I’ve been a Bat-Fan since I was a kid. I still vividly remember drawing a portrait of Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the cover of the Radio Times. Tim Burton’s eponymous Batman movie hit the theatres back in 1989, and I was 11 years old, just under age for this first movie to have received the 12A certificate. I remember my brother, who was a comic artist at the time, took me anyway. It was too cool. The crowd cheered when the Bat Wing flew in front of the moon ! I was just getting into comics then, and developing my taste for the gothic. In many ways Batman was my ideal dark and brooding tragic-romantic hero.
I still remember the first Batman storyline I read was Miller’s Year One (I was 12). I had the comic adaptation of the Batman movie, and my first gift from a boy (at 15) was a Batman/Dracula cross over GN. My brothers still wouldn’t lend me Dark Knight Returns, (I had to wait till I was 17 for that one). My love affair with Batman that lasted right through my teens, and weathered some bad casting choices, (George Clooney anyone?) and even worse movies. (Let’s face it that Joel Schumacher one sucked). The Batman franchise provided me with a Catwoman alter-ego for my best ever Halloween, a nerdy collection of action figures, (thanks to big bro #2). It even gave U2 one of their finer moments. This feels like an embarrassing confession, but its all true, and part of me.
I also remember being excited at the prospect of the Batman reboot but at the hands of Christopher Nolan, a serious director. But for me these movies in their efforts to be more ‘realistic’ became less about Batman, and more about public morality. The glamour of ‘those wonderful toys’ now gone with Batman, a hollow shell of a man, played by the impossible to empathise with Christian Bale. DKR was the most over hyped disappointment, from it’s flying woodlouse Bat-copter, to Bane with his silly Prof Zoidberg/ bad Sean Connery impersonator voice, to the shabby Ra’s Al Ghul storyline. If it weren’t for Joseph Gordon Levitt and the pleasant surprise of Hathaway’s Selina Kyle this movie would have had no one I could invest in.
So the spark I felt for Batman was gone. Maybe I’m just not teenager anymore? Or perhaps I prefer my caped crusader with a pinch more fantasy? The quirky Keaton was always my favourite Batman, funny sympathetic and with an everyman quality yet clearly dancing on the edge of insanity, with or without the surreal gothic backdrop. Who knows what the Bat’s next incarnation will be? (I would still like to see the busted up angry old man of Miller’s DKR replete with teenage girl Robin.) Relieved I bid adieu to Nolan’s Batman, and await the Dark Knight’s Return.