'The Batman' Screenplay by Tom Mankiewicz

Discussion in 'Batman Begins' started by atomicbattery, Apr 5, 2005.

  1. atomicbattery

    atomicbattery Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Messages:
    414
    Likes Received:
    7
    Please be warned- this is for ToM Locust, but I think could be of general interest.

    Tom Mankiewicz was the first writer to have a crack at a serious big screen Batman back in the early eighties. The script drew heavy influence from the Englehart & Rogers run (Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne), and from the 'Untold Legend of the Batman' miniseries. It did not contain the scene of Thomas Wayne in the batsuit at the charity costume party (more happily, it omits stuff like the Harvey Harris bit).

    It isn't perfect- the Joker is weakly written, and Robin is awkwardly crammed into the third act- but it reflects the tone of the comics of the time, Gordon is an actual character, and the first third is a real attempt to explain the journey of Bruce Wayne the boy to Batman the man. The structure is similar to the first Superman film (not surprisingly, since Mankiewicz is largely credited with creating what became the final 'Superman' script), and the scenes of Batman on his first night out are more thrilling than any I've read in any Batman script.

    Now, mind you I didn't want to spoil 'Begins' so I only treated myself to a couple of early scenes- between young Bruce and Thomas. And I thought that the tone was pitch-perfect.

    I first read about Batman coming to the big screen back in high school. In 1983. Starlog magazine had an article about Mankiewicz writing 'The Batman' (for a summer 1984 release!). It's been a long time, but I think that- despite the rubber suit- Christopher Nolan may have made the movie that I wanted to see when I excitedly read that story all those years ago.
     
  2. C. Lee

    C. Lee I'm not old...I'm ancient

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Messages:
    63,438
    Likes Received:
    9,142
    If it was for a specific person...it should have been in a PM. Since it is of general interest, I changed the title.
     
  3. lujho

    lujho Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    5,341
    Likes Received:
    4
    Yeah, I liked a lot obout this script, from what I can remember.

    I think there's one bit where he's learning ballet as a young teen as a way to hone his skills, whi I always liked.

     
  4. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Messages:
    3,618
    Likes Received:
    0
    ^ nice scene.

    I liked Mankiewicz's script for the most part. Some of the sublte corniness I didn't like, and the fact that he completely set aside the urban legend angle (although granted, at that point, it was not in continuity).
     
  5. ultimatefan

    ultimatefan The Batman must come back

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2001
    Messages:
    38,117
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you consider that the script was written in the early eighties, before Frank Miller, it isn´t so bad. But the second half, especially, has a lot of campy stuff. And it was that script that kinda started the whole Joker as the murderer of Bruce´s parents.
     
  6. atomicbattery

    atomicbattery Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Messages:
    414
    Likes Received:
    7
    ultimatefan, you may remember that Joe Chill is the murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne in 'The Batman'. He IS part of a larger conspiracy involving the Joker and Rupert Thorne (I believe that the script shows the Joker giving Chill an envelope filled with cash).
    I think that credit- or blame (ummm... I'll go with blame) for the idea of the Joker as the man who actually pulled the trigger in the murder of Bruce's parents must go to Tim Burton and Sam Hamm.
     
  7. CrimsonMist

    CrimsonMist Registered

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,716
    Likes Received:
    10
    i enjoyed this script very much, but i felt they should have turned it into 2 movies. The 2nd half seems crammed(basically, everything from the introduction of the penguin should have been its own movie). They could have wrote an ending for the first half. The Penguin is only introduced to show what the Batmobile can do, which is so pre-crisis haha, but i enjoyed it.

    I like how in the begining, they show Bruce and the girl after doing the in & out...which i think shows off that womanizer, playboy. I really loved the subway scene as well.

    It was an interesting take on the Joker, but if you think about it, at the end, Batman is beating up like a 60 year old crazy guy. I would have prefered the joker be a creation in BATMAN's life time like in the pre-crisis comics.

    but a great script. I actually wanna edit it alittle bit and make it abit more post crisis if thats possible at all
     
  8. DACrowe

    DACrowe Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2000
    Messages:
    30,595
    Likes Received:
    357
    I've read it.

