Batman (Nolanverse)

Batman Begins Knight Models

The “Nolanverse” is the name given to the three Batman films that director Christopher Nolan co-created with writers David S. Goyer and his brother Jonathan Nolan: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2007) and The Dark Knight Rises (2013). For Batman fans, the triology is considered one of the best portrayals of Batman and Gotham City ever, even if the three parts are qualitatively different. At least The Dark Knight can be considered a brilliant thriller even apart from the comic book movie. Not least because of Heath Ledger’s sensational portrayal of the Joker, many viewers who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to do with the genre have seen it.

Even beyond Ledger, the cast of all three films is well worth seeing, as it unites greats like Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy and many others in leading roles. What the films have in common is Christopher Nolan’s hyper-realistic approach. The whole Batman mythos, his gadgets and enemies should be as believable and “realisitic” as possible. For the most part, the films look as if they were theoretically possible in reality – the third film departs furthest from this concept and also turns out to be the weakest part of the series for this reason.

Batman Begins

Before Batman Begins hit theaters, the Batman franchise was at rock bottom. Cinematically, nothing had happened since the disastrous Batman and Robin (1997). In general, the kitschification of the franchise under Joel Schumacher had not done it any good. While Batman Forever (1995) was still a box office success and even managed to thrill me as a kid, neither film had any reverberations that would have boosted the franchise. The old fans of the Burton films couldn’t connect and the character Batman didn’t grow any further, on the contrary, it went in a completely different, silly direction. I must admit, even I as a die-hard Batman fan had lost interest around the turn of the millennium. Not even the news and rumors about Batman Begins had really caught my attention. So the trailer for Batman Begins caught me largely unprepared:

It was clear then that a new era could dawn and indeed the film largely delivered what the trailer promised. For some, the origin story was told too long, but I loved it. I couldn’t see enough of the training, education, gathering and fitting of equipment and how Bruce Wayne eventually became Batman. The first appearances in the Bat-costume in steamy Gotham alleys at night were exactly what I wanted to see (and another point that was criminally neglected in the third part).

I just liked everything, the cast, the script, the set, the score (the Batman theme is immediately back in my head as I write this). Batman Begins really gave me a real boost and the whole franchise a fresh lease of life. It should not be ignored that this film and its sequels also had a significant impact on the comic field and the Dark Knight became darker and more adult in the following years in comics as well.

Back to the roots: Comics!

For me as a comic book reader, Batman Begins had a big impact: for the first time since the more youth-oriented comics of Batman: The Animated Series in the early 1990s, I was interested in comics again. Christopher Nolan explained his writing influences and kept emphasizing Frank Miller’s stroke of genius Batman: The First Year as fundamental. I didn’t know the comic yet and was pleased when Panini offered a reissue to match the movie, of course. Although the story is rather short and offers little of what you’ve been used to, I was all the more hooked: Here, too, we were offered an adult approach to the story, both narratively and in terms of the drawings.

Die Miniaturen

Knight Models have also released some matching figures for the Nolan films for their Batman tabletop. Originally Batman, Batman on Bike, Scarecrow, Ras Al Ghul and three fighters of the League of Shadows as well as the Joker appeared. Of course, I had to buy all of them immediately and painted them one by one. As was usual in the early days of Knight Models, these miniatures were cast in white metal, very well sculpted and delivered with mixed quality. No major cleaning was needed anywhere, though Knight Models at the time had to glue on some absurdly delicate parts (hands or other narrow limbs). Gaps were often visible, which is why Green Stuff was indispensable when assembling multi-part figures.

Nevertheless, I just love these miniatures. They were also some of the first ones I painted after I got back into the hobby. In this respect, the painting reflects my learning progress and I still enjoy looking at them.

The Dark Knight

The end of Batman Begins already teased the Joker, but could it really be expected? Casting rumors quickly confirmed this, as filming began quickly after the first film. I still remember the outcry there was when Heath Ledger was confirmed. While I quite liked him as an actor, I couldn’t imagine him as the Joker at all. Nowadays, I always think about it when roles are recast and the shitstorm regularly breaks loose. Most people didn’t expect what Ledger would deliver. The trailer already hit like a bomb. Rarely has a trailer made me so euphoric:

The film delivered what it promised and even exceeded many expectations. Everything has already been said about Ledger’s performance. The way he redefined the role also changed my view of the Joker. Jack Nicholson’s Joker from Batman (1989) was always a touch too hysterical for me and although Mark Hamill’s interpretation in the Animated Series was the measure of all things for me for a long time, I had always wondered what it would be like if the Joker was shown seriously ill. I still wonder that about the Riddler, by the way, and look forward to the next Batman film for that reason as well. Ledger tied the character together with a gloominess that I hadn’t seen in a superhero movie before. It was really a masterstroke.

Less Batman than in Batman Begins

The entire film managed with its hyper-realism to be more of a washed-out thriller with connectivity for wide audiences than actually still a superhero movie. The balance is still maintained, but I already found it a shame that in The Dark Knight we see cold, bluesy images of glassed-in skyscrapers and empty highways rather than dirty, narrow alleys like in the first film. It’s more New York than Gotham, and of course that does something to the perception of the Dark Knight. As much as I love the movie, it’s more of a Joker movie than a Batman movie for me.

