Last week I wrote about Batman’s potential for variety. Variety thrives best when anchored to a strong core, and Batman has a strong core. You have the suit, the logo, the batcave, the batmobile, Alfred, and the rogue’s gallery. Add to that the various ephemera: sometimes there’s Robin, sometimes not, sometimes the gadgetry is emphasized, sometimes not, sometimes Batman is more of a conventional superhero and sometimes it’s something more like a detective story.
That’s the practical core of Batman, but there’s also a moral core. And it’s not the no-killing rule, if that’s the thing you just thought of. In case you haven’t already read it, Shamus wrote some good stuff on that. To me the moral core of Batman is the acknowledgment that Batman is a vigilante. Many or even most superheroes are vigilantes in practice, but their narratives rarely acknowledge that. In Batman, or at least Batman at its best, it’s written into the story somehow, even if it’s only in the background.
Every American probably has their own thing about this country that especially bugs them. In fact, I have several. But our collective infatuation with vigilante fantasies is at or near the top of my list. I can personally tell you that my heart sank a bit when I learned they were rebooting the Death Wish franchise. And yet I’m a big Batman fan. So what gives? Part of it is that Death Wish protagonist Paul Kersey doesn’t have a grappling hook, or even a cape. But the bigger part is that Batman at its best handles the vigilante subject in the right way.
To cite an example, I’ll tell you about my personal favorite Batman work, out of all the comics and movies and shows and games. My personal favorite Batman work is the 2008 Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan/Heath Ledger one: The Dark Knight.
Are you disappointed to read that? I’m a bit disappointed to write it. When I want back through all my various Batman stuff, I was hoping that I could claim that some obscure comic or episode of the animated series or something was my favorite. Instead, I had to pick the Batman thing that’s probably attained more mainstream success and critical acclaim than any other.
But it has that success because it’s earned it, in my opinion. The Dark Knight hit all the right notes when it comes to the vigilante issue. I’m going to list three of these notes as the first of my personal “Batman rules.” Much like the pirate code, the Batman rules are more guidelines than rules. But they’re still useful.
Batman Rule #1: Generally, the more Commissioner Gordon, the better.
To me, Commissioner Gordon is the second-most important character in the Batman mythos (after The Zodiac Master Batman), because he’s the one that makes Batman ok. He’s the good cop, the honest civil servant who wants to help. So if he’s on Batman’s side, then the audience can more easily be on Batman’s side.
Generally, Gary Oldman makes his roles look so easy that you don’t always realize how good he is. That’s just right for Jim Gordon, who’s a crucial character but also not the protagonist. He was also given a major (though supporting) role in the story, and plenty of screen time. Jonathan and Christopher Nolan’s screenplay smartly made hay out of the legal-extralegal interactions between Gordon, Harvey Dent, Rachel Dawes, and Batman.
Like most things in the Batman universe, Commissioner Gordon has great potential for variety. He can be the everyman type, a comic figure, or, in the case of The Killing Joke for example, a tragic figure. But he should always be fundamentally good, and the Batman story that wouldn’t benefit from more Jim Gordon is rare.
Batman Rule #2: Gotham is fallen.
The best Batman works get Gotham right. Gotham can’t just be dingy and dark, it has to be broken. In a place with healthy institutions, that provide justice to those they serve, vigilantism is not justified. But a place with broken, corrupted institutions? A place where the apparatus of state is part of the problem? Then vigilantism, while still dangerous, can make a better argument for its own activity.
The Tim Burton movies were some of my favorites, because Gotham may be the city Tim Burton was born to put on screen. The narrow streets, the towering Art Deco statues – everything hit all right notes of grandeur and despair. Christopher Nolan’s Gotham was less visually memorable, but no less skillfully portrayed in its own way. You get a sense of futility from those who live there, like the frustration of Harvey Dent when Gordon was so quick to assume that the gangsters had “people in his office.”
This is trickier to pull off in a more lighthearted Batman, but it can be done. In the Adam West show, Batman was often pitted against an authority figure of some kind. I can tell you that I personally will never turn down a Batman story where The Penguin runs for mayor. That one scratches me right where I itch.
Batman Rule #3: Batman is a reluctant hero.
Batman doesn’t want to be Batman. He does it because he feels he has to. In The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne’s goal was to stop. He wanted Harvey Dent to put the gangsters in jail and fix Gotham, so he could hang up his cape and cowl and go back to toiling in the fields like a broody Cincinnatus.
He doesn’t always have to be explicitly trying to quit, but it helps to hit the occasional note of reluctance. This is an area where his parents are useful aspirational figures. Thomas and Martha Wayne helped Gotham within the bounds of the law, and the night they died is an object of nostalgia – it’s the night that Gotham broke, and Batman became necessary.
That’s why, even in the more lighthearted adaptations, Batman’s fundamental grumpiness is rarely absent. Every time he buckles up the utility belt, he’s doing something that he wishes he didn’t have to do.
I’m gonna have more Batman rules in the coming weeks, but for me, the above three are the most important. They should be the core Batman ruleset. Unfortunately, Batman has somehow developed an alternate ruleset, one I don’t much care for, and I’ll get into the what and why of that next week.
Stop Asking Me to Play Dark Souls!
An unhinged rant where I maybe slightly over-reacted to the water torture of Souls evangelism.
The story of me. If you're looking for a picture of what it was like growing up in the seventies, then this is for you.
The Death of Half-Life
Valve still hasn't admitted it, but the Half-Life franchise is dead. So what made these games so popular anyway?
Best. Plot Twist. Ever.
Few people remember BioWare's Jade Empire, but it had a unique setting and a really well-executed plot twist.
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What is a skinner box, how does it interact with neurotransmitters, and what does it have to do with shooting people in the face for rare loot?
146 thoughts on “Doing Batman Right 2: The Core”
I’m glad you like The Dark Knight. I was sure your case was going to be insightful and thorough and I thought you were going to be opposed to it.
The Dark Knight kicked off a lot of bad trends, but like with many things, the imitators didn’t understand what they were imitating. Like how the citizens in The Dark Knight are generally good people and a surprising amount of it takes place during the bright of day.
And of course just because TDK is great, doesn’t mean everything should be TDK. The opposite even, TDK already nailed this take on Batman, we need other takes.
Well a superhero’s a superhero’s a superhero, right?
The tone and style that fits a specific story about the Batman will be just as suitable for every other character, right?
A dark, gritty Aquaman or Flash is just what the world’s waiting for.
I was re-watching the redlettermedia reviews of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman last night, and the reminded me that:
a) In Man of Steel there’s a scene where Zod destroys Clark Kent’s house – so Superman dives on top of him and repeatedly punches him in the face while calling him a motherfucker.
b) In BvS Batman tears a toilet sink off a wall and breaks it over Superman’s head.
Yep, that’s exactly what people want to see in a Superman movie. Just keep making it grim and dark, DC, that’s all the Dark Knight was.
Wow that’s truly awful.
The man of steel scene is bad enough it’d feel out of place in a Batman film, especially TDK. Nevermind Superman
I agree with something I’ve seen before. The Dark Knight is probably the best film with Batman in it, but not the best *Batman* film.
It also really helps that the director has always been *really* fascinated with identity, and Batman is a really good place to explore that theme.
Also, Heath Ledger and Gary Oldman are really good, though I personally prefer Mark Hamil. That’s just a personal preference thing however.
I’m right on with this since TDK is easily in my top 5 favourite films. I think one of the reasons Heath Ledger’s take on The Joker worked so well was that he was so different from the previous versions (e.g. Romero/Nicholson/Hamill) while also – at least in my opinion – feeling recognisably like the Joker. That’s a very difficult thing to manage and I think this film and actor did it marvellously well.
Oddly enough The Dark Knight is also a film where a lot of what’s great about it *doesn’t* come from Batman. There’s an awful lot of great stuff in the movie that comes from Gordon, Dent and the Joker.
That actually isn’t that odd. Although Batman does chart a character arc over the course of the Nolan trilogy, in the middle chapter he’s largely unchanged from start to finish – which is on purpose. He’s meant to be Batman at apotheosis.
The corollary of that is that all the interesting narrative work is going to get done by the other characters, orbiting around the central, immovable rock that is Batman.
Yeah, good movie, but only Batman Begins seemed to actually revolve around Batman. Batman seemed more of a secondary character in the second and third movies. Still the protagonist, but barely.
Agreed. This is why I prefer Batman Begins to The Dark Knight.
Me too! And I thought I was the only one in the universe who preferred Batman Begins
Also, for all its alleged “darkness” and “realism”, it’s not completely dour. It has quite a bit of levity.
“Sonar. Just like a–”
“Like a submarine, Mr. Wayne. Like a submarine.”
I never got that one until now! Thanks, Joe!
“Today you get to say, ‘I told you so.'”
“Today, I…I don’t want to. (beat) But I did bloody tell you. I suppose they’re going to lock me up as well, as your accomplice.”
“Accomplice? I’m going to tell them the whole thing was your idea.”
It really was a pretty funny movie at times. It was good at wringing very natural comedy from its scenes that just work.
In comparison, the “Vanishing while his back is turned” gag from the Justice League trailer falls incredibly flat for me, even though I should be a super easy lay for it.
Well that joke’s just badly done.
Here’s a better take on that reference because it actually works the disappearing into something else and makes it absurd, rather than just doing the thing and then pointing out that they did the thing.
