Batman – A Story in Imagery
I loved the three Christopher Nolan directed Batman films: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. After seeing The Dark Knight Rises trailers but before seeing the film, what really struck me, was the use of imagery. I’ve been a fan of comics, especially Batman for a long time. I recently read several DC graphic novels in an attempt to catch-up on Final Crisis. But even years ago when I was spending upwards of $10.00/week on comics — it was the storylines and the characters I loved. The art always came second for me. Now, I’d guess most fans of graphic art, would say the opposite, or that they needed good art and a good story. But, for me, yeah, at times I noticed a particularly nice piece of art in a (comic) book or a graphic novel, but over all — I just read the story.
However, when I think about the character of Batman — it’s images that immediately spring to mind. Batman with one knee down, the other up, clutching the broken, bleeding, beaten body of Robin (Jason Todd), his head bowed, in the rain — from A Death in the Family.
There’s the classic image of young Bruce kneeling in blood of his dead parents.
Christopher Nolan – Batman Begins
It’s always a static image.
Even Final Crisis had the image of a dead Batman, Superman holding his body on the cover (an image which isn’t in the book, btw).
And Long Shadows tells a compelling story in both images and words: Superman and Wonder Woman presenting the empty cape and cowl to Alfred.
Clark, Diana, Alfred, Dick, and Robin — all standing in a circle, their heads bowed in mourning and sorrow.
Dick, sitting in a chair, loose and almost side saddle, in the Batman uniform but with the cowl off, looking completely bereft. And that’s followed with a conversation between him and Alfred where Dick says (something like), “I always knew he would die. But I wasn’t ready for it to be this soon.” Not to mention my favorite line in the book, which is when Alfred, who’s to the point of tears, says to Clark, “Am I all right? No sir, I am not. My son has died.” Over and over, Long Shadows in particular stresses the emotional toil of loss for Alfred, Dick Grayson, and those who knew Bruce Wayne best.
Still, it is the images that are striking in the Batman universe. Nolan’s films, with their film noir look, or even the apocalyptic images of The Dark Knight Rises, are, even in motion picture terms, surprisingly for action films, at that, often, when you think of them – still images. Nolan even often has the sound disappear and uses only the soundtrack to convey the emotion of a scene or image in the films.