Batman films are huge business, but there is at least one man who feels they can be improved.
Frank Miller set Batman on his ear as a character in 1986 with the release of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It completely reinvented the tone of the character and had a major influence on the entire comic book industry that you can still see the ramifications of to today.
Variety spoke with Frank Miller at Lucca Comics & Games this week in Europe, and he had some thoughts on what changes could be made to Batman on film.
My dream would be to make it much smaller. To lose the toys and to focus more on the mission, and to use the city a great deal more. Because he’s got a loving relationship with the city he’s protecting. And unlike Superman his connection to crime is intimate; it has been ever since his parents were murdered. And he defeats criminals with his hands. So it would be a different take. But it will never be in my hands, because it would not be a good place to make toys from. There wouldn’t be a line of toys.
I couldn’t agree with him more. Batman is supposed to be the greatest detective in the world, but how often do you see him using any of those skills in the movie? You saw it briefly in The Dark Knight, but otherwise it is all about the fights, vehicles and gadgets.
As for his “intimate” relationship with crime, Miller is again right. Yes, we have seen the murder of Thomas and Martha (Why’d you say that name?!?) Wayne, we’ve seen Bruce mope, occasionally visit their graves, but then it just feels hollow. This is the driving force of every moment of Bruce’s life. It is what has defined him, and through his actions as Batman, that of an entire city.
None of the Batman films I feel have fully captured the comic book version of the character, and I don’t think they ever will. No one wants to take the time on film that would be required to properly lay him out. It is amazing to many people that have worked on Batman films cite Miller’s work as their influence, and yet they don’t seem to get the core of the character at all.
To me, most of the people I’ve seen on screen as Batman are just that, actors playing role. No one has truly captured the essence of the character yet.