    It does have some cool scenes and a few (and I use the term loosley) ideas ended up in Batman Begins

    but on the whole it sucked. The story with Silver and all was fine, but Joker while a killer was still a comedian no different than Lex Luthor in Superman The Movie other than the fact that he took everything less seriously and his deaths (which were quite a few mind you) were as watered down as the ones in STM.

    Penguin was window dressing.

    Robin was annoying and basically the Robin from the Batman TV show of the '60s put on the big screen and only introduced into a third rushed act which outside of the death of Silver played its climax like one in that show with giant instruments and playing cards and all...ugh!

    Lastly, while Batman started off a dark avenger of the night, he became a joke as the movie went out going to city parties and shaking hands with the city elders with a big smile (sound familiar?) and was far too slapstick humorous when he was younger making robots and and holograms with AI when he was 7 or 8 and some ****.



    Terrible in the end, if not just plain mediocre, be happy it was ditched for Sam Hamm and be even happier that we are getting an even better origin movie than either this June too.
     
  9. DACrowe

    DACrowe Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2000
    Messages:
    30,595
    Likes Received:
    357
    P.S. It was supposed to be the "companion ccopy" to Superman The MOvie. You know like the little sort of spin-off in many ways and I do think that Tom underplayed Bats to Supes in this for personal favorite reasons, or just which he enjoyed writing better, because this was easily the more inferior script.

    P.P.S. Joe Chill did kills Bruce's parents in The Batman, but because he was hired to by Joker, who then dispatched Chill, so Joker indirectly killed them and then on top of that the reason why? Joker turned out to be dirty political muscle for Rupert Thorne who was running for City Council against Thomas Wayne. So in essence it wasn't a random act of violence, it was a political manuevere done by Thorne and Joker and his gang carrying it out because Joker is apparently Rupert Thorne's ***** in the movie (post change which we never see because he exists before Bruce is even a teenager).



    As I said it has a few great moments but it is ultimately medoicre.
     
  10. atomicbattery

    atomicbattery Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Messages:
    414
    Likes Received:
    7
    I agree DACrowe- great moments but ultimately mediocre.

    In its favor, it is the only Batman script I've read where I felt that the writer truly dug into the comics for inspiration. The finale, for instance, features giant props out of Sprang and Finger, which were also used in the Rogers-Englehart run, and while you realize that it probably wouldn't work on screen, it's nice to feel like you're reading the work of a writer who may actually have opened a few Batman comics.

    As I said before, I only read a couple of Begins scenes because I didn't want to spoil it, but I know that Goyer has done his Batman homework, the scenes I did read felt absolutely right, and Nolan appears to have shot some spectacular stuff.

    I was so excited when I read that Starlog article as a kid. I thought that a great Batman movie was a year and a half away. Turns out it was more like twenty plus- but hey, better late than never.
     
  11. Triad

    Triad Sofa King Suite!

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
    Messages:
    1,914
    Likes Received:
    0
    I remember reading that Starlog issue...Man, does that take me back!
    P.S.- "Nicely said" to all the posts here!
     
  12. The Guard

    The Guard Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2002
    Messages:
    32,780
    Likes Received:
    360
    It wasn't that bad. We're talking about 1983. The script nailed the feel of the comics at that point in time, and the years before. The Joker was a comedian in THE BATMAN? Gee, if only he was always serious in the comics. The Penguin was window dressing? No, The Penguin got about the same treatment Scarecrow's getting in BATMAN BEGINS, and he was everything he'd always been in the comics in that script. Robin felt a little tacked on, but it worked fairly well at the same time. The script had a fairly serious tone, NAILED the origin, NAILED Batman and Gordon's first few interactions, NAILED his first night out, and had a great take on Bruce Wayne's parents and his relationship with them, and was also clearly partial inspiration for The Tumbler's rooftop drive. The villainsd worked together well, and the love interest worked pretty well, too, with Sliver St. Cloud. I think they even managed to use The Laughing Fish storyline. It's pretty darn good, and it nailed the mythos to that point, considering it doesn't have YEAR ONE and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS to draw from.
     
