Arch 443/646: Architecture and Film
Fall 2008

Batman (1989)
Tim Burton, director


Discussion Questions:

Please answer the questions below. Use paragraph form. Your answer should be around 400 words. Email me your responses in Word .doc format to: I will be posting these each week after the class. You should be prepared to deliver your answer in class -- but paraphrase, do not read it. There are 29 students and we can take no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes for our discussions.


In this class we are looking at several filmic versions or interpretations of the super hero as initially defined by DC Comics. Of all of the super heroes, this one has most traditionally been characterized in film as “dark”. Hence the suitability of the “dark” knight as the descriptor for his character. The exception to this would be the portrayal of Batman and the sidekick Robin in the 1960s TV series – which was overtly comedic in its take of the fight against evil.

There have been numerous films produced, by a number of directors. Each director seems to have a different take on both the characterization of the main players (heroes and villains) as well as the interpretation of the architectural setting. The productions that we are examining within this class will include the 1989 version “Batman”, directed by Tim Burton, the 2008 version “The Dark Knight”, directed by Christopher Nolan, as well as several of the animated tributes that form part of the DVD collection, “Batman: Gotham Knight”.

We will be looking at the characters as well as the setting/city in the film. The two live action films have been chosen as they both include the Joker character. Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan have directed other Batmam films: Burton, Batman…” and Nolan, “Batman Begins”. The animated selections include other villains.

There has been much discussion as to the architectural inferences in the design of Gotham City. Many comparisons have been made with the architectural style and intent of Fritz Lang’s movie “Metropolis”. “Metropolis” referenced the setback style architecture of New York City. Lang never set foot in NYC prior to the filming of “Metropolis”, but was heavily influenced by his view from an ocean liner from NY Harbour in the early 20s.  The setback style was explored in detail by architect Hugh Ferriss, and influenced not only the architecture of NYC, but also that of Chicago.

Burton’s “Batman” was largely filmed in Pinewood Studios in England. The set was purpose built, and Burton has admitted to including references to the architecture of Ferriss and NYC.

Nolan chose to set his films in Chicago. Large parts of the action were filmed on site, with special effects and digital processes being used to alter the images to be less location specific.

In the animated shorts, “Gotham Knight” makes direct architectural references to New York City. A stylized version of the Empire State Building is clearly visible. The second short …. Also talks about Manhattan – and the notion that the area that they are entering has been given over to evil and madness. This makes reference to the plot of the film ….

The light level in Burton’s “Batman” is lighter at times than in Nolan’s film. It becomes much easier to see the detail in the set architecture of the exterior urban environments. They are clearly recognizable as dense urban, but they are also not city specific. The architectural style harkens back to Art Deco, which also reflects the time period of the writing of the original DC comics.

Both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” were shot on location in Chicago. Look at all of the locations for Dark Knight!

The actual buildings are recognizable if you look hard enough, but as the light level is extremely dim, it is not obvious. The Wrigley Building and the Water Tower can be seen, as well as the heavy steel of the lift bridges over the canal system.  Much of the historic Chicago architecture that we can make out on Michigan Avenue is reminiscent of the setback style drawn by Ferriss, similar to that in New York City.

As "The Dark Knight" is not yet out on DVD, my images are pretty limited.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 10:22 PM


1. Andrew Azzopardi

How does the purpose built set for Burton’s “Batman” assist/or not the narrative and conversion of the DC comic to live action film?

The sets and atmospheres, created within Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’, are used to create a visual live action comic/ cartoon. This ‘Cartoon’ is an interpretation of our own world, used to detach our conceptions of our own world while retaining a similarity to the reality, which we are accustomed too. The distancing of the viewer from the world of Burton’s Gotham, allows for the creation of a sense of chaos- by virtue of the characters altered/distorted reality.

The narratives, both linguistically and cinematically, are all altered or influenced by the sets and atmospheres shaped within the film. Based on the assumption that we are products of our environments, we can then say that the same is true within films. If this were not to be true, then the characters and the worlds, which they inhabit, would conflict against each other. Thus it is safe to say while watching/observing the film ‘Batman’ it can be said that based on the Neo-Art Deco environment which the characters inhabit, they are being continually influenced by there setting.



2. Tyler Bowa

Does the live action set for Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” distance the film from its comic book origins?

A : The tale of Batman, or The Dark Knight in particular has always been deeply dark, demonstrating little remorse over killing criminals while embracing the ‘unexpected’.  Ever since the comic’s debut in 1939, the story of Batman has been surprising, thrilling and exciting.   In every way Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” embraces these original qualities of the comic book, unlike most other theatrical reproductions.
The Dark Knight is one of the few comic book films that understands that the superhero genre, at least in its best moments, is not just about dressing up action heroes in funny suits before having them beat each other up.
It’s about creating an urban fantasy, a modern-day mythology where the larger-than-life costumed protagonists represent mythic types and big, timeless themes, unleashed into a world that we recognize at least on some level as our own.  All of these qualities are present in the original comic book, so it is clear then, that Nolan’s film does not distance itself from its comic book origins.


3. Martin Chow

Does the use of special effects in Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” make the film feel more animated? Animated enough?

Special effects are kept to a minimum in “The Dark Knight”, as Nolan insisted on using real footage for every shot, only up to the point where it becomes unfeasible. Nothing feels animated, and as a result, the movie was a fresh change from recent superhero films, for the sense of realism that is instinctively detected by the average viewer. Most of the gadgets, helicopters and planes were real, and CGI is subtly used only for complex transformations in otherwise working vehicles such as the Tumbler. Little is done to conceal the fact that filming took place in Chicago, especially with the scene where Christian Bale stands atop of the Sears tower (an entirely real-life shot without a stunt double). The settings are modern, yet far from futuristic and does not have a dominant theme (unlike the art deco in Burton's “Batman”). A variety of lighting conditions are used, conveying different atmospheres, steely-blue nighttime skyline shots vs warm interiors, gritty vs clean, each appropriate to the location and time such that Gotham functions during both day and night like every other city; whereas Burton's Gotham seems to be perpetually in the dark, with the toxicity of its claustrophobic maze of interiors and exteriors accented by greens and purples. The overall neutrality of the aesthetics in Gotham removes any implications of an event or era and places it in the present-day. Batman going international with his trip to Hong Kong drives home further the idea of real life. The lack of animation felt by the viewer, coupled with the fact that Batman doesn't actually have superpowers, make this movie more similar to the likes of Mission Impossible or Die hard as opposed to Superman. “The Dark Knight” is a departure from previous Batman movies in that it does not place Gotham in a bubble a la “Dark City” that is visually stimulating to look at but largely irrelevant; instead it clearly places it in our world. The special effects, or lack of, help to represent Gotham less as a specific place and time as it as a state of hopelessness leading to chaos, a possibility that is universal and very real.


