by J.D. Cook
Batman Begins is unequivocally better than the Dark Knight or the Dark Knight Rises. There after many years of secretly holding this view it is finally out for the entire world to loathe. Don’t worry though; I shall explain.
First I will start by eliminating the 3rd film from contention for the title of best Nolan Bat ‘flick’. While I enjoy Rises it easily has the most problems of the trilogy. First Gotham is clearly Manhattan which takes me right out of the movie. Secondly the film’s plot is riddled with holes. How did Bane and Talia discover Wayne Enterprises’ secret Batman supply room when it was off the books and only Bruce and Lucius knew it existed? Secondly how the hell does Bane hold Manha…Gotham for something like six months? I don’t care how good the League of Shadows is or how big their bomb is, the idea that a small force holds that city just doesn’t seem plausible. Also how does Bane get everyone to go crazy so fast? He reads Gordon’s letter from the beginning of the film revealing the secrets he covered up about Dent but only the audience knows this letter belongs to Gordon for sure. I mean wouldn’t most people in the city say…’wait a second maybe Bane is just making this Harvey Dent stuff up?’ Why would they instantly believe a terrorist? Finally ALL the cops are sent into the sewers…uhh…they didn’t leave anyone up top? When they finally escape Batman leads them into a final confrontation with Bane’s forces. The only ridiculous thing about that is Bane’s men clearly all have machine guns and the cops aren’t armed…so why do they even engage them instead of shooting them full of holes?
So hopefully I don’t have to convince you anymore that the Dark Knight Rises is the weakest of the Nolan trilogy. Now it is time to explain why I believe Batman Begins is superior to the critically celebrated the Dark Knight.
Remember when I said that Gotham looked too much like Manhattan in Rises? Well I have a similar problem with the Dark Knight. Gotham is clearly Chicago in that film. I have never even been to Chicago and I know that’s where most of the film takes place. They even have an Illinois license plate on one of the buses near the opening of the film. This takes me out of the film on those big wide pan shots across the city. In Batman Begins Gotham is a real living breathing city. Due to the combination of various cities in the world Gotham looks unlike any city I have been too. The cities infrastructure is even an important plot point in the film as the elevated train system, Wayne Tower, the Narrows and Arkham Asylum all play heavily into the film. In the Dark Knight the film makers didn’t even keep the same Wayne Tower despite how iconic they made it appear in the first film. They also never revisited any of the locations from the past film including the Batcave which was destroyed along with Wayne Manor at the end of the previous film. Instead Batman operates out of a bunker near the docks and while this isn’t the biggest flaw in the film it’s minimalist sleek look leaves a lot to be desired…like a gigantic life size T-Rex! My point is the Batcave and the locations in Begins had character but that’s lost in the Dark Knight.
Onto my next point, Christian Bale really is Batman in Begins. I mean he is the spitting image of Bruce Wayne with the black hair that has one strand hanging down. In the Dark Knight there are a lot of scenes where you can clearly see Christian Bale does not have black hair and his haircut borders on some sort of odd mullet at points. When Bale dawns the batsuit in Begins his voice is intimidating and his first ‘I’m Batman’ is awe inspiring. As most people are aware of in the Dark Knight his voice became a joke (check out the parody below) as the filmmakers altered it to the point of comical. I also think the actual Batsuit looks a great deal more interesting in Begins. It is a blend of the old Tim Burton era suits and what the suit would become in the Dark Knight. The problem is when the suit changed in the Dark Knight it took on a really rubbery appearance. I feel like the best suit would have been if they just added the new helmet piece to the Begins suit but alas they did not. I will say the second suit held up fairly well in the Dark Knight but looked horrendous in Rises for some reason.
Finally the actual stories of the two films are vastly different. Batman Begins is an origin story that focuses on Bruce Wayne’s psychological composition as well as bigger themes such as the difference between vengeance and justice. In many ways this is still the only true Batman film as he is the real main character whereas almost every other Batman film focuses largely on the villain. The Dark Knight is a perfect example of this. While it is certainly nowhere near as villain centric as Burton’s Bat-films it still leans towards the Joker and Harvey Dent’s stories. Plus Batman is portrayed as a pretty incompetent detective for most of the film relying on intimidation and technology to accomplish all his biggest busts in the movie. That said Heath Ledger’s Joker is a scene stealer and maybe the film wasn’t written to make Batman look like a chump but Ledger’s fantastic performance certainly makes him the focus of every scene he is in. The Dark Knight also suffers from a giant plot hole at the end of the film when Batman decides to take the wrap for Dent’s murders. Every time I watch the ending I slam my head off something nearby and scream ‘WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST BLAME THE JOKER!’ He had the city in the grip of a panic, was actually responsible for the deaths since he was the one who turned Harvey into Two-Face and no one would question the Joker murdering people! It would preserve Dent’s integrity and status as a White Knight while not unnecessarily turning Batman into a villain.
Alright that is all I have. I really think Batman Begins is the best of the Nolan films but I’d love to hear your opinions so drop us a line in the comments!