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The Hero we Deserve 
30th-Jul-2008 10:04 am
So, The Dark Knight finally came out on this little island and Cheaparse Tuesday rolled around and I finally watched it.

I think I may be suffering a little bit from fan pedantry here. You know the one: when you're so used to the source material of a film that you're stuck judging that film by its faithfulness to the source material and not on its own worth as a work of movie-making art. I try not to be, but a lot of what I have to say about the film, for better or worse, is apparently from a comic-reader's perspective.

Before I dive under the spoiler cut to complain, let me say out loud: Yes!. You know that Eddie Izzard routine when he's talking about American action movies ("You fuck my wife? You fuck my wife?" "I am your wife!") and he does the rapid popcorn scoffing movements? That was me for about the first hour - before my popcorn actually ran out. The action sequences were amazing, the design was dark and gorgeous and Gotham-y. The story warmed my Bat-loving heart. The actors were all superb. Two Face and the Joker were great, Gary Oldman is a spot-on Jim Gordon: his speeches were fantastic. And Christian Bale - oh hell yes (though his Peter Serafinowicz voice was just funny) All in all, two major thumbs up.

The problem (aside from the fact that they did actually hack all the internets), was - and when will they ever learn? -the women. And  - this is where my comic geek starts showing - the women they left out.

Renee Montoya: I refuse to accept I was the only person thinking this - the competent Hispanic female cop, Gordon's ally and trusted friend, his right hand man in a lot of ways? I recognised her so hard I was genuinely confused when someone called her by - whatever her name was in the movie. There was no way this similarity could have been a coincidence. Aside from being the only other significant female character to Rachel Dawes (a judge and a wife aside), she was also the only Hispanic character I noticed, and in every way her character appeared to be that of Renee. You know, until they turned her into a mob-bought pathetic (see how she cried while the man in a similar situation was stoic and brave) bad guy. Until then.

Barbara Jr. What. The. HELL? No, seriously, what the hell? Did they just turn BARBARA FUCKING GORDON, Batgirl, Oracle, all round best superhero in the history of anything ever, into a shivering cowering back-of-head being held by her Mommy? Did they think we wouldn't notice? That even people with very little knowledge of comics (davegodfreyDave was sitting next to me in the cinema) wouldn't say "'ang on a minute..." at that? And she's in the credits as "Gordon's daughter." What were they thinking?

I've never exactly been a fan of the existence of James Jr, mostly because I'm not exactly sure what Frank Miller was trying to do in inventing him (when is anyone certain what Frank Miller's trying to do?), but every. single. line. he has in this movie could (and perhaps should) have been given to the little girl who becomes Batgirl. Instead it looked scarily like they were priming James Jr to be Robin (Harvey Dent had a line about 'Batman's looking for a successor' which made me wonder about Dick). In which case - ick.

I wonder a little if I'm also allowed to be a little 'eh?' about the fact that there was a blatent nod to the Oracle role (in both plot element and visual). with an able bodied man of colour instead of a white woman in a wheelchair. I've decided I am, because where were the other women in the movie? Oh, right, getting blowed up.

Y'know, DC origin stories can be a little weird at times. But of all the ones that didn't need a woman stuffed in a fridge to flesh it out, it was Two-Face's. I mean, come on, he already had a woman in his fridge: this one. The relationship between him and Bruce Wayne was nice, but it didn't need a romantic interest added in. And I didn't really like Rachel Dawes anyway: I felt that she was Just Another Batman Girlfriend: the trope is so old it's boring, and yet DC are still doing it in Batman RIP (I think: I've read all the story so far and I'm still not sure what's happening): Bruce meets girl, Bruce falls for girl, girl finds out what Bruce does of a night, girl is stuffed in fridge and/or dies as a direct or indirect result of Bruce choosing the mission over her. Bruce loses no sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat. Maybe next movie we'll get a Viki Vale. I can live in hope.

Anyway, link me all to your reaction posts? I actually want to know what everyone else had to say.

ETA: The absolute best part  of the great film was the opportunity to shout:
Gordon's Alive!
30th-Jul-2008 09:10 am (UTC)
I had many moments where I thought "Bruce is a dick."

30th-Jul-2008 09:12 am (UTC)
Then we know they got the characterisation spot on, then.

