When Batman first appeared in May of 1939, he wasn’t just brutal vigilante. Rather, he was a determined detective. Drawn by Bob Kane his first outing was in Detective Comics #27 in a six page story entitled “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate”. From there he exploded into multiple comic books of his own, television shows, lunch boxes, movies, and even a box of cereal or two. Since his inception, Batman has become a pop icon, and is without a doubt rivaled only by Superman as the most well known superhero.

Interesting, since Batman doesn’t even have any super powers. What makes the character so compelling isn’t a set of uncanny abilities, but his complexity and ingenuity. He’s had many incarnations, from the campy Adam West television series to the more gothic and dark Tim Burton movies. He’s even been taken on by Frank Miller, author of the Sin City series of comics recently adapted into a film. In fact, Miller’s “Dark Knight” books are widely regarded as the definitive take on the character, though Miller’s vision is darker and more disturbed than anything we’ve seen attempted elsewhere. But that grim vision is really the root of the dual Bruce Wayne/Batman character, and according to Kane, it’s the way he first envisioned Bats when he drew him way back in 1939.

Whichever take on the vigilante hero is your preference, it’s hard not to love Batman. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins marks the first return to his world after the original movie franchise was killed at the hands of Joel Schumacher. I’ve put together a little CB Guide to Batman, to help start your caped crusading off on the right path. We’ve got masked madmen, masterminds, and weirdos awaiting your pleasure.

The Dark Knight Reviewed

Batman Begins
"Batman Begins is a solid re-entry into the comic book hero’s crime riddled world. Missing is some of the exhilaration and fun of its predecessors, in its place is a closer examination into the nature of the character. If there’s fault to be laid, put it at the feet of Nolan who seems to understand the character, but not his karate chops. You won’t see a lot of good “Pow!”, “Bang!”, “Boom!”, or “Zowie!” in this version of Batman, Nolan appears incapable of making that sort of movie. Luckily, the film otherwise captures the Batman so well that any missing excitement can be forgiven."

Batman (1989)
"Holy Great Peformances, Batman, the actors are great. Michael Keaton does a great job being a badass protector of the night and his Bruce Wayne, although a little off-putting on occasion, has some great underplayed comic moments. Early in the film, I wondered if Jack Nicholson was the right choice to play the Joker, but he quickly grew on me... This guy was madcap while still retaining a homicidal edge (while Jim Carrey was great as the Riddler in Forever, I never believed he'd be able to kill somebody). The supporting cast (Basinger, Wuhl, Michael Gough as faithful butler) all do equally capable work. Even Billy Dee Williams is good. "

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
"What do you get when a simple farm boy from Tatooine decides to do cartoons? You get one of the best arch-nemisis Batman has ever faced. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Mark Hamill again reprises his role as the voice of The Joker, Batman's most fearsome foe. Only now Batman is an old man and is mentor to the new Batman, Terry McGinnis. Will McGinnis be able to stop Batman's most fearsome foe?"

Join The Bat-Discussion

Batman Begins – POST WHEN YOU SEE IT - Go here to discuss Chris Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise! Let everyone know what you thought! Make yourself heard.

Rate/Discuss Batman (1989) - Rate the film on a scale of 1-5 and then discuss it. Batman goes gothic!

Rate/Discuss Batman Returns - Rate the film on a scale of 1-5 and then discuss it. Meow.

Rate/Discuss Batman Forever - Rate the film on a scale of 1-5 and then discuss it. Riddle me this.

Rate/Discuss Batman & Robin - Rate the film on a scale of 1-5 and then discuss it. Hi I’m Batman!

BOWLING FOR BOX OFFICE: Batman Begins - Talk dollars and cents. Predict and discuss how many tickets Batman Begins sells.

Discuss Christian Bale - Read and talk about the career of the latest actor to take on the mantle of the bat.

Rate/Discuss Adam West’s Batman - Definitive take on the character or too campy to be allowed back out in the light?