“Hey, remember Batman doing this in the Nolan films?”
Um, yeah, it fit those movies pretty well and wasn’t played as a joke.
Probably because it’s not actually that funny…
I agree completely on the ‘atmosphere’ point, and in particular felt that, though the Gotham TV show has a lot of problems, it gets that exactly right. That it feels in the show as though Gotham itself is insane, is crooked to the extent that it feels almost supernatural, so that a man putting on a bat costume and punching people would be a move towards sanity rather than towards insanity.
I thought that the failure to have Gotham itself, in some sense, be the main villain was the biggest problem with Batman Begins, and I thought that the Dark Knight was a really major positive step in that direction.
Yeah, BB had a serious failure on the “Show Don’t Tell” front.
We’re supposed to see Ras and even Scarecrow as other opinions on how to face the Greater Evil that is Gotham (destroy it, or make it cower in fear), but without fleshing out that threat they just come off as pointlessly sadistic monsters, rather than anything Batman might be tempted to emulate.
What’s with all the worry about being flamed? Did you mistake Twenty Sided for a Youtube comments section?
Also, how can you possibly say The Dark Knight was your favorite when you haven’t seen This masterpiece*?
*Disclaimer: Indicated Batman story may or may not in fact be a masterpiece. It may or may not instead be an awful turd.
I thought he was being sarcastic by the 3rd time because he was choosing opinions most people would agree with.
And he’ll still get flamed for it.
Half by the people who hold opposing opinions and half by the people upset that his opinions are too mainstream.
Never underestimate the internet’s ability for pointless arguments. Some people will argue with anything, just for the hell of it/to get attention.
Or to prove that they’re hipsters who are just too cool for the mainstream, man.
Or complain about how The Dark Knight is clearly a subliminal justification for the Military-Industrial Complex and US intevention abroad. Wake up, sheeple!
I figured it was a joke since the first time, but I have to admit, it got a bit old since he just wouldn’t stop repeating it.
It was a joke. All the things he was worried about being flamed for were mainstream, uncontroversial opinions.
Taking primarily “mainstream” opinions when being critical of a subject often causes people to flame them. Even more so when the audience considers themselves “intellectual” because so-called intellectuals often consider themselves “above” the mainstream.
(I didn't want you to feel disappointed.)
Hmm, I wonder if we can have a guess at the alternate ruleset. ðŸ¤”
#1 Parents, alley. (Inevitability & inspiration rather than reluctance. Alfred there ready with a double helping of reluctance in partial compensation.)
#2 Some absolute monstrosity of a Batmobile preferably decked out with armament sufficient to exhaust the entire defense budget of a small yet extremely belligerent country.
#3 Flashbacks to #1.
#4 Bigger beefier Batmen and ever more militarised Iron-Mannish batsuits.
#5 A dark world which may be fallen or may be not but which in any event exists entirely without throat lozenges.
I'm quite prepared to see none of these on the list, though! Anyone else for a go?
The primary one I thought of was “Batman can beat anyone because Batman is prepared for anything.
This. 100% this. If a villain gets similar levels of “all part of my plan” prescience the audience can find themselves rolling their eyes or sighing. It’s no more endearing to me when it’s a Batman plan.
Some of my favourite Batman tales show us that he is not infallible, that he makes genuine mistakes, and that he can’t do it all alone.
And this was (one of the reasons) why both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight worked so well. Because Batman was definitely NOT infallible. Both Ra’s al Ghul’s and the Joker’s shennanigans took him by surprise. The bit where Bruce Wayne is learning to be Batman in BB (hurting himself jumping off a roof, getting set on fire by Scarecrow and needing to be rescued by Alfred etc) is really splendid.
Some combination of “Know your limits, Master Wayne” and “Tonight you’re gonna break your one rule”, I’d say.
You forgot something about the Joker, in your ruleset, in my opinion. Or maybe a few things.
You can have a good Batman story without the Joker.
Hell, I once read a decent Batman versus Superman comic where the villain was freaking Magpie. –Margret “Magpie” Pie, the kleptomaniac museum worker, in a carnival, bird mask. Bats has a rogue for every occasion.
Well, she was the villain to the extent that Superman wasn’t the villain, but still in character. It was good.
If I had to use a comic book to introduce someone to either character, I would probably pick that one, as it involves a Mexican standoff, where Bats and Supes debate the validity of their motives and tactics.
I’m expecting something about how some movies/games are making it all about how Bruce WANTS to be batman, not Bruce wayne. I didn’t see any reluctance to don the cowl in BvS, nor in some of the other DC animation movies, and especially not in the recent games. The games were great, but focused too much on his psychosis over being for Bat than Man.
Its even a theme of the game that Batman wants to be Batman. That’s why he loves the Joker so much that he will cradle the Joker’s corpse whilst ignoring his dead girlfriend next to him.
“Batman is crazy.”
Rules 2 and 3 are essential to making Batman a terrifyingly sane answer to a world gone utterly mad.
No, no, no – its, like, *impossible* to have a reboot without rehashing the origin again and again. Ideally with references to it scattered throughout the first movie.
I mean, what would a Spiderman reboot be like if we didn’t see Uncle Ben die *again*? Oh wait, actually that one was pretty decent.
Glad I’m not the only one who finds it aggravating how we have to waste half an hour on repeating the origin story that I have seen a dozen times at least.
Are there no interesting stories to tell except for the origin?!
But how will we know if he’s Spider-Man if we don’t see him get bitten by a radioactive/genetically modified/magic spider in a science/genetics/magic laboratory every time they reboot the films?!
Its not like there’s flexibility in the basic ‘bitten by spider, gain superpowers’ core of the Spider-Man story. Nope. Not only do we need to se it every time, we also need to retread the exact same arc with Uncle Ben and Great Responsibility, every time.
One of these days he’ll bite the spider.
Luckily,homecoming killed that joke.
The fear that people might show up for a Spiderman movie without knowing who Spiderman is just keeps studio execs up at night.
We can’t just have a Spiderman story, where somebody asks him, “Wait, how did you spider powers anyway?”
“Bitten by an escaped lab specimen a couple years ago.”
On with the show!
It was a decent film, but it practically inverted Spider-Man’s moral focus. Traditionally Spider-Man is wracked with guilt over his father-figure’s death, takes Uncle Ben’s words as a mission statement, and feels obligated to help the less-capable. Homecoming Spider-Man doesn’t seem to have the same drive. He’s more concerned with trying to get a full-time job from the tech billionaire he’s interning for, so he devotes himself to protecting the property of the billionaire from a thief whose livelihood was ruined by the billionaire (i.e., the guy who could easily be the hero in another movie, like say Ant-Man), with most of the danger and chaos being caused by Spider-Man’s interventions. The “Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man” continually puts the neighbourhood at risk to protect the assets of billion-dollar corporations.
The bank-robbers in Avengers masks is the one major scene where Peter tries to stop a crime that’s not directly a Vulture scheme, and even then–they’re not threatening innocent bystanders with a daylight heist. They’re cracking open ATMs at night with no one around. They would have taken the money and left without incident, and the bank’s insurance would have covered the losses. Spidey’s intervention leads to the destruction of the bodega and the near-death of the owner.
Goddamn Millenials, even their Spider-Man is ruining everything.ðŸ˜‚ðŸ˜†
Blu-Colla 4 Eva!
I don’t see it the same way. Homecoming Spiderman seems to want to be a hero. Stark found him because he was already trying to be a hero. He keeps badgering Stark and Happy for more avengers missions. He ignores Stark’s rules and restrictions because he thinks he can be a better hero than what others see him as capable of.
He stopped a bike theft. Tried to stop a car theft. Helped an old lady find her way. He tried to stop an arms deal before he knew Stark tech was involved. And he never did learn he was protecting Stark industries until the very end (and he was told not to). So I don’t see where you are getting “Spiderman protects corporations” comes from. He is concerned about the people that those weapons would hurt, and quite clearly ignores Stark’s instructions. Not the best way to get/keep an internship.
He is an inept hero, yes. But he is a genuinely heroic hero.
Yes he does.He caused property damage when he was trying to save the people,not someones assets.Heck,even in the very end he deliberately tries to save the villains life from his own greed.And that poor villain whose life was ruined by stark?He was selling tech capable of leveling down buildings to various criminals.Not to mention that he was also a cold hearted killer.
But if you dont get that from the movie,he literally spells it out in civil war:
“When you can do the things I can do,and you dont,and then the bad things happen,they happen because of you”
“Bigger beefier Batmen and ever more militarised Iron-Mannish batsuits.”
Batman becomes SWATman.
*Batman must grapple with his ideals: Is the no killing rule always right. Is Gotham Worth saving.
*Batman is a lone wolf: He must accept that he needs help/ Accepting help puts others in harms way.
The Batman, the cartoon, hit a lot of these notes for me in the first season or two. Really liked it.
Then season three came, and with it, Batgirl. She was a terrible addition to the show, but the change in tone that accompanied her arrival was the real problem.
Complete agreement. Batgirl was… just bad on a fundamental, bedrock deep level.
Could you elaborate that? I didn’t really think Batgirl was a problem at all.
She was more like Spiderman, in that she wanted to be a hero and help out of idealism (which means the Reluctance rule did not apply to her), but I don’t actually mind characters like that. I liked Batgirl, Supergirl, Spiderman, Avatar Korra and even Kickass for having that optimism and sense of obligation (even when their stories didn’t really come down on their sides).
