The Dark Knight Was Good, Batman Begins Was Better

Last night while channel surfing, Andrea and I came across Batman Begins on TV. After having not seen it for a long time, I had forgotten how good Batman Begins really was. In fact, it’s better than the sequel, The Dark Knight. The reasons?

1. The movie length was just about right

The Dark Knight felt too long and drawn out, despite only a 12 minute difference in time length (Batman Begins was 140 minutes and The Dark Knight was 152 minutes). The story was more complex with the Dark Knight and Christopher Nolan felt he had to give us more to satiate what we got with Batman Begins.

2. There was a lot more classic lines and comical relief moments

The Dark Knight had an emotionally darker Batman, but to some degree, it became too serious. Christian Bale (as Batman/Bruce Wayne) had a lot more comical relief moments and classical lines in Batman Begins than in The Dark Knight where most of the time he always seemed to be pissed.

Who can forget some of these lines from Batman Begins?

[after taking a ride in The Tumbler]
Lucius Fox: So, what do you think?
Bruce Wayne: Does it come in black?

Bruce Wayne: [about the prototype Batsuit] Tear resistant?
Lucius Fox: This sucker will stop a knife.
Bruce Wayne: Bulletproof?
Lucius Fox: Anything but a straight shot.
Bruce Wayne: Why didn’t they put it into production?
Lucius Fox: Bean counters didn’t think a soldier’s life was worth 300 grand. So what’s your interest in it, Mr. Wayne?
Bruce Wayne: I wanna borrow it. For, uh, spelunking.
Lucius Fox: Spelunking?
Bruce Wayne: Yeah, you know, cave diving.
Lucius Fox: You expecting to run into much gunfire in these caves?

Lucius Fox: Well, what is it today? More spelunking?
Bruce Wayne: No. Today it’s BASE-jumping.
Lucius Fox: BASE-jumping. That like parachuting?

[concerning the memory cloth]
Bruce Wayne: Too expensive for the Army?
Lucius Fox: I don’t think they tried to market it to the billionaire, spelunking, BASE-jumping crowd.

Quotes courtesy of The Internet Movie Database. Although I will note that one of my most favorite parts of The Dark Knight is when the Joker shows the mob bosses his “disappearing” pencil trick. That part was wicked.

3. Batman Got Beat By The Joker

The star of the movie is usually the main character, the protagonist, in this case, Batman. We generally don’t go see a movie to enjoy the supporting actor or actress. That’s not to say that the supporting actor or actress shouldn’t put up an excellent performance, but the lead actor or actress should perform as good or better. In Batman Begins, it was clear that Christian Bale was the star. In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger stole the show with his excellent performance as the Joker.

Image courtesy of Rotheblog.com.
Image courtesy of Rotheblog.com.

4. Two-Face Looks Too Fake

With Batman Begins, Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul play convincing villains that I can exist. At least the Joker is believable, but I think a better job could have been done on Two-Face’s “look”. I doubt a person could survive for very long with half their face completely exposed, especially an eyeball with no eyelids. How does the eye stay moist and proect against foreign objects like dust? Can you imagine how much difficult it would be to sleep with one eye open all the time?

5. Initial Shock Value

Batman Begins was a complete reboot of the Batman series. No one quite knew the details of what Christian Nolan and David S. Goyer would imagine in the new story except that Batman would be darker. Once people saw the new Batman, that was it, this was the new Batman. Unfortunately like a majority of sequels, the bar is set much higher for The Dark Knight and while it was definitely good, it wasn’t better than Batman Begins.

22 thoughts on “The Dark Knight Was Good, Batman Begins Was Better”

  1. I totally agree, even though I’ve seen Knight twice and loved it. I keep rewatching Begins just for Bale’s intensity and humor. He got short-changed in Knight.

    I also thought Bale had more chemistry with Katie, even though she was totally wrong for the role. Maggie is a great actress, but I just didn’t buy it that two guys would go ape-sh*t over her.

    I’m still hoping that they don’t overshadow Batman with the villains in the next installment, now that they’ve learned how to strike gold. Heath was great, but Batman/Bruce Wayne rules!

  2. Originally Posted By rocky69
    I also thought Bale had more chemistry with Katie, even though she was totally wrong for the role. Maggie is a great actress, but I just didn’t buy it that two guys would go ape-sh*t over her.

    I agree, Maggie is definitely the better actress, but the chemistry just wasn’t there with her with Bale or Eckhart.

    I’m wondering who the next villains will be? Perhaps The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Bane?

  3. Totally agree, some moron on my film course has seen it 4 times and once more in IMAX, and fanboy reaction has been overblown.
    I loved Begins, (although i’d have preferred to have seen an Aronofsky take on the franchise). but the dark knight was a major buzz-kill after a years worth of hype from its viral marketing team.

    The narrative felt rushed and often muddled, Ledger (all respect to heath) really couldn’t do the character justice with a pg-13 rating, and to be honest, there were points were I wished I was watching Nicholson again.