30th-Jul-2008 09:19 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the movie yet, but it doesn't surprise me that they would do things like this. Even with the good super-hero movies Hollywood has made, it seems that they feel obliged to throw things in there to piss off the comic book fans. It's almost as if they are upset that the biggest films are not the Oscar-winning dramas, so to get back at us "plebians", they fuck with things.

Please note, I do not count X-Men 3 in the above. That movie was shit on a cracker because Brett Ratner is a fucking idiot.
30th-Jul-2008 09:30 am (UTC)
I think it's DC payback.

"OK, fine, you can have Stephanie Brown back. And Powergirl and Black Canary can be chairmen of the JSA and JLA, and hey! We'll even put Gail Simone on Wonder Woman and have a feminist writer doing Huntress: Year One.

"But wait until you see what we've done with The Question and Batgirl in the latest movie."

Edited at 2008-07-30 09:30 (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
30th-Jul-2008 10:00 am (UTC)
Are you kidding? I loved the movie! For all your points and more.

(The gun in the courtroom! The references to The Killing Joke! The upside-down conversation! The car chases! ♥!)
30th-Jul-2008 11:53 am (UTC)
Here's what I thought of it.

I'm not a Batfan, so I can't really comment on the faithfulness or lack thereof, but it's certainly true that the female characters didn't get much of a look in.

I would guess that the people behind the rebooted Bat franchise won't touch Batgirl or Robin with a ten foot bargepole, because those characters are too deeply associated with the Joel Schumacher campness that sunk the last Bat farnchise.
30th-Jul-2008 12:12 pm (UTC)
But Joel Schumacher's "Barbara Pennyworth" (or whatever that Batgirl was called) wasn't Batgirl, she was crap.

You might as well say "well, Schumacher's movies were rubbish so we won't have Two-Face. To which I say: UM.

I agree Dick Grayson might not fit in these movies, but if they based his character on the second Robin: Jason Todd, it so would. Similarly, I'd be content if they crippled Barbara and made her Oracle, or even just had her be less of a sniveling pile of poo.

There were some great lines that should have been Babs, but they gave the lines to her brother, for no apparent reason than because he's a boy.
30th-Jul-2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
There's another Hispanic cop in Gotham in Batman: Dark Victory, which is the sequel to the sequel to Batman: Year One (and is pretty good in its own right). But her name is Lopez, and the movie character is Ramirez. Lopez is part of Gordon's taskforce of cops he thinks he can trust, which includes another female cop, named Wilcox, who turns out to be on the mob payroll.

From what I've read, Nolan was heavily influenced by The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, so I guess that Ramirez is just a combination of Lopez and Wilcox. That said, I would have rather seen Montoya show up (and be Montoya, rather than a mob informant).

As for Barbara, somebody said that she was kept mostly offscreen so that if they decide to put her in any of the subsequent movies, they won't be locked into any casting decisions. I'm not sure I buy that, however, because I can't really see the studio heads refusing to cast some actress because she doesn't look like the little girl in Dark Knight, especially after having recast Katie Holmes as Maggie Gyllenhaal. Maybe they just were afraid including Barbara would make it look like they were trying to cram too many references into the movie? I don't know; I'm grasping at straws here because I really don't get it.
30th-Jul-2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
I did a quick google search, and apparently they did intend for the character to by Montoya, and renamed her when they turned her into a mob informant, which certainly didn't work to distance the characters from each other. I don't see why it had to be that character anyway: I would have settled for making Montoya a smaller but decent character and having some other character be the informant. *shrugs*

I thought that as well, re: Barbara, but it equally doesn't fit with me. I just didn't like it at all.
30th-Jul-2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
You're probably going to be both pleased and deeply irritated by
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You're probably going to be both pleased and deeply irritated by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_Batman:_The_Video_Game"#>this then...</a>
30th-Jul-2008 12:23 pm (UTC)

30th-Jul-2008 12:32 pm (UTC)
My original reaction was very short and was merely along the lines of 'Amazing' and 'There is no Heath (barring the Brokeback ref), there is only Joker'.

I have to admit, I kinda kept waiting for little Babs to DO something. Though there's always the possibility she grows up a bit, and becomes Batgirl and no longer the scared little girl. Or something.

As for Ramirez... yeah, it sucks that the female cop ended up... well, not so much corrupt but manipulated. But not knowing my DC, I am not sure what you're referring to with Montoya?

My deepest, sincere hope for... whatever the third one is, is a strong female. Somewhere. Even if it's the villain (but please, for the love of crepes, not Catwoman).

