Batman is, to put it simply, an anomaly. He’s a character who has remained one of the most loved and respected superheroes of all time, despite undergoing various phases of reinvention – and a couple of attempts to ruin his credibility completely. When plotted chronologically, this development has clearly been a dramatic one; from the colourful, good natured fun of the Adam West starring 1966 feature film based on the television serial came the peril and twisted humour of the Burton / Schumacher interpretation, which was itself followed less than a decade later by the gritty atmosphere of the Chris Nolan trilogy.
With each new incarnation the characters have become far more grounded in a believable reality while the drama has become more serious and the humour has become reduced to the point of near non – existence. Along the way audiences have been repeatedly faced with disparate emotions; moments which have left them awe struck; moments which have left them in suspense; moments which have made them cheer; moments which have made them cry; and moments which have made them question why they bought a ticket in the first place. Indeed, this constant development of the caped crusader’s character hasn’t been without a few ‘hiccups’ along the way, the exploration and explanation of which is the purpose of this article. So, where to begin?]
When attempting to compile a list such as this, it quickly becomes important to define what the word ‘worst’ means. If it is taken to mean ‘unrealistic’, ‘impossible’ or ‘futuristic’ then there would be little left for me to do but type up every film’s plot synopsis. For this reason, I have defined my top ten ‘worst’ moments as any plot point, scene, character or piece of dialogue which doesn’t fit with the rest of the film in which it features. This has made criticising them somewhat easier, although I have no doubt that I will come up against opposition regarding all of my points. For this reason I ask you to bear in mind that these are my choices alone, based on my interpretation of the films, so if you have anything to add or if you disagree please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
Now, without further ado, in no particular order:
10# The Batpod’s CGI – The Dark Knight (2008)
The chase in The Dark Knight (2008) is arguably the film’s centrepiece; Harvey Dent’s life hangs in the balance; the Joker is captured; Commissioner Gordon makes a surprise return; and there are more than enough crashes, splashes and explosions to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. The IMAX used to shoot the scene gives it a crystal clear visual quality, which combined with Hans Zimmer’s haunting score gives the whole sequence an overwhelming sense of peril and drama. However, there are a couple of things within this sequence which spoil what would have otherwise been a flawless piece of cinema.
The first is the CGI as the Batpod detaches from the Tumbler; the shots of it screeching through malls and packed side streets like a banshee blowing away everything from windows to parked cars are excellent, but in order to do this it first had to be written into the scene. Having Batman arrive on it could have been feasible (he only arrives when the chase is in progress, after all, and there must be other ways to deal with the garbage truck) but instead it is produced at the expense of the Tumbler.
Christopher Nolan is quoted by a crew member on the DVD special features as saying he wanted to destroy the Tumbler at the end of Batman Begins, but didn’t due to plot considerations. This time he got his wish, replacing the military commissioned goliath with the Batpod and simultaneously creating one of the more noticeable pieces of CGI in the entire film. Then, to further the use of unnecessary CGI, when the chase has concluded and the Joker’s truck has been flipped the Batpod rides up a wall, pivots on its rear wheel and settles back to earth. The truck was flipped in the real world using real compressed gas, so what’s wrong with turning the Batpod around like any normal motorbike? When will film makers learn that such obvious pieces of CGI kills movies by dragging the audience kicking and screaming from the immersion which the rest of the scene so carefully creates? Sorry for the rant, but I feel that Nolan and his team detracted from the excellent work they did on creating such a stunt by following it up with something which could have been executed far better.
This article was first posted on October 7, 2011