With the looming release of The Dark Knight Rises, we at UTF have been in full-on Bat-mode lately, so we decided to take a look back at some of the Caped Crusader’s best cinematic moments. Of course many of these are from Christopher Nolan’s first 2 films, because let’s face it: He raised the bar very high, and when I was trying to recall the most memorable moments which also did justice to the stories and characters of the comics, I fell short when it came to 3 of the original 4 movies.
Of course there are some good movie moments in all of them(except maybe Batman and Robin), but are they good Batman moments? Batman Returns, for example, while still a decent flick, features The Dark Knight grinning as he kills thugs with bombs. Like, straps a bomb to a dude and smirks as the guy blows apart behind him.
That’s not freaking Batman.
So that movie has a bad taste for many Bat-fans, tainted by Tim Burton’s complete disregard for the source material, although Michelle Pfiefer’s Catwoman was a revelation at the time and Danny DeVito was born to play the Penguin. And it was all downhill in terms of respecting the character and themes when Joel Schumacher took over with Batman Forever (even if Jim Carrey got some laughs here and there). With that in mind, the first Batman is still a classic and features the yin to Bruce Wayne’s yang, the Joker, played by the brilliant Jack Nicholson. Although they did play loose with the origins of both Batsy and Mr. J in order to connect them emotionally, it is still an overall accurate representation of Batman, through Tim Burton’s delightfully twisted lens. Let’s take the Batmobile down memory lane, shall we?
THE DARK KNIGHT- NURSE JOKER AND TWO-FACE
After blowing half of Harvey Dent’s face,and his entire fiance, to bits, the Joker continues his seemingly random, but actually meticulous plan to bring down the heroes of Gotham City. With some of Joker’s alarmingly amusing rhetoric and a newly-deranged Dent battling unimaginable pain, this scene is a testament to Nolan’s ability to bring such ridiculous characters to life in a way that never comes off as hokey. And if you don’t get a chuckle out of Joker’s silly walk out of the hospital and his malfunctioning demo switch, well then you may have burned out a funny fuse.
BATMAN(1989)- JOKER’S VISIT TO THE MUSEUM
No one appreciates art quite like the Joker in this classic scene. Sure, his tastes are a bit limited(Prince is cool and all, but 2 songs in one movie?), but his passion is infectious. When he sets up a blind date with journalist Vicki Vale, he brings along his minions, which I guess is for his own safety. Gotham is a crazy town.
BATMAN BEGINS- HE’S IN A BLACK…TANK
“Does it come in black?”
Bruce Wayne obviously loves this s**t, being able to jump across rooftops and pancake cop cars. When Rachel Dawes gets a face-full of Scarecrow juice, she lapses into a pretty far-out trip, man, and like, totally kills Batman’s buzz. So in a vehicle designed to intimidate God, he sets out for the batcave to save her, letting nothing….and I mean nothing stand in his way.
THE DARK KNIGHT- WHO WANTS TO SEE A MAGIC TRICK?
Heath Ledger’s Joker didn’t actually say anything funny per se, as much as he threw a pie in the face of justice and order. Only a sociopath would find the things he said and does funny(I do), and this was the moment that we were horrified and thrilled to discover just what kind of man this version of the Joker is. The explosion of precision from such a clumsy-looking man set the stage for his true joke: Showing Gotham and the Batman the price of underestimating a guy dressed as a clown.
BATMAN BEGINS- DR. CRANE ISN’T IN RIGHT NOW
In another scene of hallucinations, Scarecrow gets his toxin used on him(you’d think he’d have inoculated himself?). When Batman questions him of his employer, Dr. Crane is subjected to a horrific visage, possibly representing the vengeful demon residing in Bruce Wayne’s mind, or how villains imagine the Batman, or my ex-girlfriend in the mornings, depending on who you are.
BATMAN(1989)- WHERE DOES HE GET THOSE WONDERFUL TOYS?
Continued from the earlier scene in the original Batman in which Joker meets(and proceeds to try to disfigure) Vicki Vale, Batman makes his entrance with utmost showmanship. After kicking some goon-ass, he makes his exit in an arguably more impressive fashion. The Joker, also one for theatrics, has to give him props. Later, Batman makes a passive remark about Vicki’s weight, because this Batman is kind of a douche.
THE DARK KNIGHT- INTERROGATION SCENE
Not only the greatest Batman scene, but one of the most intense scenes ever committed to celluloid, this one is the epitome of the hero/villain dynamic. Here, the Joker lays out his perspective to an unprepared Batman, who until now has seen every type of criminal there is. No, the Joker isn’t interested in money or even revenge upon Batman now. He seems to genuinely embrace the nature of the struggle of good and evil, and sees his new adversary as his inevitable partner in his chaotic dance. A wicked performance by Ledger and a stunningly angry Christian Bale sells this as something greater than comic book fiction; something that speaks to the darkness in society and the struggle within us all to maintain order in a chaotic existence. The Joker in The Dark Knight doesn’t play practical jokes, he plays thematic ones. The theme here being that he manages to take a man as resolutely good as Batman and causes him to fray at the edges, coming one step closer to the punchline: Harvey Dent’s tragic fall from grace and Batman’s most desperate move to save Gotham yet.
Stay tuned to UTF for the next part of Best(and worst) Batman Movie Moments, and sound off with your picks below!