Whatever issues you might have with The Dark Knight Rises, Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane is probably one of the most divisive. Either you loved it or you hated it. Nolan’s take on the villain deviated so much from the comics, it was a wonder why he even chose to go with Bane in the first place. Another strike against Nolan’s Bane is that you could also argue that the character was racebent from the way he’s depicted in the comics. Or not. Personally, I rather enjoyed Hardy’s completely wacky and out there interpretation of the character. Not only are his mannerisms and fuddy-duddy English accent so utterly imitable, but he made a character that is admittedly boring on page really compelling on screen.
The reason that I just spent 100+ words talking about Bane in The Dark Knight Rises is because last night’s episode of Gotham used the opportunity to introduce Venom, the drug responsible for Bane’s abilities in the comic. And the whole time, all I could think about was Tom Hardy in his ridiculous face mask.
In Part One of our conversation with Michael Uslan, the Batman movie uber-producer recounted his decades-long journey to bring a “dark and serious” version of the Dark Knight from the comic pages to the movie screen, a journey that is the foundation of his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman. After a string of Hollywood studios and financiers initially rejected the idea, the Batman film franchise has gone on to earn billions of dollars in box office and merchandising and solidify Batman as a cinematic legend, with even more big screen adventures on the way.
After the jump, Michael and I continue our discussion of what makes the Batman such an iconic — and enduring — character.
Yeah, I said it.
Look, like any good nerd, I normally prefer watching a foreign movie as it was originally intended. When Disney scours Hollywood for top-level talent to overdub their vast catalog of Studio Ghibli titles, I’m not their target audience. And unlike most Americans, I actually don’t mind reading my movies if subtitles are required.
But let me get back to my original point. Of all the Miyazaki movies that have been dubbed in English, I believe Howl’s Moving Castle is the only one that works. Before I get into that, though, I want to talk about what’s wrong with dubbing foreign movies in the first place.
So yeah. That happened.
If you haven’t heard, the Oscar-nominated actor has been cast as Lex Luthor in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Oscar winner Jeremy Irons has also been tapped to play Alfred Pennyworth in the film (which has been pushed to Summer 2016). Best know for portraying Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Eisenberg’s name wasn’t on anyone’s radar for the role — those names belonged to folks like Bryan Cranston and Joaquin Phoenix, to name two. So this news was definitely… unexpected.
Let me start by saying that this post is not intended to be a rant against Batfleck. I’m actually on board with the idea of Ben as Batman, so his fitness to be the new Dark Knight Detective is not what the headline of this article is implying. Instead, as the rumors continue to swirl about the Man of Steel sequel (I refuse to call it Batman vs. Superman because that’s just a dumb title — though these are even dumber), I keep feeling less and less inclined to be happy with the movie. It’s not the sequel we deserve, but it’s the one we’re getting right now. And this from someone who actually
really sort of liked Man of Steel.
Of course, all of the leaks and rumors that are currently flooding the tubes right now could all turn out to be massively wrong. But there was one report that surfaced last week that really made me reevaluate just what DC and Warner Bros. are trying to accomplish with this new, shared cinematic universe.
Last week, twitter was all, well, atwitter when artist Sean Murphy tweeted out a loose pencil sketch of Robin — Batman’s trusty sidekick — with an African American teen under the mask. Needless to say, the internet pretty much exploded when the initial tweet went out. Two hours later, though, Murphy and Scott Snyder deflated many a nerd’s bubble when they clarified that this “new” Robin wasn’t actually meant to be “in continuity.” Instead, the sketch Murphy sent out was only meant to be a brief glimpse into an alternate future in one of the anthology pieces in a special issue celebrating the 75th anniversary of Detective Comics #27 next year.
Still, all the swirl around “the first Black Robin” — and the fact that cross-racial casting of superheroes has been a popular topic on the blog recently — got me thinking about comics’ prototypical superhero sidekick. Few headlining superheroes are as indelibly iconic as the Boy Wonder. He’s also one of the few “legacy” heroes — that is, heroes whose mantles have passed down to different characters over the years — who has successfully navigated through several different and distinct identities without losing any of the iconography (while developing ardent fanbases for each version of the character). He’s also one of DC Comics’ most enduring multimedia stars as well, having been portrayed in several incarnations in very different media.
Earlier I wrote about the endless narrative possibilities available in the superhero comics genre. Of course, comics are not the only medium to enjoy the fractal narrative. Philip Marlowe, the Continental Op, and Sherlock Holmes are ageless detectives forever solving crimes in short stories and novels. If Jet Li had so desired it, Tsui Hark would probably have made fifty more Wong Fei-Hong movies. And the Brits have the idea down with James Bond and Doctor Who.
But while the fractals can expand forever, artists given to make their own new stories and interpretations can sometimes make changes that are so drastic that they change the nature of the character the audience has come to know. Artists should of course be able to bend and experiment with characters to find new avenues, but there must be limits, no? Because the danger in the course of bending a character is the potential of breaking it.