  13. Maxwell Smart

    Maxwell Smart Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Messages:
    5,909
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree 100%. Heck, I think with the proper re-writes it could have even made a good flick today.[​IMG]
     
  14. graveyardtramp

    graveyardtramp Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    452
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah, I also agree that it is not bad, considering it was pre-DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and YEAR ONE, most people still had the 1966 TV image of Batman in their heads, and it was only a few years after Mankiewicz's work on the SUPERMAN movie (which also started out as a serious screenplay that reverted to campiness once the villains were introduced).

    And I liked the line an impressed Alfred delivers after the young Bruce Wayne performs an amazing acrobatic routine while blindfolded:

    "Why sir, you were as blind as a bat."
     
  15. atomicbattery

    atomicbattery Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Messages:
    414
    Likes Received:
    7
    triad- You remember that Starlog?! 'Return of the Jedi' Preview on the cover!

    I used to take the streetcar once a month to the comics shop. Jeff, the owner, knew I was a big Batman fan. He said 'check this out' when I walked in and handed me the article. I think that he later regretted it. I asked him every month after that for five years if he'd heard anything new about the movie.

    Ah, the days before the internet.

    OK, Grandpa's done reminiscing, you kids can go back out and play.
     
  16. Two-Face

    Two-Face Harvey Dent

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2003
    Messages:
    48,170
    Likes Received:
    1

    That's funny!! I can see Michael Caine saying that in Begins...



    Hahahaha!!!
     
  17. ultimatefan

    ultimatefan The Batman must come back

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2001
    Messages:
    38,117
    Likes Received:
    0
    Like I said, for a pre-Miller Batman script it wasn´t so bad, but it´s very campy and silly at times, moreso in many ways than Mankiewicz´s Superman script.
     
  18. Wolverine_05

    Wolverine_05 Can't think of anything

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Messages:
    774
    Likes Received:
    0
  19. MatchesMalone

    MatchesMalone Registered

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Messages:
    3,618
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was actually rather pleased with the first act of the script. It was the complete tonal and structural change of the last act that killed this script for me. Why spend 40 minutes of a film building up a serious, dark interpretation of the character only then to destroy that characterization with camp and sillyness in the last act? Inconsistent tone, and rather lame, plodding structure as if the writer didn't know how to finish this script.
     
  20. Rambo, John J

    Rambo, John J Registered

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2001
    Messages:
    1,721
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cheers Wolverine
     
  21. Antonello Blueberry

    Antonello Blueberry Inglorious bastard

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2000
    Messages:
    7,925
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sam Hamm was vehemently against the idea of Joker being the killer of Batman's parents. That was a rewrite asked by Burton and Jon Peters, during the writers' strike when Hamm was no longer working on the project.
     
  22. Van Petrol

    Van Petrol Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Messages:
    17,207
    Likes Received:
    0
    I haven't read the whole script yet, but I really enjoyed Bruce's first outings as Batman. They were done quite well.
     
  23. ultimatefan

    ultimatefan The Batman must come back

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2001
    Messages:
    38,117
    Likes Received:
    0
    That´s one of the biggest issues I have with Burton´s take. I never read Hamm´s first draft, which is said by some to be great, but this shows how important the colaboration between writer and director is.
     
  24. lujho

    lujho Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    5,341
    Likes Received:
    4

    True. And that's pretty much exactly how I feel about Superman The Movie. The complete tonal shift as soon as it gets to Metropolis. Okay, everything with Superman is great, but EVERYTHING regarding Lex... ugh, I hate it. Were the same serious tone maintained throughout I'd feel the movie was the almost perfect Superman movie everyone else seems to feel it is. As it is, it's... well, not as good as it could have been.

    I really need to read Mank's Batman script again now. I really do remember loving the early stuff.

    I could be off base here, but Guard, I read a script for the first episode of a Year One show you did. I thought it was great, was this Batman script an influence in any way?
     
  25. Riven

    Riven Registered

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    Messages:
    6,625
    Likes Received:
    0
    I haven't read that script by Mankiewicz, but from what I've heard (there was a pretty extensive script review of it at IGN), I didn't like it.

    B89, for all its flaws, had a superior script.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice
monitoring_string = "afb8e5d7348ab9e99f73cba908f10802"