EDITORIAL: The Dark Knight, Not as Realistic as You May Think!

Are you a Nolan or a Burton? Do you love The Dark Knight for it's "realism?" Follow the jump to see if it's as "realistic" as you think it is.

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By Hawksblueyes - 1/29/2011


Since Christopher Nolan first presented the world with Batman Begins, the Nolan vs Burton debate has been a nonstop, ongoing argument among fans, with no apparent winners. They are all outstanding movies that look at the same character, in the same city, from two distinctly different points of view.

Burton's world, beginning with Batman, is a dark, mysterious version of both Gotham and Batman himself, that also gives us the outlandish visuals and styling found so often in the comics over the years. The costumes and settings are all larger than life and everything about the movies never, at any time, lets you forget, you're visiting a place that doesn't exist. It's all ripped from the comics to make it feel as if the pages themselves have "come to life."

On the other hand, Nolan's films have been set in the here and now, realistic version of Gotham, a city that could be any of a variety of actual existing cities, including but not limited to, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia. In these films Bruce Wayne has engineered his Batman persona to the utmost level money and training can take him. Everything about the films is geared to be believable or a distinct possibility, if a man in his position ever chose to do the things he does.

Before I go any further, let me make it CLEAR that I love all four films. The two directed by Burton are completely different viewing experiences than the two directed by Nolan. The things I am about to attempt to point out are somewhat obvious things that many of you have probably noticed. They are in no way, an attempt to "pick a comic book movie apart." I am well aware of the fact that this is a comic book world. These are simply things I have noticed in The Dark Knight that, in my opinion, make the "Nolan's Batman films are anchored in realism" aspect of the Nolan fans argument null and void. You may still think Nolan's are gold and Burtons are garbage but after reading this, you really should move on from the theory that Nolan's Batman films are "realistic".

The following things are just some things I would like to point out that for me, render Nolan's The Dark Knight anything but "realistic."

Remember, I love the films as much as you.

This first point, even I consider somewhat nit picking but I felt I should include it. After being bitten by a very large rottweiler, we see Bruce getting a large slash on his arm "stitched up" by Alfred. Have you ever seen a dog bite? It's a nasty thing to look at with an abundance of penetrations to the skin, in a plethora of patterns. A dog of 100lbs or more does not tackle you to the ground while shaking any part of your body between his teeth, and leave one singular incision. Doesn't happen.

The second thing that more than stands out to me is the fact that a 200lb man can jump off of anything he chooses on to the top of a moving van and any number of things will happen. One thing that can most certainly happen, is he can, as planned, incapacitate the driver. One thing that would never happen, is for the van to be instantly stopped in it's tracks, as if tied to an anchor or as if it hit a wall. There would be some sort of forward momentum (more times than not, a great deal of it.)

The third thing (this one is a great big, confusing can of worms) is the ballistic tests that Batman and Alfred conduct on the retrieved bullet lodged in the brick. There would be no need to painstakingly, mount a gun that you must painstakingly, aim and calibrate, to automatically move itself into place, in order to fire a bullet into four or five bricks, which were also painstakingly, placed in just the right place in order for them to receive these bullets. All he had to do was take aim at four bricks and fire, he would have achieved the same exact results. And what did he hope to achieve by doing this? Fingerprints! While going through all that aforementioned trouble would give you a fantastic ballistics match on what particular gun was used, it would never begin to give you the fingerprint you were searching for, on the bullet lodged in the original brick taken from the crime scene. Even if it informed you as to how the original shattered bullet should be placed back together, the fingerprints would have been wiped off upon entering the brick

The fourth thing that bothers the Hell out of me (as well as many die hard fans of the film) is that Batman (not alone mind you) falls what looks to be 400,000 stories into the top of a parked car and they both walk away. That's all I really think I need to say about that one. He is, if I remember correctly, a "non powered hero."

Fifth on the list, is the fact that Batman proceeds through Gotham on his motorcycle, shooting missiles at parked cars lined up under the tracks. Regardless of the fact that he had no idea if someone could possibly be sitting in one of those cars (just as the two boys who witness the event are doing), they are cars owned by citizens that he is supposedly trying to protect. We could discuss reckless endangerment or unlawful destruction of public property but there is no sense in that since we are all well aware that Batman is one of the good guys.

I won't even mention the fact that Harvey Dent is not only alive but walking around with half of a scabby, burnt, puss filled face that evidently is not a very painful ordeal at all.

I could go on but I think if I was trying to make any kind of point, I probably have already. I believe there are instances found right in the heart of The Dark Knight's "realistic" setting that take liberties Burton's Batman never dreamed of taking.

