Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day Twenty-Seven: Batman Begins

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #108
Year: 2005
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale and Liam Neeson

This probably comes as a bit of a surprise to anyone who knows me and knows what a huge Christopher Nolan fan I am, but I honestly believe that it is a travesty that Batman Begins is in the IMDb Top 250. It's not because I think it's a bad movie; in fact, I quite like it. It's only my fifth favorite Christopher Nolan movie, but that's still better than a lot of directors' best movies. My problem with it being on the list – and nearly in the top 2/5ths at that – is that it is a superhero origin movie that obeys the formula of what superhero origin movies are supposed to be, and no other superhero origin movies are on the list.

Sure, it's a series reboot that showed that Nolan would be taking a grittier look at the Caped Crusader's world, but it still simply shows us what makes Bruce Wayne decide to become Batman – and little more. It executes this well, but not as well as Sam Raimi's Spider-Man or Jon Favreau's Iron Man, and neither of those movies are on this list. The travesty isn't the movie itself. Superhero origin movies are a necessary evil, and it's fairly widely accepted that the second film in any series based on a comic book makes or breaks it. The Dark Knight confirmed beyond any shadow of a doubt that Nolan knew what he was doing with the Batman character. X2 did the same for Bryan Singer and the X-Men; Spider-Man 2 did the same for Raimi. Iron Man 2, on the other hand, exposed Favreau as something of a fraud.

But that's all far from the point. The point is that with Batman Begins, Nolan made a totally formulaic movie. He executed it well, but not the best, and certainly not first. The films that do it the best and did do it first (This makes Christopher Reeve's Superman a contender, too.) are nowhere to be found on the list. If Spider-Man and Iron Man were ahead of Batman Begins and it was a bit lower on the list, I would take into consideration calling that fair. But they aren't, so the presence of Nolan's fifth-best at #108 (lower than the four that are better, at least) is a huge fucking travesty.

The Good: It introduced us to the world that Nolan would perfect three years later.

The Bad: Katie Holmes' performance. Ugh.

The Skinny: A travesty at its position, and possibly a travesty that it's on the list at all. I'm telling you, "With great power comes great responsibility" is better than "Why do we fall, Master Wayne?" seven days a week.


  1. I don't really get it. How can you do a superhero origin story WITHOUT being formulaic? Especially with such an iconic character?

  2. Maybe you can't...and maybe that means none should be on the list. Still, my main point is that it makes no sense that this is objectively the 108th best movie when Spider-Man and Iron Man follow the same damn formula and are better movies but aren't on the list at all. All IMO, of course.

  3. Nolan brought in Raas Al Ghul (a character most people don't even touch on I don't even think he made the cartoon...) as a main villain and turned Scarecrow (one of the more familiar villains, in the cartoon, all the video games etc.) into a wimpy side character.
    The movie may be formulaic but the character choices and writing is still fresh and new.

  4. Honestly, I think the reason it's on the list is because most people had a bad taste in their mouth from "Schumacher years". I thought that Batman was ruined forever after those films, then Nolan came along and injected life back in the franchise. Based on this I'm perfectly content with it being in the list.