IVP - Strangely Dim - Revenge of the Sith

June 7, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

I finally saw Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, and though I enjoyed it, I experienced it more as a homework assignment that I turned in about thirty years late than as the blockbuster hit of the summer. Besides, everybody knows that Batman Begins is the the best prequel and true blockbuster hit of the summer.

Come on, you know it's true.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at June 7, 2005 8:12 AM Bookmark and Share


Can you really call it a prequel? A prequel to what? To associate this effort with the Burton/Schumacher mockery of a mythic figure would be an insult. It is a new beginning, a new Batman, a retelling of a familiar story. One that will carry shadows and echoes of a story we are familiar with but expand them into something new, dynamic, and hopefully entertaining. Will the Dark Knight be able to compete with the expectations set by Spidey? Roger Ebert said "Spider-Man 2" is the best superhero movie since the modern genre was launched with "Superman" (1978). Can Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale meet audience expectations - or is it going to be a summer of the over-hyped blockbuster? The summer of 2001 was going to be huge. It was the year of Planet of the Apes and Tomb Raider.

Comment by: Steve at June 7, 2005 12:03 PM

Steve, you're bringing me down!

First off, to lump Burton in with Schumacher is unfair; Burton moreso than Frank Miller (Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One) rescued Batman from the campy reputation the 1960s TV show had tainted him with in the minds of the general public; Schumacher splashed our hero with that taint all over again.

Second, it IS a prequel in the same way that Enterprise is a prequel to Star Trek even though its producers didn't have a hand in the forerunner. It's a prequel in the same way that Smallville is a prequel of Lois & Clark, despite the radically different vision.

That's the beauty of superhero continuity; the industry makes it possible for multiple perspectives on one mythology. That's what Will Brooker predicts for Batman in particular in his "Batman Unmasked": the myth will outlive corporate production and welcome all sorts of readings. As Anne Nocenti narrates in Batman: Cast Shadows: "The shadow he casts is long and wide . . . so that its reach can embrace—or engulf—all that walk here. So that every man, woman and child in the city . . . can feel its touch."

Batman comes out of a different universe from Spider-Man's, and I suspect DC took the success of Marvel's Spider-Man franchise as an opportunity to swing Batman serious again. My prediction: Batman Begins will rival Spider-Man II's critical success, though perhaps not eclipsing it.

Of course, I loved Hulk and Daredevil . . .

Comment by: dave at June 7, 2005 12:19 PM

Agreed that Schumacher really dragged the franchise down. As for Burton - I really like Batman when it was in theatres. However, it just doesn't hold up over time. Batman returns suffered from the "too many villains" syndrome that continued under Schumacher.

I really need to see Hulk again. I started watching it at around 10 pm and wasn't really as focused as I should have been as my brother was in town and we were doing a movie marathon. Daredevil wasn't so bad . . . Elektra on the other hand was not so pleasant to sit through. What's your opinion of Superman Returns? Any predicitons? Bryan Singer left X-Men 3 (now rumored to be in the hands of Brett Ratner) for this project. So I may weep for the X-Men franchise.

I'm still going to argue the "not a prequel" issue with you.

Prequel: A book, film, etc. the events portryed in which or the concerns of which precede those of an existing completed work.
- Oxford English Dictionary

I'll give you Enterprise and Smallville. No question. Prequels. Was Antoine Fuqua's King Arthur a prequel to Excalibur? Both focused on the origin of the hero as Burton's Batman and Nolan's Batman Begins do. Again I stand on the ground that this is a retelling not a prequel. Star Wars Episodes 1-3: Prequels. Their stories occur entirely before Episodes 4-6 (The classics). I do not see that Batman Begins occurs prior to the events portrayed in any other existing Batman movie. Nolan tackled the origins of the character in a different manner than Burton. From the clips I've seen the film may spend more time with Bruce Wayne before he creates the persona of "Batman" than Burton's film did. However both stories cannot exist in the same universe. I suppose this is what I see as the heart of the matter. Enterprise exists in the same univers as all the other Trek ventures (DS(, Voyager, Next Gen, Classic) I don't know about Smallville and Lois& Clark to comment. Star Wars Episodes 1-3 exist in the same universe as Episode 4-6. Batman Begins does not exist in the same universe as Burton's Batman. Hence, not a prequel.

Comment by: Steve at June 7, 2005 12:57 PM

I think it's still an open question whether the events of the two films overlap. There's no indication in Burton's Batman that this was Bruce's first night out in the costume, just that the city was not popularly conscious of him. Even Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent could have been in on Batman's existence. Arguably, as well, Batman I and III couldn't exist in the same universe, since Harvey Dent is black in I and white in III.

Comment by: dave at June 7, 2005 1:20 PM

I know you really want to go to Australia. And the title of this. . .makes for a great tie-in for your book.

Comment by: Steve at June 8, 2005 10:49 AM


Thanks for the link. I can't believe they didn't invite me to present a paper. Drat.


Comment by: Dave at June 8, 2005 11:28 AM

burton was good with batman, and keaton was great in the role. goofy grins with kilmer and clooney did it in - and now this one will bring it back to earth. hopefully. catching it in IMAX next week - suh-weet!

Comment by: rick at June 8, 2005 10:41 PM

Hmmmmm. I enjoyed the dialogue between you and Steve! Now I'm torn! Prequel or not prequel? (that is the question) I look forward to seeing it and hearing the verdict. :-)

Comment by: Macon at June 11, 2005 7:54 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

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