As I stated earlier, I love Nolan's Bat films. I also love Burton's Bat films. I don't think I prefer one over the other and while fans of each can argue their favorite until they're blue in the face, neither one should ever bring the term "realism" or "realistic" into the argument. There. I said it. I think that may have been my point.
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153 Comments
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Hawksblueyes - 1/29/2011, 9:01 AM
;P
nuck82 - 1/29/2011, 9:05 AM
yay!!! here it comes wait for it, wait for it
0zymandias - 1/29/2011, 9:11 AM
I do agree. The physics does not comply for everything that happens in this film. But its among the most realistic superhero films ever, like most Batmans.
Xandera - 1/29/2011, 9:11 AM
All your points are extremely valid Hawks... still a [frick]in awesome movie though...
LEEE777 - 1/29/2011, 9:14 AM
BATMAN is in the DC Universe... end of! (No Nolanverse)

I love both the Nolan and Burton films the same too!

Cool read man!

P.S. Yes [frick] Batman&Robin! : p

Thumbs up.
golden123 - 1/29/2011, 9:17 AM
Nice article
You beat me to it Hawks. I was going to right an article about Nolans Bat-verse not being unrealistic. Though, I was going to right it about things like the Microwave-emitter thingy, the bat swarm device, the fear toxin, and the turning of a regular cellphone into a radar device. Basically when I think of Nolan's Batman films being unrealistic I look at the things that affect the plot heavierly. I love those two films nevertheless, but I just don't think there realistic.
Oh and I when does reason number 3 happen? I can't remember any instance similar to that at all.
CENSORSHIPSUCKS - 1/29/2011, 9:17 AM
You just wrote an entire piece on how Batman is not realistic? Um, duh.
leeholland - 1/29/2011, 9:20 AM
Any given action film has 10 times as many physical impossibilities. Watching an episode of Mythbusters proves that many times over.
Supes17 - 1/29/2011, 9:21 AM
I think that the incarnation of batman that balances realism and DCU fantasy is Batman: Arkham Asylum.
It's amazingly close to the comics while havging that "realistic" feel that Nolan's critically acclaimed batman films have.
UnfriendlySpidey - 1/29/2011, 9:23 AM
Well done Hawks! I have to say the only one I picked up on was when Bats & Rachel free-fell from a skyscraper & were fine when they landed on the car...haha why the hell didnt he just use his bat-grapple?? My other big issue was when after they landed, they cut to the next scene...the hell? Isnt the Joker still up there?? Or did he just go...oh well.. & leave? haha anyways, nicely done Hawks
Supes17 - 1/29/2011, 9:23 AM
@golden123
Even though Scarecrows "fear toxin" is completely fictional, it does have a basis in reality. Marijhuana(did i spell it right?) and hallucinogens, have been known to give the drug user frightening hallucinations.
6of13 - 1/29/2011, 9:26 AM
Totally astute observations. Although, I once read that once nerve endings have been destroyed (such as through exposure to fire), then a person would no longer feel any kind of sensation or hurt from that area. So, I think Harvey might not feel anything at all on that side of his face.

And I would like to mention that I really liked Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman.

ManofSteel22 - 1/29/2011, 9:26 AM
Yeah 2 things that you mentioned annoyed me,the jumping on the van bit without breaking his legs,and the whole shooting the bricks to find finger prints..i still dont get that :S
Still a great movie,but its a comic book movie things are never real,thats why they have been made,its an escape to us fan boys to get away from our ordinary crappy lives lol
Supes17 - 1/29/2011, 9:26 AM
@UnfriendlySpidey
If he grappled to the side of the building, they would probably have slammed into a wall, or smash through a window with the glass cutting rachel.
And I think that the joker just walked out after that, having proven his point.
I still don't understand why batman couldn't just wait downstairs for him to come down lol
WorldsGreatestdetective - 1/29/2011, 9:33 AM
It is exaggerated realism, I mean a lot of it has to do with realism combined with Symbolism, Now not everything is possible in The Dark Knight but alot of it is, Now am I going to analyze every single detail like the dog bite no, but he arm does look pretty maul up and plus he does have his armor on which can't be that easy for the dog to rip right through. Now I think with the gun thing Nolan is just showing off Bruce's wealth and I mean it is just a cooler shot, the fingerprint is sketchy though I admit but Nolan Always stated that it has a bit sci-fi in it and that all of batman's tools are suppose to be in 5-10 year reach since he is a billionaire and would get everything beforehand, so even though the fingerprint analysis might not be possible but you could believe Wayne could do do it. Now I'm not going to explain my view on everything you pointed out but I don't think the goal was to make it completely realistic but is in the whelms of realism that you could believe that maybe it is possible for A man with this much wealth to do all this, and Nolan has made the most realistic comic book movies
Hawksblueyes - 1/29/2011, 9:34 AM
Landsdown The point is that once a film sells itself as being rooted in "the real world" it becomes more difficult to suspend our disbelief. And Nolan "groupies" jump all over every opportunity to throw that "realistic setting" in everyone's face. The point is that it's not realistic at all. While it's fantastic, IT'S STILL A DAMN COMIC BOOK MOVIE!
Hellebus - 1/29/2011, 9:40 AM
LMFAO, did you seriously just write up an article on how a FICTIONAL character in a FICTIONAL movie isn't real? You guys seriously need to find better writers and/or writing material...