Is that mismatch in their call to action the issue?
Look, Batgirl is partly a symptom of a change to the series when season 3 hit. The show almost instantly transforms from The Dark Knight to The Caped Crusader. The music, once suitably moody and mysterious, is now this bizarre 60s rockabilly surf music. Batgirl is even dressed in the exact same costume as Yvonne Craig. Whereas the art and music had previously hit this chord of mask vigilante detective Batman, everything seems to shift right into “lol superheroes” territory.
And I get it, it’s a cartoon, and they were pushing for a young audience. I understand how this goes.
It’s just . . . really weird. Batgirl is most certainly the primary symptom of this. The contrast of serious Batman with spunky sidekick grrrl-power Batgirl is just really, really offputting. (To be fair, this mellows out in season 4, and Robin’s arrival dilutes her presence suitably.)
She seems like she was written to be a “yeah girl power!” character. At the very least, Batgirl was too competent. For example, all she had to do was see Bruce Wayne from across a crowded room before she figures out that he’s Batman.
When she’s allowed to “fail,” she still stumbles blindly into succeeding. (Ex. Batman builds power armor to take on Bane. At one point, she jumps into the suit while Batman is distracted. Despite being unable to figure out how to work the thing, she still ends up holding her own with the villain; once she figures it out, she handily saves the day.)
But worse than that is that she completely devours the spotlight. Batman is, well, Batman; highly skilled, super-competent. Not unbeatable, but a definite force to be reckoned with. Until Batgirl shows up, at which point Batman suddenly becomes incompetent, weak, practically helpless. This gives the impression the writer does this solely so Batgirl can look awesome and save the day. And again, kid’s show, trying to appeal to multiple audiences, giving the character a spotlight . . . I get it. But the chnage in tone that happened made her a very annoying character.
Also, and this is kind of a minor point: She’s shown to only come up to about chest high to Batman, which makes her seem far younger than she actually is (roughly 16, and eventually is a college student.) Unless Batman is supposed to be 8 feet tall in this version, this comes off as really weird.
I’m with you on the height/age thing. It shocked the hell out of me when you see her for the first time in quite a few episodes and she’s in college.
Oh wow, I’m not the only one that didn’t completely hate The Batman?
Also, the thing about Batgirl that pissed me off was that they basically removed Detective Yin from the story at the same time, and I thought you could have interesting things to do with her.
…”micro-processor power source”…? Like, is that the Bat-USB-charger? 0.o
The real question is, are the plastic explosive grenades tiny grenades made with plastic or are they tiny grenades filled with plastic explosives?
WHY DOES BATMAN NEED GRENADES!???
A grenade that small is basically going to be one of those Bang Snaps that kids throw during the summer.
For when old Godzilla comes hopping around.
Because batman doesnt use guns.Grenades are not guns.Ergo batman uses grenades.
I was more weirded out by the fact that it appears to be worn with the lids facing up. How is he going to pull all those tiny things out of those tiny tubes from that angle?
Well, you wear ’em upside-down and the lids’ll just pop open eventually and everything fall out. Lesser of two evils, really.
Two of these rules/guidelines make me suspect a couple of the things you’re not enthused with would be:
#1. The kids. If he’s a reluctant hero and his goal is to stop (and even The Dark Knight doesn’t entirely believe that, after all they do include, “I’m not sure the day will ever come where YOU no longer need Batman”), why is he even able to entertain crap like that?
#2. Villains unambiguously existing beyond the human scale. If the justification for Batman being around is just supposed to be corruption, villains like the more lavishly powered takes on Poison Ivy, the silver age and onward Clayfaces, Man-Bat and Mr. Freeze would, you’d feel, have no reason to be Batman villains and should probably migrate to another, more appropriate, hero.
For both you can find some justifications that work well. Non exhaustive list:
Batman trains kids because they’re broken too and Batman is so broken he can’t recognize a better way to heal than how he tried to heal himself. Or thinks that he absolutely needs the help, and their innocence needs to be sacrificed for the greater good.
Villains could work because they’re too much for broken Gotham to handle. Or they represent some aspect of Batman that he needs to fight against. Insanity, self-destructive behavior, and lack of hope. Mostly I don’t think that the important bit on Gotham is that its corrupt, but that it’s broken. If the villain is strong then show a police effort that is also supposed to be strong, but fails in some way that leaves an opening for Batman.
For the first rule, I actually like the line that Batman gives to Wonder Woman in Young Justice when she calls him out on inducting Robin into crime fighting at his age:
WW:”I shouldn’t be surprised, given you indoctrinated Robin into crime fighting at the ripe old age of 9.”
BM:”Robin *needed* to help bring the men who murdered his family to justice.”
WW:”So that he could turn out like you?”
BM:”…so that he wouldn’t.”
The line is rich coming from Wonder Woman, considering the Amazons are similar to the Spartans with their “lifetime of training to become warriors” thing. If anything, she should understand very well and it’s Superman who would be troubled by it.
This would require DC to be consistent about WW’s origin and character. She didn’t feature prominently in Young Justice, either, so she was generally just there to play off of the other characters (for better or worse.)
In that situation, I think there actually *is* a difference between Robin and Amazons. There is a bit of a difference between ‘training from a young age’ vs ‘actual combat’. Yes, you’re training to fight in both cases, but in one the risk of dying is *significantly* lower.
Batman makes every Robin do very extensive basic training before ever letting them into the field. So in that respect too, the Amazons and sidekicks would be similar.
I’d like to note here that the Spartan training program did actually kill many of its initiates. So I’m not sure if the risk of death is *dramatically* lower, especially considering the fact that Batman isn’t one to throw untrained children at supervillains.
Edit: Although I’m not familiar enough with Wonder Woman to know if the Amazons are equally severe to the Spartans. Regardless, training kids for combat isn’t the safest activity.
Pretty sure you won’t see this, but there is actually a good chance a lot of the Spartan training and stuff along with their reputation as warriors was actually just *really* good PR.
There’s a nice youtube vid that looks at the history of the Spartan’s (they were actually known more for politics rather than combat) floating around somewhere.
I also was not happy when I heard that Death Wish was being rebooted. The only Death Wish movie I can actually watch is Death Wish 3, where things got so incredibly silly I could no longer take the movie seriously. Death Sentence was apparently based on the same book series as Death Wish but doesn’t really glorify the action that much. If you didn’t like Death Wish I do actually recommend Death Sentence.
And The Dark Knight was a good movie. It may have started the bad trend that I call Nolanifying a franchise, but the movie was still really good.
Death Wish 1 is quite interesting film. Very dissimillar to DW3. It’s a drama, that treated everything seriously. I recommend to watch it
Yeah, I was surprised at that. Slow paced, thoughtful, not over-the-top violence, a kind of realistic ending…
While it’s not necessarily a good film, compared to the other Death Wish movies it’s surprisingly good.
My hope is that this reboot will go the way of so many others: a toothless rehash of a film from a different time, relying too much on nostalgia to matter and saying nothing new. Flop and disappear, just like Robocop & Carrie & Total Recall.
There’s two specific to me:
*Batman has to actually care about Gotham, or more specifically, the people who live there (sometimes despite himself). This is kind of important because while you can take Batman out of Gotham, you absolutely can’t take Gotham out of Batman.
*If you’ve got the The Joker, then he must be the absolute embodiment of whatever vision the writer/filmmaker/artist. That’s basically his role. He can funny, chaotic, cunning, twisted, or even have a warped philosophical point to his actions, but he needs to *be* Gotham city.
I just want to say that I hate this new trend where nerd = hipster.And if anyone else hates it too,let me just say I HATED IT BEFORE IT WAS COOL TO HATE IT.
What are these? Plastic-explosive grenades for ants?!
Nah, its in case Batman ever needs to provide supplies for these guys.
Wow Bob, you’re really drilling down on the innuendo in that title aren’t you?
That ain’t all he’s been drilling down on.
Guy is so afraid of flaming,and you just had to do it.
I absolutely agree with rule 1 here. Batman has to be on the side of the police, trying to help them (by and large at least). Without that, he’s just another Punisher or Big Daddy, not a hero.
But I’m less sure about the other two rules. Spiderman works fine without New York being excessively broken or him being reluctant to put on the mask. Peter Parker enjoys being spiderman, and he wants to do good. It’s not always easy, but at his core, I don’t think he wants to stop being the hero ever.
Batman and Spiderman are of course very different, and having rules 2 and 3 works for Batman, where I think they might not for Spiderman. I just don’t think they are as necessary.
But then again, I’m a big fan of the eager, or even overeager, hero.
Of course, those rules are only meant to apply to Batman in particular, not any (super-)hero story.
I prefer the idea that Batman fights with not wanting to be either side of himself at times. Him having moments as Bruce Wayne that he wishes he could give up being Batman against moments of him as Batman wishing he could give up Bruce Wayne. I always felt that conflict gave Batman alot of depth as a character since he is one of the few superheroes whose secret identity actively conflicts with his super hero life. That and him being not the hero that Gotham deserves but the one it needs, one that understands Gotham on a deeper level (which is why he doesn’t really leave that much and gets alot done with just the idea that Batman could show up at any moment of crime even if he doesn’t and can’t.)
To be fair, Gotham is kind of ****ed up in the comics, given that at any time it has like 6-8 superhero crime fighters and they are *still* nowhere near enough to curb the rampant crime in the city.
