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If The Dark Knight Trilogy Was So Good, Why Is Everyone Talking About Michael Keaton's Batman?

Let’s start with a public disclaimer: I am not a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. I thought Christian Bale was a good Bruce Wayne, but a not so good Batman. Did anyone else have trouble understanding him as Batman? I didn’t care for Heath Ledger’s Joker. I thought Tom Hardy’s Bane was flat. Both Holmes and Gyllenhaal’s Rachel Dawes just weren’t exciting. The Batmobile lacked imagination. And something just never sat right with me on the design of Batman’s cowl. Maybe it was the curved horns. The overall plot just rambled along and seemed to get sillier and sillier with each movie. And I’m still not sure what to think of the ending to The Dark Knight Rises. With all that said, there are things I do like about the films. I thought Anne Hathaway played a good Catwoman. Gary Oldman shined as Commissioner Gordon. Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow and Aaron Eckhart’s Two Face were interesting takes on the characters. Batman Begins offers an interesting view inside the “lost” years of Bruce Wayne. But, for the most part, the movies just left me feeling a bit empty.

The Dark Knight Trilogy was a huge box office success. There’s no question about that. After the dismal showing of George Clooney’s Batman and Robin, it wasn’t going to take much to revive the franchise or the character. I understand that the Dark Knight Trilogy was an attempt to make Batman realistic. It succeeds in that. But how do we explain why The Dark Knight Trilogy hasn’t stood the test of time very well? If you think about it, nobody really talks about those movies anymore when discussing Batman. That brings me to my next point.

Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) featuring Michael Keaton seems to have made a revival recently. While nobody seems interested in Bale donning the cape and cowl again, Batman fans are clamoring for Keaton to do so. DC just launched the Batman ’89 comic book. Keaton will appear as Batman in the upcoming The Flash movie. The blogosphere is ripe with fans demanding a Batman Beyond movie with Keaton as an aging Bruce Wayne. What happened? Keaton’s Batman movies came out 32 years ago before many of these fans were even born or, at the very least, were still in diapers.

There may be a simple explanation. I think Keaton’s Batman is just better. From Nicholson’s Joker, to the Bat suit, the Batmobile and Gotham City, Burton and Keaton created the Batman fantasy that we all wanted to see. As time has passed and Marvel discovered to DC’s detriment, fans don’t want overall realistic superhero characters or villains. We want our heroes to somehow be above the realism of our own lives. Isn’t that the reason we picked up the comic books in the first place? So while George Clooney’s or Adam West’s Batman may have been just too silly, Bale’s Batman too serious, Keaton found that happy medium.

Unless, of course, you are the CW which seems to be taking DC superheroes and turning them all into teen/young adult dramas. Keaton or Bale? What are your thoughts?

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