Batman’s Fellow Crusaders

"Most of the movie’s problems are caused by a script so bad that it must have been intentionally written to stink. I mean come on, the plot revolves around naughty beauty products… give me a break. The rest are caused by laziness on the part of Pitof, who can’t even bother to have Patience’s office co-workers wear different outfits from one day to the next. Weirdly enough, he has no problem changing the wardrobe of Patience’s best friend while she crosses the street. Black undershirts don’t normally appear to cover a woman’s bosoms just because the traffic light turns red. "

"Elektra is a massively boring disaster punctuated by bad dialogue and bad directing. The script is a mess and only seems to make sense when nothing interesting is happening. Luckily for them, that’s a good portion of the film. Just once I’d like to see a movie where characters part and give each other a forwarding address. Alas, as if to add insult to my already mountainous injuries, Elektra ends the film by declaring “don’t worry, we’ll find each other”… or something like that. It’s not like I wrote it down. I was too busy running out of the theater."

“getThe Incredibles
"The Incredibles has everything you could possibly hope for not just in a superhero movie, but in great filmmaking. Pixar was already home to some of the brightest group of filmmakers working today, but Brad Bird has shaken things up and managed to take them to an even higher level. Like his previous film, The Iron Giant, The Incredibles has a kind of magic delicacy that’s unique amongst its competitors. He’s made a modern classic that’ll be hanging around for generations, a film that you won’t be finished with until you’ve seen it more than once. The Incredibles is one of the best movies of the year; take your kids or if you have none take yourself."

“getSpider-Man 2
"Spider-Man 2 is like stepping right back in to a familiar friend. It’s not so much a new movie as just a continuation of the original, a visit back into a world which really hasn’t changed so much, for which we’re all the better. Peter’s (Tobey Maguire) still desperately and secretly in love with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) while facing the consequences of accepting the great responsibility that comes with his great power. Responsibility also means he can’t pay his bills and so he lives in a crappy, run-down apartment hounded by a landlord whom he can never afford to pay."

"Surprisingly, even though the Goblin’s costume resembles that of a Power Ranger reject, Dafoe’s body language projects a threatening and deadly presence in battle with Maguire’s Spidey. Each and every scene is a piece of crime fighting JOY as Spider-Man fights two-bit thug and super-villain alike with uncanny wit and an assorted variety of web slinging, fist slamming action. Nothing happens without reason though, as even these scenes serve to further develop the characters within them. Spider-Man fights for a city that has been told to hate him. Saves lives even when the cops are trying to arrest him. He battles the uber-techno Green Goblin high above the city in aerial combat the likes of which I’ve never seen, all while protecting the innocent and his one true love.”

"After a brilliant opening credit sequence, perhaps the first I’ve ever seen to actually incorporate Brail, Daredevil settles in to the business of telling a story firmly from the perspective of a superhero who just happens to be very much blind. Cursed with sadly cliché origins, pre-teen Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is splashed with Toxic Waste. No, he doesn’t become a pizza lovin Ninja Turtle, but rather loses his sight. To compensate, the conveniently available sludge also enhances all his other senses, touch, smell, hearing (and I assume taste) pushed beyond the limits of normal human use. This gives him a sort of radar sense, a super-hearing that lets him see with his ears, rather than his eyes. With superpowers like that, you have to wonder if he’d have called himself Batman had the name not already been so selfishly taken.”

"The film hits its stride in all the moments where del Toro forgets about his silly hocus-pocus Apocalypse and lets his heroes interact and grow. Hellboy’s longing for affection, his friendship with Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman’s struggle to become normal, the Professor's love of his demon-like son, that’s the real point of this film. The things you’ll remember most are little details like Hellboy’s love of kittens, not the way he fought a tentacle. Del Toro’s save the world plot is just filler that should have been cleaned up and straightened out. It wasn’t, probably in the name of staying faithful. The result is an extremely enjoyable experience that could have been even better had Big Red been given a more involving adventure.”

