Extensive Batman Article in Variety!

Variety has published an excellent article on the new Batman movie with quotes from director Christopher Nolan, writer David Goyer, and Warner Bros. If you have a subscription, just click the link above to check it out. If not, here are highlights from the article…

This time around, it’s about the genesis of Batman: How billionaire Bruce Wayne makes a series of decisions that turn him into the Caped Crusader. Batman will be more realistic and less cartoonish. There are no campy villains. Wayne — younger, more vulnerable, more human — will be getting as much attention as his masked alter-ego.

“I felt like doing the origins story of the character, which is a story that’s never been told before,” says Chris Nolan (“Insomnia,” “Memento”), who takes the reins of “Batman” from Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher.

Humanity and realism, says Nolan, is the crux of the new pic.

“The world of Batman is that of grounded reality,” he says. Burton’s and Schumacher’s visions were idiosyncratic and unreal. Nolan says, “Ours will be a recognizable, contemporary reality against which an extraordinary heroic figure arises.”

Nolan, a self-confessed James Bond fan as a child, is keen on reinventing Wayne as more of a modern-day Bond than hapless playboy — an action-adventure hero who has mythic qualities and battles the odds to save the world.

WB Pictures prexy of production Jeff Robinov says, “There’s an emotional component to the film which grounds it and really tells us about Bruce Wayne’s struggle.”

While the new Bruce Wayne is getting emphasis, Nolan, scripter David Goyer and WB have focused on fixing problems that plagued the other pics. For example, Bruce Wayne was too dark and impenetrable and had lost the humorous side found in the comics. The character was basically just dead screen time until Batman appears — which in the new film may not happen until 40 minutes after it begins.

“If we’re successful, the thing that will be talked about a lot and on what we worked on the hardest is that the audience will really care about Bruce Wayne and not just Batman,” Goyer says. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on special effects — if it feels hollow, no one gives a damn.”

Nolan starts helming the film next month, and its summer 2005 release will prove whether WB has been able to breathe new life into the Caped Crusader — and to rescue its biggest franchise outside of “Harry Potter.”

So the new, untitled “Batman” is getting a complete overhaul, backed by a roughly $150 million budget.

Rather than pit Batman against a new set of supervillains, the new film focuses on how billionaire Bruce Wayne becomes the Dark Knight.

“It’s almost impossible to reinvent Batman,” says Robinov. “Chris is reintroducing Batman, and it feels smart and cool and fresh. That’s no disrespect to the other movies, but it’s really Chris’ vision of Batman, and that’s what we’re supporting.”

There’ll be a new Batmobile, a new arsenal of gadgets, a new Batsuit (sans nipples) as well as a new musical theme.

Even Gotham City is getting a facelift. Previous pics made the city seem dark and claustrophobic or garishly stylized. Instead of lensing on sets built inside huge soundstages, the new film will be shot on locations in New York, London and Iceland, assembling pieces of each city to recreate Gotham as a modern-day metropolis.

“Gotham will seem like this great city in a contemporary world and will be created through various cities,” Nolan says. “We are trying to avoid a villagey feel for Gotham, as it starts to get claustrophobic.”

Goyer — who penned the successful “Blade” series for New Line and was a former staffer at “Batman” publisher DC Comics — adds: “As the Batman films progressed, they became increasingly more cartoonish and more like the campy TV show. We think the audience is tired of that, and it’s at odds with the way Batman is depicted in the comicbooks over the last decade. Batman is a classic figure whose story is wrapped in tragedy.”

Nolan jumps on that theme: “Few superheroes have the sense of purpose and destiny that Batman has. He is driven by an incredible sense of rage, sadness and grief because of the tragedy of his parents’ murder at an early age. To me, Batman is the most interesting superhero because he doesn’t have any superpowers. He is very human.”

The casting of Bale, Nolan hopes, will not only give audiences a younger Batman to root for but also a weighty sense of his true character.

“Bruce Wayne is strong, and the things that are done to him to make him become Batman are all psychological and character-based,” Nolan says. “We needed an actor capable of taking us along on this journey and showing the different psychological layers which inspire Bruce to become Batman.”

In terms of whether the movie will be too dark, Robinov says the film’s more about conflict than darkness: about Batman’s internal conflict and what drives him to suit up as a superhero.

The director’s feeling the pressure to succeed. “It’s an awesome responsibility,” Nolan says, “because the fan base for Batman is extraordinary, and there’s a lot of emotional investment in the character.”

Thanks to ‘ultimatefan’ for the heads up!

Source: Variety