4. Jamie Ferriera

Comment on the impact to the film if Ledger’s Joker were transposed to Burton’s film. How would his portrayal relate to the overall creation of the architectural setting?

Heath ledger’s Joker in the Dark Knight was portrayed as a powerful and sinister symbol of fear to accentuate the darker tonality of confliction within Batman’s own purpose in Gotham city. When transposed to the original Burton sets, such a character becomes unrealistic and overwhelming in such an over decadent artistic setting. The Joker would in respect develop a more hidden establishment within the set, and rather than openly expose his whereabouts, as Nicholson’s Joker does, he would wait until the emotional time where the hero’s journey becomes faced with a growing sense of obstacle and the sense of desperation. Ledger’s actions are unpredictable throughout the Dark Knight, and if translated over would require the inclusion of a completely modernized set to convey the appropriate tone for the Joker’s effectiveness as a sinister character in particular scenes. Even the costume becomes a disfigured symbol of a personal terror. If the architectural setting were to be transformed in context with a modern Joker, a large amount of sets for main characters would be elemental and minimalistic stylizations. Even the motives and attitudes of characters in contact, including the citizens of Gotham itself with the Joker would be affected in terms of plot advancement. The same reactions experienced towards Burton’s Joker may not be present in response to such an unstoppable terror, and the setting would have to reflect that.



5. Meghan Galachiuk

Comment on the impact to the film if Nicholson’s Joker were transposed to Nolan’s film. How would his portrayal relate to the overall creation of the architectural setting?

Nicholson’s Joker would damage the successfulness of the Nolan film. The essential part of the most recent Joker is his lack of origin. He represents unprovoked chaos. The Nicholson’s Joker has both motive and a personal history to the hero. Which, in the Nolan film, would make the story much to contained, when most of its success relied on the fact that the events were not dependent on a certain character relationship.

The major difference in comprehensible motive, revenge is a real exclusive drive for a character that most people understand. This, in the Nolan film, undercuts the fear that the joker is meant to instill in the audience. Nicholson’s Joker is to real, to relatable, in the surreal architectural environment of Burton’s film. Where as Nolan’s architectural setting is realistic, sharply contrasting the surrealist joker that he created. Nicholson’s Joker would be far too clownish against Nolan’s stark backdrop.


6. Sarah Hawley

Compare the changed graphics of the two bat symbols as they relate to the general atmosphere and architecture of the respective films.

The symbols within the two respective films reflect the atmosphere created by both directors in each portrayal of batman.  Tim Burton’s symbol is simple, and straightforward.  It reflects the cartoon animation that is presented throughout Tim Burton’s film in the stage settings. Throughout the film Tim mixes small but significant features of the film, including the batman symbol and architectural backdrops with realistic actors and props.  Much like the cartoon style batman symbol the entrance to Gotham City Hall is also animated, and is not the only architectural element to be presented as a simulation. The atmosphere this creates is unique since it plays on the boundary between realism and imagination, which coincides with the whole idea of the batman character, who is a real man but also a fictional character.  In this sense Tim Burton’s batman symbol just becomes another element to support the fictional aspects of the film’s ideals.
Christopher Nolan’s version of batman however does not play on the boundary of realism and fiction instead he presents the film as a dark realistic drama. Nolan’s dark atmosphere of the film is than in turn reflected in the batman symbol. Furthermore the batman symbol is never used by batman himself in this film; instead it becomes a tool used by the police to draw his attention to them. In this sense Nolan redefines the symbol by detaching it from batman, presenting batman more like a man rather than a superhero. The symbol like the movie by Nolan is complex and graphic. Much like the architecture in the film it was portrayed in a monolithic and modern fashion used to enhance the realistic atmosphere of the film.



7. Fernie Lai

Compare the use of the glass skyscraper as part of the action sequences with Joker in “The Dark Knight” to the use of the more historic setback style architecture in “Batman”. How does the more contemporary architecture change the reading and potential of action in the film? (Actual location was the Trump Tower under construction).

In general, the new batman movie, “the Dark Knight” is darker and more cynical than Tim Burton’s version of “Batman” and joker, which is more childish and cartoonish. This is evident in the unconscious construction of the environment, traditionally, glass is perceived as a much colder material than stone. Using a setting such as a not yet totally completely constructed building gives of a more rough and cold atmosphere in comparison to an old historical building, which has been weathered and resided in for many years. It is much easier to destroy a structure that is not yet constructed because it is as if it has not yet been born and given life. It doesn’t effect anyone going out of existence because it has not yet come into existence.


8. Eric Lajoie

Compare the relationship of Batman’s Bat vehicles to the respective live action films. Is one more “correct” or suitable than the other?

I don’t think either Bat Vehicle is more correct than the other. I feel that they both work well within their respective films. In Tim Burtons movie Batman is a classic superhero that wears a flashy a suite with a flashy logo on it and a bright yellow belt. It only makes sense that his car be called the “batmobile” and it looks like it’s just another extension of his character, the guy even flies a plane with the exact same “baty” language. In the dark knight, the bat vehicle still retains all the technology that we are used to seeing with Bat Man and his wonderful toys, but it suites this character better who is more of a stealth type ninja then his predecessor. The vehicle that he drives although large and powerful couldn’t necessarily be traced back to him if it wound up discarded in a heap somewhere.



9. Andrea Lam

“Gotham Knight” (animated, #1) has the skateboarders present a multitude of stories and interpretations of the character Batman. This includes much flying and shape changing. Is this more possible or suited to an animated take on the character?

Using shape-shifting as the main point of comparison between the animated take on Batman and to the 'real-life' version, the former lends itself better to achieving such fluid movements. When watching a cartoon take on a movie, there is always a certain expected level of suspended disbelief where fantasy can be achieved. A shape-shifting, shadowy Batman is much easier represented in cartoon-form because there is no longer a need for added digital manipulation. A real-life actor clearly cannot melt into the ground, and thus that level of skepticism is present from the off-set. Flying is another example of an action that is much more 'believable' in cartoon form because anything is possible. As we watch cartoons, the level of logical analysis applied in terms of feasibility of stunts and movements is far lower than when watching a human-portrayal of the same action.

However, in terms of suitability for the character of Batman, I strongly believe that the animated take lacks a certain level of real-ness. Batman's 'superhero' status is a far cry from that of Superman or the any X-Men. The basic premise of his heroics stems from the fact that he is a man with a cause. His heroics are achieved with the help of gadgets and strategy, as opposed to 'superpowers', hence why the live actor's take on the character is more suited. Any awkwardness in his attempts to fly, or fighting sequences are more appreciated, instead of questioned. Specific to the cartoon plot, though, the animated version is more suited, as the skateboarders were elaborating their interpretation of Batman to fuel their wild imaginations, on who he is. The cartoon version is the perfect way to allow for fluid motions, extreme facial expressions, and animal-like behaviour. All-in-all, I would say that the animated take is more appropriate for this specific cartoon, but as a whole series for Batman, I much prefer the human acting.



