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Michael Keaton is my favourite Batman

Jhinuk Sen http://JhinukSen

Updated: December 2, 2011, 5:56 PM IST
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It will be 2012 in a few weeks and we can all wait for 'The Dark Knight Rises' and if the stories are correct - Christopher Nolan's Batman - Christian Bale will be hanging up the black cape.

Will there be another Batman? We can't be too sure. But looking back at the Warner Brothers' Batman saga that kicked off in 1989 - 23 years down the line - who is your favourite Batman?

I remember watching the 1989 'Batman' in 1992 sitting in the school auditorium on Children's Day. We had all been thoroughly embarrassed at the kissing scene between Kim Basinger and Michael Keaton and none of us could fully gather why she was shown waking up in the next scene. Why did she go to sleep - we wondered.

That was my first initiation in to the world of the caped crusaders. And it began with Michael Keaton. I was awed by the manor, I wanted the batmobile, I did not want to be Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) but when you are 6 - to want to get to know Batman better - is as swashbuckling as it gets!

Directed by Tim Burton, the 1989 movie introduced Batman's arch enemy - the Joker. Jack Nicholson's psychotic portrayal dragged us in to the world of villains who played with the mind. 19 years later Heath Ledger took Joker to a completely different plane. Minimal physical violence - but the mind was in injured shreds.

What started with Michael Keaton - may or may not end with Christian Bale. But when it comes to comparisons - Tim Burton's Batman kicks Christopher Nolan's Batman's rear. At least for me.

Batman is one superhero who has no 'super' powers so to speak. Batman, moonlighting as Bruce Wayne - or vice versa - just has a lot of money and some good cold vengeance in mind. Intrinsically - he is just a common man who wants revenge for his parents' brutal death. The desire to end evil gives rise to the protector of Gotham City, the batmobile and the bat cave.

Thus, moral dilemmas, base human conflicts and emotions - has always been a part of Batman's psyche. He is larger than life as millionaire Bruce Wayne - the philanthropist who sits pretty in Wayne Manor. But he is even bigger as Batman. The icy gaze behind the half mask - is the mirror to the conflict that fuels Batman. His reality is as regular yet as untouchable as his demeanor.

For me, my first super hero - Michael Keaton nails it. Val Kilmer (Batman Forever, 1995) and George Clooney (Batman and Robin, 1992) are sad excuses to being Batman. And before you whip the brickbats out - Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) comes a close second in my list.

Even if one is willing to side line Kilmer (especially after 'The Saint' avatar) Clooney was just not super hero material.

Bale took Batman to a different sleek level where Batman fails to get his love, he angers the city and Gotham is doubting its protector now. The character of Batman has matured immensely and as all other things in Hollywood and otherwise - has come to become more complicated and heavy. A Nolan style reminder perhaps - nothing is simple.

Batman, in all his integral complexity since 1989, found ground with Keaton and Bale. But first love always wins hands down. Michael Keaton is my favourite Batman.

First Published: December 2, 2011, 5:56 PM IST

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