Batman vs Dark Knight

It is nearing that time on the clock when the word of mouth reviews, internet comments, and blogosphere-overtake about The Dark Knight Rises begins to flood our water cooler conversations, favorite blogs, and social networking sites—influx of complaints from the often-heard and self-proclaimed longtime fans come out of the transparent woodwork to spout on about the same old topics they work into every conversation about a movie that was based on a book.

The biggest complaint made of films adapted from books, comic books, or other mediums is that the movie was not “true” to the original story or origins of the characters. Much has been said of Nolan’s movies not fitting the Batman canon and the story not being real according to the real Batman story. Now which real canon might the angry fan base be referring to when they make these accusations and weak critiques? The story where Batman and Robin get captured by aliens and exhibited in an intergalactic petting zoo? There is also the canonical Batman story of him becoming a baby but still fighting crime as Bat-baby, there is even the canonical Batman story of him solving the mystery behind The Beatles’ Paul McCartney is dead conspiracy. Yes, all of these are part of the Batman story that has been on-going for over 70 years and are published DC comic books. The list goes on and on without me even needing to make a mention of, also-part-of-the-Batman-canon, character, Batman Jones (Google him if you’d like).

Batman has been around for over 70 years and it’s normal for people to get attached to characters that have been engrained so well into their world and culture. The issue that people fail to realize is that the characterization that they have of the archetypal antihero and iconic character that is Batman has been picked from a smorgasbord of a medley of different, and often cognitive dissonance inducing doublethink, Batman attributes which were created by various writers over these 70-plus years. When people say a certain character was out of character, from where are they pulling their basis of knowledge for characterization?

You have to understand that origin stories are out of the window for adaptations, especially adaptation to different a medium which requires different plot devices and techniques to move the story along. Nolan’s series was a reimagining of the Batman mythos; one that is of his and his co-writer’s (his brother) creation. Comic book fans should be familiar with this; whenever different writers take on characters, they often change origin stories or add and/or remove powers (when pertaining to super heroes). Batman has been reimagined many times, most famously by Frank Miller, who changed the character’s story completely from its original namesake to that of a darker, older and angrier man.

Using the reasoning of butchering an origin story pertaining to a certain character by not sticking to whatever origin story by whatever certain writer you read in the past is a weak critique to place on anything. Now, I can understand if you simply didn’t like the film for other reasons. But I’m assuming those upset about the “lack of venom” in the Nolan film or other inconsistencies are going into the movie with the back stories of the many comics they have read about.

I just recently got into comics and the reimagining of different mythologies is what made me love them and love the comic graphical medium. DC recently tossed out all of their back-stories and relaunched their characters brand new with new origins and new stories. Something I find to be amazing.

My suggestion: The best way to go into a movie that has been adapted is this way: (If you’ve ever been a fan of “Whose Line,” they often do skits and Drew will say do this certain scene as such-and-such character.) Think of the movies you watch, not as a story from the comic that you loved but think of it as a separate entity starring characters and general themes and motifs you are familiar with.

The Dark Knight Rises is not a movie by Frank Miller or Bob Kane (Miller has pushed for people to understand that when they are reading a work of his they are not reading a nondescript Batman story, but a reimagining of the Batman mythos by him), it is an action/drama that simply happens to feature characters that were created in a comic book in the 40s, 70s, 80s—these characters being separate entities from their comic book equivalents.

Both ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ cultures are known for their adaptations of stories that are changed by the person who is the storyteller. Greco-Roman society was founded on that very principle; The Romans took the images of the Gods of the Greeks and created their own stories to adapt to their liking. One of the first spin-offs, if not the first, that took liberties with back stories was the Latin epic written by Virgil, The Aneid, which was to the Iliad what Torchwood is to Dr. Who or what Joanie Loves Chachi was to Happy Days. Much of ancient Chinese folklore and tales were adapted by the Japanese for their own stories, the Japanese even adapted their entire system of writing from the Chinese stories. The Bible takes many cues from stories from Sumer and Mesopotamia and the Epic of Gilgamesh and so on. Story adaptations are the reason we have a wide spectrum of cultures in the world.

Adaptations and reimaginings of works have been going on since the beginning of recorded history and probably since before then too. So, don’t be that guy. If you didn’t like the adapted movie, don’t use the excuse of it not staying “true.” Ultimately, there’s no one way of telling a story.

If you want a true canonical story, go read the issue of Batman when he gets turned into a King Kong-like beast by a mad scientist’s beast ray and then climbs the highest skyscraper in Gotham, only to be shot down by the military. He then breaks into the mad scientist’s lab, where he is attacked by a tiger and proceeds to engage the tiger in a fight to the death. Batman of course is the victor because of his smarts; he grabs a nearby rhinoceros and proceeds to bludgeon the tiger to death—yes, with a rhinoceros as a weapon.

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