10. Bi-Ying Miao

(Refer to #9) What change would happen to the live action film if these types of character transformation effects were explicitly included?

If the character transformation effects in the animated short film were inserted into the live action film,  externally portraying the different facets of Batman's character would consequently dehumanize the main character and the story.

As depicted in the animated film, the three different mutations of Batman are conceived from the imagination and interpretation of each of the storytellers in morphic, robotic and soaring forms. However, if these transformations were brought into the live action film,  Batman's complexity as a character will be dissolved into simple representations. Batman as played by Michael Keaton actually embodies all of these traits at once without having to literally take on the form of a shadow, a machine, or a bat. In fact, Tim Burton weaves a canvas with lighting, sets, and character development to create the Batman, who effectively carries all of the connotations presented in the animation without using any literal representations.

For example, the dim lighting in dark alleyways are evident in scenes where Batman appears in the film. The atmosphere of these sets convey the shadowy character of Batman. As well, his rigid but swift movements suggests that of a robot or machine, while his unsuspected appearance and disappearance evoke the qualities of shadows emerging in and out of the darkness.

Further, the importance of character development in the Tim Burton film would be confused if Batman were to transform in a way that does not run parallel with the movement of the plot. That is to say, different physical representations of Batman's traits lack the subtlety of a finely developed character. While these transformations may make these subtleties more readable to the audience, the intricate weave of the character as one personality that carries multiple nuances will be broken. In this way, the human struggle in the character growth of Bruce Wayne as Batman will be condensed if character transformation effects from the animation were included in the live action film.

This dehumanization would have a compromising effect on the Batman's story as he is different from most superheroes in his humanity. He does not have superhuman powers but only his own intellect and skills to defeat his villains. If his character were to be personified in transformive effects that dehumanize him, the essence of Batman will be lost.



11. Andrea Murphy

(Refer to #8 and #10). What architectural changes might be possible or appropriate if the hero character’s actions included a greater use of digital effects, including obvious “flying” and physical transformations and shape changing?

In the animated shorts, Batman can be a much more supernatural hero character: defying gravity, shape shifting, and changing into shadowy or gaseous forms which cannot happen in the live action films. If the live action films were to adopt more digital effects and computer generated scenes which would animate Batman in a much more supernatural way, the rest of the film could be affected in different ways. The set and architecture could become more futuristic and artificial in its way: more steel, more high-tech, and have perhaps more of a “Blade Runner” type of architecture. For a complete change, however, I would argue that instead of making the same over-the-top graphics for the set as one could for the action; that perhaps a more subtle hand might be used on the architecture.

The implied architecture harkens back more appropriately to the comic book which is where the flying and shape shifting find their roots. In making the motions and abilities of the hero character more unbelievable, the audience is going to be seeing impossible feats of action in a world that we know the laws of physics governs. By falling back on the comic book style of set design, which, is only a background in a two dimensional drawing, then the balance between what is real and what is supernatural can be achieved.

Secondly, a more abstract set might allow for a less defined Gotham City as a filming location, which is not the case for Nolan’s “Dark Knight” and Chicago. During the film, where location choice is concerned, there is always a parallel between where the filming took place, and what types of stunts may be experimented with in that city. With a built set, like Burton’s Batman film, there are no limits to the imagination of the set designers. This may seem to be contrary with my suggestion to down-play the sets, but if the architecture were more abstract in a built set environment, then there would be even more potential for creativity since- thanks to digital effects- the laws of physics have been thrown out the window.

A third, and final positive point to an abstract set, is that with a more down-played background, perhaps the more exciting action shots might be better highlighted. This departure from the architecturally rich history that Batman films have presented us with is perhaps more along the lines of a film like “Sin City” in which the comic book roots of a story are embraced without reverting to completely animated characters. Should the hero character be digitally enhanced to be able to do supernatural actions, it would arguably be best to let the architecture and sets act as a background, being abstract in nature, similar to the comic books from which Batman originally came.



12. Morgan O'Reilly

The animated film “Gotham Knight” uses a degree of colour that is quite in contrast with the live action films. How does this change the reading of the character as related to the architectural setting?

In the 1989 Batman film the architecture and atmosphere of Gotham city is portrayed as being extremely dark and dismal. While the protagonists aren’t necessarily depicted in the same dark and depressing manner, there is some consistency between their appearance and the architecture that surrounds them. The antagonists, however, particularly the joker, are cartoon like and unnaturally vibrant, starkly contrasting against the dingy, overcast city. This choice may have been made to emphasize the peril that these characters create and the sense that they do not belong.

In the animated film Gotham Knight, colour is not used in this same particular way. In most scenes both the characters and the architecture that surrounds them are illustrated using vibrant and rich colours. In some instances both the characters and the surroundings are illustrated with dark colours. This change in colour vibrancy could be seen to represent the varying experiences of the kids as well as the truthfulness of their stories. Using the same reasoning used for the 1989 film this consistency between the characters and the background could be interpreted as an attempt to create a sense of belonging for both the antagonists and protagonists, putting emphasis on the unrealistic fantasy-like quality that ‘Gotham Knight’ and most animated films create. 
The 1989 live film uses colour so that a somewhat ‘real’ world clashes with a more cartoon-like fantasy world (like ‘Gotham Knight’) and tension is created between the two.

In a much different way the 2008 live film tries to create a sense of reality throughout and does not introduce vibrant colours to create the cartoon quality that is present in the 1989 film and obviously the animated film. The film tries to represent both the protagonists and antagonists as real people in a real city. The architecture of Gotham City is actually that of Chicago in this new film whereas the 1989 version entirely created a set.
Whether the antagonists of the 1989 film are more frightening because they don’t belong in their surroundings than the antagonists of the new film, which do belong in their surroundings, is up for debate.  It is clear however that the use of unnatural colour is representative of a fantasy-like quality in each of the films and the degree of use changes drastically in each of them.



13. Sue Anne Tang

It was an expensive decision in 1989 to choose to create the massive purpose built set for the film. Given that digital effects were significantly less refined at that point in time, what effect might it have had to the film if location shooting had been carried out for the urban sequences.

