WELL before the release of “The Dark Knight Rises”, there were rumours that Warner Bros was planning to continue the Batman franchise without Christopher Nolan or Christian Bale—just as Sony brought back Spider-Man so lucratively this summer without Sam Raimi or Tobey Maguire. In some corners of the internet, the rumours were greeted with horror: Mr Nolan’s trilogy is rated so highly that many Bat-fans think it would be sacrilegious to let anyone else put the Caped Crusader on the big screen.
But Nolan’s films, as ambitious and intelligent as they may be, aren’t definitive. There’s one element of the Batman mythos that they haven’t cracked, just as Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher lost sight of it during the previous run of Bat-movies. They haven’t captured the character of Batman himself.
In all seven of these films, the titular superhero has been eclipsed by the colourful villains he’s been up against. Weighed down by his clunky plastic uniform, he’s stiff and slow in his fight scenes, and he looks ridiculous in close-up, thanks to his puzzling fetish for black eye make-up. Uptight compared to Catwoman and the Joker, absurd compared to Alfred the butler and Commissioner Gordon, he’s repeatedly reduced to the status of a supporting player in his own franchise.