I like the idea of that. Most superhero secret identities are ‘not’ versions of themselves. Superman puts on glasses and does some slightly superman-y thing whilst waiting to put on the cape. Peter Parker has a proper identity outside of being spiderman but even then he doesn’t behave that differently and the conflict is, sometimes he wants to do normal life things instead of superhero things.
Bruce and Batman represent radically different ways to achieve the same goals and they have to behave completely differently to survive. Neither could do what they do if the other half was discovered.
Bruce isn’t Batman putting on a tie.
While it changed a while ago, classically (from 1938 to 1986) Clark Kent was the anti-Superman: weak, bumbling, cowardly, all to distract people from seeing past the glasses to his secret.
Before the mid-80s, Superman was the real identity and Clark the mask, while Bruce Wayne (not the lazy playboy, but the responsible philanthropist) was the real person and Batman the mask.
Since then, both have flipped the other way. One result is that the line between Clark and Superman has blurred quite a lot.
(The Supergirl show seems to be recapitulating this development in fast forward. Season 1 Kara Danvers was pure classic Clark Kent. Season 3 Kara is barely maintaining a distinction anymore.)
A counter-point to the Gotham City representation is the whole ‘GOTHAM IS ALIVE’ cliché which starts off as a good premise, and, as much as I enjoyed Scott Snyder and the New 52, having read Batman – Black Mirror just beforehand, what started to grate on me was the over-use of ‘Gotham is …’ There was even a whole issue near the end of New 52 dedictated to ‘Gotham is’, and preceeding it there were countless character monologues about Gotham being unpredictable, secret, or secretly unpredictable, where it felt like a big old circle-jerk of “just as you understand Gotham… bad things happen!” then “Just as you understand bad things happen, it surprises you with GOOD things”… and so on … it became just a little formulaic (but did amount to more words in it than most comic books).
An Elder-Scrolls esque equivalent would be being killed by The Dark Brotherhood, not for disrespecting the Night Mother, but in some instances by worshopping her TOO much, and perhaps wanting to get fresh with her. Boundaries, people! Secrets upon Secrets.
Heaven help those in Gotham City who are late for work because they missed the free-way exit; they clearly hadn’t given Gotham City enough respect this morning.
“I SPILLED MY CEREAL THIS MORNING; GOTHAM CITY ALWAYS WAS A TREACHEROUS PLACE THAT CREEPS INSIDE IT’S OWN CORNERS AND KNOCKS AWAY PEOPLE’S CEREAL WHEN LEAST EXPECTED!”…
…”the cereal was MY PARENTS!!!”
How dare you assume what I’m going to flame you for, you LONG_LIST_OF_INSULTS_37!
But seriously, if you want to start a flame war, argue that Batman is the embodiment of Lawful Good.
Are you arguing for Batman being Lawful Good?
Isn’t this a paradigm of taxonomy wot those nerds use to categorise predictabilities in human behaviour, via the medium of role-playing games (and therefore different in nature)?
We all have our own personal Dungeons to Explore, and Dragons to Conquer.
What is a maaaaaan? Kicked in the nuts for asking.
Hello, Chef Brian. Haven’t seen you in a while!
Ah yes,batman the paladin of vengeance.
His version of Lay On Hands involves punching people. It’s why he never kills anyone in the Arkham games, y’see.
I have come to really dislike The Dark Knight over the years. I feel that it doesn’t work as a Batman movie and looks like a gangstar movie that’s undermined by the inclusion of a weird growly guy in a bat costume. The movie often seems at war with itself and a lot of things don’t really work. Just a few examples:
1) The procedural stuff doesn’t work. TDK often flirts with courtroom drama, placing a lot of emphasis on legal process, evidence, witnesses, probable cause, etc. Because the world is so darkly serious and realistic it’s really hard to suspense your disbelief in those moments. The idea that an american police department can hold, question and force to testify in court a foreign national kidnapped by a vigilante is completely ludicrous, yet it’s played completely straight and is a major plot point. Also. I generally dislike the idea of Batman performing mission impossible style extractions instead of, you know, Batmaning.
2) The emotional stuff doesn’t work. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a great actress, but making Rachel the emotional lynchpin of the movie strikes me as a very misguided choice. Due to either the direction she got or the script her Rachel just doesn’t work: she is mostly portrayed as a typical “bitchy killjoy” stereotype and has zero chemistry with either Bruce or Harvey. Because of that, we never become invested in the whole love triangle and her death as a major motivating factor for Harvey’s transformation into Two-Face just falls flat. And while I get the appeal of a reluctant Batman, Bruce Wayne being reluctant to be Batman because of a woman doen’t really do the character justice, I think. Nolan is notoriously bad at portraying relationships, which worked great in the Prestige, where the men were meant to care less about the women they loved and more about their feud. But in TDK we are supposed to believe in an actual great romantic love, which never rings true.
3) That’s a more personal preference thing, but I think the action doesn’t really work either, at least the fighting. The shaky-cam style of Batman Begins actually served a purpose – it illustrated that Batman uses his enemies’ fear and confusion and comes out on top because he is the only trained and calm fighter among a group of panicked mooks. In TDK you don’t get that sense – you just see Batman very stiffly and akwardly take on goons one at a time with boring moves. Also, the voice becomes really silly in TDK, while in Begins it was mostly fine.
Some of the things are great, sure. The Joker is great, although still overrated due to obvious emotional reasons. The idea of fighting for Gotham’s soul is great, but poorly implemented. Some of the character motivations are fine, but come off as forced in execution – like Lucius’ outrage at Batman’s spying network.
All in all, I firmly believe that Batman Begins is Nolan’s best Batman. And I have way more fun with The Dark Knight Rises, even though it’s not as well made as TDK. TDK just annoys the hell out of me in ways I just can’t ignore.
… For the Dark Knight Rises, I wanted a Batman that tried to patrol the streets saving people despite knowing that the police are out to get him, and to witness all the ensuing problems, such as seeing him get worn out, and the public consensus is to hate & fear him. Always on the run. Proper heroic grit.
I REALLY enjoyed Bane tearing down Harvey Dent’s reputation as a fraudulent idol, so perhaps THAT could have been the villain’s hubris/mistake that triggers Batman getting his groove back, due to police being discredited, (and public rallying to Batman’s side, instead of Bane). A bit like the bridge scene in Raimi Spider-Man 1… but less corny.
… And THEN have Bane say that the League of Shadows deems Gotham being beyond redemption for descending into mindless vigilantism & cult Batman worship (because the public support Batman) which PROVES Bane correct via henchman’s belief.
Instead, we got Jockstrap face Bane, A similar plot to Die Hard With a Vengeance, and very little Batman, who struggled TWICE to get his groove back.
1) A lot of Batman stories are gangster-related, and perhaps you didn’t like that type of story mixed with a war-on-terror sub-plot. Lots of people remember the Dark Knight as being more violent than it actually is.
2) I actually didn’t mind Katie Ho(l)mes??? as Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins, as she seemed capable where as Bruce was a moron, so Rachael seemex a strong female character, although people generally seem to prefer Maggie G, I tend to think of them as two different characters. In Dark Knight, Maggie G seems mostly damsel in distress material.
Nolan doesn’t do romance very well?
3) Batman Begins surpassed all expectations for me – I saw it on TV once on a whim, after thinking that Batman was a bit of a crappy superhero (thanks, Joel Schumacher), and I was then immediately hooked.
Batman Begins restored my faith in cinema at that time (around 2008). The Dark Knight is definitely a very special film, but I notice that younger audiences would be happy watching Batman Begins and be done; it is the most self-contained film, whereas the sequels feel a little bit superfluous – the third feeling somewhat irrelevant.
I think the ‘Dark Knight Trilogy’ shares the same basic ‘problem’ that stops the Original Star Wars Trilogy from being ‘perfect’ – in this case, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the Ewoks.
Ann Hathaway is the Green Lightsaber, Joker is the AT-ATs, Bane is Vader, and Marion Cotillard??? is the evil emperor. Morgan Freeman is definitely Yoda.
I have no problem with gangster-related. But most of Batman’s gangster-related stories are more noir and hard-boiled detective and not procedural. And you can do a great story abouth the clash between vigilantism and procedure, sure, but TDK screwed it up all the way. Nolan truly isn’t good at romance, so don’t make romance such an integral part of the story. It’s not like it’s a good fit for either Batman or Two-Face. Mr Freeze is all abou love, fine, but those two? When did Two-Face ever turn evil because of a dead lover? That’s just such a weird choice.
And when you admit that the gangster stuff failed and the romantic stuff failed and the Batman action scenes sucked, what’s left? The Joker stuff, obviously, but that’s just one part of a really bloated movie. The car chase sequences are pretty cool, which I’m sure is what we are all looking for in a Batman film. I can’t help but think that TDK’s greatness is a self-perpetuating myth that relies on everyone not looking too closely.
The ending of The Dark Knight was awesome, which pretty much sums up one aspect of the film’s legacy. Whereas Batman Begins was a (arguably the best) construction myth, Dark Knight deconstructs the ‘realistic superhero’, and is one of the most ‘realistic/verisimilitudinal/grounded’ of the superhero genre films on offer. Spider-Man 2 also did quite a good job at relatable ‘realism’; it even fixed the burning building scene from the first one lol.
Regarding Two-face: There were a few hints at ‘Big Bad Harv’ in the film, and it wasn’t exactly spelled out.
