Speaking of Hollywood and remakes/sequels, I just don't get the big hype about the Nolan Batmans. I mean yeah, after the Schumacher crap they're a bliss, but c'mon! Those murky, video-like colors, rather average plain-action photography, often-deplored plotholes, and inconsistencies with the characters can't compare with Burton's visual masterpieces, especially Batman Returns. I mean, people receive death threats over negative reviews of the Nolan Batmans, WTF? And why make a comic franchise's setting realistic and bland? That's just not art, just like making a movie ain't just waving the camera around in the general direction of where the action is.
And no, Nolan didn't start this whole "the superhero is the same as the supervillain" business that everybody's raving so much about since Nolan's second Batman. Jack Nicholson told Michael Keaton how much alike they are, and Michelle Pfeiffer suggested to Danny DeVito and Christopher Walken that what it takes to break Batman is to turn him into "us".
I give Nolan that he does have an extraordinary talent when it comes to casting. Keaton will always be my favorite Batman, but Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman are just stunning, so were Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy, and I can't see enough of them on screen, and Anne Hathaway sure is the hottest Catwoman ever since the camp 60s series. On top of that, Nolan's great at making straight-action flicks with terrifying gadgetry where you don't have to think much because something's going BOOM! or ZOOM! any two seconds.
A number of reviews give Nolan that he's great at action but his films fall flat whenever there's any quiet moments. Not to mention I badly miss the fantastic and the whimsical, yes, in parts even subtle irony that Burton could give us. Oh, and I clearly see the "right-wing fantasy" in the third Nolan Batman as some reviewers called it, and that looked like Nolan had listened to a senile Frank Miller comparing the Occupy movement to the Taliban. We should have been warned when in Nolan's second Batman, the Caped Crusader had no problem with giving the police the means to permanently violate a number of constitutional rights, such as privacy of telecommunications. Nolan's ultra-brutal, nihilistic, part action-thriller, part neo-noir approach often feels like Batman: Holy Terror where in an alternate history, the Dark Knight is a bailiff, prosecutor, and judge of the Catholic Inquisition.
Burton didn't do ultra-brutal neo-noir, he did whimsical fantasy, psychology, and philosophy in an expressionist setting second only to Terry Gilliam's epochal milestone that was Brazil which also influenced both Burton Batmans. And that's just what Roger Ebert got wrong about Burton's and Nolan's Batmans (beside never getting Brazil to begin with, and still he likes Dark City): He said he didn't like Burton's Batmans because noir and heroes just don't mix (when Burton wasn't doing noir to begin with!), but today he loves Nolan's Batman for "blurring the line between hero and villain", which is the very definition of noir!
I wonder what's Nolan's spell upon the people. On the influential fansite batman-on-film.com, every fan reviewer said with every new Nolan film that this was the greatest Batman film in history, yes, even the greatest film of all time. Then when the next Nolan film came up, they began with scrutinizing their own former fascination with the prior installment, saying that after a few years that one has worn off and upon closer examination, they must have been under some weird spell to say what they had been saying because of the marketing hype...BUT THIS TIME NOW, IT'S SURELY THE GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME! Add to this weird pattern the many death threats against people that review a new Nolan Batman negatively. What's going on here?
And yes, BOF.com is an influential fansite. After the Burton and Schumacher Batmans had been treated separately on Wikipedia for years, that fansite pressured Wikipedia into combining them into "the same unrealistic, campy crap" (even though the owner is the only one of that opinion even on his own site). Just because the owner and admin of BOF.com hates Batman returns with a passion because Batman once uses the Batmobile's exhaust flame to fend off one of the Penguin's thugs. Just because of that, he calls Batman returns "a failed, pretentious, incomprehensible Burton art film where some Batman characters have short cameos" and that that makes both Burton Batmans "just the same crap as the Schumacher films" because "the studio were dumb enough to let both of them do what they wanted" until they "saw the light and hired Nolan".
Sure, Nolan has good casting and cool gadgetry and car chases (tank chases?) and explosions, but Burton achieved far more on an aesthetic, psychological, and philosophical level. Without flirting with "right-wing fantasies" (yes, Burton had gothic-Fascist architecture, but that didn't make the plot sympathetic to it, make the good guys fight for it, or make the audience root for it). And he put my favorite actor into the Batsuit, who could show a range of different, subtle emotions beside radiating blind, grim determination and smug self-assuredness (though I give Bale that he's good at those qualities that Nolan demands out of him). Who could sense and delicately show the pains of a tormented, brooding soul, and the irony of his entire responding act without losing the overall darkness. Who was not much of a party-goer, but who was believable as a charitable philanthropist who could derive a sort of social life and satisfaction from negotiating business deals beneficial for the community of Gotham. Who didn't make Batman or Bruce Wayne into a thin mask for the other, but rather two reconciled, different personalities that were independent and supporting each other beyond the fact that Bruce Wayne was "the guy with the money". There's a reason why Bruce Wayne often speaks of his "good friend" even in Nolan's films, and in Batman returns, he doesn't say, "I mistook you for somebody else" when beginning to realize that Selina Kyle is Catwoman, no, he says, "I mistook me for somebody else..."