The constructed 1989 Batman set enabled Tim Burton to fully execute his aesthetic vision, whereas location shooting would rely on existing built environments and props. Location is an integral element in setting the tone of the film; therefore, maximum control is preferred.  With constructed set architecture, the scale of space can be manipulated to add dimension to the plot and characters. The vastness of Wayne manor can be contrasted to the dimly lit confined surgery basement room as spaces, but also as an indication of the characters that preoccupy the space. Colour, depth, tone and texture of a constructed set can be altered to fit Burton’s image of Gotham city. If Burton had succumbed to location shooting, difficulty would emerge in the attempt to portray the urban decay of art deco and art nouveau architecture in New York without the digital effects of today. 

The constructed set considers the sequence of movement between scenes and locations, enabling an ease of filming and desired shot captured. The action sequences would appear to be disjointed with location shooting if the locations where not within proximity of each other, such as the city centre to the Cathedral.  The fragmented flow of movement from location shooting would create the appearance of globalized Gotham city, rather than a localized Gotham city.

Due to the lack of the digital effects at the time, constructed sets could be manipulated to create desired special effects, such as the veil of smoke that rises as Batman ascends into the ceiling. The scene where Batman is flying over the city would be extremely difficult to achieve with location shooting, since the constructed set shows the entirety of Gotham. Location shooting would have restricted the intensity of destruction in the action sequences, such as the Joker’s tyrannical parade through the city centre and the explosions of the Chemical Factory since there is an increased tolerance for error with constructed sets. Constructed sets can produce the ideal setting since lighting and sound can be controlled. Since location shooting relies on existing conditions, it would alter the image and believability of the narrative.   
Through the constructed sets, a theatre-like artificial urban atmosphere emerges. Gotham city not only becomes the stage for the unfolding story, but also an integral character. If location shooting has been used for Batman, Gotham city would appear as just the backdrop, instead of propelling the plot, setting the tone, and convincing the viewer of Burton’s vision. With the Burton’s constructed set, we are drawn into his fictional world of Gotham city.



14. Meredith Vaga

Discuss Christopher Nolan’s choice to move much of the action to Chicago. Does this make a difference to the film? Positive, negative, indifferent? How about the way the other city locations are knit into the architectural fabric of the film?

I think the real strength to the Batman story is the ambiguousness to the setting: Gotham City could be any larger city in the not-so-distant future, where density has become so great such that crime would be so out of control, and the government/police force could believably be so corrupt. This slightly removed setting makes it plausible that there would be a masked crusader acting as a constant force in the city. Tim Burton tried to interpret this through his slightly skewed Art Deco sets ? the Art Deco is familiar and still keeps with the ?comic book flavour? of Batman?s roots, while being ambiguous enough to keep the notion of being any western city in the near future apt.

By moving most of the action to Chicago, as well as utilizing locations from other fairly well-known cities, even if not explicitly, Christopher Nolan gives the film a harder, more realistic edge, definitely inhabiting the present. Even if the viewer does not recognize specific buildings or locations, there is an undeniable air of familiarity and realism ? you will recognize the city in the film as being possibly yours. This ultimately makes the film pretty horrific; it feels like there is a definite potential that a psychopath could be terrorizing an entire city.

This Gotham City is so recognizable that I find it less easy to suspend disbelief that Batman was already a necessity and an established figure in society (but still very easy to believe that such a person as the Joker could carry out those actions.) Though all large cities have considerable crime rates, I don?t believe at present it is so rampant so as to warrant ones very own vigilante, and so in this way moving most of the action out on to the physical street has a negative outcome. It would make more sense if the presence of the Joker would warrant Bruce Wayne to take up the mask, as a sort of origin story. That being said, as a purely psychological thriller, choosing to film the movie in Chicago et al brings home the feeling of terror at the possibility of such a thing actually happening where Tim Burton?s Batman and the comic versions were too far removed to do, and in that way Nolan?s decision has a positive outcome.


15. Anna-Joy Veenstra

Do you feel that the madness of Joker is adequately represented in the architectural settings of “Batman” 1989? What aspects (or not) feed into the architecture of madness? (ie. If you don’t think any of the settings represent madness, please cite examples)

I feel that the designer Anton Furst adequately represented the madness of the Joker in the architectural settings of ‘Batman’ 1989. From the first scene, Gotham City is portrayed as a kind of New York from hell. This is achieved with a mix of towering gothic, crumbling art deco and severe industrial architecture, which really shows the city in urban decay. Giant fascist statues alongside exposed structural columns, crop up around the city increasing the scenes uneasiness and a sense of the Gotham City being stripped to its bones. Scenes were the Joker plays a key role, the surroundings increase in stylized and colourful visions of architecture to play up his twisted features and ridiculous outfits. But what really feds into the ambience of madness is the fact that this fantasy is filtered through a lens of realism, that this world could in fact exist. Of course the creepy lighting, angles, and excess of smoke palpably increase the effect of the architecture of madness too.

The Axis Chemical factory, the birth of the Joker, plays an important role in representing the madness of the Joker. Even though it is a rather typical industrial plant, it becomes sinister with the excess of levers, buttons, screens and gauges. This is the first moment that colour is contrasted to foreshadow the coming madness of the Joker himself; achieved with the bright green and blue chemical vats. The Joker then takes over his Boss’ art deco apartment and transforms it into a chaotic lair, with more knobs, dials, photographs and general garbage. Also when the Joker pays a visit to the museum, the ‘Fluefelheim’, it is depicted as a mix of gothic, classicism and industrial that puts the viewer on edge until he throws brilliant colours of paint all over the artwork and interior. Of course the abandoned church, Gotham Cathedral, is the pinnacle of madness as it features a complete ancient gothic architecture. The church is singled out as it rises high above all the other skyscrapers that make up the Gotham skyline. Has God and faith in all religion also abandoned the city to lunatics like the Joker?



16. Rui Wang

Do you feel that the madness of Joker is adequately represented in the architectural settings of “The Dark Knight” 2008? What aspects (or not) feed into the architecture of madness? (ie. If you don’t think any of the settings represent madness, please cite examples)

The Dark Knight is a gritty and realistic interpretation of the Batman universe. Being such, and being shot on location in Chicago, there were not many opportunities to directly inject ‘madness’ into the general architecture. The madness felt while watching the film was provided by Heath Ledger playing the Joker. The architecture did not need to re-enforce Ledger’s portrayal. That being said, the dirty realism of the settings provided a dark canvas on which the actors actions can be emphasised and seen in a decidedly ‘madder’ light.

