Review: Batman Begins

Just came out of an advance screening of Batman Begins and was fully intending to review it here but my mind is still reeling.


You’ll have to wait til next week for more than that because I don’t want to spoil a single thing. And there’s plenty to spoil.


Tip your hat to David Goyer, Christopher Nolan and the entire perfectly-cast group of actors. Even Katie Holmes!

6 thoughts on “Review: Batman Begins

  1. No, it most certainly did not. Guy, considering your history of wanting more people of color in comics, how can you defend the choice to turn one of the coolest non-white characters into Liam Neeson with a faux Fu Manchu beard?

    On a purely writer point, how can you justify taking a villain whose levels of complexity include environmentalism gone awry, his desire to become Batman’s father-in-law (let alone the grandfather of Batman’s child), his mystical origins, and the extent of power he wields via his organization and turning him into a villain on the level of the scarecrow who is obsessed with what? The occasional “corrupt” city?

    Had they given him a different name, I would have been fine with it. I do not understand why a writer, in this case Goyer, needs to transforms a character whose beauty lies in corrupted idealism into a silly Osama Bin Laden clone is beyond me.

  2. Ra’s’ true ethnicity in the comics has always been suspect to me, so making him Liam Neeson didn’t really bother me, especially the way they played it. As for the richness of the character not being exploited, there’s no way they could have done it properly in a two-and-a-half hour movie without losing focus of the main character, Bruce Wayne. If they had, it would have been like the first two Batman movies where the villains made or broke the movie and Batman was little more than a cipher.

    Remember, all the things you know about Ra’s comes from years of comic books, not any particular two-three issue story arc. And some of it, to be perfectly honest, is best left on the cutting room floor.

  3. Listen, if they wanted an Osama clone, they could have just made one up. It really is that simple.

    I have no problems with the way they rewrote Batman because it stayed true to the character. The movie stays true enough to the scarecrow to be fine as well. I do not need them to develop Ra’s. I just want them to stay true to the spirit of the character. Case in point, Sauron. The LOTR did a great job of balancing the character to what is realistic to portray in a film.

    Frankly, Ra’s is most definitely not white. But if you are telling me that Liam Neeson with hints of yellow face is okay, then we can end this discussion right now.

  4. “…hints of yellow face”

    I can see your issue if you consider the comic book Ra’s to be Asian, but despite his [purposefully?] vague nomadic origins that have sometimes, depending on the writer, suggested he might be of Chinese descent, I’ve never thought of him that way. Fu Manchu beard aside, he’s almost always been depicted as an oddly Caucasian-looking Middle Easterner; even his name is Arabic. If anything, my guess is they cast Neeson to avoid any potential backlash over yet another stereotypical Middle Eastern terrorist.

    As to the essence of the character, he’s still on a mission to cleanse the world, and instead of him being kindasorta immortal, it’s his organization. It’s not the “occasional ‘corrupt’ city” they conspire against but rather the symbols of a depraved society at its nadir, in this case, Gotham City. The fall of Rome, the Plague, the Depression… all events sparked by them to bring about change. Sure, you could argue he’s analagous to Osama Bin Laden, but comics villains have always taken their cues from the societal ills of the day.

    IMO, the changes they made, not just to Ra’s but across the board, simply streamlined things to be more effective in a movie that went out of its way to be as realistic as possible.

    You seem to be making two separate arguments here; one, that he should have been cast as Asian, and two, that they should have incorporated more of his comics backstory. The former is definitely debatable, and I gave my take on it already. The latter, though, is untenable, IMO, as it would have tipped the balance of the movie away from its focus on establishing the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman, a mistake Tim Burton made both times, with wildly different results.

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