Bat Legend on the silver screen


    Before “Batman Begins” took the franchise back to square one, four films had sculpted the modern version of Bruce Wayne’s legend. Here’s a rundown of the series’ often embarrassing history through the past two decades.

“Batman” (1989)
Directed by Tim Burton
Michael Keaton stepped into the rubber suit, and Jack Nicholson created what, until now, has been the definitive version of The Joker. Loosely based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns,” “Batman” remained the best in the series until “Batman Begins.”

“Batman Returns” (1992)
Directed by Tim Burton
Keaton reprised his role, and was joined by Danny DeVito as the Penguin, Christopher Walken as Max Shreck and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. The film is cheesy, but relatively painless to watch. Pfeiffer in a leather suit should be enough to please male viewers.

“Batman Forever” (1995)
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Val Kilmer’s Batman faces Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face while adding Chris O’Donnell as his sidekick, Robin. It also debuted Batman’s new suit, which featured rubber nipples.

“Batman & Robin” (1997)
Directed by Joel Schumacher
George Clooney takes the lead role in Batman’s most ridiculous outing. Villians include Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy and Jeep Swenson’s Bane. Alicia Silverstone also joins the cast as Batgirl. If lame one-liners from the Governator and a complete black hole of sincerity and coherence constitute your idea of an entertaining film, “Batman & Robin” might be right up your alley.

“Batman Begins” (2005)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Timid, angry Bruce Wayne turns his fear of bats into the symbol that strikes fear into the hearts of Gotham’s criminals. We see the murder of Bruce’s family, the years he flew under the radar and the years he spent with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows. The film ends with Batman’s first major victory against crime and the introduction of the Joker, his next great foe.