Friday, March 18, 2011

The list of changes in the movies

"You can't exactly replicate anything from one form of the media to the other. Things that work perfectly in comics won't work perfectly in movies." (-Stan Lee) 
Part of the Batman/comic book fanbase is quite preoccupied with how faithful the big screen adaptations are to the comic book source. For a fact, none of the movies are, and they all made numerous and significant changes - changed origins, merged characters etc. All of them took liberties, none more, none less.
The puzzling aspect of it is that faithfulness has nothing to do with quality. Whether it’s faithful or not is irrelevant to how good the movie or the story is. In the long run it has nothing to do with a quality. Being faithful to the source and quality are two completely different things which do not affect each other. The great late Stanley Kubrick's The Shining had little to do with the actual book, yet it's a masterpiece. However at the time of the release it fell victim of this misguided criticism. Adapting stories into movies is not a concept of who can do a more identical adaptation, that’s not the point of it and it’s not how it works, otherwise all adaptations would be a mirror images of the stories. Kubrick knew the book and didn’t make changes accidentally. He took the interesting aspects of it and the core of it but used it as a springboard for an original and great movie. It’s about taking a core of the mythology and adjusting, changing and using what suits and serves a new and original story of the movie, not to have a checklist of what to do.
It shouldn’t be important whether a movie is a good Batman movie – it should be important whether it’s a good movie period. If the filmmakers were limited by being faithful to the comic books it would’ve been terribly limiting, and we wouldn’t have an original, comic inspired characters like the tragic character of Penguin in Batman Returns or the young, face cut masochist that the Joker is in The Dark Knight.
The Animated Series' "Heart of Ice" is one of the most praised stories yet it completely went against the comic story, making Mr Freeze a character with pathos. Should it be condemned because it's not like in the comics, or should it be praised for the creation of a tragic character and a great story filled with heart and pathos? 
James Cameron once said that you may do a perfect justice to history, but you may not get the feel of the experience/event right. It’s more important to get the feel of it rather than historically accurate facts

James Cameron: I feel personally that one could be very factual about [the source subject] and very correct and not be as truthful emotionally. (Charlie Rose int. 1997)

Also, one must remember that there’s no such thing as “right” Batman or a “definite” Batman. The character went through different variations, and each is just as valid as the other. As Jonah Nolan and Bruce Timm said, there’s no definitive version of the character, there are just different flavors.

Jonathan Nolan:  Just like walking into a comic book store and seeing 8 different versions of Batman, it feels very natural to have the same sort of thing with the movies.(BOF 2008)

Bruce Timm: I’ve said it over and over again – Batman as a character is such a strong concept, he’s the kind of character that you can take him in any number of ways and it still feels right (PR 2010)

Tim Burton wasn’t familiar with the comic books before he went on to do Batman and also, neither was Christopher Nolan and they read only what was passed to them by studio and their writers. Nolan specifically said that he only knows the character but was never a fan of comics that’s why he hired someone who was - Goyer, which is an exact situation with Burton and the comic expert Sam Hamm.

Christopher Nolan: Ive always been a big fan of the character but I am by no means any kind of comic book expert. I felt I needed a writer on the project who really knew the character, really knew the comic world (Making of Batman Begins)
While I’m not a huge comic book fan — I never pretend to be, it’s very dangerous to pretend to be a comic book fan — I was smart to surround myself by writers like my brother (Jonathan Nolan) and David Goyer (verbicide magazine)
“The source material is irrelevant. The challenge with Batman is to find what is a believable character. You put your stamp on it.” ( int 2012)

That way there’s a great mix of approaches – a gifted director who isn’t familiar or restricted by the knowledge of the comic books and a writer who knows it all. Joel Schumacher was the only Batman director who had a prior experience with the comic books, reading Batman when growing up

Then there’s the issue of the time frame. Tim Burton’s movies are almost entirely based on the original year of Batman, with a small mix of modern age thrown in into the mix. Not a big time frame, and the same goes even for Nolan, whose movies and Bat world, even tho reflecting the Modern Age, are based on a handful of comics which weren’t even a part of the regular series. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that because its about quality - a characteristics which supersedes faithfulness and quantity.
Also, whether the era lasted for only a year or decades is irrelevant. Batman was a campy, smiling character for decades and most of his history. The longevity also has nothing to do with quality, and one era is no less valid than any other.

And if for some reason one is hung up on changes to the mythology done by the films, then there’s nothing for him to look at in any of the movies.  