“getThe Punisher
"The Punisher will make you laugh. Unintentionally of course. Who will like this movie? Nerds. Huge flaming nerds who live in their parents basements and collect bad comic books written about superheroes that most of the world has never heard of or for that matter will ever care about. They’ll buy into this thing because it turns all the right pages and hits all the right tickle spots that they’ll no doubt sit and dissect as irony or subtle filmmaking, when in fact it is simply contrived stupidity. There are obscure comic-books out there that might be worth adaptation. With this, the second attempt at making a Punisher movie work, I think we’ve adequately proven that this isn’t one of them. It would be a shame to see a fine actor like Thomas Jane shunned into Dolph Lundgren obscurity, simply for picking up the wrong script. Here’s hoping no one sees this so we can all just forget. ”

“getThe Fantastic Four (1994)
" Back in the early nineties, low budget schlock horror supremo Roger Corman had somehow acquired the movie rights to The Fantastic Four movie license. It’s entirely possible he bought them cheaply when there was no market for superhero movies in the mid-eighties and Marvel were in need of a quick buck. However, in 1994 he ran into a problem; if he didn't do something with his Fantastic Four rights they would lapse and be open to cheap repossession by another studio with Corman seeing none of the profit. So to counter this he stumped up whopping $1.5Million (!) and put one in to production. Then canned it and never released it. From that day on it was destined never to see the light of a commercial release.”

“getBlade: Trinity
"Blade: Trinity is not a disastrous entry into the vampire hunter franchise, but it fails to live up to the slick excitement of its predecessors. With great performances from Snipes, Posey, Reynolds, and Biel, all the blame for that has to be laid squarely on the shoulders of the man of many hats, David Goyer. Goyer was in large part responsible for making Blade what it is, but that clearly didn’t qualify him to direct. With Snipes becoming such a problem to work with on set, it’s likely that this will be the last outing for Blade, unless New Line goes ahead with their proposed Bladeless spin-off featuring the Hannibal King and Whistler Jr. characters. Goyer tries his best with Blade: Trinity but ends up with an entry that is far too often flat and uninspired. It’s a shame Blade’s ride had to end in mediocrity.”

Blade II
"Blade II is so far beyond the original, which was in its own right a good action film, that I fear the original may be quickly forgotten in this stellar sequel’s shadow. The action is tougher, the shooting is sharper, the plot is tighter, the characters better. Director Guillermo Del Toro took Blade and made him twice the hero he was before. No, his personality hasn’t changed, the tone of the series hasn’t changed, nor has anything really tangible about the character or his surroundings been altered in some radical “make this my own” way. It’s just better. Blade is everything he ever was in the first film or in the comics, just to the nth degree. As a result, the character, though he says little, comes off stronger, and more heroic than he ever did in the first film. Wesley needs this character. He IS this character.”

“getX2: X-Men United
" Second time X-director Bryan Singer has created an absolute masterpiece. A consummate blending of deep delving character exploration, team oriented action, amazing set pieces, and PERFECTLY done mind blowing, super-powered, special effects that rip the roof off of any previous effects efforts in the genre. What makes this effects magic so wonderful is that it isn't noticeable as Hollywood trickery. Everything blends together seamlessly. Nowhere does anything in the film look any less than completely and utterly real. At no point does bad cgi creep in, nor overambitious action directing, resulting in such unrealistic karate moves that the audience can no longer buy in. It's an absolutely slick and positively beautiful presentation. From Nightcrawler's trademark BAMF! as he teleports into battle, to the insane weather effects of Storm finally and fully unleashed, each moment of movie misdirection works to fullest efficiency.”

" Look back at the Superhero movies of the past couple of decades, the biggest being Superman and Batman. Both were entertaining, but one of the biggest complaints about the early Batman movies is that while they're riveting, they are almost too dark. Superman on the other hand, while enjoyable, lacked some of the edge that Batman had. X-Men has managed to successfully walk the fine line between these two. Not as disturbingly dark as Batman, but yet it still has the hard gritty edge that keeps the audience riveted to the screen. ”

“getSuperman – The Movie (1978)
"Superman was the first big screen superhero movie that was really any good. Without Super, we probably never would have seen movies like Batman, X-Men, and Blade in our movie theatres... of course we probably would never have seen Captain America or Spawn either. So it's somewhat a mixed blessing. But good or bad, we owe it all to the guy in the big blue tights... Christopher Reeves”

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