My personal prefs wants a twisted Harley Quinn in the vein of Dark Knight's Joker. One with a backbone that doesn't end up the domestic abused but love-struck trope.

But really, I'll settle for anything. Because as much as I loved Dark Knight, it was a boy's club. (Rachel did have some strong moments, though. But, you know, blew up)
30th-Jul-2008 12:41 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, I kinda kept waiting for little Babs to DO something. Though there's always the possibility she grows up a bit, and becomes Batgirl and no longer the scared little girl. Or something.
There is still absolutely no reason not to have her - y'know, say something, though. That's what got me.

Renee Montoya - a wonderful cop created for the DCAU, who made the crossover into the comics really well, becoming the second Question.

The other female charecter to crossover, though, I don't like. Sorry, but I don't watch much B:TAS and I just don't like Harley Quinn much in the comics. She doesn't seem to mesh well with the comicsverse Joker, and I can't see her fitting that well with someone trying to play Heath's joker.

I quite like Catwoman, but it'd be awesome to see a Huntress, Oracle, maybe a Poison Ivy if they can make her dark and twisty enough.

ETA: Though hell, what would make me happy forever would be a Leslie Thompkins.

Edited at 2008-07-30 12:42 (UTC)
30th-Jul-2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
Here is my post on the film.

And I agree about Batman and his same old, same old relationships. I didn't think that having Rachel added anything in the first film, and would have much rather seen Harvey go to pieces without a WiR. But I get that in this version of things, Harvey needs to have a Very Bad Day in order to go looney. I suppose that I prefer the comics version (as well as the animated version), which tells us that Harvey was on his way for years, but the Abused Child Grows Up to be Nuts is a cliche. And the film's purpose is to prove the Joker's point about how everyone is one Very Bad Day from being like the Joker.

Also, if Batman has to have a woman in his life - which some writers feel is debatable given his total obsession with being Batman - I would rather it be someone like Catwoman or Zatanna, who would be closer to an equal and could take care of herself without a man in a batsuit around.
30th-Jul-2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
If they really wanted The Killing Joke, I maybe wouldn't have minded Rachel becoming Oracle.

I didn't like her much, but I love Oracle, so I'll settle for anything.

I would rather it be someone like Catwoman or Zatanna, who would be closer to an equal and could take care of herself without a man in a batsuit around.
And this is the source of my DC shipping guilty pleasure. *shifty*

Though really I like Bruce without a woman. He's got his hands full with being Batman and his family.
30th-Jul-2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
I don't have a reaction post. I do have reaction fic, though.
30th-Jul-2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
I had two posts.

Instead it looked scarily like they were priming James Jr to be Robin

Director dude's apparently on record as saying "NO SIDEKICKS!" so prolly not. Which does not help the ANNOYING ABSENCE OF BABS WTF.
30th-Jul-2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
If they don't want her sidekicking, that's fine. but she doesn't have to be useless! SHE'S BARBARA GODDAMN GORDON.
30th-Jul-2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
Yep, to all of it. You should see the Barbara rant in my LJ (by me and others)
30th-Jul-2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
Here, for my reference.

Though, I'd have to say that the reason they can't make The Killing Joke, is because this movie is the Killing Joke, with Dent instead of Gordon and with the Joker's scheme actually succeeding, in that case.
30th-Jul-2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
A son losing his dad is something that would resonate more with Bruce so I can see them giving a little more focus on him. And since Barbara doesn't become Batgirl until she's 19, according to the comics, I don't really think there's much she can do besides show up. She looked like she was around seven.
30th-Jul-2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
It's not like the 8 y.o. Bruce Wayne managed much better.
30th-Jul-2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Here's mine. I was just so grateful that they got rid of Rachel that I wasn't particularly bothered by the misogynist under/overtones.
31st-Jul-2008 08:34 am (UTC)
Ha, me too, actually.
30th-Jul-2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
Here's mine, overall I really enjoyed it, I was more disappointed in the women since the other characters were so strong.
30th-Jul-2008 09:04 pm (UTC) - Thoughts on Batman.
The plot was confused and confusing - but this could be because I don't have any knowledge of comics or the character whatsoever.
It seemed like indulgent wank for going on for about an hour longer than was necessary.
Visually impressive, I think it lacked in storyline what it made up for in glamour.

I left feeling mildly disappointed.
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