Lets  just take a look at the changes


* Batman:
 - In the movie Batman has a yellow oval emblem from the beginning instead of the early suit with big black bat and a mask with short ears. The yellow oval and longer ears didn’t appear until later in his career, according to every continuation. One may also point out the two extra points on the Bat emblem, but it was done several times in comic books, mainly the 1980s. For example, see The Killing Joke (original unaltered release) and The Dark Knight Returns
- Uses black eye makeup 
- He wears an all black body suit instead of a two colored spandex suit. Even though a handful of times throughout the history he’s been shown to wear a Kevlar or bulletproof vest underneath the spandex, he was still wearing a spandex suit (and also, the instances of Batman wearing Kevlar underneath the suit comparably are so rare that in comparison to all the history, it’s like a drop of water in a pool)

* Vicky Vale being a blonde instead of a redhead
* Gordon in the movie isn’t a habitual smoker and doesn’t wear glasses
* Harvey Dent is an African American
* Alfred isn’t a an extremely thin, black haired balding man with small mustache
* Joker: 
- His previous identity is not Red Hood
- He is the murderer of the Waynes
- Has a revealed name (while technically not a contradiction and the name appeared numerous times later in the comic books, up until 1989 his name wasn’t mentioned)
* Waynes’ Murder:
- There’s no indication that the Wayne family went to see The Mark of Zorro
- Two killers instead of one (although as in the comics, there’s a strong evidence that it was a mob job under the cover of robbery)
- The identity of the killer is Jack Napier instead of Joseph Chilton nicknamed Joe Chill


1. Batman:
- Wears an all black body suit instead of a two colored spandex suit.
- Eye makeup
2. Catwoman:
- In the movie she is wearing all black vinyl suit instead of spandex or a dress
- Max Shreck is the man responsible for her trauma that releases her inner side instead of a plane crash that does it in the comics
- She doesn't steal anything. Although reinterpreted many times over the years, Catwoman is depicted as pursuing monetary gain – either by stealing jewels or going directly for the money itself.
- In the movie she’s a secretary instead of a flight attendant or prostitute as in modern age (although the blond hair, the nine lives ambiguity and the awakening of a different side after a head trauma is all from golden age)
3. Penguin:
- In the comics he wasn't a deformed freak seeking revenge on society, but a diamond crook and a mobster
- In the movie he doesn’t try to act like a gentleman of crime
- In the movie he leads a circus gang  
4. Gordon isn’t a habitual smoker and doesn’t wear glasses like he is in the comics
5. Alfred isn’t a an extremely thin, black haired balding man with small mustache like he is in the comics


1. Dick Grayson’s parents are killed by Two Face instead of thugs hired by Boss Zucco
2. Robin:
- Wearing Tim Drake's suit in the movie
- Wearing a body suit instead of spandex
- Initially reluctant to stay with Wayne
- Has nipples on the suit
3. Riddler:
- Edward Nygma was never working for Wayne Enterprise in the comics
- Idolized and obsessed with Bruce Wayne
- Extremely flamboyant
4. Batman:
- Wears a body suit instead of a two colored spandex suit.
- Eye makeup
5. Arkham reflects the version shown in The Animated Series more than the then comic book version (although after Arkham has been destroyed by Bane it was relocated to a castle-like structure)
6. Dr Burton being a head of Arkham instead of Jeremiah Arkham
7. Gordon isn’t a habitual smoker and doesn’t wear glasses as in the comics
8. Alfred isn’t a an extremely thin, black haired balding man with small mustache as in the comics


1.Mr Freeze:
- His origins and story reflects that of The Animated Series, not the comics
2. Robin
-Wears Nightwing’s costume
- Has sculpted nipples on the suit
- Wears a body suit instead of spandex
3. Batman wears a one colored body suit and eye makeup
4. In the movie Jason Woodrue creates venom and Bane
5. Bane:
- In the movie his name is revealed
- In the movie he doesn’t team up with characters who are his trusted and loyal servants and who played an important part in his origins: Trogg, Bird and Zombie
- He also doesn’t break out alone from Pena Duro
- Isn’t extremely an extremely intelligent, well read and skilled genius
- Isn’t obsessed with Batman
- Works for Poison Ivy
6. Batgirl:
- Wears a body suit
- She's not Gordon’s daughter, although it’s worth remembering that the Batgirl in Batman and Robin wasn’t really based on Barbara Gordon beyond the use of her first name. She was really an amalgamation of two characters from the sixties comics: the original Batgirl, Betty Kane, and Alfred’s niece, Daphne. If you evaluate her depiction in those terms, she’s actually very close to the comics.
7. Gordon isn’t a habitual smoker and doesn’t wear glasses like in the comics
8. Alfred isn’t a an extremely thin, black haired balding man with small mustache like in the comics