The feeling of being trapped is produced by many of the architectural settings, especially when the Joker is featured. In many situations – such as the meeting with the various criminal bosses, the interrogation room, the jail, and even the penthouse party – the Joker acts as a singularity trapped within a box. Ledger acts with such ferocity that he instantly becomes the focus of the scene. The sets in the afore mentioned scenes are self-contained, each with distinct boundaries.  With the Joker seemingly trapped within, each scene is laced with an uncomfortable tension as his madness pushes against those boundaries. This can be compared to the Jokers’ mental instability. He is an ‘agent of chaos’, who cannot be contained or rationalized. By playing such a personality against backdrops of such normalcy (though a bit on the macabre side of normalcy) and of such confinement, the contrast accentuates the Jokers’ madness. Even in the dark world of Gotham City, the Joker still stands out as the craziest of the crazy.

One understands the settings in The Dark Knight are different than in the original Batman (1989). They are deliberately toned down from the comparatively cartoonish sets of the original. In addition to making the film more believable, it helps to accentuate the performance of the actors by not having their backdrops compete with their acting. So the sets do not directly represent madness, but they indirectly affect the viewer by subconsciously making them feel more tense/claustrophobic in certain instances when the chaos of the Joker is on screen, if only to make his performance that much more explosive.



17. Jane Wong

The action sequence in Burton’s film at the Axis Chemical Factory are particular to the explanation of Joker’s face. There was an obvious choice not to follow this narrative in Nolan’s film. How does the architecture in Burton’s film work with this story?

The architecture of the Axis Chemical Factory sets an appropriate backdrop for Joker’s ultimate transformation from a maligned mobster to a crazed villain through its desolate and dark spaces. The neglected, squalid industrial setting establishes an uncomfortable mood, and coupled with the use of fog and darkness, an air of mystery and danger is present, creating a perfect foreshadow for a destructive incident to occur.

In Burton’s film, the transformation of the Joker was beyond Jack’s control, and ultimately an accident. The architecture of the factory suggests this fate by its monstrous size over an individual, being at a scale that is not manageable by humans. The industrial size of pipes, vats and rough quality of materials creates a disconnection of the senses, causing disorientation and disproportion of the individual to the space.

This disorientation is furthered by the deliberate lack of proper lighting and the use of fog. The two elements create shadows from all directions, and coupled with the already vast and perplexing layout of the factory, the set allows the unknown to become a fear. At the point of defeat at the hands of Batman, a look of extreme fear crosses Jack’s face when faced with the potential of direct exposure to the green chemicals below.  The mysterious, flaming green colour of the chemicals and sheer size of the vat below amplifies his fear of falling, it is clear from his expression that Jack would rather face Batman than face the unknown fate of the factory below.

In the Joker’s rise from the mysterious vat, his main character traits of uninhibited destruction, delusion and hysteria is seemingly attributed to his exposure to the green chemical. This is understood through the transformation of his physical appearance, particularly his face. By creating so many unknowns to Joker’s fate, the movie effectively allows the audience’s imagination to fill the gaps, creating a much more heightened experience of the incident. The extremity of Joker’s new attributes would not have been nearly as powerful without the current setting of the factory, and it is this architecture that creates a full understanding of Joker’s fate.



18. Andre Arsenault

In both of the live action films, Wayne Manor is filmed (at least from the exterior) at an actual mansion. How does this work in each of the films. Benefits? Contrast with the balance of the set? (We never see Wayne Manor in Dark Knight as it was destroyed in Batman Begins and is being rebuilt, but the bright image above is the building used to shoot the exteriors).


19. Yoshi Hashimoto

The cathedral in Gotham City that is used in Burton's film has been compared to Lang's cathedral in Metropolis. Discuss. Why do you think this might be relevant to the film?

The similarities to Lang’s cathedral, in fact much of the cityscape, are strong enough that it must be an homage to Lang, capitalizing on a pattern already set and recognizable for establishing mood and symbolism.  Even compared with the ominously imposing backdrop that the other buildings compose, the cathedral is enormously out of scale, indicating its importance and commanding full attention.  The fact that it is abandoned lends an ominous mood, indicating that it is a no-man’s land, not a place for trivial people or matters.


20. Elfie Kalfakis

The animated film "Gotham Knight" makes overt use of New York City as Gotham City? Does this change the film? If so, how? What about the use of recognizable icons to define the city?

The Batman story typically takes place in a fictional “Gotham City”.  In doing so, stories evolve out of a fantastical landscape.  The city is a phenomenological being; it itself becomes a character.  The existence of these heroes and villains in a fantastical cityscape opens up a discourse about civics.  It probes ideas of the fine line between criminals and police forces.   Batman being that fine line between these two black and white elements.  In a fictional city he is the grey hero.  But, because Gotham City is such a corrupt place, those lines aren’t necessarily present and therefore Batman becomes the city personified. 
Now, by bringing these fictional aspects into a relatable context such as New York City it alters the way we view the story.  He is now in a context that we can identify and therefore humanizes the story.  This could easily develop into a type of fairy-tale where a desperate human community is in need of a savior to pull them out of corruption.  Especially in the first short where we hear about these various ‘fantasies’ of Batman as described by the kids.  

However, in the end we realize that Batman is human.  This brings a whole new take onto the perception and implications to the film.  One could take it as a commentary on the corruption of our current society.  A figure that is representative of the criminal ‘grey zone’ that is Gotham City put in the context of New York raises these questions about our society.  This is especially apparent with the use of iconic architectures. Batman is a guardian of a tormented town of corruption and violence, but that town is now New York, with all its icons of power and prosperity.  This begs us to question the state of our society. Maybe the idea of Gotham City, as this desperate corrupt metropolis with almost no hope, is in fact not far off from the current world we live in.



21. Elaine Lui

Compare the use of clown imagery in "Batman" and "The Dark Knight". How does this affect the theme of madness in the film?

In these two specific screen shots, the clown imagery seen in Tim Burton’s Batman is of a Helium Clown floating above a crowd while for ‘The Dark Night,’ the Joker is facing the screen wearing a Clown mask in a bank.

Clown imagery in ‘Batman’ is used as an indication of madness; the transformation of Jack into Joker the Clown became what others in the film perceive as ‘mad.’ His actions, moods and reaction are incomprehensible. He uses his abilities to kill others in acts of terrorism like inserting toxic chemicals into household items causing death. The epitome of his madness is described in near the end of the film where the Joker plans to kill the citizens of Gotham City with poison gas from balloons – one of which is a clown – through the lure of free money given away on the streets. The Clown imagery is now associated with evil intent, terrorism, disfiguration and madness, but still full of laughter and feigned threats.

Alternatively, Clown imagery in ‘The Dark Night’ is associated with Joker in a madness that is a deeper physiological disturbance. The screen shot shows the real joker facing the screen with a Joker mask on his face with his accomplice pointing a gun at him, but Joker proceeds to shoot his accomplice. Joker later is revealed that his disfigured face is constantly painted white; his act of terrorism is to cut others faces so they will smile like him or force others to experience loss by killing their loved ones. Madness is linked to the Clown intrinsically, as a mass murderer, callous, a deceiver and delights only in causing pain, both psychological and physical.
The theme of madness for both the films is given a face through the use of clown imagery, an identity that is now associated with mass destruction and oppression. Madness in the film has been used to create an ultimate villain whose death by the hero’s hand would be justified.