    Bale’s Bat-voice was laughable at times, and the bit where the Batpod did a back flip against the wall was just cringe worthy.

    There were some great moments (the joker watching the hospital collapsing, or the ending where escapes from the police for example), but the critical reaction has been ridiculous, minus some of the more esteemed film critics from independent papers managing to see sense amongst the hysteria.

  4. @Rorschach – I was going to mention about the raspier voice that Bale does for Batman. I had mentioned to my wife, but she didn’t notice. But CNN did talk about it.

    The narrative felt rushed and often muddled, Ledger (all respect to heath) really couldn’t do the character justice with a pg-13 rating, and to be honest, there were points were I wished I was watching Nicholson again.

    I agree, at times it seemed like the story was jumping around so much, it was hard to get coherence. I need to watch the original Batman again, it has been too long. It seems other people on the internet agree that The Dark Knight should have been rated R.

    …where the Batpod did a back flip against the wall was just cringe worthy.

    At least it wasn’t as bad as in Batman Forever where the Batmobile has the wall climbing grappling hook

    (although i’d have preferred to have seen an Aronofsky take on the franchise)

    You know, I like The Fountain despite how poorly it was received by critics. Yes, it would have been interesting… For those that don’t know, Aronofsky.

  5. Agreed. It was also too hard to find a blog that was saying this. I also couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t like Knight as much as Begins, but you are definitely right about the lack of comic relief. All of the other reasons were apparent to me right away, but I didn’t even notice the lack of classic lines until I read it here.

  6. I agree with the case. I’ve watched “Batman Begins” 5 times and “The Dark Knight” only once.

    Here my reasons:

    1. “Batman Begins” is begun, continued and ended with a nice genuine story rather than “The Dark Knight” in which Joker is a supper-supper-natural plotter only by himself.

    2. “Batman Begins” is more classical, emotional and influential especially in a moral view in contrast with “DK” which has only more ACTIONS/ADVENTURES.

    3. As other fellows above have mentioned, “Batman Begins” has a powerful influential Dialogues in contrast with “DK”(Remember “Finders keepers”; “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I *do* that defines me” and …).

    4. Actress Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes) in “Batman Begins” is exchanged with another one(Maggie Gyllenhaal) apparently without any convincing reason in the “DK”, which has a very bad influence for the watchers of the “BB”.

    Sincerely yours…

  7. Yes, I agree. I can’t add much to what has been said. I was just curious to see if there was anyone on the web with this point of view. It might seem silly, but I’m wondering if the title of the film just failed to capture the attention. I know the film passed me by when it came out, but when I watched it on DVD I thought ‘Wow!’. It’s now in my top ten list. Christian Bale was good in Batman Begins, and I’m looking forward to Terminator Salvation.

  8. Yes – I agree.

    I had to Google this just to check since Dark Knight has been so MEGA hyped, and is unreasonably high on IMDB.

    Apparently I’m not alone then…

    The think that strikes me after having watched the dark knight is that I’m not quite sure which scene it is that’s suppose to make this movie so super-duper-über-great.

    DK has a lot of good scenes and a decent flow, very few bad scenes that doesn’t fit in. It all flows pretty smoothly but nothing really stands out as “exceptionally good” either.

    I watch the Joker and he does a good job, not as good as everyone thinks though. I watch the batman and I have to say he’s underutilized, a pretty stereotypical growling and fighting batman. I watch Bruce and he’s more wooden than ever. I watch Lucius and I think he has one really good scene (refusing the batman black mail). Two face is just ridicules, it screams CGI and I can’t stand it, no one could live like that and no doctor would permit a patient to be like that. Maggie Gyllenhaal feels completely misplaced.

    The big hostage situation at the end is as old as the grave and just feels like a big time waster.

    Batman Begins has a grand sense of adventure where anything was possible, DK feels like a bunch of characters trapped in an aquarium going through the motions.

  9. I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who thinks that Ledger’s Joker was not very good, and that the only reason it is so praised is because he wound up killing himself.

    Oh sure, he played a very good lunatic with an explosives fetish, but he didn’t play the Joker. Did he actually make any jokes? The only scene that seemed like the Joker to me was when he made the pencil disappear.

    Batman Begins, in my opinion anyway, is the best comic book movie ever made and it will be a long time before another one tops it.

  10. nice to see people who felt like me,dark knight was too messy and the joker lacked humor,thats the thing about the joker a psychotic killer but can have some funny line,but i understand what the dark knight was tring to do,and it did it perfectly its just that batman begins is way more ENTERTAINING, and the cast liam nelson as ras was good but they could have done more with scarecrow

  11. plus in batman begins batman was more flexible you could see him fighting and in dk it was just a guy in a really irritating custom and maaaan the stupid voice it was better in bb

  12. Batman Begins was way better. It had an actual story, not just mind numbing overwrought action scenes. Dialogue was way better. The villain in Begins was written more smartly, more subtle, not an overacting hype job like Ledger’s Joker. I fell asleep during Dark Knight. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

    Also agree about the female lead. I had no interest in Maggie Gyllenhaal at all, none, zilch. Despite Katie Holmes being a nut job Scientologist, she held my interest 1000x more than that old bag Maggie.