1. Ra’s Al Ghul : 
- Didn’t teach Batman in the comics
- Calls Batman “Bruce” instead of “Detective”
- Is the same person as Henri Ducard
- Isn’t immortal
- Doesn't have a daughter
- Doesn't wear a green cape 
-In the movie he is (indirectly) responsible for Bruce's parents' death 
2.  Henri Ducard in the movie:
- Isn’t a greedy French detective who taught Batman detective skills and gave him a firearms training, and instead is merely an alter ego of Ra’s Al Ghul
3. “The League of Assassins” is called “The League of Shadows”
4. Origins of Batman are redone: 
-Rachel character is present during his fall into the cave
- Waynes go to the opera instead of theater
- In the comic books, young Bruce Wayne decided to become an outlawed crime fighter days after his parents' death and almost instantly started his quest. He used his parents money to travel the world incognito at the age of 10, leaving to Tibet with fake ID and documentations in order to allow him to travel at such young age, to learn different skills from best masters in the world, (all that while studying law and acting goofy and unfocused in the University to avoid suspicions in the future)

Bruce trained different things with different masters, body with someone different, mind with someone different, chemistry with someone different, guns with someone different and detective skills with someone different.
His origins and motivation in Batman Begins were altered from the comic book version. None of the above actually takes place and Bruce is shown as a troubled and flawed young man driven by selfish revenge which he promised his parents, who comes to understand the wrongdoing of his actions and motivations. That gives the character a little more complexity and drama, giving him a character arc very early in the story. Bale's Bruce goes to Princeton and eventually drops out. He then comes back to Gotham with the intention of killing Joe Chill. As Bale said, up to that point, he was a spoiled angry young man with no understanding of real life. It wasn't until Rachel's rough talk that this angry young "prince" started rethinking things and changing. his way of thinking. Right after Rachel's harsh words he went on to think things over and eventually changed his entire outlook also realizing that the gun that he was holding was a tool used to take the loved ones from him and he never used or thought of using guns again. Confused and lost, he decides to leave everything behind and run. He leaves to Asia where he learns how regular, "real" people live, living among the poor and seeing how criminals work and think, eventually ending up in a prison but still without any purpose or meaning in life. Christian Bale describes Bruce in this phase of his life as an "older angry guy in the jail, in Bhutan, and discovering who he is and getting some sense of purpose" (Rebecca Murray int. 2005) , confirming yet again that he didn't have one before. He discovers his purpose thanks to a mysterious visitor who introduces himself as Henri Ducard but is in fact Ra's Al Ghul, who recognizes the confusion and lack of purpose in Bruce and offers him one.
After a long journey to the top of the hill, Bruce realizes what he truly wants in life, which is  seeking the "means to fight injustice" and is then trained in martial arts by the League of Shadows. He turns against them since he refuses to kill.
Also, this altered origin story makes no reference to his time training with law enforcement agencies.

He spends the whole time training his body, but we never see him training his mind.
- In the comics Bruce attempted to kill Chill with the same gun that his parents were killed with, not with his father's gun 
5. Flass is fat and weak, instead of being a very tall, strong blonde man who's an ex green beret
6. Gordon isn’t a habitual smoker
7. Batman doesn’t startle Gordon each time he makes an appearance as he does in the comics
8. Alfred isn’t a an extremely thin, black haired balding man with small mustache
9. Batman
- Wears body suit instead of two colored spandex
- Eye makeup
- Isn't shown as being skilled in advanced technology or chemistry ("I'm meant to understand any of that?"), and having someone do it for him instead. While in the comic books there was Harold who fixed and designed different gadgets, he didn't appear until late in Batman's career, long after Wayne had already built and designed everything by himself
10. Jonathan Crane has actually minimum in common with his comic counterpart
- He isn't an old, incredibly skinny college professor set on revenge on the University that he taught at
- Owns/works in Arkham
- Is a criminal psychiatrist
- Works with Falcone and Ra’s
- When gassed with his own poison Crane sees a demon in Batman, but his biggest fear in the comic books were birds (and later bats)
- Doesn't wear a hat and wears only a mask instead of an entire costume 
- Doesn't seem to have Scarecrow's unique "violent dancing" fighting technique 
11. Arkham isn’t located in outskirts as in the comics
12. GOTHam City doesn't really have any Gothic features
13. Zsasz:
-  Isn't a blonde guy
- In the movie he is a mob hitman for hire as oppose to his comic counterpart who is blond man killing only for sadistic pleasure and not teaming up with anybody
14. Joe Chill:
- In the movie he's a frightened man pushed by depression instead of being a killer for hire as he was in both pre and post Crisis continuities
- His name is actually Joe Chill instead of Joseph Chilton
15. Commissioner Loeb:
- In the movie he's an African American
- In the movie he doesn’t appear to be corrupted or plotting with Flass against Gordon
16. In the movie Lucius Fox is a technical expert who knows Batman’s secret identity and builds his weapons for him. In the comics he’s just a CEO who runs Wayne Enterprises and his background is in finance, not applied science.


