What The Film?! – Batman (2 of 3)

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What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.

If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email utgjames@gmail.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.

This Week’s Movie: Batman (Part 2 of 3) 1989-1992

You can read Part 1 here!

“Your problems are our problems” Jack Napier coldly states in 1989’s Batman, Tim Burton’s third movie following his first movie, the “Really? Tim Burton made 1985’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure?” and his 1988 sophomore effort Beetlejuice. Jack’s words resonate throughout the Batman franchise, not as thematic motif, but as an almost self aware reference that these movies were awful. When Tim Burton, a vocal anti-comic book fan, signed on to make Batman, he didn’t make it for the fans, he didn’t make it to be loyal to the source material, he decided to make a Batman movie in name only. These movies mistakes are our mistakes. We paid to see them and allowed them to make more.

And Batman is so disappointed in us.

When Tim Burton signed on to make Batman, people assumed it would be a movie adaptation of the 1966 Adam West clearly-a-parody-that-no-one-understood Batman. When Tim Burton signed Michael Keaton (who was mostly known for 1983’s Mr. Mom and 1982’s Night Shift), people’s fears were incorrectly confirmed.

You haven’t seen Mr. Mom? What’s wrong with your parents?

Tim Burton’s first Batman movie opens with two muggers hiding out on a rooftop, talking about a fellow criminal that Batman killed by dropping him five stories. Okay, that could be a rumor, Batman doesn’t kill, that’s his thing, that’s what separates him from so many other Superheroes. Batman maybe didn’t kill this guy and that they assume he did, we never see Batman kill this guy. It’s not like he drove into a large factory and blew it up, killing everyone inside. That’s just not something Batman would-

…what the shit?

Now lets get this out of the way right now: 1989’s Batman is actually a great Batman movie. There’s definitely some liberties done with the source material, but not enough to make it bad. By having the Joker kill Bruce Wayne’s parents, there’s a sort of interesting duality where they both created each other. Michael Keaton has this kind of vibe where there’s this darkness lurking beneath the surface, it absolutely works. His portrayal of Bruce Wayne differs from other Bruce Waynes in the sense that he doesn’t fake being a rich playboy as much as the others. When outside of the Batman cowl, he’s just as insane as he is in the suit. Yes, I’m going to run at the Joker with a fire poker, no, I don’t have a plan, why would I?

1989’s Batman sold about $500,000,000 when making $50,000,000 was a huge feat and so Warner Brothers allowed Tim Burton complete free reign over its sequel, 1992’s Batman Returns. This was a big mistake as Tim Burton clearly didn’t want to make a Batman movie to begin with and decided to make the worst one he possibly could.

I’m pretty confident that the Penguin didn’t look like fat Darth Vader without his helmet.

Lets see what Tim Burton did wrong with these characters! For starters, in the comics Penguin is basically the classiest of all the Batman villains. He comes from a rich wealthy family and went to fancy private schools, becoming very intelligent and in JOKER, Penguin works as an accountant for the Joker. Batman kind of allows Penguin to do his thing because a lot of the time he’s actually informing on others to Batman. Tim Burton changed him into a freak who was thrown into the sewers by his parents and was then raised by penguins. He’s a crass and abrasive person who doesn’t match his comic book counter part at all, aside from his beak like nose.

One more time for the kids at home: the Penguin in this movie was raised from infancy by penguins in a sewer.

Catwoman in the comics was Selena Kyle, a former prostitute who gets motivated by Batman to create her own alter ego. Bob Kane actually created Catwoman as a female counterpart to Batman, describing her as “friendly foe who committed crimes but was also a romantic interest in Batman’s rather sterile life.”. Tim Burton made her into a secretary who was killed off and then raised from the dead by cats giving her cat-like superpowers such as having nine lives.

Christopher Walken’s character was made up for the movie and was the best part of Batman Returns

And finally we get to Batman. He kills in this movie. He kills a lot in this movie. He clearly enjoys killing in this movie. I wrote out every single kill he has in this movie:

  • Two of the Penguin’s henchmen he throws into a burning building. They are never seen leaving the fire.
  • He intentionally lights another one of his henchmen on fire with the jet engine of the Batmobile, smiling while doing so
  • One henchmen shows up to a fight while swallowing a sword. Batman punches him in the stomach, bends him over, then violently pulls the sword out of his mouth. You don’t see this man dying, but that would clearly kill you.
  • He then throws another from a rooftop
  • He puts a comically stereotypical looking time bomb in someone’s pants and then throws him in the sewer, smiling as he explodes.
  • He throws Catwoman from the roof of what appears to be a ten story building, not knowing she would land on something soft to break her fall.
  • Batman never even pretends to not be trying to murder the shit out of the Penguin over and over again. Almost every other scene is Batman trying and failing to murder him in some awful and violent way before finally killing him by tricking his penguin army into attacking him with rocket launchers.

No, that really happened.

The irony of all this is that around this time, Sam Raimi (of Spider-Man and Evil Dead fame) was pushing to take the helm on a Batman movie, but studios shot him down for not being as experienced behind big budget movies. Rejected, Raimi decided to create his own completely new superhero and make that into a movie, resulting in 1990’s Darkman. Tim Burton was allowed to make a Batman movie and decided to create his own completely new characters, using just the Batman names. Batman Returns was so bad that Warner Brothers fired Tim Burton from directing the next Batman movie, Batman Forever, which he was originally signed on to direct. It was a good decision, because it’s not like these movies could get worse from here, right?

You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

Part 3!

What The Film will return next week with Batman (Part 3 of 3)! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-UTG! You can follow Dane on Tumblr and Twitter!

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