22. Reggie Macintosh

Do you feel it was easier or more acceptable to present violence in the animated films over the live action films? Connect the way that violence (bloodshed, physical harm) is portrayed in “Batman”, vs “The Dark Knight” vs. any of the animated films (pick one please).

Be it for the side of good or evil, violence has been a part of the Batman franchise since it’s inception.

I do not think though that it was easier or harder to portray violence in the animated films over the live action versions.  In both mediums, choices were made during production as to whether or not the portrayal of violence would aid in the telling of the story or if the audience could simply fill in the blanks if and when suggested violent events occurred.  It could be said that there is more visible blood shed throughout the animated films vs. the live action films but I do not believe that that was done because it was easier to portray in animation without an emotional response.  That just shows that the animated films were more violent.  It is also a reflection of their film typology.  The anime style of film can often be very extreme in content and violence levels. 

Violent events in “Batman” are portrayed in a comedic, unrealistic manner.  The violence is stylized to help maintain the comic image of “Batman”, evoking the memory of the original comic books and television series.  It is difficult to recall violent events within the picture, as they seem so over the top that they no longer register as violence.  One example of comedic violence used in “Batman” is the electrocution of one of the Joker’s men by a joy buzzer.  For a child watching the film such an event could be seen as quite terrifying but as an adult it appears ridiculous, especially considering the methods used in the execution.

In “The Dark Knight”, violence is treated in a very different manner.  It is more suggested than it is visualized.  At one point, the Joker held a knife inside a man’s mouth and told him the story of how his drunken father had taken a potato peeler and cut a smile onto his face while asking, “Why so serious?”  However, when the time came to do the same to the man, the camera immediately cut away from the event making the expectation of the pending violence more intense than the un-visualized bloodshed.  This treatment of violence was used throughout the film very successfully.  An imagined violent event can be far more intense than one inadequately visualized.

The animated films, as mentioned above, contain more visualized violent events than the live action films.  “Working Through Pain” told the story of how Batman learned to deal with both physical and emotional torture.  He was shown taking a beating from an angry mob as well as crawling through Gotham’s sewers bleeding and in agony, but also that he could persevere.  The blood and beatings depicted were just as stylized and artistic as the rest of the animation.  In this sense, the violence greatly aided in telling the story of Batman’s pain, both physical and emotional.

Violence stands close to the heart of what the Batman films represent.  It is both the catalyst and the resolution between good and evil in Gotham City.



23. Judith Martin

Should fictional superheroes interact with real cities or should those cities remain fictional? Is there a benefit or detriment to defining Gotham City? Obviously the transition to live action film asks that the architectural character of the set be defined at least to the point of supporting the action.

Filmmakers have the obligation of creating a believable alternate reality for the viewers to submerse themselves into in order to appreciate the storyline of the film.   This reality-space often borrows aspects from real space to connect to the viewer's own experiences in reality while overlaying story-based elements.   These story-based elements should set the tone for the production and establish the films style while generating the story’s atmosphere.  The set should also indicate the particular time and place where the events of the story occur. 

In the film Batman directed by Tim Burton it is important that the viewer is able to recognize the set as a megacity (possibly even New York City) in order to strengthen the believability of the Hollywood narrative.  The set from Batman borrows key elements of the megacity such as: city hall, alleyways, dense urban housing, and roof-top-scapes.  These settings are transformed from a generic typology into the corrupt, chaotic and dark context of Gotham city. Batman’s duties regularly occur amid the wet, smoky and constantly dark spaces that define Gotham city. The addition of the above defining elements establishes Gotham as fictitious megacity,  it is at this threshold where suspended disbelief takes over and the viewer allows themselves to be transported into the alternate reality of Gotham City.  Without the template of the megacity the storyline and the degree of fantasy within the story of batman would be altered, which could in turn have effects plot’s believability. 

Gotham city is depicted similar to the modernist dystopian city of Metropolis where the ruling classes occupy giant high-rises while the common folk exist at street level.  By depicting Gotham city as a dystopian megacity the hierarchy of classes within the city structure is easy to relate to because this hierarchy exists in the generic city structure.  Generally the top floors of high-rise structures are devoted to the most important or wealthiest individuals such as the CEO of a company or the penthouse at an apartment complex.  By relating the chaotic environment to an average city allows for a hidden commentary on ‘real’ urban situations.  Whether intended or not this correlation could prompt the viewers to critically consider the hierarchy in their own urban environment.  It is important for film and art in general to address or comment on contemporary situations.  This commentary is what gives viewers fuel for further intellectual commentary outside the theatre condition. 

Contrasting Batman’s representation of a generic megacity, The Dark Knight is shot on location in the city of Chicago.  Although the use of computer graphics renders the city with a gloomy atmosphere, landmarks provide evidence of the city’s identity.   The difference of shooting on location is the sense of familiarity.  By portraying such violence and destruction within a familiar setting heightens the intensity of the moment within the film by enabling the viewer to relate to the setting outside of the film.  This relationship of film-to-reality strengthens the believability of the situation within the film by providing an actual context.  During one pursuit within The Dark Knight Batman is able to overturn a 40-foot semi along the south end of LaSalle St in Chicago.  This location is home to architectural landmarks such as the Chicago Board of Trade.  It would be challenging and nearly impossible for the narrative of the film to establish a complex history that would generate a similar mental impact on the audience without the use of an existing environment.  Depicting an actual place that these fantastic events occur strengthens the believability of the scene while creating a greater sense of awe or shock within the audience due to the political and historical significance of the real city setting within the audiences real lives.  Using real city spaces provides the film with a sense of ‘shock value’, which is utilized to entertain the viewer.  Shock Value differs from the appreciation of suspended disbelief in that the former assumes believability while the latter must acquire believability.  The setting of Chicago establishes the setting of the film as a real environment where events like semi-cart wheeling do not often occur. Thus, when these events are depicted realistically as in The Dark Knight, the effect is shocking and frightening. 

When appropriate it is important for cinematic narratives to depict real environments in order to fully engage the intended audience.  If all environments within movies were fabricated it would be harder for the audience to relate to and harder to suspend disbelief.  Also the depiction of real places allows for a critical commentary on the possible or actual status of a said environment.



24. Derek McCallum

Burton's "Batman" uses Art Deco to define many of its sets. How does this feed into the film? Is this better or worse than Nolan's take on the settings, particularly the interiors?