1. Joker: 
- In the movie HE is (indirectly) responsible for Two Face’s insanity and scars. 
- Wears makeup instead of having a permanently dyed hair and skin

- Entire origins are redone since he’s not a deformed bleached person, the fall into chemical vat doesn’t take place. Also, it was the first glance at the deformed self that pushed him into insanity in the comic books
- Is far younger than the comic counterpart which was clearly depicted as an aged man  
- As oppose to the comic books, hes a masochist and doesn’t react to pain
- Has a long and curly hair
- Doesn’t have any kind of personalized gadgets and killer prank accessories
- Doesn’t look like the classic mobster in a hat, striped pants and evening suit
- Doesn’t appear to be preoccupied with his looks and obsessed with himself
- Doesn’t match any of the comic book incarnations (although takes pieces from some of them and mixes together). He’s not the Golden Age Joker since the Golden Age Joker was lusting for diamonds and art pieces and wanted to kill Batman.
It was also someone who deeply cared for his reputation and didn’t want to fail or be embarrassed in public.
He isn’t the Silver Age Joker as he’s not a relatively harmless prankster and a crook, and he also isn’t the Modern Age Joker since the Modern Age Joker is a person who was permanently bleached and uses gadgets like Batman does, from acid pies to exploding pillows. He is called a "Clown Prince of Crime" because he truly is a clown and is behaving like one, doing everything in a big way acting like a ringmaster, using hideouts related to his clownish personality like deserted amusement parks and similar types of places. 

Also, the Modern Age Joker mentioned several times that he doesn’t want him dead, yet there were far more instances where he had every intention to kill him after that. 
- Is a physical match for Batman – that only happened in the very first issues of Batman and only because every single villain at the time was a physical match for Batman. The Joker few issues down the road and the Joker of the Silver and Modern Ages never stood a slightest chance against Batman

- Doesn't use the smile inducing deadly toxin 
2. Batman
- Wears padded bodysuit instead of two colored spandex suit
- Eye makeup
3. Gordon isn't habitual smoker 
4. Batman doesn't startle Gordon each time he makes an appearance 
5. Alfred isn’t a an extremely thin, black haired balding man with small mustache
6. GOTHam city isn’t a gargoyle and church-filled Gothic looking city
7. Jonathan Crane not being an old, incredibly skinny college professor set on revenge on the University that he taught at
8. Comissioner Loeb being an African American, not being corrupted, not working against Gordon
9. Two Face: 
- Gets his lucky coin from his father instead of Maroni. Throughout his history from the first appearance to the Modern Age/Post Infinite Crisis years (1942's Detective Comics #66, 1946's Batman comic strip, 1951′s Batman #68, Detective Comics #187 and 1980's The Untold Legends of Batman)  the coin was an evidence in the court belonging to Moroni, however it's important to note that The Long Halloween, one of the handful, out-of-regular-run releases which Nolan's movies are mostly based on, depicted the coin as belonging to Dent's father. The official "Who's Who in DC Universe" guide also describes the coin in 1989 as belonging to Maroni and being the evidence in court against him. 

One must remember that The Long Halloween was not a part of the regular continuity, however since in the end there IS a comic that pre exist the movie depicting the coin as being his father's, one may chose not to accept it as contradiction
- Gets his face burned in fire instead of getting it splashed with acid by Maroni 
- Goes insane because of the loss of Rachel instead of going crazy over his look
- There is no reference to Two-Face having the split personality of his comic counterpart, nor is there any reference to his  obsession with the number “2” or crimes connected to that motif. 