I think the motivation of Two face from TDK is that he couldn’t get his head around why Maggie G seemed to see him as a villain for his super-agressive policies towards crime, so having her die as a result of his failures is his legacy. It is what the death of the lover represents that causes the issues. Harvey would have preferred to be seen as a shining martyr, who protected the innocent, and not as a ugly/scarred man with surviver’s guilt. It’s just another means to turn Gotham’s DA into an anti-mobster/vigilante, and criminal.
It was the Joker messing with Batman that causes the triumvirate to break up – Harvey thinks that Batman let an innocent woman die, in order to save Harvey, because Batman is selfish and wanted to continue using Harvey for political support/legitimacy, at the expense of damsel. Harvey thought that the Joker was testing/punishing himself the most, and he folded under the pressure. To Harvey, batman failed to do his job, failed as a symbol, hence the iconoclasm.
“When did Two-Face ever turn evil because of a dead lover? That's just such a weird choice.”
That’s a very simplistic way to view things. The reason he turns “evil” is that he tried to play by the rules and he lost everything because of it. He figured that the law just wouldn’t cut it anymore in such a place and time. Rachel’s death was just a catalyst (and obviously not the only one, the loss of half his face and realizing the Joker had played him count as well).
“I can't help but think that TDK's greatness is a self-perpetuating myth that relies on everyone not looking too closely.”
I think the problem is the exact opposite. People who complain about the film aren’t really looking at it close enough. Again, you’re taking a simplistic view of things.
Dark Knight managed to top the expectations of Superhero sequels, even when the second installments of Superhero movies were already quite strong at the time (See Spider-Man 2, X-men 2, Blade 2 etc).
I can imagine that there were a lot of people, myself included, perhaps looking forward to a more ‘traditional’ type of Joker in the ‘Batman Begins’ style of Gotham (dark, derelict & rainy, drugs, fear gas, spooky, preternatural) and I will admit that:
A) I thought that Heath Ledger was an odd choice and he would not do very well.
B) That the praise was due to his passing, and not the performance.
But then I saw the film and can admit I was wrong on both counts.
Dark Knight puts the class in organised crime, after Batman has ‘cleaned the streets’ of the scum criminals from the first film, and the Joker delightfully tears it down in favour of incentivised terrorism, while Batman is stripped of mythic protector status.
Speaking about the The-Dark-Knight-Joker (TDK!Joker):
What is his whole deal throughout the film? He tells Dent in their hospital scene that he doesn’t look like he always has a plan, but obviously he does (I get that he flat-out lies there). He planned everything from the bank heist to the ferries with ridiculous amounts of prescience, and he always gets away with every single one of his plans. Joker to me seems like a villain thriving on chaos, but his plans and actions are just so obviously clashing with that part of his character. Sure, he causes chaos in Gotham, but only everyone else seems affected by it.
And I get that Joker is not perfect in the movie, he does miscalculate on things that we are told were kept secret from everyone, like Gordon’s death and such, but his plans occasionally hinge on things like him being able to smuggle a knife into an interrogation room when he was being searched, both a car bomb and an obviously poisoned bottle of scotch (the glass started smoking for crying out loud) both staying unnoticed or a whole unit of policemen being replaced by Arkham inhabitants (iirc) without the massive amounts of police force around them getting even a little bit suspicious about all those new faces.
DARK KNIGHT JOKER:
I think the Joker is like what would happen if Kurtz from Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now) or whoever his surrogate is in Spec-Ops the Line would potentially be like if he DID actually re-enter ‘Civilised society’.
… or as Big Boss from Metal Gear is seen as the main villain. EVERYTHING the player does in a Metal Gear game is framed as heroic or righteous, but is then brutally deconstructed. Same goes for Spec-Ops.
Perhaps the Joker enjoys the sh*t out of being the main character in his own RPG… whatever he does is his own heroic story .(and he clearly enjoys firing some RPGS ðŸ˜†).
Many of the theories involve Dark Knight Joker being ex-army, with severe PTSD, or like the Psychopath with Machete in the Hardare Store of the first Dead Rising game – a vet who constantly has flashbacks & thinks he is still in a war, against, crime, corruption, hypocrisy, vigilantism, or whatever is a construct of ‘THE MAN’.
My read on it wasn’t that the Joker was precient, or even that he was entirely lying when he said he doesn’t plan, but rather that he’s very good at improvising, so he only plans in a very loose way to suit that. He’s not a schemer so much as an opportunist who actively farms for opportunities rather than waiting for them.
For his misc bombing gags, I imagined him just having set up random caches of explosives stashed around the city, so when he gets an idea, he can just tell his goons to go pick up truck X and drive it onto the ferry, or go bring a chair and a phone to warehouse Y, or whatever. That way he doesn’t need to actually do much setup for each “plan”. The GCPG bomb squad probably spent the next decade dealing with random abandoned basements and trucks and stuff around the city being found full of explosives.
IIRC, in his jail escape, he used a piece of glass from the mirror/window Batman cracked, not a knife he managed to sneak in. His actual plan was simply to somehow get allowed to make a phone call after his interrogation, (which he might have half expected the cops to just give him, since being legally permitted a phone call is a trope, accurate or not) the rest was just him improvising his way to that.
Replacing the honor guard for the parade was the biggest ask IMO, and I’ll freely agree it was a really big one. The rest seems fine to me if one assumes the force is still as corrupt as Harvey (and the reluctant Gordon) imply in their conversations. The poisoned bottle is implied to have been put in the comissioner’s office by a compromised cop, and the car bomb could be as simple as a sidewalk “pedestrian” dropping something next to the car while walking, with another following one kicking it under. The bomb was clearly remote detonated, so it didn’t have to actually be in the car, and the cops were only watching from the far side of the street.
Interesting thought, there.
I never noticed that. Awesome!
Okay, I get that placing the stuff wouldn’t have been a big problem. And I guess the bomb could have been hidden well enough to not be noticed. My beef here is mostly with the bottle and people’s natural inclination to not drink beverages that start smoking excessively when they shouldn’t. I am able to just reason that away as spectacle for the audience (showing us that, yes, the bottle was poisoned, it wasn’t just a really convenient asphyxiation(??) because poison starts smoking when exposed to air(??)). But it’s just such a needless detail that makes the whole scene make less sense.
Yeah, I think the smoking glass was just unusually heavy-handed signposting. There’s no way to reconcile it realistically (at the very least, I’d think anything that’d smoke like that would give itself away with eyewatering fumes the moment the bottle was opened), so I just take it as pure movie symbolism for “ERMEGERD: POISON!!!1!1”, rather than an indication of the nature of the poison.
All that was really needed to communicate the concept was at most the insert shot of the glass at the right moment, so I have no idea why the smoke was deemed necessary, but I think that’s all it was. IMO a Nolan mistake rather than a Joker mistake.
I think you’re attributing complexity to where there is none. What is exactly that “everything” he’s lost? The girl and half of his face. That’s it. And don’t get me wrong, the death of a woman is reason enough for a villain transformation in a lot of stories, and I would have bought it if the romance had any chemistry, but it doesn’t. As for what was telegraphed in terms of playing by the rules and bending them, that’s anti-hero material, not a freaking child murderer he turns into. In the comics they do the whole silly split-personality thing, which works in the context of the genre. But in Nolan’s gritty reality with presumably real motivations – not so much. If Harvey had only murdered the cops that sold him and Rachel out, I would have bought it, that would have been in line with all the preceding build up. But the whole attempted child murder scenario just makes the character arc completely broken.
If you reread your posts, Redrock, please notice how every argument you brought up until now included, at some point, you and your preferences, (lack of) emotional responses or limits of your suspension of disbelief. It’s hard to argue against any of that. It also doesn’t make for a convincing criticism of any kind of objective worth of the movie, though.
So the conclusion you make from there, that most everyone else is capital-W Wrong about the merits of the movie, isn’t really supported by any of your points: they all show that the movie really didn’t work for you, and that’s totally fine. But importantly, your claims were:
These are claims that, implicitly, assume that there is some objective metric by which to measure a movie’s success and greatness by (If that weren’t so, then your last argument wouldn’t make sense, because it glosses over the possibility that the movie really did suck in your eyes, but was a legitimately great movie for the majority of its viewers). But if you’re trying to argue that way, your own preferences shouldn’t be part of your argument at all.
Lastly, let me make this clear: It’s not your opinion of the movie I’m arguing against, that’s valid (and I couldn’t really do it if I wanted to). It’s the part where you try to invalidate most everyone else’s opinion of the movie that struck me as illogical and worth arguing against.
Well, everything about opinions is subjective, sure, but I think I’ve provided a number of objective problems. Would you really argue that the relationship between Bruce, Harvey and Rachel is portrayed well enough to illicit an emotional response and to support the suggested motivation of the characters? Or would you argue that the laws regarding the Hong Kong guy make any sense? Or that the fighting sequences are actually great?
I’ve never heard anyone say that they were really invested in the romance between Rachel and the two guys. Yet that romance is actually one of the driving forces of the plot, once you look closely enough.
The relationship definitely had its good points. Its main point is the tension between all three characters trying to get in on the action and do something when they’re so close to a major victory over Gotham’s organized crime, and at the same time keeping the others (mainly Rachel, but also Harvey) from danger. Batman and Dent wouldn’t beat themselves up over Rachel’s death so much if they hadn’t previously tried to get her to a secure location, just to have that very plan then backfire and get her directly into the claws of the Joker.
