I have to say, I am a big fan of Batman and all of his related characters. I was pleased with Tim Burton's films, ecstatic with Bruce Timm's animated series, and pretty damn disappointed with Joel Schumaker's sequels.
Fans of the Batman know that the strength of the franchise as a storytelling device lie in its darkness and its complexity. The problem I had with the Schumaker films is that they were so damned campy. Many people had problems with this, as one liners took the place of thoughtful commentaries on human behavior.
The Animated Series has succeeded where other incarnations have failed, presenting Batman as a determined and tortured soul on a quest. The Animated Series also was able to incorporate Batman's cadre of sidekicks (Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, Huntress, etc.) in a way that did not steal depth from the story or compromise it in any way.
Enter Batman Begins
, which I really have to say was terribly impressive. Chris Nolan dealt with the trappings of Batman's story pretty handily. There are a lot of semantics to set up in the legend. The Batcave, the Batmobile, etc. are all pretty corny ideas that he, like Timm, was able to pull off in a stylish and thoughtful way.
The casting for this Batman film was also incredible. While I am not totally sold on Christian Bale as Batman, the others are incredible. Gary Oldman is perfect as James Gordon, and so is Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth. But for me, the best casting of all was Liam Neeson.
Neeson was perfect as Ra's Al Ghul. He captured the calm complexity of the man as well as the madness of his cause. Ra's Al Ghul is more dangerous than any other in Batman's gallery of rogues because he believes he is working for the best interest of the planet.
I felt that the backstory for Ra's was very clever and was a great adaptation of the comic and animated universes, but I still prefer the serial format version better.
Cheers to this film. It has great writing, great effects, a solid story. I look forward very much to the sequels, and to seeing the Joker and Two Face. I know many fans are praying Mark Hamill get the role, I would enjoy seeing that. While I can't say that I would like to see Robin or Superman in this incarnation of Batman, I know Nolan would handle it well.