Cinerama: Batman Begins

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama

Batman Begins (Part I)

By Mike Derderian

Sometimes in life we are pushed into corners that we do not want to stand in by different elements. A lot of people might give these elements the name destiny, a word invented by man to justify his inability to steer his life in the direction he wants. We forget that, old and young, we are molded into life’s own cast and not the other way round; but that’s not destiny as much as it is adaptation to a hostile environment driven by a materialistic moral.

A protagonist does not have the option of becoming a hero, for he is forced into becoming a crime fighter and we shan’t dub this analysis ‘destiny at work.’ A person mourning the death of a dear person might come out of such a crisis a healthier individual, but those who can’t are left behind in the dark.

Such was the case with Bruce Wayne, who after the death of his parents was driven by an indissoluble urge that even he did not understand and find an answer to. Haunted by a re-occurring vision—early childhood recollections of a traumatizing and frightening encounter with bats—Bruce was being pushed more and more into the shadow.

It was like having a garrote around his neck: Unless he broke free it would choke the life out of him. However, when he did manage and did break free—and this is where the change in his personality occurred—he morphed into his alter ego, Batman.

Watching the 2005 film Batman Begins is like going through our lives or what we fear most about life. Are you afraid of bats as much as you are afraid of death and its ruthless emissaries? In my case, I think I would panic more if I saw the Grim Reaper rather than a bat licking blood from a festering wound in my flesh. Being Batman was the only way for Bruce Wayne to find some answers to life’s dilemmas and vent his anger and frustration.

Baptized by the blood of his parents, who were shot dead right in front of his eyes in a dark alley, Wayne was forced to become Batman. Of course in Chris Nolan’s latest extraordinary adaptation of Bob Kane’s dark crusader and his early beginning the Joker no longer holds the responsibility of creating Batman in the first place, as we were told in Tim Burton’s own version that was produced in 1989 and starred Michael Keaton as the caped crusader.

Casting Keaton as the dark avenger wasn’t a favored choice among die-hard Batman fans, who probably would have preferred to see a taller and more muscular actor like Sylvester Stallone donning the cape.

But Keaton certainly delivered the goods and created a mold that was roughly scratched by the star lineup that wore the dark cape in the years that followed after his second and final Batman movie in 1992 Batman Returns—also directed by the uber-quirky Burton. In the following years actors like Val Kilmer (1995) and George Clooney (1997) donned the very much-coveted outfit.

Despite his more in-depth, psychological approach to Batman’s complex character, Kilmer just wasn’t convincing enough as a tormented antagonist. Clooney’s Batman on the other hand re-introduced fans to Bruce Wayne’s long lost title Playboy Billionaire, without adding anything else to dark knight’s persona; however, he brought back the Adam West-Dick Ward antics by going after Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), and fighting over her with his sidekick boy wonder Robin (Chris O’Donnell). By the way, it wasn’t Clooney’s fault that Joel Schumacher wanted a Bat-suit that had nipples. How on earth did this happen? Schumacher said he wanted an anatomic look, so we forgive you George.

People will always remember the year 2005 as the year Batman was resurrected thanks to brilliant Welsh actor Christian Bale’s performance—marginally topping even Keaton’s portrayal. I personally would have loved seeing Keaton as Batman once again, for I will never forget his powerful on-screen charisma as the troubled hero when I first caught a glimpse of him on the silver screen of the once flourishing Concorde Cinema in Amman.

Not having any superpowers whatsoever like his many comic book counterparts—Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Logan aka Wolverine, Captain America, and Bruce Banner—Wayne’s alter ego is the psychological product of a decadent society more than the result of mutation or experimentation.

You’ll find it easier to sympathize with Batman more than any other superhero, why? Simple, he has no super powers. He cannot shoot spider webs from his wrists, mutate into a hulking monstrosity; stick out adamantium-blades from his bare knuckles or fly high into the sky thanks to the power supplied by Earth’s yellow sunrays. The person hiding behind Batman’s mask is a man and only a man with one thing in mind, and that is bringing justice into a city filled with ruthless thugs.

Batman came to life in May 1939, debuting in Detective Comics # 27, which is now a collector’s classic that can fetch up to $ 350,000, if it’s in mint condition. However, it wasn’t until 1949 that Batman’s crime-fighting character was brought to life on the small screen, when Lewis Wilson (I), who is regarded the first actor to portray Batman, appeared in a 1949 film entitled the Batman. The character was only 4 years old when it was released.

“Emergency! Batman speaking… warning all of you to brace yourselves for big news!” announced Batman (Adam West)  “The biggest!” Robin (Dick Ward) repeated as if he was surprised. “Tell them, Robin.”

“Holy Superlatives, Batman! It’s really exciting! Soon, very soon, Batman and I will be Batapulting right out of your TV sets and onto your theater screens!” cries out the Boy Wonder in excitement.

“That’s right, Robin. Our first full-length feature motion picture opens a whole new world of thrills! The Big Screen gives us more space on land, sea, and in the air, to challenge the most Bataclysmic collection of super-criminals that ever plotted to take over the world!” Batman added. “So make sure you read next week’s Cinerama article to find out more about us and how we rocked the nation with our first Batman movie, produced back in 1966.”

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