My Photo

Welcome to Mannionville

  • Politics, art, movies, television, books, parenting, home repair, caffeine addiction---you name it, we blog it. Since 2004. Call for free estimate.

The Tip Jar

  • Please help keep this blog running strong with your donation

Help Save the Post Office: My snail mail address

  • Lance Mannion
    109 Third St.
    Wallkill, NY 12589

Save a Blogger From Begging...Buy Stuff

The one, the only

Sister Site

« Three Happy Zorros | Main | Balloon Lane, I-84 Westbound »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

jim, some guy in iowa

what's needed is to lock the writers of the next Batman movie into a room with a pile of the pre-Miller Batman comics and some Errol Flynn or Burt Lancaster (maybe a touch of James Garner?) movies

I liked Miller's early Batman material, but as I've gotten older my thinking has changed so that the "obsessed, doom-y, dystopic" way has come to seem to be the *lazy* way through life. it's harder to do the right thing because it's the right thing than it is for the right thing to be a happy side-effect of a life-long quest for revenge


One of the flaws of the Batman movies is that they don't have a Robert Downey Jr playing him -- an actor who can be a bit sarcastic as well as serious. And I don't think the people bankrolling Batman movies would take on anyone who threatened to be a little less grim.

Also...I think one of the things driving the current enthusiasm for Guardians of the Galaxy is that it isn't about the same familiar characters that we see getting mined over and over and over and over again. Do I really want to see another Batman movie? I can't get enthused anymore. I'd like to see something creatively different, and Batman has been digging a very deep rut for itself.


I read The Dark Knight Returns when it came out and was really unimpressed. There was a vogue in the 1980s for making "dark" everything, and it was kind of ridiculous. I remember making jokes about Dark Donald Duck (though Will Elder actually did do this for Mad Magazine). The Batman character was unpleasant and annoying and the whole set up and story so outlandish that I had to force myself to finish it. I really couldn't understand the attraction.

I did like the 1960s television series which took a very campy approach, and I did like the detective aspect of some of the books in the 1970s, but I really disliked the whole 1980s interpretation.

I think it would be great if Batman went back to his detective roots, or to his Zorro roots, or to just about anything besides his current dark, dark, dark darkness. There seem to be too many people who think something is profound if you slap an unhappy ending on it. (Granted, this did work for Shakespeare with King Lear, but he was William Shakespeare.)

Jonathan Korman

I will join the chorus weary of Frank Miller's influence on Batman, though I think my objection may be more to the world he inhabits than to the grim and obsessive characterization of Batman. Miller has said that Batman only makes sense if the world is a nightmare, so he constructed a nightmare world for Batman to inhabit.

The Timm/Dini 'Batman Animated Series' (and its sequelae 'Batman Beyond' and 'Justice League') give me what I think of as the "real" Batman, who is on the surface just as obsessive and humorless as Miller's. But because he inhabits a world which contains horrors but is not at root a horror itself, we get opportunities to see that in unguarded moments he is little different ... but in a way that still allows flashes of wit and even warmth to shine through when the situation calls for it. We see this especially in him being The Grumpy One among the Justice League.

So maybe we need to move the needle only a little bit away from the grimdark.

I do want to object to one thing you said about Nolan's Batman.

Nolan is not simply following after Miller, he sees himself as responding to Miller. I imagine him thinking of himself as delivering a stinking rebuke to Miller, actually, though with you I think that a Batman capable of joy would do a better job of that. Their Batmen are too alike. But not, as you suggest, in their relationship with the Wayne persona.

For Miller, as you say, Batman is the true character and Bruce Wayne nothing other than a performance; he has said so himself, calling Wayne "Batman's host body". But Nolan gives us three personas: Batman, Bruce Wayne, and "Bruce Wayne", that last being the billionaire playboy. Bruce Wayne is not just Batman out of the suit. He sees Batman is merely an instrument of his project, to be used only to the degree that he is useful, which is why we see him explicitly creating Batman ... and then as soon as he does that, he starts talking about when he will retire Batman, and he ultimately does it.

I see that as reflecting a difference between the missions of the two Batmen. Miller's Batman fights crime, and Miller arranges it such that "crime" is infinite so that Batman can fight crime forever, past his own death." Nolan's Batman wants to save Gotham, and Nolan arranges a crisis for Gotham such that Batman can really save it.

Gary Farber

"The creators acknowledged it from the start. The movie the Waynes were coming out of when they were jumped by the mugger who shot and killed ten year old Bruce’s parents was The Mark of Zorro starring Douglas Fairbanks."

Well, no, I'm afraid not. The death of Batman's parents wasn't even mentioned until Batman #39 and again in #47. The movie wasn't identified as "The Mark of Zorro" until many years later. It's also varied between whether it was the 1920 version or the 1940 version or even a completely fictional version starring "Tyrone Fairbanks," along with some other variants.


Had the vogue for comic book movies started four decades earlier, Errol Flynn would have made a terrific Bruce Wayne/Batman. (And Fairbanks, Sr., would have, too, come to think of it.) My strongest memory of the film version of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" is Leslie Howard's great pleasure in playing the aristocratic fop - or, more accurately, the way he allows us to see the character's pleasure in pretending to be a fop. Any admission of the possibility of pleasure, however, would undo the dystopian world of Miller's and Nolan's Batman movies, so we can't be allowed to see any of that. For me, it's a worldview that's both tiresome and essentially adolescent.

Lance Mannion

iowa jim, Yes, some more Flynn in him would be good. I'd like to see him bat-swinging around Gotham instead of bat-hang-gliding. Interesting note, Bill Finger, the original writer, used to give Bob Kane pictures of Douglas Fairbanks as models to draw from when depicting Finger's action scenes.

Pzmeyers, Marvel has Jon Favreau to thank for Downey. The studio powers that be wanted a star and at the time Downey was a former star. Favreau fought for him and the rest is history. So in addition to needing a Downey, DC needs a Favreau.

Kaleberg, I wouldn't mind if the World's Greatest Detective made a reappearance. But who'd you want as his Watson? Robin, Alfred, or Jim Gordon?

Jonathan, Very interesting thoughts on Nolan's Batman. Makes me want to go back and rewatch them back to back to back, which I've never done. I like all three movies (although the third one not as much as the first two) and was fine with Bale's Batman and his real Bruce Wayne. Wish he'd been given more to do as the millionaire playboy is all.

Gary, I didn't know that about the deaths of Bruce's parents. I probably should go back and revise the post or add an update. But whenever it became part of the continuity---and it's been there for at least since the 50s---Zorro is an acknowledged influence now and I'd like to see that influence played up.


They seek him here.
They seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?
Or is he in (pause;smile)?
That damned elusive Pimpernell!


The comments to this entry are closed.

Data Analysis

  • Data Analysis


April 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Movies, Music, Books, Kindles, and more

For All Your Laundry Needs

In Case of Typepad Emergency Break Glass

Be Smart, Buy Books

Blog powered by Typepad