Let’s not ignore Two-Face: I liked his performance and still find the effects impressive, however, he would have had more potential. Couldn’t Dent have been introduced as a peripheral character in the first film to establish him and get to the transformation faster in the second film? On the other hand, the Joker should certainly be the one opponent in the film and Dent rather a tragic supporting character.

Vehicles

Initially, there was no model of the Tumbler from Knight Models. We had to find another way and many collectors opted for the model of De Agostini from the Batman booklet series “Batman in Action”. The booklet series featured a wide variety of models of the Batmobile and other companions from the movies, series, comics and PC games. The vehicles were DieCast metal models in 1/43rd scale, making them ideal for 28mm miniatures. Actually, slightly too small for the larger Knight Models figures. However, due to the compact design of the Tumbler, the difference was hardly noticeable and I also decided to go for it.

The model comes assembled and painted, it could actually be used right away like this. But since I have this quirk that everything on the console has to be painted and professionally fabricated die cast cars always look a bit like too perfect and like foreign objects, I sprayed the tumbler black again and repainted it. Unnecessary work? Kind of. It looks like it did before with the expected sacrifices in my painting skills. At least the windows are now tabletop painted and no longer actual shiny plastic windows. I think I won’t be able to pull this off completely, the effort is quite immense without airbrushing and just largely unnecessary. Nevertheless, I like the result:

In The Dark Knight, the Batpod (bike) played an important role. Knight Models released a metal model (no longer available) that sat on my painting table primed in black for almost a year – after the Tumbler, I had no desire for black vehicles for the time being. I like the model insanely because of its very dynamic pose, but the high black content had put me off. It captures a moment of the iconic scene from The Dark Knight where the Joker provokes Batman into running him over.

In The Dark Knight, the Batpod (bike) played an important role. Knight Models released a metal model (no longer available) that sat on my painting table primed in black for almost a year – after the Tumbler, I had no desire for black vehicles for the time being. I like the model insanely because of its very dynamic pose, but the high black content had put me off. It captures a moment of the iconic scene from The Dark Knight where the Joker provokes Batman into running him over.

The Batpod

Although the Batpod is made entirely of metal, assembly was less difficult than expected – it looks quite fragile, but has held up well so far. At some point, I took heart and tried different shades of black. The cape has a blue tint, the suit has a classic gray and white underlay, and the Batpod is a mix. I always find the moment fascinating when the contours are worked out and slowly the desired result appears.

The Dark Knight Rises

It took 5 years for the final part of the series The Dark Knight Rises to finally hit theaters. Naturally, the expectations were gigantic, even though quite a bit of time had already passed. Between the two films lay the foundation of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, which began almost simultaneously with The Dark Knight with Iron Man and, after a few more films, reached its first peak in 2012 with Marvel’s The Avengers. The Marvel films established a new way of telling superhero movies: Humorous and entertainingly action-packed, serious moments are almost always broken up by ironic one-liners. Coolness and self-irony are in the foreground. The formula still works amazingly well today, even if it is showing signs of wear. Marvel has been increasingly successful with its films and it was questionable to what extent this would affect the view of the undoubtedly once again dark, third Batman film. Let’s take a look at the first trailer first:

You could write a lot about The Dark Knight Rises. After the first viewing in the cinema, I was overwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time. The film is long, seems relatively complex and opens many barrels, especially for Batman fans, which he can not close all again. At this point, I can highly recommend the five-part (!) analysis of the Batman podcast “Batcast” to the film (in german unfortunately). Besides a lot of info on the making and production, there are also some interesting interpretations. Very interesting are the parallels between the movie and Charles Dickens book “A Tale of two Cities”!

The Game

From the Batman license Knight Models has brought a whole tabletop system on the market. It is not just a nice accessory to sell the miniatures better. According to the setting, it is a skirmisher (few miniatures carry out skirmishes) between two factions. On one side are Batman or other heroes, each supported by “lesser” heroes or the GCPD. On the other side is Batman’s complete Rogues Gallery. The most prominent enemies lead their own gangs, mostly made up of regular henchmen. This leaves a few superheroes/villains and a few supporting characters on both sides. The teams can’t be completely colorful – especially among the villains, there are quite a few representatives who wouldn’t work with a certain other in any case.

The game is now available in the 3rd edition, which has significant differences from the previous ones. Unfortunately, the starter boxes are always sold out quickly and Knight Models does not get the subsequent deliveries distributed fast enough. For The Dark Knight Rises a separate starter box was released, which had a spectacular content: Batman, Catwoman, Alfred Pennyworth, policemen, Batmobile and Batpod plus either Batman or Catwoman as driver. On the other side, Bane, Thalia al Ghul and Bane’s mercenaries. Cardboard buildings, quick start rulebook and a bunch of game paraphernalia. This was a nice offering that rightfully sold out quickly.

Uh, how much of it have I painted so far? Hm, well,…so…. here’s more to see soon! And I’ll also introduce the game in more detail. Yes, … I promise!

Posted in Batman/DC.

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