Special thanks to Silver Nemesis for his input. If you have any confirmed additions, feel free to make the suggestion in the comments 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Arkham Asylum: On paper and screen (quick overview)


Page from Who's Who in DC Universe #1 

Arkham Asylum was created by Dennis O'Neil, the person responsible for the Modern Age version of Batman, also credited for creating the modern Joker. The Asylum first appeared in 1974's Batman #258 and by then it was called an Arkham Hospital. The name was inspired by the name of a fictional Massachusetts city in one of the H.P. Lovecraft stories. 
While Dennis O'Neil was the creator of the institute, it was Len Wein who gave it a backstory in 1985 

Arkham's debut in Batman #258 

Arkham, since it's very beginning, has been located outside of Gotham in a wooded area, however in the late 70's it was described as being located deep in the suburbs of Gotham, albeit that has been forgotten later since it's been always shown to be in a secluded, inhabited area surrounded by wildlife.

Arkham has been very consistent and continuity has been good to it, outside of handful of one-off stories who occasionally depicted it looking differently, but THE Arkham was a fairly regular looking building/institute, often first introduced in the story by a panel showing its entrance plaque. It has been expanded in The Last Arkham, where the security level has also been significantly upgraded and modernized.

Arkham has been most commonly shown to have small padded cells since it's an institute for the insane, but has also been shown as having the regular cells.

The look of the Asylum naturally drastically changed in later years, since the original Arkham has been destroyed by Bane in Knightfall. The asylum was relocated to a large mansion which was inspired by the look of Arkham in the Animated Series and looked more like a castle.


Since Tim Burton's movies were predominantly based on the original year of Batman in which no special prison or Asylum existed, it doesn't appear in this version


The Arkham Asylum in Schumacher's movies is heavily based not on the comic book version, but on the Animated Series look instead. The Asylum is a large, Gothic castle-like structure situated well outside Gotham on a big hill

Batman & Robin shows a different angle of the Asylum and also reveals the river at the bottom of the hill.

It also has the signature entrance plaque

As in the comics, the movie Asylum has small, padded cells and the inmates are immobilized by straitjackets. 

As a nod to Tim Burton, the director of Arkham doesn't resemble or bear Jeremiah Arkham's name, but instead looks like and is named after Tim Burton


The Arkham Asylum in Christopher Nolan's movies, or rather in Batman begins as it doesn't appear in The Dark Knight, visually resembles the comic book Arkham as it's a regular looking, older building that could be easily seen as a realistic institute or even a prison.

However what differs significantly is the location. The Arkham Asylum is actually located in Gotham, in the downtown, slums part of the city referred to as Narrows.

The interior and cells resemble more of a conventional high security prison look

In Nolan's Batman world, there is no mention of Jeremiah Arkham as well and as it's usually done with the cinematic Batman stories, characters are merged together to make the story more cohesive and connected together, and the head psychiatrist and the head of Arkham in Batman Begins appears to be Jonathan Crane AKA Scarecrow

This is the third of Falcone's thugs
you've had declared insane and moved into your asylum.

The exterior location of the Arkham Asylum is the severe 40s-style National Institute for Medical Research, the Ridgeway at Burtonhole Lane, Mill Hill, NW7, north London.
The interior stairwell, where the SWAT team encounters a flock of bats, though, is the elaborate Gothic stairwell of St Pancras Chambers, attached to St Pancras Station, Euston Road, London NW1, originally Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Midland Grand Hotel, a lavish palace of luxury for Victorian travellers.The last word in comfort when it opened in 1873, the hotel was soon overtaken by changing demands. Ironically, the building’s solid construction proved its downfall. Unable to accommodate such modern improvements as en-suite bathrooms and central heating, the hotel inevitably closed down.Its ceilings were boarded over, its lavish rooms divided up into offices, and in the sixties the wildly unfashionable extravaganza came close to being demolished. Grade I listing finally ensured its survival and radical restoration means that it will soon function as a luxury hotel again.St Pancras Chambers was an asylum, too, in Richard Attenborough's 1992 biopic Chaplin, in which Charlie’s mother (Geraldine Chaplin) is confined after her mental breakdown, and was also seen in the 1976 WWII melodrama Voyage of the Damned, and in Robert Bierman’s 1997 film of George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying, with Richard E Grant.