Fortress of Fandom: Are Hollywood Adaptations Ruining Comic Book Movies?

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Story By: Lauren Baker, Arts & Entertainment Editor, Art Director

 

As an avid fan of both comic books and film, the popular belief that Hollywood ruins anything they put their grubby, money-hungry hands on is an understandable one. But as far as my own opinions go, they haven’t ruined Batman yet, and that is all I care about.

I love old-hollywood classic films like Sunset Boulevard or Gone with the Wind. Key elements in film-making in the 1920’s and 30’s is the timing. Back then, filmmakers took the time to really focus on details and truly tell a whole story, sometimes even more than you maybe wanted to know but were better off for knowing afterwards. There is a real magic to this kind of cinema that has since been lost if you ask me. But that’s something that classic films shares with comics books: attention to detail and great storytelling. While many, and I do mean many, films of today have a certain lackluster to them, it cannot be said of any Batman film that has been made.

Take for instance Tim Burton’s first Batman film. Burton pulled inspiration from a classic Batman graphic novel, “The Killing Joke” in the production of the film. Mind you, if you haven’t read it, I won’t spoil it for you, but know it focuses on the origins of the Joker(and it’s fantastic across the board). While Burton’s film focuses on Batman’s early career, he keeps two principle elements of the book in this film: attention to costume and the Joker’s descent into a vat of chemicals that alters his appearance and ultimately, his sanity. In the book, the pre-joker is depicted in mafia-wear when he gets tangled up with the Red-Hood gang, and continues to wear it in purple once he becomes the Joker.

If you re-watch the film, Jack Nicholson is clearly in a mafia and dressed accordingly. Most notably, the hat Nicholson wears in the film is identical to the one in “The Killing Joke.” Even in the sequel, “Batman Returns,” Burton keeps the long-established love-hate relationship between Batman and Catwoman in tact.

 Of course, no one can forget how Joel Schmaucher almost did ruin everything with his fixation on rubber nipples, codpieces, and emphasis on terrible ice puns. But Christopher Nolan redeems the franchise a few years later, and gives us throat-cancer Batman. But that’s easily dismissible considering the craftsmanship of the trilogy, and the reinvention of the Joker that no one thought could be done. Least of all by Heath Ledger.

So where does that leave us? None of these films are boring, and pretty much all of them stay true to the stories. Even if they don’t, comic book mythology is constantly changing and reinventing themselves. That’s why we have multiverses. In that light, can we really say that a comic-book based movie is ruining a story? The only way a comic book movie can really be ruined is with bad cinematography, especially bad casting. Yeah, I’m talking to you Ben Affleck.