Many of the interior settings in Burton’s Batman film are in the art deco style – namely the Gotham Art Museum and Vicki Vale’s apartment.  In Nolan’s Dark Knight, however, many interior scenes are either ‘miscellaneous’ or in a very modern style – particularly Bruce Wayne’s penthouse. 

Art Deco was a prevalent and popular design style in the 1920’s and 30’s. Unlike many other architectural styles that carried political or philosophical implications, art deco was primarily decorative and served to illustrate the beauty of the machine age.  Ornamentation celebrated man-made materials such as glass and stainless steel, and forms were inspired by new technologies such as aviation, the automobile, ocean liners, and new electronic equipment.  A style of luxury and opulence, art deco celebrated excess after the severity of WWI.  Its sumptuous style was most suited to grand public projects of modernity such as movie theatres, concert halls, and civic and transportation buildings.

In Burton’s film, the art deco interiors help to illustrate the gap between the “everyday man” and the thinking person in Gotham City.  A main theme in the film is winning the hearts and minds of the average citizen - portrayed as a simple, everyday man.  The museum, as well as Vale (and therefore her home) represents the thinking, cultured person – the one who can see past the Joker’s superficial tricks of throwing money from a float in return for allegiance.  Both of these places are presented in a highly sophisticated and elegant art deco setting.  The things these places represent are a threat to the Joker and his plans, and so his invasion and defacing of both is representative of his attack on Batman and the other self-reliant and intelligent people of Gotham.

Nolan’s film does not have any use of art deco, rather his interior shots are in a purely functional or administrative setting.  The exception is Bruce Wayne’s modern penthouse, which the Joker also breaches.  As this is the only setting where the modern style is extremely prevalent, I find it hard to relate it to a wider theme.  Visually, however, I find it much more effective and disturbing.  The stark, minimal interiors of the penthouse highlight the grotesque and flamboyant character of the Joker when he enters it, more so than the highly decorative and flamboyant settings of the art deco sets in Burton’s film. 



25. Sarah Neault

Which of the two live action films depicts more politically powerful architecture? Explain.

The political structure in the “Batman” films includes the mayor, the district attorney, the commissioner, and the mob bosses - essentially “good” locked in a battle with “evil”, but an official battle, with laws and limits. Batman himself exists outside of this political structure - he is literally an outlaw, though more so in Nolan’s film than Burton’s.  The architectural sets include City Hall, the major player’s offices, the mob meeting places, the courtroom and the street (during civic events).

The political architecture in Burton’s “Batman” has a cartoon-y/expressionist/art-deco character that is grand and goofy, and worn (though not believably). There is some clear contrast in the character of the offices - Jack’s is more “modern” in style than Dent’s in that the lines are cleaner, and the decoration is minimal.  The overall character of Burton’s film is one of affluence and stability in the political structure.

Nolan’s film presents a much less stable political situation - one that is explicitly challenged, and struggles to rebalance itself in the course of the film.  The architectural style, in general, is much newer, grittier, and more realistic than Burton’s film.  The use of daylight delineates the sets of the “good” - like Harvey Dent’s office, Jim Gordon’s MCU headquarters, and the courtroom - from the sets of the “evil” - like the kitchen where the mob men meet and the mob boss’ headquarters.  City hall is not clearly visible in Nolan’s film - though it is hinted at during the Commissioner’s funeral.

The political architecture in Nolan’s film is more compelling because of its realism and the precarious, though optimistic, state of political affairs in Nolan’s Gotham. 



26. Lisa Rajkumar-Maharaj

Compare the two versions of Alfred in the live action films. Are they the same/different? How do they feed into the film? Does having a more "known" actor like Michael Caine make a difference?

Alfred Pennyworth is Bruce Wayne’s butler in DC Comics ‘Batman’ saga. He is the affable, humorous and resourceful counterpart to Bruce Wayne, who in both movies, cares for Bruce and runs Wayne Manor. He is a father figure to Bruce, a dear friend and confidante. In many ways Alfred is a reminder to Batman of his own humanity; his limitations and his needs. Alfred manages to run Wayne Manor and maintain Bruce’s domestic life so that Batman can exist. To say that this care far exceeds the duties of a butler is hilariously understated. This is because of the complex play of identities within Bruce’s world. Alfred is the character that the audience looks to, to reflect the good in Batman and to see the weight of this persona on the Man himself who is both Bruce Wayne and Batman. This often extends from cleaning up after him to dressing his wounds and even interjecting into his love life.

To really understand the differences in Alfred’s character and the role of the actor chosen in each movie, it is important to look at the differences in portrayal of Bruce Wayne. In Burton’s earlier version, Bruce Wayne is a largely enigmatic character, whose past is a mystery to most and who seems to exist in society as a wealthy eccentric. In Nolan’s version, Bruce Wayne’s family history is a legacy that is stitched into Gotham City with Wayne Tower at the centre of the city itself. His character therefore is sharply aware of his public persona and how that reflects on his family’s past.

Michael Gough, in Batman (1989) begins the movie with a devoted, humorous pursuit of a distracted Bruce Wayne, picking up after him while seeing to the other guests as well. This is reflective of this role throughout the movie; Alfred takes care of Bruce’s domestic needs and from time to time cares for Bruce by encouraging a relationship with Vicki Vale. During the movie Alfred and Bruce develop an endearing banter that shows the vulnerability in Bruce/Batman’s character and honestly depicts the conflicted and brooding mask-less Bruce. As a supporting character to Micheal Keaton, Michael Gough’s role is more superficial than Alfred in Dark Knight (2008). His relative anonymity therefore does not take away from his performance which is strong but light and humorous.

In Dark Knight (2008), one can argue that the character of Bruce Wayne is more important, therefore making the identity of the supporting characters more important as well. The mask-less Bruce is the main character of this film, whereas Bruce Wayne and Batman are truly extrapolations. Alfred is vitally important in this version to displaying this conflicted character, to caring for the human side of Bruce and to help him understand his responsibilities as Batman and his responsibilities to himself. The past military experience in Alfred’s back story as well as his decision to burn Rachel’s letter display a tougher character than in Batman (1989), one with more influence and importance to Bruce and the story line. To play such a role therefore, a powerful character is needed who can be strong, self reliant, infinitely loving without being sappy and a strong voice of reason to the creature that is Batman. Although his illustrious film career has doubtlessly strengthened his onscreen weight, the popularity of Micheal Caine is secondary to his acting abilities. Playing Alfred is a bigger job in Dark Knight (2008) than it was in Batman (1989), one that Caine has managed brilliantly.

