I posed a question recently to my two UTGP blogger buddies, Brian B and Charles… If you had a Saturday all to yourself, it's raining cats and dogs outside, and there are no house projects to be working on inside, what would you put together for a (roughly) 10 hour Batman marathon? Of all the live-action and animated Batman material that's been released to home video, over the years, what ones would you select for your own, personal, 10 hour Bat-Marathon?
Here are mine:
1) Batman (1989) - 2hrs. 6 min. - Okay, so this film isn't without it's flaws but it could be argued that this film kicked off the abundance of Bat films, tv shows, and merchandise that we've enjoyed ever since its release in 1989. I still love to watch this film. It's the first film that treated Batman as a serious character and reflected the darker atmosphere that was going on in the Batman comics, at the time. This film also kind of represents the "end of an era" for me. The summer of 1989 was the last time I can remember getting REALLY excited about a film (Star Wars Episode 1 came close but failed to deliver) to the point that I was actively looking for merchandise in the stores, reading every blurb about it I could find in magazines, and having my VCR always loaded with my "Batman tape" ready to record any commercials, news segments, interviews, or specials about the film. It seems fitting that this film kicks off my marathon as it's the film the kicked off the "Bat-craze" that started, then, and hasn't stopped, since.
2) Batman The Animated Series: Mad Love (1999) - 22 min. - For my money, The Animated Series that started in 1992 is the most faithful and truest version of Batman (outside of comics) that exists. This is one of my favorite episodes as it was done as a comic book by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm before it received the animated treatment. The way that Joker treats Harley towards the end of the episode is just brutal and shows that this show was meant for more than just kids. My favorite moment, though, is when Batman calls Joker "Puddin'" at the end of the episode. Priceless.
3) Batman the Animated Series: Legends of the Dark Knight (1998) - 22 min. This episode entails a few kids describing who Batman is.. and they all have different ideas. This episode uses different incarnations of Batman from years past to show the different versions of Batman from the kids' minds. It starts with a Golden Age Batman and Robin battling the Joker (complete with giant props from the comics). The characters look like they stepped right off the page of a Batman book that Dick Sprang illustrated. Another segment had me beside myself when I first saw it. One of the kids describes Batman from the Frank Miller series "The Dark Knight Returns" and goes on to show an animated portion of the comic book. I thought this episode would be a good "teaser" for what comes next...
4) The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012) - 1 hr. 16 min. - Fourteen years after Bruce Timm and company teased us with a small segment of The Dark Knight Returns in the weekly Batman cartoon, Bruce Timm was able to helm an actual full adaptation of Miller's epic comic series. I had been hoping for this exact animated adaptation ever since 1992 when the animated series debuted and ESPECIALLY since the episode Legends of the Dark Knight in 1998. Let me say that this adaptation does NOT disappoint. It's a nearly spot-on version of Frank Miller's comic (with a few plot points rearranged, slightly) and one of my favorite Batman movies of all time. To cover the entire comic series, this story had to be split into 2 parts. The first part is everything I hoped it would be and will be a mainstay in my Batman movie library for years and years to come.
5) BTAS: Over the Edge (1998) - 22 min. - I stuck this one in the middle of the two parts of the Dark Knight Returns as a kind of intermission. This episode is kind of an alternate "end of Batman" story so it seems fitting to have it in the middle between the two DKR parts. This is a fantastic episode that starts with the premise that Gordon and the police force KNOW that Batman is Bruce Wayne and are storming Wayne Manor to capture him. I won't give the rest away (there have to be some that haven't seen it… maybe) but it's a fantastic episode.
6) The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2 (2013 )- 1 hr. 18 min. - The second part of this story is fantastic. It includes some great interaction between Batman and Superman and a solution to the problem of the Joker. This epic conclusion is as good as Part 1, if not better.
7) Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) - 1 hr. 17 min. - The way that this movie ties the younger Batman's story in with future Batman, Terry McGinnis, and a much older Bruce Wayne's story is just jaw-dropping. This film cemented Batman Beyond into the BTAS continuity in a way that I would have never expected, at the time. When this was first produced, it was deemed too violent and a tamer version was released to the public. Eventually, though, WB decided to release the superior uncut version and it's an amazing story that turns the Animated Series version of Batman and his allies on it's head. "Earth-shattering" is a word that comes to mind.
8) The Dark Knight (2008)- 2 hrs. 23 min. - I enjoy all of the Nolan Batman films but find the middle chapter to be the best. I wasn't sure what to make of Heath Ledger's version of the Joker when this film was first released, but now find it to be an amazing, fresh "take" on a character that we all thought we knew so well. I tend to be resistant to change but it's nice to have these characters reinterpreted from time to time. I still enjoy the classic depiction of the Joker in things like the comics or Batman the Animated series very much but like having this film to offer alternative versions of these classic characters.
9) Batman: Year One (2011) - 1 hr. 4 min. - I thought it would be fun to finish off the marathon with the beginning of Batman's story. This was one of the books that came out right around the time I was getting into comics and Batman, in particular, in the mid-80s. This story just blew me away. It seemed so real… like it all could really happen. This version of Batman is the one that I'm always hopeful that they will "nail" in the live-action movies. I have to say, the Nolan movies come pretty close, but not quite. So, because this story takes me back to the very beginning of my Batman comic reading, I think it's a great note to end on.
So, that's my list for my own personal "Bat Marathon." I'm looking forward to hearing what Brian B and Charle's picks turn out to be. We'd also love to hear what everyone else likes to watch when they are in a mood for some Batman.