Rachel’s letter, and Alfred deciding to destroy it, definitely had impact, for me.
I will admit that it wasn’t exactly full of emotion, though. Not every relationship, not even every love triangle, has to be, though. It’s clear, I think, that everyone involved would have acted very differently if the circumstances would have been less urgent, not consuming most (and by the end all) of their attention.
And finally, let me add that I found Bruce’s envy really well-written. The spoiled, eccentric Bruce lashes out against Harvey by first interrupting their romantic dinner, then ruining their long-planned evening of ballet by throwing his money around.
And iirc, they did bring up the issue of Chinese Guy being able to just walk out free if he wanted to, and it was, as I saw it, part of the deal they made with him. He would testify and not make a diplomatic incident out of the whole thing in exchange for not being sent to the county prison, where the mob would be eager to get him killed at the first opportunity. It’s dirty and illegal, sure, but it’s at least possible to get to that state through intimidation.
Also remember that this is a world in which criminals can repeatedly blow up bridges, hospitals, ferries and other such terroristic acts without bringing the attention and involvement of any federal institutions, be it the National Guard, Homeland Security, the FBI, the NSA or whatever else an American city getting blown to bits by criminals might realistically face. Foreign relations, at least for me, is already part of that package when it comes to suspension of disbelief.
And I don’t know what exactly you had against those fighting sequences. They weren’t flashy or anything, but they showed Batman actually having to put up a fight, getting injured, being forced into unfavourable situations by his opponents and allies alike, and still generally coming out on top. It was unusual, but not necessarily bad.
You know, I can actually agree with you about the letter. It’s pretty powerful, but, to me, mostly because of Michael Caine’s acting and the fact that from Alfred’s point of view he kinda betrays Bruce in that moment. Also, when it comes to the letter, I can actually imagine the Katie Holmes version of Rachel writing it, with whom Bruce had actual chemistry and tension.
I dunno, maybe the romance and, therefore, a big chunk of the emotional heart of the movie rings false to me because Maggie Gylenhaal’s version just feels hollow and false to me as a Batman Begins fan. I realize that a lot of people actually saw TDK first and maybe didn’t have the same problem. And I still think that the whole romantic plot isn’t a very good way to approach either Batman’s or Dent’s motivation.
For some reason, I find it easier to suspend my disbelief in the other two of Nolan’s Batman films, maybe because they seem to be bringing the procedural aspects more into focus in TDK. I concede that a lot of people aren’t bothered by the things I’ve listed, and that’s completely fine. If you genuinely enjoy TDK – that’s fine.
But I still dislike the fact that it’s put on this pedestal as one of the greatest superhero films of all time, etc, etc. I don’t think that reputation is entirely deserved. I think it’s the definition of overrated: not bad, very good actually, perhaps even great – just not as great as a lot of people say. I don’t mean to say that everyone who likes it is wrong, not at all. I just think that we may have to maybe take a different view at its place in the history the genre and cinema in general. In my opinion, Sam Raimi’s Spiderman films (the first two), Burton’s Batman films, Batman Begins and the Avengers are much more important. TDK is, perhaps, more recognized, but so is Return of the King, while not necessarily the best of the LotR trilogy.
To put it in context:
The Dark Knight is so important to Cinema that it is the reason that DC movies are even taken seriously, the reason that Warner Brothers thinks it can continue to make super-hero movies, and the reason that people even have any faith at all in future DC movies & flock to see them, even though the quality of the ‘DC-Universe’ movies is clearly lacking.
The Nolan Brothers’ influence on Man of Steel might even be the reason that it, at least conceptually, doesn’t seem like a terrible mess of a movie (whereas BVS does seem like a mess). A more ‘alien/sci-fi’ super-man being a one-off film seems fine, but Henry Cavil is a terrible long-term Super-man, mostly because the project behind him is waff.
Again, this when ‘Cinematic Universe’ was something only Marvel were willing to do.
Dark Knight is to cinema what the XCOM reboot is for games; a not perfect example of something that was surprising, very special at its time, and now widely emulated.
Even THE AVENGERS borrowed sub-plots (loki’s capture) from The Dark Knight. And James Bond Skyfall also did it. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the predecessors to those films copied Batman Begins (Casino Royale, Iron Man?).
Perhaps the fatigue is a bit like GHOST IN THE SHELL ANIME – a slightly derivative yet influential property that has been so highly copied since, that it’s existence now seems less novel, or generic, as a result. Still cool, though.
The malaise created by the ‘generic’ CoD model of FPS makes people forget just how AWESOME Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare was at the time, and how, despite my initial cynicism, MODERN WARFARE 2 was EVEN MORE AWESOME!
… and the ‘romance’ bit has been covered by the Roman History post.
Dark Knight is definitely better than Spider-Man 1 (because ‘the Green Goblin’ was a villainous Sentai Power-Ranger in design and delivery).
TDK perhaps beats Spider-Man 2 by a small margin as the more poignant (feelings of sadness & regret) film… although Spider Man 2 does make me feel a form of PERSONAL sadness and regret.
P.S I used to absolutely adore anything Spider-Man related, but there were times as a kid where the first Raimi film would really groan on me. James Franco does not help proceedings.
Many comic book properties tend to have wildly goofy or mutated end-zones, that feel out of place – even Batman Arkham Asylum did this (literally).
I’ve never had that problem with the first 2 Nolan Batman films.
ENDINGS ARE IMPORTANT.
… and I would definitely say Dark Knight is more interesting than The Avengers (Captain America looks like a dufus in costume, although definitely has some inspiring melodramatic moments – I WANT THE WINGS ON THE HEADGEAR! CAPTAIN AMERICA IS THE WRONG SHADE OF BLUE – HIS EXPLOITS ARE NOT INSPIRING ENOUGH – HE MUST BE OLD WAR BUDDIES WITH LOGAN AKA WOLVERINE AKA JAMES HOWLETT).
…And yes, Dark Knight does edge-out Begins, as I tend to find Batman Begins a bit stale upon repeated viewings. The Burton films are slightly too ‘Burton-esque’ to be considered accessible for everybody – you have to somewhat like that neo-gothic style to enjoy them, and even watching them as a kid I felt they were a bit dated… still very much appreciate them though; I even like Penguin from Returns.
Ironically, I think Batman Begins would have held up better if there were MORE Batman films in that same vein, with a decent team of (mostly new) villains per movie, and a more fulfilling trilogy. Instead, it has that hint of wasted potential. Dark Knight is Godfather 2; simple as.
Dark Knight gracefully deconstructed Batman, and so that’s it; Batman disappearing off the freeway IS the canonical ending for me. Dark Knight Rises was more like an odd fever-dream of things that I unfortunately guessed ahead of time.
I did the math: Bat-plane + final movie = life-threatening nuclear bomb and Batman taking the bomb out of range (in my head it was in the ‘up’ direction, or perhaps Super-man would have briefly appeared for a cheeky tie-in) and then presumably sacrificing himself. Exactly what happened…
The entire ‘Bat-Auto pilot’ not working but it was working was dumb, and reminds me of trying to create a ‘hopeful’ ending where such ‘glimmer-stinger’ was utterly redundant. Joel Shumacher’s Batman & Robin did it better with Mr Freeze’s wife being ‘hopefully ok’ while, most importantly, OFFSCREEN. Burton did that stuff better with Edward Scissorhands. Roland Emmerich did it better with the Godzilla ending.
It was Chekov’s Bat-Plane, and, unfortunately, that ending had literally nothing to surprise me with, and neither did much of the film – Dark Knight Rises is the most ‘Call of Duty’ or Tom Clancy of the Batmans.
It often seems that the third film in the roster is the more ‘marmite’ of a series, since the lovers and haters are far more spread even. Dark Knight Rises is like if Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell tried too hard to be epic, and Sam Fisher was on the cusp of joining the Mission Impossible franchise.
Tom Cruise as Batman?ðŸ˜‚
Well, if TDK is the reason for the DC cinematic universe, that’s not much if an endorsement, now is it? Look, I love the Nolans and consider them hugely influential. I understand and accept the effect TDK had on the industry. None of that really contradicts the idea that it may be just a tad overrated.
You not liking the romance doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. Take the character’s statements at face value. Harvey loves Rachel and wants to marry her. Batman has decided in between Begins and TDK that he would willingly quit being Batman and marry Rachel himself if he could accomplish his primary goals/reasons for becoming Batman in the first place. You saying “I don’t think the romance plays very well on screen” is irrelevant.
I wasn’t so much invested in who got to be with Rachel, I just didn’t want her to burn to death and/or explode. So I was very much on the same page with Harvey and Batman on that one.
No, sorry. It’s not enough for the characters to say they are in love. It’s a movie, stuff has to be shown. Otherwise they might just sit in a circle and read from the script.
My point had ZERO to do with Dark Knight Trilogy being any basis for the current DC Cinematic universe. Totally different things.
The point was about how people only put their bums on seats for the DC movies as a result of FAITH, because the previous sluggers hit a home run out of the park, with their previous movies.
Its a bit like how people buy something new, because it is the latest version of the thing that they bought was good, and so think that the next one might be good, even if this is a logical fallacy to believe in, but droves pre-order culture and excitement in the next big thing.
It is understood that you don’t want to heap much praise on the film, but it isn’t constructive to consistently dismiss, twist, or outright deny the arguments of others that perhaps do, or perhaps those that at least try to explain the rationale behind or who understand that a thing that many people found very important at the time, was a thing that many people found very important at the time, and there is evidence to suggest it being the case.