In both films, Alfred is the character who moves between the man that is Bruce Wayne and the one who is Batman. At all points during both movies you are sure that the communication between Alfred and Bruce is honest, straightforward and true. Deep issues of faith, love, friendship and perseverance that are central to the film are held true in Bruce’s life because of his and Alfred’s bond. Critics have called Alfred ‘Batman’s Batman’ . Alfred therefore is the character who, no matter what happens, in the extremist sense, will always be there for Bruce Wayne and Batman, who will never lose faith in him and who will take care of him always.



27. Michael Taylor

Compare the two versions of Harvey Dent in the live action films. How do changes in this character impact the reading of the film?

The largest and most obvious difference between the Harvey Dent characters in Batman and The Dark knight is the amount of screen time each actor is given within their respective film. Harvey Dent of Batman is seen as a brief symbol of justice within the community, but at the time, Gotham is seen as “highest crime rate ever” mentality.  Harvey is essentially pushed aside in the few scenes he is in and is simply an added compulsory object related to the Batman series.  His actual relevance to the plot of the first Batman film is if not minimal, not at all.  It is interesting to note that Billy Dee Williams was hired to portray the initial “good” Harvey Dent with the guarantee of coming back to play the two-face character in a sequel.  However, Joel Schumacher decided that Tommy Lee Jones would play Two-Face in Batman Forever. 

Harvey Dent as played by Aaron Eckhart in the Dark Knight is a completely different example of the Gotham district attorney.  He is initially represented as the voice of change in Gotham, someone who will stand up to the crime bosses and injustice without fear of retribution or the greed of corruption.   Harvey even goes as far to indicate himself as Batman, the crusader of all good vigilantism that was taking place in the city.  Of course this heightens the effect by which mass media coerces the public into a belief of change occurring within the city.  Harvey is then removed from his pedestal of justice when he is forced to listen to his girlfriend Rachel Dawes die and have batman save the attorney instead.  While emotionally this is difficult for Harvey to endure, it was thought that he would continue to be the voice of reason, change and justice in the city and therefore was the right choice for the hero to save—instead however, we see the downward spiral of Harvey Dent into Two-Face. 

As a side analysis, it also shows the difference in how a character can become multi-dimensional simultaneously as in the identity of Two-face—Harvey and internally as in the case of the Batman and his billionaire persona Bruce Wayne. 



28. Allison Janes

Is the presentation of the architectural setting in Burton's "Batman" convincing? Realistic? Explain. Why or why not?

In order to be considered convincing, the architectural setting in Burton’s “Batman” must fulfill two criteria. First: Does it make us believe that this is Gotham City come to life? - A comic book fantasy that moves and exists in three dimensions. Second: Does the fabricated setting (one purely created on a back lot) appear realistic in the terms of real inhabited architecture?

For the first criteria, the architectural setting is successful in making us believe that the claustrophobic, dark, and sinister Gotham is alive without denying the character of the comic book. There is a dynamic between the two-dimensions of the comic book page and three-dimensional real space. We can see this in the flatness of the matte paintings that form the backdrops, particularly the skyline shots of Gotham. They have a monotone, colour pallet and matte finish that create the smoky haze of Gotham but also hint at graphite drawing, and hatching.

In comparison the built sets (tall buildings that lean toward the street, ominous bridges, raised highways and catwalks) created by Anton Furst, twist, tangle and project toward the viewer in every possible direction. These urban structures surround and enclose the characters on all sides. There is also incredible detailed placed into their grime and decay. These qualities make the architectural setting believable as Gotham, a place of pure extortion and crime.  Where planning restrictions, by-laws, have been forgotten in favour of greedy over development.

In terms of realistic inhabited space the films sets are successful because they are so densely three-dimensional. For instanc the use of catwalks in the Axis chemical plant provided an opportunity to create believable camera angles under, ontop of and above the characters. The plant appears to be a real architectural space because of the number of camera angles and it supports. In addition to the extreme three-dimentionality of the constructed sets the minute details in the set dressing, and texture in the scenes - elaborate clutter on the streets, incredible depth and detail to store windows and their contents, maps on walls (Gotham’s map is actually the city of Vancouver inverted), photographs, provides an additional layer of depth and feeling of extended occupation. There is also particular attention to the decay of these structures.

What I find makes the setting less realistic and less convincing as a real architectural setting is the lack of reflection and highlight that would give greater depth. However these qualities would totally contradict the character of Gotham - a city without light. As well the gritty texture of the filming style is comparatively less “clean” than Nolan’s Batman, which appears less realistic. Instead Burton’s Batman appears almost half animated or at least painted.



29. Allan Wilson

Compare the special “technologies of Burton’s “Batman”, thinking of the Bat Cave in particular as well as some of his special gadgets, to Nolan’s. Has Nolan’s film been appropriately modernized to reflect the 20 years between film versions? You can also speak to whether or not either seems either advanced or suited to the year of release as this relates to a reflection of the origins of the original comic that was released in 1939.

Nolan’s film portrays the Bat Cave as a minimalist, Zumthor-esque, gallery space; with most investigations and experiments being completed quite rigorously and judiciously with the aide of incredibly advanced, very specific, instrumentation. One argument may be that Nolan uses this visual reduction to allow for the gadgetry to become quite seminal in the plot development. This is would perfectly coincide with the proliferation of crime dramas in the current television milieu; as it makes the illusion of solving crimes much more of a participatory act for the audience. An alternative argument might be that after the destruction of Wayne Manor in the previous film, it is important to render a character in a space of transition and displacement. The use of a minimalist interior depicts a space that stands as the direct antithesis to the chaos of Gotham City outside. This second argument is validated by Nolan in the way he renders the Research and Development department at Wayne Enterprises. Sleek design, however, does not necessarily make the overall technologies more modern.
In Tim Burton’s version of the Bat Cave, the space is rendered in the same comic book style as the rest of Gotham city. But the use of computer screens and technological equipment- represented by the selection of miscellaneous televisions and dials- are much more indicative of an archetypal superhero setup, especially when set against the pseudo 1930’s, New York film noir context. In this model, the audience never fully witnesses or becomes engaged in the investigatory process, it is just assumed that the hero is infallible. Therefore it can be speculated that Burton uses the technology rather than architecture to depict a marginal character.

Both caves are very much suited to the original date of release. Although the technology and gadgets appear to become increasingly complex, the context within which that technology operates is considerably at a higher level of advancement than what would be generally available. A comparative example would be the development of the bat mobile vs. and a thriving auto industry, followed by the use of “advance computer analysis” and evolving video software, and finally complex geospatial visualization in a constantly expanding wireless era.

What is essential to consider is that when it comes to manoeuvring within the urban landscape, outside the laboratory of the Bat Cave, all threes depictions of Batman are still incredibly dependent on the classic tool belt; dependent on a direct connection to buildings or structures. So although the method of achieving this may vary, the consistent application is quite important.



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