Nolan’s Batman — the yassification of the caped crusader
Christopher Nolan is pretty hot property this year.
He released an underground, cult film about some science bloke in the 40s — but you probably won’t have heard of it.
And some people thought that it could square up against Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. Yeah, okay mate…
(Barbie is actually better, but that's a debate for another time)
I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here — I’m aware The Dark Knight trilogy is hardly fresh off the press. But to celebrate Batman Day over the weekend, I re-watched The middle child of the trilogy in jaw-dropping 4DX.
Popcorn went everywhere in the mini teaser for 4DX’s capabilities as I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. Struggling with travel sickness, I was nervous about how my body would react to being flopped around like a badly constructed burrito.
To be blunt, I thought my arse (much like the contents of a Mexican cylinder of beans and rice) could fall out.
Luckily, my innards remained innard. And what an experience.
I’ll go out on a limb and say The Dark Knight is quite good. I know, radical take.
But 4DX elevated the experience beyond what I thought was possible with cinema.
I got twatted in the ankles by a rubber band, smacked in the eye with a jet of air and pissed on by a water nozzle on the armrest.
I’ve never got chapped lips from watching a movie before, but those gusts were GUSTING. Burt’s Bees to the rescue.
To prepare for this, I revisited Batman Begins for the first time in about 15 years. There wasn’t much I remembered about this movie, other than Cillian Murphy with a potato sack on his head and Liam Neeson with a shit moustache. I’d completely forgotten the whole Falcone story arc, though Matt Reeves’ 2022 ‘The Batman’ handles this much better, IMO.
(follow me on letterboxd, btw, if you want even more incredible movie takes)
I was impressed. The first feature-length Batman movie in eight years didn’t disappoint, with Nolan adapting the comic characters into dark, grungy and grounded everyday folk (not that you’d want to bump into any of them at the shops, like). Not a single character in this trilogy has ‘powers’. They’re all just absolutely fuming at someone (or something) and act accordingly.
What we didn't know at the time, was the next entry in the trilogy would become the gold standard for superhero movies going forward.
The Dark Knight.
Where do you even begin?
To give some context, the only other (comparable) blockbuster superhero series we’d seen since the turn of the millennium was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Loved for different reasons, such as Tobey Maguire gyrating his hips towards innocent passersby, it was a different kind of superhero story.
The Dark Knight also had Heath Ledger, in what remains as one of the great performances put to the big screen. Ledger’s Joker picked up Jack Nicholson’s adaptation from 1989 and toggled dark mode.
The Dark Knight Rises had some expectations to live up to. Poor Tom Hardy didn’t stand a chance.
Nolan’s adaptation of Bane isn’t the most popular among Batman fans, but I don’t mind it at all. I think his voice is brilliant and has some of the most quotable phrases in the trilogy (‘I was born in the darkness, MOUUUUULDED BY IT’). And Catwoman is also a thing in this movie. I think the less said about that the better.
Big it up for Michael Cane, though. What a boyo. And Morgan Freeman is the GOAT. Lowkey, Nolan assembled his own Avengers for this trilogy.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Talia reveal or the Robin story arc, but Bane managed to wreak havoc on Gotham on a scale not seen in the two prior movies, and that was bloody cool.
It goes without saying, but the trilogy is quite popular for good reason. Nolan presents the viewer with a bleak, desperate and corrupt Gotham and villains that are not too disassociated with our real lives. It’s relatable, and that makes it all the more captivating.
The last live-action Batman on the big screen was George ‘nipples’ Clooney in 1997. It was hard to take Batman seriously before Nolan. A billionaire orphan isn’t the most relatable, so unless it’s placed in an environment a little more close to home, it’s harder for the audience to care.
So, while previous iterations were maybe more fun and comical, it wasn't until Nolan took charge that Batman really became a household name for all walks of life.
And this is where the yassification of Batman comes in (yes, I hate myself too). Since the trilogy, every movie featuring the caped crusader has been a re-attempt at a dark and mysterious hero. Some failed (Affleck) and some soared (ily Pattison daddy).
Until Barbie this year, you’d struggle to name another blockbuster success that isn’t a dark, moody epic. It’s seemingly the kind of film people enjoy these days (including myself). Blade Runner 2049 is up there in my top 5 movies of all time for the same reason. It’s a depressing, grounded sci-fi monster that offers the viewer little-to-no hope.
I guess I just don’t like enjoying myself. Or at least it seems that way. In reality, there’s nothing more engaging than a gritty, well-written story to get lost in. And Nolan achieved that (and then some) with The Dark Knight trilogy.
His legacy now lives on in Reeves’ The Batman, Phillips’ Joker and Mangold’s Logan. All absolute grungy, twisted bangers.
Oh, and we just spare a moment to talk about Hans Zimmer?
A man who needs no introduction, but bloody deserves one.
The score for The Dark Knight trilogy is nothing short of a masterpiece, stitching together the gripping visuals of Nolan with soaring, achy sequences that elevate the experience beyond your everyday movie.
Whatever Zimmer touches turns to gold dust, whether it’s a score for one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world (MW2 2009), a family-friendly blockbuster (Kung-Fu Panda) or a mind-bending sci-fi adventure (Interstellar). He’s kind of a cheat code at this point. Apart from instead of spawning a tank in San Andreas, you get some of the most visceral and spellbinding pieces of work to ever exist.
There we have it. Nolan did what he does best — make consistent bangers that push the limits of the industry every single time — all while reviving a beloved character and redefining what makes Batman great.
The true yassification of Batman.