Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Top Films: What Defines A Man?

Some stories can sustain a retelling every couple decades or so. Batman has such a story. Most of his stories are really about some new villain or solving a puzzle, but the real compelling story is how Bruce Wayne became Batman.

A boy’s parents are shot dead right before his eyes. He grows up seeking revenge but calling it justice. He travels the world preparing to fight crime and destroy the wicked. Failing in his initial attempts, he learns that fear is his most powerful weapon and assumes the character of Batman.

Nolan’s Batman Begins joins other recent comic book adaptations showing a “realistic” take on the superhero story. Of course, Batman is the most suitable of all superheroes to attempt this with, as he has no fantastic powers— just cunning, discipline, and unlimited resources.

There are two things to attract people to this story seventy years after it was created. The idea of taking on bad guys and making things right is one appealing aspect. The other has to be the money. Having so much money does not bring happiness, but using it to create the ultimate secret hide out and all those gadgets has got to help.

This is where Batman Begins really delivers. We see the elaborate way in which Bruce Wayne creates Batman, and it is absolutely believable. Well, absolutely plausible anyway. His personal journey to becoming Batman is good too. Bruce starts out a boy who lost his parents before he could learn what it means to be a man. He ultimately learns that we are not defined by the good things we think about ourselves, but by our actions. That is a lesson society needs to hear in the post Bill Clinton world.

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