Monday, May 13, 2013

Nolan's villains

As the title suggests, this article will be about Nolan's version of Batman villains. Some of you may not know this but apart from making the Batman world more realistic, Nolan also brought many changes to many of its characters, especially the villains. Some of these changes were good, some not so much. So I've created a list of my favorite Nolan villains. What I liked about them and what I didn't like about them. A countdown of Nolan's villains. So without further ado...

6. Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson)

"Don't, don't come down here with your anger, trying to prove somethin' to yourself. This is a world you'll never understand. And you always fear what you don't understand."

Changes made : Nothing significant. The first time I came across this character was in the comic Batman : Year One, where he appears as a mafia boss who controls the underworld. Nolan must've figured that there was nothing much to change about this character.

Didn't see that one coming did ya?! Most people wouldn't consider Carmine Falcone as a villain, just a minor threat in Bruce's path towards becoming The Bat. But in my opinion, he's a villain, and a very important one too! After the first time I watched Batman Begins, one of the things that stayed in my mind was the quote, "You always fear what you don't understand". According to me, the scene where Bruce meets Falcone is very critical, because that's when Bruce realizes what he has to do. In a way Falcone was a catalyst in Batman's creation. If it wasn't for him there would be no Batman. And I also thought the actor did a great job of playing the role. Calm, confident and powerful. Even with no superpowers, this character is very intimidating. Hence he's in the list.

5. Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy)

"Would you like to see my mask? I use it in my experiments. Probably not very frightening to a guy like you, but these crazies, they can't stand it. "

Changes made : Again, nothing worth mentioning. Nolan sticks to the main story of a guy who uses a fear toxin to ignite someone's phobias. There is one thing though. In the comics Scarecrow is a character who works alone, occasionally with an alliance but never under anyone. In Nolan's version, Scarecrow is working for Ra's Al Ghul.

Scarecrow is one of the most interesting Batman villains and Nolan did a pretty good job of bringing him alive onscreen. Cillian Murphy was also impressive playing this twisted, obsessive villain. But somewhere along the line I lost some respect for the character. Maybe it was when I realized that he's just being used by Ra's Al Ghul...or maybe the scene where Batman uses the fear toxin on him. Either way, he's still a pretty good villain. Just, not as good as the ones that are coming next.

4. Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart)

"You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time. But you were wrong. The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased, unprejudiced, fair."

Changes made : Although the basic story is the same (guy with a half-burnt face who uses a coin to make all his decisions), Nolan did bring many changes in this character. For one thing, the comic version is much more intimidating, more badass. The comic version always has a pack of goons accompanying him and he's more ruthless, more saddistic. Also, the origin is slightly different. In the comics, Harvey is a man who always had a dark side to him. The accident just gives him the final push to bring it out. Nobody else has anything to do with it. In Nolan's version, Harvey is convinced by The Joker.

Putting aside the fact that I found the comic version much more interesting AND the fact that Two Face was kind of dwarfed by Heath Ledger's performance in the movie, I think the actor did an incredible job of playing the character. I enjoyed watching both the Harvey Dent scenes as well as the Two-Face scenes. Nolan's version of Two-Face's origin is realistic and touching. There's a sense of pity for Harvey Dent that develops in you throughout. And a lot of things he says about chance do make sense! This Two-Face is cool in his own way. He's portrayed more like a fallen angel, somewhere between an anti-hero and a villain.

3. Bane (Tom Hardy)

"It doesn't matter who we are, what matters is our plan. No one cared who I was till I put on the mask"

Changes made : In the comics, Bane is born and raised in a prison, where he trains his mind and body to develop extraordinary intellect as well as a powerful physique. Later he allows himself to be a test subject for a drug known as Venom, which gives him superhuman strength. Bane is shown wearing a luchador mask and with gas tank which continuously injects his body with Venom. In Nolan's version, Bane is comparatively less strong, does not have anything to do with any drug and wears a different kind of mask. Also his origin is different as Nolan's Bane works for Talia Al Ghul.

I like the fact that this Bane wasn't constantly having Venom injected to him. He was less of a freakish monster as shown in the comics and we got to see more of the character's intellectual side. I also liked Tom Hardy's performance, his body language, although I do think they could've made Bane more masculine. Hardy didn't seem to give too much importance to how strong he looked. Also, I dislike the ending that Nolan gave Bane. As soon as Talia is revealed as the villain, Bane kind of fades away out of the spotlight. He doesn't even get an onscreen death! But the main reason I liked this version of Bane is because Nolan remembered to add in the single thing that differentiates Bane from the other Batman villains. He actually gives Batman a decent beating! Bane is actually the only villain who is physically stronger than The Dark Knight. Because of that scene and because of Bane's eerie dialogues, hes in no.3.

2.  Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson)

"Tomorrow the world will watch in horror as its greatest city destroys itself.The movement back to harmony will be unstoppable this time."

Changes made : In the comics, Ra's Al Ghul is an eco-terrorist whose ultimate goal is to bring perfect balance in the world and restore "The Garden of Eden". He has a unique love for animals, and towards nature in general. In Nolan's verse, Ra's Al Ghul has nothing to do with eco terrorism  He's the leader of The League of Shadows, a group which aims at destroying places which are overrun with crime. Also, in the comics Ra's Al Ghul is immortal.

Liam Neeson's performance as Ra's Al Ghul was just awesome. Ra's Al Ghul has always been one of Batman's most elegant foes, both in looks and his actions. Liam Neeson, with his menacing, calm voice and his looks, fits the role perfectly. Also, if you think about it, Ra's Al Ghul is the actual villain in Batman Begins. Carmine Falcone and Scarecrow are just used by him. In The Dark Knight Rises, Talia Al Ghul seeks vengeance for her father and Bane is working for her, hence has the same mission. So eventhough he wasn't physically there, Ra's Al Ghul's presence is felt in that movie as well. And that just leaves us with The Dark Knight...

1. The Joker (Heath Ledger)

"Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh and you know the thing about chaos, it’s fair."

Changes made : The original version of Joker does not have scars. He's also much more funnier, or at least he attempts to be funny more often. Nolan's Joker is more crazy than funny. Also Nolan's Joker just seems to be much more...chaotic!

No surprises here is there? The second you realized that this article is a countdown of Nolan's best Batman villains, you knew that it would end with Heath Ledger as The Joker. Nolan took one of the best villains of all time, added a few more layers of insanity and somehow made it realistic, yet more frightening! And Heath Ledger did a hell of a job playing the role. Everything from his dialogues, to his expressions and his body language, the character just captures your attention. Before this movie, The Joker was regarded as one of the best comic book villains. But after, people all over the world consider him as one of the best villains of all time. This character stays in your mind long after you've watched the movie and you'll find yourself pondering over the many theories put forth by this deranged lunatic.

So, there's the list. And if any of you are wondering Why Talia and Catwoman didn't make the list:

Talia was revealed as the villain in the last second, as a twist in the story. So, there really aren't many scenes where she shows her true evil. If I had to put her on the list, she'd be no. 7. And for those of you who don't know, in the comics Talia actually does fall in love with Bruce, and they end up having a child named Damian Wayne, who turns out to be the next Robin.

Catwoman, is an anti-hero, not a villain. Big difference!

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