Re: The Official Batman Returns Thread - Part 2
The scenes in which Batman kills in Batman Returns aren't handled as scenes of him viciously killing - most or all of the circus gang members he "kills" don't actually necessarily die. Take the moment where he straps the bomb to the Tattooed Strongman: For a lot of people who hate that the Burton-Keaton Batman doesn't abide by that "one rule," this is the perfect exemplar of what's wrong with this version. And I kind of understand that, because if you just look at that moment on its face, and particularly look at the sick grin on Batman's face, it's a bit too cruel. But take a moment to see that the explosion that follows is pretty pathetic and cartoonish, and actually much of the violence in BR is - the attack by the Red Triangle gang is in the manic mode of a Warner Bros. cartoon, and Batman doesn't necessarily kill any of them. But he doesn't have that guiding principle that tells him not to, either, it's true. That's from the first year of the comics, but the argument that that's what Batman was like pre-Robin is a better one for the 1989 film. For Returns, I think the better argument for Batman not having his "one rule" is this: It's essential to this movie that Selina/Catwoman act as a dark example, a cautionary tale, of what Bruce/Batman could become if he follows - or continued to follow, perhaps - a path of vengeance. This Batman is rougher, with "Dark Knight" tilted much more toward "dark" than "knight," and you need to have a Batman who doesn't care about killing in the name of justice, at this point, for the point-counterpoint of Batman-Catwoman to work as well as it does. That point-counterpoint is really only brought out or made explicitly clear in the climax in Penguin's lair, but it's crucial.
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