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)

Why So Serious?

10-Dec-08 2:50 PM by
Filed under Films, Humor; 3 comments.

Yesterday saw the DVD release of The Dark Knight, Batman's last cinematic manifestation. Like no one else I know, I chose not to partake of its theatrical debut, and it's not high on my home theater's priority list.

But I am always ready and eager to mock anything this popular. Courtesy RiffTrax comes this exclusive audio from a rather revealing deleted scene:

The clip is a promotion for their RiffTrax of The Dark Knight:

Despite these parodies, I actually am a fan of the Gotham Knight. I count the original Michael Keaton film, Mask of the Phantasm, and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker all among my personal library, and I am eager to add the complete animated series to my collection. If you want to read about some superheroes I actually could do without, check out IGN's top ten list, "Worst Comic Book Heroes on Film". I wholeheartedly concur with such choices as Spawn, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and <shudder> Daredevil. Sigh. Why can't all superhero movies be super?

The Dork Knight

18-Jul-08 12:45 PM by
Filed under Films, Humor; 4 comments.

Today is the release of The Dark Knight, for which I, a diehard DC comics fan, am not waiting in line to see. I was thoroughly underwhelmed with its predecessor, Batman Begins — Christian Bale just isn't the man to portray Gotham's caped crusader.

That opinion is a happy consequence of the fact that there isn't one right way to portray the Dark Knight. There have been many interpretations of the character over the years, and Web 2.0 has allowed fans to put him in their own tales as well. The dark, landmark short "Dead End" is one of my favorites, as it plays on many of the grim aspects of both Batman and the comic book medium that are so appealing.

"Dead End" also provides a sharp contrast from which to create more humorous takes on Batman. Ever since Frank Miller (of 300 and Sin City fame) wrote The Dark Knight Returns in 1986, most incarnations of Batman have depicted him as brooding and violent character. So any return to the campiness with which Adam West first brought Batman to life is a welcome relief, such as shown in this recent release, entitled "Batman's Bad Day":

This film is funny for more than showing how superheroes treat each other when not in crisis management mode. Showbits contributor Hiphopguy23 hates the Man of Steel for having every other character's superpower, usurping any other hero's usefulness. It's past time to see him and his god-like brethren put in their place — and the quintessential Boy Scout's uncharacteristic riposte is a great zinger.

Another recent entry into the Batman fanfilm category is one that doesn't feature Batman at all, and again features a surprising ending. I give you "The Interrogator":

This is just a small sampling of the creative output of the Batman fan community; a more complete index can be found at BatmanFanFilms.com. And if you too are uninterested in today's theatrical release, check out Dayton Ward's Batman gallery, which takes the audio and action of the Dark Knight trailer and recreates it using a variety of media, from animation to LEGOs. Finally, remember that the animated film Batman: Gotham Knight is now available on DVD, serving as a bridge between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.