As one of the most iconic superheroes ever crated, Batman has had multiple adaptations during the over 80 years that he’s been stalking the Gotham night. And two of the better big screen outings, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, are coming to Netflix next month.
Directed and co-written by Christopher Nolan, Begins is largely credited with pushing mainstream audiences to consider comic book movies as something that can be taken seriously, arriving three years before what would become the MCU was kicked off with Iron Man. As the title suggests, it forms an origin story for Batman, seeing the instigating moment of witnessing his parents’ murder, travelling the world learning how to fight, joining the League of Assassins Shadows and training as a ninja and to purge his fear, and returning to Gotham to become its nocturnal protector and striker terror into the hearts of the criminals who plague it.
Also from Nolan, The Dark Knight was met with even greater acclaim, principally due to Heath Ledger giving a superb and multiple-award-winning portrayal of the Joker, reworking the Clown Prince of Crime into an anarchist using several classic experiments in game theory as weapons against both his enemies and allies, intent on bringing about the city’s descent into unbridled chaos though murder and mayhem and playing everyone off against everyone else along the way.
As well as holding up comic book movies as potential hits, the success of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight also rehabilitated the image of the Caped Crusader in the public consciousness, which for too long had been one of camp and homoeroticism. Their nuanced and intellectual take on the World’s Greatest Detective paved the way for the big budget superhero cinematic wonders we enjoy now, and although they may be a little grim and staid by today’s standards of such fare, we should all be thankful they existed in the first place.