  13. I left the cinema dissapointed after this and have only watched it once since. I still haven’t watched the blu ray version that I got for christmas. His mask looked stupid in TDK. it was ok form the side but from the front its waaaayyy to wide and Bale is just the dull wooden figure in this like he is in Terminator Salvation. He was amazing in Batman Begins

  14. Agreed. Batman Begins was way better. I don’t necessarily agree with all the reasons given above but for me the Dark knight was a notch or two beneath Begins as far as the script was concerned. I loved the Joker, who didn’t?….But imagine what Dark Knight would’ve been like without Heath. He made that movie as great as people perceived it to be, but in retrospect, and aside of Ledgers brilliance, the movie itself wasn’t that great. The Plot was lacking and despite the great acting job done by Heath, I thin the Joker character was undermined, I guess a 3rd installment may have expanded on that but we all know that can’t happend know….well at least not with Heath Ledger.

    I also didn’t like the hidden messages in Dark Knight either. For instance, in the end when Batman reveals his Patriot Act Machine where he gets to spy on the entire city in order to catch one man. Yes Morgan Freeman disagrees with it and right he should but he sits down and does the job anyway. It’s fairly obvious to see that is ploy at justifying illegal activities on the part of our government under the guise of “protecting” us. Whatever Nolan, who’s writing your scripts?…also, the Military and Police working together to control crowds, (a violation of The Posse Comitatus Act) on the boats in the streets. It’s a sign of the times and every movie, not just this one, has insinuations like this in them at some point. Anyway, the movie itself again, not as solid, wasn’t as exciting, didn’t leave the theater with the same satisfied feeling.

  15. Finally, I find some other people who think Batman Begins is better than The Dark Knight! Batman Begins is one of those movies I can watch over and over again and never get tired of. I like The Dark Knight, but I just can’t say the same thing about it. Everything just seems to have been done better in Batman Begins.

    Batman Begins has just the right amount of action, the dialogue’s more memorable and witty, there’s better onscreen chemistry between the characters, the settings are more interesting, and even the music seems to have been used with more dramatic effect. I also feel the way Batman Begins’ whole theme revolves around fear makes it more intriguing as a movie overall.

  16. I agree with the previous messages, but I have one thing to add:

    In Batman Begins there was Gotham City,
    in The Dark Knight, i haven’t seen Gotham City.

    The say TDK was more dark, but when you look at the city itself, Gotham in BB looks way more dark. And there is the railway (which I found it had a matching design for the gothic Gotham), the Wayne Building, etc.
    In BB it felt like Gotham, in TDK it felt like New York. (I know there’s a link between these two citiesbut still…Gotham from Batman is different)

    So I think Batman Begins is more Batman-like for some points. For example Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow were that kind of mystic elements that TDK lacks.

  17. While I agree that two-face did look too fake, the dark knight was a more realistic film and also a superior one to Batman Begins. It just works a lot better, truly. Better crafted film, better seque-ways into scenes, better fights in that the camera does not shake around and also comes together better in the end.

  18. People relieved at the fact that there are others who liked Batman Begins better than Dark Knight just goes to show how few of us there are, because I was honestly beginning to think that I might be the only one who felt this way. Firstly, Batman Begins had more appeal because it shows exactly how he becomes Batman. I’ve never been so tuned into a movie as I was with BB. I had high expectations from DK, not because of Ledger but because of its predecessor, and I was utterly disappointed. I almost cringed to call it a sequel to the first. All the characters who were present in the first seemed to be missing the element of depth in this one. And I firmly believe Ledger’s performance was praised due to his passing. It seemed so much longer simply because it failed to grasp me at any moment (aside from the huge sacrifice Batman makes in the end). There were times I was actually falling asleep as well…I could elaborate even further but I’ll leave it at that. Just glad to see others liked BB better.

  19. I completely agree. I was really pissed off with The Dark Knight’s ending. With Batman Begins it all built up with to a climax and a great fight scene towards the end when Batman has to stop the train and Ra’s al Ghul.

    In The Dark Knight I expected something similar. The Joker wants Gotham in anarchy – so why not put together a brilliant plan which involves something OTHER than blowing up things and have Batman work against time to stop it?

    I was also dissapointed with the way Two-Face was handled. Even in Batman Forever he had some character to him. In TDK he felt empty.

    In general Batman Begins > The Dark Knight.

  20. Well to be honest, TDK was more about the moral conflict between the protagonist and antagonist rather than classic lines and humour brought up in BB, so in essence, you have two completely different products on the table.

    You may dislike me for saying this – hell, you might even want to bash me for saying it – but I’m against the idea that they praised TDK (and the Joker’s portrayal) just because Heath Ledger died.

    I thought he was really into it when he played the Joker, and how his version was a little more realistic than Nicholson’s. There wasn’t a scene he was in that I didn’t like, really.

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