I mean, Third-Reich Germany was really crappy, disturbing, yet overly-hyped (to the extent that the former KING of my county seemed to admire it, as did his children, one of which is the current QUEEN of the country, mind you, she was just a naive child around 70 years ago, and the KING then had a disagreement with the more famous Prime Minister, that chubby guy, who spent a long time positioning himself and a commonwealth of nations against, because he guessed it was grossly over-hyped, and that chubby PM now has a car insurance selling dog namer after him) and apparently had no apparent logical basis for existing, but kids still learn about it in school, which is odd if you think about it for too long…
Guess where I come from pip pip tally ho cuppa tea.
I never said that TDK wasn’t important or influential or otherwise tried to belittle or dismiss anyone who likes the film. I merely stated that it is, in my belief, way more flawed than most people acknowledge. And discussing the flaws of universally beloved things is, in most cases, a pretty healthy exercise all-around. Teaches critical thinking and all that.
The Third Reich analogy I honestly didn’t get. It’s not like anyone ever said that anything should be scrubbed from history, be it TDK or the Third Reich. Well, no, I’am sure someone probably said that somewhere, but it sure as hell wasn’t me :)
If I were to name all the movies I’ve seen where some actor didn’t give a good performance, or where some special effect failed to look like something other than painted rubber or polygons, I’d be typing for a month. Doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge what those things were intended to be.
The Bruce/Rachel/Harvey triangle is textually explicit, so the fact that the actors don’t have chemistry is just a technical flaw in the execution, not something that actually contradicts or erases that part of the story.
It’d be like me saying I don’t think the starship Enterprise actually exists within the fictional universe of Star Trek, because I can see it’s made of fiberglass and spray paint in some shots. I can say seeing that is immersion breaking, but I can’t say it must mean the characters are in-story just experiencing some kind of shared delusion of being on a ship, and that anyone who says otherwise is “seeing depth that isn’t there”.
“No, sorry. It's not enough for the characters to say they are in love. It's a movie, stuff has to be shown. Otherwise they might just sit in a circle and read from the script.”
This is foolishness. How should they show it? Should they… I dunno kiss and make romantic plans? They do that. Should they show overt concern for each other’s physical safety? They do that. Should they place importance on the emotional responses of the other person? They do that.
You NOT LIKING the romance doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. This is some really hard headed bullshit my man.
The driving force behind the plot was the Triumvirate between Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Batman.
It is a cursory reference, but Maggie G does mention ‘The last guy to not give up power being (Gaius Julius) Caesar’, when Dent was talking about Roman dictatorship.
I’m certainly not any expert on the Roman Republic, but one of the driving forces behind the alliance between Caesar, Crassus and Pompey was that they became related by the women of each patrician family marrying the men to cement friendship/alliance. However, this alliance was, for each involved, based on gaining personal prestige, so it fell apart. Crassus died fighting the Parthians, and, with no alliance left, eventually, Pompey was tasked with defeating Caesar, after legal insubordination (Caesar having refused to return to Rome from Gaul, and having an army to back him up).
The ‘Romance’ & politics bit:
“In September 54 BC, Julia, the daughter of Caesar and wife of Pompey, died while giving birth to a girl, who also died a few days later.Â Plutarch wrote that Caesar felt that this was the end of his good relationship with Pompey. The news created factional discord and unrest in Rome as it was thought that the death brought the end of the ties between Caesar and Pompey. The campaign of Crassus against Parthia was disastrous. Shortly after the death of Julia, Crassus died at theÂ Battle of CarrhaeÂ (May 53 BC). This brought the first triumvirate to an end.”
Perhaps Julius Caesar’s life & motivations had some plot holes.
It is worth mentioning that Crassus was not only killed, but, according to stories at least, utterly HUMILIATED as it was claimed his body had molten gold poured into it via the throat, by the Parthian enemy; It is probably the origin of the word ‘Crass’, as people in Rome were also said to have mocked Crassus.
In the case of the film, Dent & Bruce are ‘related’ a bit by their affections for Maggie G, and each member of the alliance has their own reasons for distrusting and disliking one-another. The falling apart is mirrored when, with no Dent left to rely on for political support, Gordon is forced to do his policing job, therefore betraying Batman, and bring him in to face justice, even if he is perhaps reluctant. Both Gordon and Batman are reluctant to make Dent a criminal, because it looks SUPREMELY bad on each of them, the city etc etc…
… so it’s a ‘soft’ break up of the alliance.
That’s actually pretty interesting, although doesn’t necessarily speak to the quality of the film’s execution of the story. Intent doesn’t really matter all that much, I think.
… but TDK was well executed… there were the three of them, on the rooftop, making plans and then bad things happen, then they meet again on rooftops, one of them dies, after trying so hard to be good, despite having a shady past, and the others have to pick up the pieces, everybody feels bad, and the main hero of the story becomes the main villain of the story, but we still see him as the hero, for sacrificing himself and not many people expected this to happen… it was done quickly, dramatically, and did not overstay its welcome.
We ask ourself if falsities are worth preserving if they become key to maintain order. We could all potentially snap like Harvey Dent – he is a relatable, tragic figure.
But Batman poses a stronger question – Could we all be prepared to shoulder false-blame for the good of others? Would we willingly put ourselves in such trouble? This is one thing that Spider-Man doesn’t do. Captain America is still whining about how it isn’t the fault of Bucky Barnes for being a US traitor, Cold War saboteur and proven murderer, cause he was ‘programmed’ even though he ain’t a Robot, even in a backdrop of US drone strikes against brainwashed Radicalised islamists who have been recruited via global brainwashing… and who ain’t Robots, kinda like wot happened to Bucky… which is why Cap is a war criminal. Does Cap believe in Drone Strikes? He made a HUGE FUSS about arial targeting in the sequel, but that woz only coz secret service woz being run by Nazis… which makes that ethical issue super-convenient to solve.
Batman takes the hit for Dent’s crimes, the failure of the police, and retires in disgrace like a boss. Does Batman feel or act like a smug-git for secretly knowing he made a badass sacrifice… I don’t know…
The script just went TOO FAR with RISES by turning him into Bat-Jesus.
If it didn’t have the AWESOME music of Hanz Zimmer, it still would have been good. If somebody had drew The Dark Knight as a comic book, we’d be talking about it as if it is a quintessential story, ala Watchmen & The Killing Joke.
If I wrote it on a nakin, people would be like “yea, that’s cool”.
Johnathan Nolan seems like he is a good writer, and his brother Chris seems like he has an ability to put things on screen well that make audience happy, or sad, or tense or frightened for moving images on screen that aren’t real, but the Joker was well making me tense with his knife.
What they fundamentally got right, is that a superhero is just an extension of a genre-work, and instead of filling our heads with merchandising opportunities and ‘message-discipline’, they gave us a good film, and then did it again, but arguably better the second time.
There are 3 main parts of Batman (as seen by 3 different comic book lined of New 52):
2 out of 3 for the DKT isn’t bad.
Never said that those aspects you just listed weren’t done well. The finale really hits me every time, with Gordon’s monologue and everything. The boats, the confrontation with the Joker, Batman taking the fall – all fine, and more then fine – genuinely great. Which is why I feel that it could have been, should have been a leaner, tighter movie. TDK has a lot of great stuff. But it has a lot of flaws too, in my opinion, and these flaws are rarely addressed. In comparison, Batman Begins has far less stuff that’s actually great or transcendent, but it also has fewer flaws.
Dent becomes his own justice system… and then believes that justice & arbitration is arbitrary 50/50% I.e the flip of a coin…
… so Two Face rationalises all of his violent impulses as a coin-toss, including the death of Gordon’s family i.e chance being the greatest form of fairness. To seek any ‘greater’ form of logical justification would be to suggest that actual criminals all have a deep backstory, and/or that their actions somehow make complete logical sense to you or I…
Sometimes, it doesn’t need to be very deep, especially since Two face isn’t in the film for that long… because he is a ‘verisimilitudinal’ nutter who meets his come-uppance EXTREMELY quickly. There are no cliché multiple encounters with this villain, no superpowers, no villain-based plot armour, no chance at returning in a later film….
… and he doesn’t have that bizarre latex-putty face, bizarre wardrobe choice, or overly-corny delivery that Tommy-Lee-Jones had…
Batman and the Greeey Ghhhost (animated series) is one of my favourites – particularly relevant after the passing of Adam West.
Oooh Ooooh and the one where the ageing mob-boss is afraid of trains – I too used to hate trains, and am capable of regret.
I’m loving this, even though (or maybe because) I don’t completely agree with Bob on these. Rules one and two are real good and make sense to me, but I’m not sure I’d consider rule three necessary. Batman can be a reluctant hero — I’ve seen it done many times and it usually works well.
But I like it when he’s not so reluctant too, and I’d like to see more stories that push against that rule. Batman in the animated series comes to mind — he was reluctant to become Batman, of course, as shown in Mask of the Phantasm. And he’s always a bit of a sourpuss on that show. But I never got the impression he would stop being Batman if he could. (No more than any other superhero would, I mean.)
This might just be me, but I’m kind of burnt out on heroes who don’t, you know, actually want to be heroic. In a similar vein, I’m also burnt out on heroes who don’t enjoy what they do. Batman is a human being — he could enjoy something about what he does, even if he doesn’t express it. The man’s a martial artist and an inventor and a hacker and all sorts of other varieties of “genius.”
