In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.
I want to start off this installment in the series by admitting up front that our host Lebeau probably has a stronger and more personally informed take on this particular piece of pop culture. I fully expect he will share some of that in the comments section. Although I did grow up with reruns of the Adam West Batman television show running repeatedly on a variety of stations, I ended up both a Marvel guy and someone who took superhero stories just a little more seriously than this version of the “Caped Crusader” ever did. At the same time, if you ever want to participate in a fully tiresome example of “old man yells at cloud,” you might consider engaging me in a discussion on the merits of the “edgy” tone comic books have taken on in the intervening years. The long term reaction of the art form to what it perceived as its undeserved goofy and childish reputation appears to have resulted in a swing way too far in the other direction. The 1960s television Batman is often cited by those who resent the dismissive attitudes many people held toward sequential art.
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Superhero movies are dominant at the box office. But that wasn’t always the case. In the 90’s, Batman was the only successful superhero franchise. Just two years prior to the release of the fourth film in the series, Warner Brothers was so confident of the caped crusader, they released a movie titled Batman Forever. It’s true that the studio will probably continue making Batman movies long after you and I are gone, but the next Batman movie they released derailed not just the series but the entire superhero genre for years to come.
Ever since Top Gun in 1986, Val Kilmer had been flirting with moviestardom. While his costar became a megastar, A-list status eluded Kilmer for the better part of a decade. In 1995, when Kilmer stepped into the Batsuit for Batman Forever, it seemed like that would finally change. As we know now, things didn’t exactly go as planned for Kilmer and the Bat-franchise. In the June 1995 issue of Movieline, the eccentric actor discussed his career choices and the possibility of a long and prosperous run as the Dark Knight.
In 1989, Batman made his feature film debut more than a decade after Superman paved the way for the superhero genre. After spending years in development hell, Batman finally made his way to the big screen. In issue #142, Starlog offered its readers an exclusive look behind the scenes.
For the last couple of weeks, we have been looking back at Batman and Superman movies of the past. After ranking the movies starring Batman from worst to first, I asked readers to do the same. Usually, the reader rankings are pretty close to my own. But we’ve got some big differences this time. Overall, the votes were spread out more than usual reflecting a general lack of consensus.
Let’s take a look at how the readers ranked the Batman movies.
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At long last, Batman and Superman are finally sharing the silver screen. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice finds the two heroes at cross purposes. If you want to see how that plays out, you’ll have to see the movie. Or you could just watch the trailer and assume that they team up with Wonder Woman to fight Doomsday and form the Justice League in the already-announced follow-up movies. But where’s the fun in that? Like most cinematic prize fights, this one will probably end inconclusively. But that’s not how we roll here at Le Blog. We’re having a Super Hero Smackdown which will end with a definitive victor. Who will it be? The Man of Steel or The Dark Knight?
Coming out in April 1983, the 69th issue of Starlog magazine was not surprisingly all about Return of the Jedi. But it contained an interview with screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz. Mankiewicz had previously written or rewritten several Bond movies and was tapped by Richard Donner to rewrite Superman: The Movie. In 1983, he had written a script for a Batman movie that would never be made. He discussed details of the script with interviewer Lee Goldberg.
Next Friday, Superman and Batman will appear on the big screen for the first time. Leading up to the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, we’ll be looking back at the cinematic history of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight. Last week, we ranked the Superman movies. So now it’s Batman’s turn.
On the whole, Batman has fared better than Superman at the movies. But overall, most of his movies still aren’t very good.
Every January, Movieline Magazine published their annual “sex” issue or as they sometimes called it their “more sex than usual” issue. In the 1996 sex issue, Michael Atkinson looked at the sad state of on screen sexual chemistry and named some examples of when Hollywood got it right.
In the superhero genre, the Batman franchise stands out as one of the longest and most successful. With seven movies since 1989 (not counting old movie serials, animated films or the sixties TV-show tie-in), the series has featured an array of colorful bad guys to challenge the Dark Knight. In fact a common criticism of the series is that many of the movies belong to the villains while the hero disappears into the background of his own movie. With the coming onslaught of movies set in the new DC cinematic universe, the floodgates have been opened on Batman villains. Suicide Squad alone will feature several Arkham inmates. Before that happens, let’s rank the Batman movie villains we have so far.
Let’s all wish Michael Keaton a happy 64th birthday!
Typically, I have been posting galleries for all the WTHH subjects on their birthdays. But Keaton already has a gallery. So rather than just repost it, I figured I’d do something a little different. To celebrate Keaton’s birthday, here’s a look at the opening monologue from when Keaton hosted SNL last year and he briefly reprised his two most famous roles.
Anyone else get chills when Keaton said “It’s show time!” Just me? Okay fine. If you haven’t gotten your Keaton fix, be sure to re-read What the Hell Happened to Michael Keaton.
Now I have 365 days to figure out how to celebrate Keaton’s 65th birthday…