Cineram: Batman Begins II

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama

Batman Begins (Part II)

By Mike Derderian

Growing up as an introvert I found solace in being a superhero in my own fantasies because I never liked mingling with and talking to people. The path I chose to ride on in the real world was not the one trodden by the Lone Ranger. I am a reporter: A profession that I share with two of my favorite superheroes, Superman and Spiderman. The former hides his man-of-steel identity behind the shy and clumsy character of Clark Kent, a reporter at The Daily Planet. The latter is Peter Parker, who works as a photojournalist at The Daily Bugle and turns into the amazing wall-crawler every time a person calls out for help.

Well, I work at The Star. I was never bitten by a genetically altered spider—I wish. And the last time I checked I remember being born on planet Earth not Krypton, so this makes me an average person with no superpowers whatsoever just like Bruce Wayne but with one difference though: He is rich and I am not.

Fortune magazine estimated how much it would cost to become Batman. The total expense in US dollars reached $3.5 million. More than I will get paid in a lifetime. I guess its back into the homemade Bat-suit and to the Bat-closet in my bedroom. If you need more information on how to build your own superhero outfit, I recommend watching Damon Wayans’ 1994 ‘black-brother-in-a-cape’ superhero spoof Blankman.

Imagine how it would feel to have more than one person living in you; every now and then those persons will fight among each other over who will gain control of your body. Bruce Wayne had to fight with only one person, who was lurking in the darkest place in his soul waiting to break into the endless night. It was Batman.

I grew up with Arabic-translated Batman comics that I remember reading for hours and hours, fascinated with the adventures of the dark caped crusader as he combated treacherous villains like the Joker; Catwoman; the Penguin; the Riddler, Harvey Two-Face and the cool Mr Freeze.

“You’re going to see the purr-fect crime, when I get Batman in my claws!” Catwoman meowed to her partners in crime in the first Bat-movie that was directed by Leslie H. Martinson back in 1966.

This all-time camp favorite starred Adam West as Batman and Dick Ward as Dick Grayson, aka Batman’s exclaiming sidekick Robin. It was the first time that I saw the Dark Knight on screen but he was anything but dark especially in his blue Bat-suit. West was the third actor to play Batman.

Supported by a cast of Hollywood talents the likes of Lee Meriwether (Catwoman), Cesar Romero (The Joker), Burgess Meredith (the Penguin), Frank Gorshin (the Riddler) and Alan Napier as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s loyal butler, this movie—supposedly a pilot for the second season television series—was quite childish by nowadays moviegoer standards.

Unlike Chris Nolan’s 2004 Batman Begins that fathoms the more graphic and darker side of the winged hero Martinson’s Batman was more like a walk in the park. It was simple, direct and funny but not too close to witty, and definitely suited the conservative tastes of the 1960s’ societies. A touch of a naive phantasmagoric comic book moniker was added to the show through the colorful captions that zoomed on screen. Words like Kapaw, boom, whoosh, thump and bam would appear on screen every time Batman struck a villain or an explosion took place.

But I never saw a ‘wow’ whenever Catwoman appeared on screen with her sizzling feline charisma—despite of the more than obvious seductive appeal of Lee Meriwether.  It wasn’t until 1992 and after the success of the 1989 Batman moviestarring Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger and Jack Nicholson as the Joker—that Tim Burton invested in the seductive sex appeal of Catwoman by choosing Michelle Pfeiffer to done the skin tight vinyl cat-suit and to crack the whip in Batman Returns.

Batman Returns not only marked the return of Keaton as Batman but introduced us to another undying screen villain: the Penguin, who was dramatically portrayed by Danny DeVito. Burton dropped the Penguin dapper and sophisticated look that was created by Burgess Meredith in the early Batman serials and chose to give the character a more sinister, repulsive and darker appearance by giving him a tormented past and a deformed figure. “I am an animal. I am not a human being,” cried out the Penguin angrily in an inverted speech borrowed from David Lynch’s 1980 The Elephant Man uttered by John Merrick (William Hurt), “I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!”

Do you know that the only actor other then Ward to fill the not-so-yellow spandex pants of boy-wonder was Chris O’Donnell, who reportedly beaten Leonardo DiCaprio for the role. The character of Dick Grayson aka Robin wasn’t resurrected until it appeared in Joel Schumacher 1995 Batman Forever. Judging by 1990s fashion tastes yellow spadenx was no longer a superhero favorite, which explains why producers went for a Robin-suit similar to Batman’s in design and color scheme. The same rule applied to the X-Men movies, I mean can you imagine Hugh Jackman, Hale Berry, Jason Marsden, Anna Paquin and Famke Yansen all dressed up in yellow and blue spandex. In the case of Yansen I certainly do.

In addition to color schemes, the Bat-suit in the following years and in different non-related sequels underwent changes in design not to mention the number of persons, who wore it.

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