Saturday, 20 September 2008

Batman minus Bruce Wayne

I finally managed to get around to watching 'The Dark Knight' today, and I have to say it's pretty good. But you probably knew that already. The one problem with the movie though, is that it comes off not so much as a Batman film as it does a Joker film. That's partly due to the fact that Heath Ledger was perfect as the Joker, but also because it seemed like the Batman, and more importantly Bruce Wayne, got relegated to the sidelines in the story. Which just dims the brilliance of the movie a little, since it means that you could have replaced the Batman with any other generic cartoon superhero/vigilante, (or even edited him out of the film, sort of like this) and it wouldn't have made too much of a difference. But then that's something that you all probably knew too.

So instead, to add a little novelty to the post (and to test out Google Docs), I decided to do a little 'analysis'. I pulled up the memorable quotes from IMDb for both 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight' - 502 versus 273 - and then droke it down into which character had the most number of memorable lines (in terms of percentage). This is what I got:(source data for charts available here)

For 'Batman Begins' Bruce Wayne had about 25% of all the memorable quotes in the film, and Batman had another 8%. The main bad guys - Henri Ducard/Ra's Al Ghul, Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow and Carmine Falcone, together made up about 21%.

Now contrast that with 'The Dark Knight':
The Joker alone gets 30% of the best lines, while poor Bruce Wayne comes in second with 11%. Batman, incidentally, has fewer interesting dialogues than Lt. Gordon.
And the few dialogues he does get to mouth are delivered in a voice that makes him sound like he needs to gargle. You'd think someone with the sort of R&D setup that can ostensibly turn mobile phones into sonar equipment would be able to get a better voice masking device made.

But that's another thing about the movie - it's not just that Batman doesn't have too many lines, it's also that Christian Bale just doesn't do much with whatever he's got anyway. He gets upstaged by pretty much everyone else in the cast, including not just Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, but also Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and I dare say even Eric Roberts as Salvatore Moroni. I guess the guys at Warner Borthers/DC Comics decided that they botched up by asking George Clooney to play Batman - why would you become a rubber-clad vigilante when you've got that smile and ooze Danny-Ocean-charm from every pore? - so they went in the opposite direction and picked up Bale, who ends up as being neither suave enough to be Wayne, nor physically imposing enough to play Batman.

So, on the whole, great movie, not-so-great Batman. And Google Docs works pretty well too, if you have a good net connection.


  1. just one question

    why so serious?


    heath ledger = gabbar singh of hollywood?

  2. I disagree. I think Christian Bale makes a rather good Batman.

    True, he wasn't perhaps as big a presence in this movie as the last one (in which I thought he was brilliant) with the Joker and all. But then again, it's a little hard to beat someone whose premature death has ensured rockstaresque immortality status.

  3. I think Bale's a little limited as an actor. He was outclassed by pretty much everyone else in the cast, not just Heath Ledger. And Ledger would have got great reviews even if he was alive.

    In '... Begins', the character is starting out so he's supposed to be a little lost and clueless at times, and Bale managed to do that, but now it looks like that's his default mode for most movies. Have you seen him in 'Equilibrium'? He's quite awful in that. The only other movie in which I've seen him is 'The Prestige' (which I think is an over-rated movie), where again he was decent but wasn't required to do anything much anyway.