So, Nathaniel at The Film Experience this time decided to go with what was happening at DC right now, the 75th anniversary of Batman.
The Dark Knight
The Caped Crusader.
The Goddamn Batman.
And he’s opened up wide enough to allow for us to select any particular shot from any particular Batman film on the subject… I was too lazy to read the instructions to figure out if it demanded the shots be strictly from the nine feature films to have been produced on the World’s Greatest Detective or if it could go beyond that, but it doesn’t matter…
My selection is something that is always the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of Batman movie. And well, I’d like to have made it a gif, but I don’t have that time or ability. And also, well, I really would have liked to have scraped my shot from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm or Batman Begins, both superior Batman films in my opinion to the one I have ripped my image from and both filled with gorgeous imagery.
But the moment I thought of Batman movies, the very first image popped in my mind came from the biggest hit the superhero franchise has ever seen – Christopher Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight.
From the moment I first saw the trailer for The Dark Knight, this shot of Batman swerving the Batpod around the Joker to a skidding anticlimax has hyped me for the movie more than any-damn-thing else in its massive marketing campaign. And it’s for the reason that so many elements are easily coming into play here…
We got the two main forces of the film, the heroic and the evil, practically dancing around each other. We got the city lights surrounding them for their little arena. The Batpod’s design, it’s not that it blows my mind so much as it shouldn’t exist. It feels essentially like Tim Burton’s little Batman-Joker-vehicle showdown in his 1989 film. It’s a little more grounded this time around – replace the longshot pistol for the tommy gun, the giant batwing for the glorified tank axle and we got ourselves a superhero quick draw on the circus maximus.
That’s how you make a large-scale epic without calling attention to the fact that you are fucking epic.
And then the hero throws the fight. Batman has Joker wide-open for becoming roadkill and at the last second causes injury to himself by refusing still to stoop to the Joker’s methods of retribution. And the camera is right in the way of the action, the Batpod swerve leading it straight to us, and the Joker’s head tilted facing the missed shot like a father disappointed in his son.
But of course, I’m not going to lie, this shot also elicits all of my favorite influences altogether… the night, the noir, the dangerous city. It’s evokes feelings of Blade Runner in its settings, but the swerving of the Batpod really evokes the moods…
… of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. And that just made 15-year-old Salim straight up giddy.