Why is it so hard to make a good Batfilm? Ringo Starr made one in the 1960’s; it was funny and cute but certainly no hard-hitting piece of cinema. Prince made a couple in the 1980’s, but the purple sexuality he strove for was out of place. Michael Jackson, clearly in his “anything Prince can do, I can do better” imagination, made two attempts which continued his endless “anything Prince can do, I can badly misinterpret” reality by taking Prince’s dark kink and turning it into a neon parade of “wholesome” sexual deviance he thought he was only hinting at.
So the real question becomes: why are all these goddamn pop-stars making Batfilms? It was time for a real filmmaker to take the reins. Someone who could erase the previously dominating 3rd grade sexuality and the 5th grade psychology that haunted the character. Someone who could treat the subject with the gravity it deserved. Someone who could get the best actors in the business. Someone that could elevate Batman from comic book to poem unlimited. That someone was Edward James Olmos. And when he quit because directing was harder than expected, that someone became me, awesome magnet Sam Strange.
I decided the only way to reclaim Batman from franchise jail was to go with realism. Since this is a superhero without actual powers, why not make it as believable as possible? Instead of an impractical super-pointy limousine, Batman now drives a tank, which we never once call a “Batmobile”. Batman’s outfit is just some customized bulletproof gear found in an issue of Soldier of Fortune. Instead of a Batmask and a utility belt, he wears a ski mask and a backpack. Anything that felt improbable or silly was replaced with a more realistic take. For instance, my Batman has a logger’s belly because in the real world only pussies have six-packs.
Initially, the film was going to be an origin story setting up not only the Batman character, but the rules my take on him would follow. But then I realized what a boring movie that would make. I finally quit the script when the best 3rd Act threat I had time to develop was a water vaporizer which infected the air with a Fear Drug. “Fuck it,” I said. “Let’s just skip the crappy origin movie and get right to the kick ass sequel!” All the bobbleheads in my office cheered at my bravery.
I decided to go with a more naturalistic villain for The Dark Knight. If Batman represents one thing, I had to go with a villain who represented the exact opposite while also exciting audiences. After rereading every Batman comic ever, the answer seemed obvious: dogs. The opposite of a bat is a dog–everybody knows that.
As the film begins, Batman is in a parking garage fighting a bunch of dogs. He believes that by speaking in lispy growls he can possibly communicate with these dogs and find out why they’ve waged war on Gotham City. So far, however, it only seems to make the dogs angrier.
What he doesn’t realize is that the dogs wish to speak with him just as bad. Luckily for them, a translator steps forth from the criminal underworld who can speak both Dogese and English. His name is Joker. His lips are chapped from ear to ear because he’s always licking them (kind of like how dogs lick their nutsacks–motif!)
My invention of the Joker character was inspired by both The Coen Bros’ Anton Sugar and Stanely Kubrik’s Daniel Plainview. Nothing is scarier than a villain with philosophy, and Joker’s philosophy is that deep down all humans are just greedy, hungry dogs with no loyalty. To prove it, he wants to make a raygun that turns humans into dogs. Unfortunately, his ray gun still lacks one major ingredient. He thinks that by getting in close with the Gotham dogs, he can find out what that ingredient is.
The dogs tell Joker to tell Batman to leave them alone. Joker agrees and immediately starts bombing the shit out of Gotham City, hoping he eventually kills someone Batman likes. See, Joker has this raygun that can shoot bombs anywhere he wants, even through walls and skin. The trigger for each bomb is in his mind. Before the movie began, the Joker shot a bomb into every building and person in Gotham, just in case.
While pissing off Batman, Joker starts noticing this perfect guy named Harvey Dent. He thinks, “Shit, if I can turn THAT guy into a dog, I can turn anyone into a dog and I won’t need my stupid Mandog Raygun!” Immediately, Joker shoots a bomb into the 2nd half of Harvey Dent’s face and blows it off. And sure enough, Harvey Dent starts gnawing Batman’s arm just like all the other goddamn dogs. Instinctively, Batman throws him off a roof only to realize too late that he was no ordinary dog: he was a Dent-dog. Batman understands that to keep the people of Gotham from knowing their beloved Harvey Dent was a dog, he must now appear to be a dog and assume responsibility for Dent’s Dog-Day Damage.
The Gotham dogs are happy that Batman is off their case, but concerned that Joker is turning people into dogs. Slowly, it dawns on them that Joker was never really in their control. Once they figure this out, they turn on him like a pack of wild dogs.
Just when he’s about to be overtaken, Joker whistles. Catwoman shows up with a million cats. The cats eat the dogs. But soon they are hungry again. Joker whistles. Penguin shows up with a million penguins. The cats eat the penguins. But soon they are hungry again. Joker whistles and no one shows up, and Joker lets them starve. Mr. Freeze pops into frame and says: “Shit man, dat’s cold!” The Riddler shows up to say something, but before he can a Predator shoots his head off. He winks at the camera and the movie ends. Realism.
That’s about all I have to say regarding The Dark Knight. It went on to make billions of dollars. I’m especially happy that it helped revive Eric Roberts’ career. If it weren’t for The Dark Knight, I don’t think he would have landed that great role in The Wrestler.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey