Summer Shorts: City of Scars

02-Jul-10 11:00 AM by
Filed under Films; 1 comment.

The shorts we've watched so far this season have demonstrated the creativity of artists with original intellectual properties. Some actors and directors are just as limitless when applying their talent to their own interpretations of well-known characters. Batman, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939, has undergone many metamorphoses, each time adapting to the times and audience in which the superhero finds himself. One manifestation of the Dark Knight can be found in a recent 40-minute independent film, City of Scars:

For a "short" to carry its plot across 40 minutes requires excellent production values and talent, which this film has in spades. But it does set itself apart from the archetypal Batman in several important ways.

Just as Superman's modus operandi is based on the trust and support of the American people, Batman's power is founded on fear. Most of Gotham has never seen Batman and few believe him to be more than an urban legend, which made his bold appearance in the bar hard to believe. Nor was his fighting style as subtle and elegant as represented in the comic books. Rather than choke a thug with an iron chain, Batman would more likely bust out a martial art that would lay the hood low without little apparent effort.

We're also given an unusual look at Batman's counterpart. This Joker acts (or perhaps looks) like a bully, lending the character more anger and menace and less insanity than previous portrayals, such as Andrew Koenig's. Yet this Joker is not new to the role; Paul Molnar has previously played the Clown Prince of Chaos in both Patient J and Batman Legends, in which Kevin Porter again played Batman. Given the above film's ending, it seems this partnership may be at an end.

There is no one right way to define these characters, though, and it's encouraging to see films that are willing to put their own spin on classic icons. What is your favorite version of Batman, either in print or on screen? Does the above version mesh with what you expect from these characters?

Find more Batman films from these artists at Bat in the Sun. For a lighter look at Batman, see Batman's Bad Day and The Interrogator — or even RiffTrax's take on The Dark Knight.

(Hat tip to Showbits contributor GeneD)

One Response to “Summer Shorts: City of Scars”

  1. GeneD adds:

    The darker, more violent depiction of Batman is consistent with some recent comic books, the Arkham Asylum videogame, and the Nolan/Bale live-action movies. I did find the production values on this fan-made short to be better than average and more proof that capes and tights can work in live action.

    Although I'll always have a soft spot for the campy Batman of the 1960s Adam West TV series and the current animated Brave and the Bold, I generally prefer the Dark Knight detective as shown in the Timm/Dini excellent Batman: the Animated Series and Justice League cartoons.

    That said, as one of DC's "Big Three" along with Superman and Wonder Woman, there are versions of Batman to suit any taste, from child-friendly and lighthearted (Super Friends) to angsty and grim (Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns).

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