent script, Nolan made Batman better than ever.
42 Word Retrospective: Batman dir. Tim Burton
Batman dir. Tim Burton (Warner Bros., 1989) By far the pick of the franchise pre-Nolan — albeit not as funky as Prince’s soundtrack would intimate — the original Batman soared, giving us Jack Nicholson as a whimsically understated over-the-top Joker and Michael Keaton as the most beguiling Bruce Wayne of all.