And when you’re good at something, you tend to like doing it.
Superheroes NEED to hate their jobs because everybody has to relate to them…ðŸ˜‚.
Joking aside, I do agree with the over-use of the downer hero type, mostly because it is the cheapest way of creating needless drama, and it is supposed to make it more ‘realistic’ because having responsibilities and being reserved is considered a hallmark of adult-hood… which is what the kids are primed to emulate and/or idolise. Plus, stoics aren’t usually known for their troublemaking skills, or upsetting the establishment… and it’s a shonen-type thing. We can all relate to a good degree of self-loathing, and it allows films to get away with using violence in a so called ‘non-gratuitous’ way, while keeping the age-restrictions low and marketing to children.
Spider-man 2 did it really effectively and then everybody had to copy what was, at the time, the most successful superhero film.
I remember that the ’12A’ rating in the UK seemed almost exclusively made for the first Spider-man movie, whereas kids under 12 could not see Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes.
RULE 4: Batman must fight, and triumph, against Vampires or other supernatural elements, thus exemplifying mankind’s ascent, the rejection and nullification of superstitious beliefs, awe, and the disassembly of cult-like tendencies, challenge brain-washing, as well as act as cautionary tale against ‘mad-science’.
Integral to the early Mythos.
Macbeth is about three old hags who say nice things about Macbeth, but they secretly don’t care really, and I think they secretly enjoyed watching people fail. In fact, this Shakespeare was just copying the antics of my 93 year old grandmother, when she chats to her friends. Macbeth kills a guy cause his wife gave him a bit of the idea, and then she cannot stop washing her hands because of OCD – Macbeth then gets PTSD and replays in his mind the image of the guy he killed. Some trees move, or they don’t really, and then people fight and argue about how they were born. Macbeth is then killed by a C-section baby. The end. The audience is then left to presume that one ofthe old hags from the beginning is going “oooow I knew that would happened, I told you, I did” with the other hags going friends “Oooh I know, I know”.
Shakespeare made plays that were well over-hyped, and if it wasn’t for him pandering to a lesser-educated audience, creating hype-conditions, and forcing children to learn them for the next 400 years, he wouldn’t be so well regarded.
I mean, he wasn’t even around for most of the times he was writing about, and he made things really gritty, realistic and depressing just to show-off. Did shakespere really write convincing characters? Did he know what he was actually writing about, or was it purely just to entertain people?
He couldn’t have been that good really, but the past must have been really boring for people to find these simple or slightly undercooked plots entertaining.
To sum the debate around ‘over-ratedness’;
To suggest that a thing is ‘over-rated’, is to assume that a rate exists of which a claimed over-rated item can be measured by, and held to standards of measurement that can be agreed upon by all who could subscribe to said (hypothetical) standards.
I know of no such rate measurement to measure the ‘over-ratedness’ of movies.
I know that there are (many) tricks by which a product can be seen to be better than it is, in the eye of the beholder, and it is up to we the consumer to protect ourselves and, perhaps eachother, but in the art of film-making, all celluloid film, digital projection screen or Blu-Ray inscribed sequence of moving pictures is inherently worth less in material importance than the price that is paid by the purchaser, so therefore all movies are over-rated by nature, with particular importance placed upon those films which are distributed on a ‘for-profit’ basis.
The primary importance of film critique is to distinguish the opinions of the target audience from the opinions expressed by an audience which may find itself to be conditioned, by peer-application, or have been trained to please those that it relinquishes a sum in order to gain access to media consumption, or those which have approximated as and proxy for such.
In other words, one must be able to arrive at an appraisal, lest not judgement, on a sequence of moving images without fear of, at least in the most extreme circumstances, of being allegedly groped, intimidated or made powerless by powerful media personalities, such as Harvey Weinstein, as a result of identified subordinated status…
… or by succumbing to peer-enabled pressure enabled as result of executive legislative or political origin or backing.
Captain America punched Hitler in the face in a comic book before the United States joined in the war.
What is Batman’s policy on Nazis, if he went back in time, would he punch Hitler? Should he?
Ask yourselves this of your ‘beloved’ super-heroes! Would Batman be able to bring Harvey Weinstein or other alleged villains to justice?! I think not? Then why do we partake in such fanciful exploration of the mythical moden exceptional hero? Are these worthwhile pursuits, or are we deluding ourselves? Have these beacons of morality that we lavish funds towards, as a ‘civilised society’, fostered the social changes that we desire?
Have we made false idols out of the super-heroes, celebrities and movie-producers, indulging in a lie! while blanketing ourselves from the harsh realities of our existence?
Will we be leaving the next generation with something special, or a tool for developing passive behaviour? Are super-hero moralities valid, or too (accidentally or deliberately) abstract to make sense in the real world?
We need to ask… questions!
On it! Ahem…
Which ice cream flavor would Batman be?
How about the other superheroes?
Well I suppose that Batman would be… 99% cocoa chocolate? Dark, bitter and rich?
This is it, guys. Redrock has won. We can go home now.
… what about the 1%? ðŸ˜†
Weeeell, Bruce Wayne kinda IS the 1% by default, isn’t he?
Someone must now do a study as to whether Bruce Wayne is in the legendarical ‘1%’…
…and it would help if they derived a measurement, and by extention definition, by which to ascertain the boundaries of said percentile.
That’s the joke
The key part of the Batman Mythos is that Ben Affleck allegedly touched a woman on stage inappropriately, and Christian Bale has been known for physically assaulting people.
Captain America, I. E Chris Evans in full costume with his shield, should walk up to Donald Trump, on Television, and tell him that banning transgenders from the Military is unpatriotic, and perhaps even un-American.
That would be THE BEST. Instead, what we have is something that is only allowed to inspire people within the confines of enclosed, dark spaces i.e the cinema.
When we walk out, we forget what it all means. I’m not the one that spends billions of dollars putting doofey spandex costumes on the big screen, and it is so ridiculous, camp and bombastic, that it should at least represent something greater than the confines of its own cinematic universe.
Ben Affleck’s Batman is even worse, he is a terrible role-model that is alays wrong, and always believes he is correct for being wrong, because his hunches mean so much to him; It is Trump’s leadership by proxy.
Modern cinema Superman represents nothing more than the embarrassing discourse surrounding Barak Obama’s birth certificate.
So I sent a tweet to Chris Evans asking him to adress Trump in Captain America uniform, because Super-heroes.
The Harvey Dent & Rachael Dawes relationship was them DELIBERATELY not getting on. They didn’t have ‘chemistry’ because they were NOT supposed to – they were a POWER COUPLE, who were worried about embarrassing eachother. In that case, the acting was fine. It conveyed the message.
Harvey Dent was butthurt because his whole life was ruined, and he was even forced to confront the fact that his career and relationships were based on a large degree of skull-duggery and personal ambition, so BOTH HIS PAST, AND PRESENT WERE RUINED. Dent wanted to routinely die, or to kill himself, in a typical murder-suicide pathology.
King Edward made friendly faces with Hitler, while Neville Chamberlain posed with Hitler, but we don’t presume that they all love eachother so much..
I mention the Third Reich because of its propaganda films and use of cinematic language.
Leni Riefenshtall’s VICTORY OF FAITH film was ‘over-hyped’ specifically because it was designed to bore people into liking Hitler & the Third Reich… in other words, the emotions you feel, in the context of the film, clash with the wider opinion of the regime, because it is a piece of political propaganda, and, as a film, is subsequently trashed by association.
A bad film it does not necessarily make, but it is worth considering the clash also between felt audience emotions, and pre or post expectations that aren’t met, and the innate desire of human beings to retain individuality by rebellion against the consensus.
… In the specific example of Victory of Faith, it is an interesting watch, UNTIL it has soldiers walk around and go on and on, marches and parades continue, because, in lieu or snappy editing, designed to make a point that it was not entertainment, but an advert to submission.
I just read a BBC article by a British-Aussie guy who thinks that Trump being elected signifies ANOTHER part of the terminal decline of 16 years, and that everything from 9/11 to Barak Obama was a boring footnote in the decline of The USA … however, he really enjoyed the 1984 Olympics and Regan, because of free McDonalds cheeseburgers, and something to do with it being a ‘great’ America.
… because the desire to look at the past as if it was spilled vinegar can be a strong coping mechanism when there is no nostalgia, which has just been eroded by the very vinegar spilled.
“Oh crap, I just spilled Coffee on my comic books; oh, it’s ok, they weren’t that good anyway.”… “and they had less value than I thought they did”… until… “Oh crap, it just sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars”
I refuse to recognise the legitimacy of any so-called Utility Belt that fails to include Bat-Shark Repellant
Well, you’ve proven yourself not a true Batfan then! Every true Batfan knows that he doesn’t keep the Shark Repellant in his Utility belt, he keeps it in his *helicopter!*
Shame on you ;)
What is going to be Rule 34?
Batman fights Nazis. This has been an integral part to the Mythos.
“Micro-processor power source” (from the utility belt illustration)
I see two possibilities:
1) The writer of that particular comic had no idea what a micro-processor actually did, nor that actual power sources for micro-processors are generally referred to as “batteries”.
2) Batman carries around a special battery specifically for powering 1970s-era electronics in case he runs across something like a MK14 computer during a case.
I think I definitely prefer the latter explanation.
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