Retrospective – Batman Begins

Batman Begins

This retrospective isn’t for heavy dissection or the themes and characters; I’ll leave that to others (hint, fear is a big one). I just want to share my appreciation of Christopher Nolan’s first Batman film, and give a little background to my experience of it. Since it’s release in 2005 I’ve seen it over 30 times, so you could say it’s a favourite.

Before we get into all of that though, check out this awesome poster that adorned my bedroom room for several years. What a beauty. The top image is from a poster too. Possibly the best set of posters I’ve seen for a film.

Begin was released back in the days when the internet wasn’t quite the spoiler-ridden mess it can be now. I’d managed to avoid all the spoilers, though I did hoover up the trailers and TV spots. The discovery of the Batman-On-Film forums not only gave me a safe haven to enjoy discussion and news without knowing too much but also gave me friends I still talk to now. With these kindred spirits I could crow about how I’d proclaimed Bale as a great possible Batman/Bruce Wayne as far as back as American Psycho. We poured over photos of the new Batmobile and Batsuit whilst marvelling at the cast Christopher Nolan had managed to put together.

At a time when ‘dark and gritty’ wasn’t the assumed position and reboots didn’t happen every few years this was a special time. I’d loved Keaton since before I could remember, but I’d been reading comics for a few years and I knew there was more out there. Could Bale be my Batman?
Yes, this was my Batman. As he hoisted Flass high off the ground, shaking and spitting as he interrogated the corrupt cop, I knew that this was something special.
He crouched on ledges, he threw batarangs, and he could be extremely bloody intimidating when he wanted to be. Finally, a Batman to be legitimately scared of. He wasn’t a directly torn from the comics but he made sense within his own world—a hyper-realistic Ninja—and I instantly adored it.

The rest is a blur, except for the ending. Begins did a wonderful job of explaining why the world would need someone like Batman and how he came to be, but the attention it gave to Jim Gordon as he fought a losing battle against a tide of corruption gave it heart. They’re relationship steadily changes from confusion to a partnership, and how it’s used to conclude the film makes for a scene that I truly treasure.

The rooftop denouement not only sums up Gordon’s newfound optimism and Batman’s heroism, but also hints at a hugely exciting future.
Batman Begins sits in a small group of films that I consistently return to. Only it’s sequels top it for the number of cinema viewings. I’ve got the DVD, the Blu-ray, a digital copy on my iPod, and yet I still watch it on TV when it comes up. I’ve even been known to flip over to the +1 channel when it finishes and watch the final hour again!
If Keaton was my childhood Batman, Bale is the Batman of my adult life. I’m well aware of its issues, and The Dark Knight is technically a better film, but for me this is the high point. That final scene still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and I always smile with Gordon.
The right film at the right time, Batman Begins sets the bar for me with comic book based films.

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