I think you should write the next one on how Mickey Mouse isn't real too. Maybe we'll stop believing in him and Santa Clause then too.
marvel72 - 1/29/2011, 9:44 AM
@ hawks

good article,mate.

i'm just waiting to see batman in his proper costume the one that he wears in the comics & animated shows.

i want to see batman dodge bullets not just stand there & be able to take them,all that g.i.joe armor does my head in.

ManofSteel22 - 1/29/2011, 9:50 AM
@marvel72
Batman dodge bullets? think you have the wrong superhero dude :P
DylansMyDog - 1/29/2011, 9:54 AM
I dunno those all seem like common action movie tricks .. the cars defying the laws of motion (the truck flipping end over end ahem), horrific wounds suddenly shrinking or disappearing all together or unrealistic forensic tools (look at any episode of any police drama especially csi and you will see crazier stuff)

The "realistic world" is a "realistic world as depicted on film" which is always going to have unrealistic things in it.

My biggest beef is with batman begins microwave emitter ... it vaporizes thousands of gallons of water but leave the human body which is mostly water completely unharmed.
InSpace - 1/29/2011, 9:55 AM
Hellebus@He's just trying to prove a point, since most fanboys suck TDK's dick on how its so "real" so he's proving tht its not real
Tin - 1/29/2011, 9:57 AM
It's not about the realism of what's physically possible, it's about the realistic human motivation in a given situation or, as Moore likes to say, a certain human element that rings true.

Nolan's characters are people with realistic subconscious psychological processes (or at least they seem so, they FEEL so), Burton's are too to a degree but they are not consistent in that aspect, their motivation feels forced at times just to keep the story going.

Now, if you ask me, if you have a massive story that tends to be realistic and that is character driven (as Batman films are), you need to give every character the exposition not that you just think is the right for the rhythm of the movie, but that is also needed for the character to think through his every single decision he's making.

I used the word feel in proving my point, which could confuse you. Note that thinking is mostly emotional, not verbal process, and that rationalization is just a verbalization of certain emotions. Therefore, what I'm saying is, you can try to prove me wrong at my point here by asking how can I know what's a realistic character motivation if I never rationalized it or measured it, but you can't really empirically prove it (psychology and psychiatry included) but you can intuitively feel whether a character is a real person or just a role for an actor to play.

There. Article's good, however
jjmeylar - 1/29/2011, 9:58 AM
None were as realistic and great as "Batman and Robin". It had the most real effects. It had the most real acting. It had the most real story. It had the most real EVERYTHING....oh wait. No it didn't. ;)
MrSuperheromoviefan - 1/29/2011, 9:59 AM
Great article. My favorite movie is The Dark Knight, but I have spot these things, too.
I hope in the Rise, Bane will have powers.
RyanTcone - 1/29/2011, 10:00 AM
Someone thought too long and way too hard to make this, also in before 2008.
DukeAcureds - 1/29/2011, 10:03 AM
I love this article! And the comments. There is actually a plant somewhere in Africa that is a hallucinogen centered around fear. That's real. Strange, but true. I always thought the Microwave Emmiter spoiled Batman Begins. It took me right out of the movie.
The one thing that is worse than the Nolanverse not being realistic is the fact that it is not naturalistic. The performances in The Dark Knight especially are tongue-in-cheek camp. The street level criminals all talk like cartoon stereotypes, Bale's Bat-voice is, as we are all painfully aware, is horrible. And the overall tone is gawky.
"You're more likely to win the powerball than run into him!"
"Can he really fly?"
Gimme a [frick]ing break.
PaulRom - 1/29/2011, 10:04 AM
I would like to join the Nolan riot.
Would you consider Jack Nicholson's Joker as realistic and believable as Heath Ledger's? Or Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face as believable as Aaron Eckhart's?
And also, all of the movies seemed to rely on plastic materials, and with the exceptions of Catwoman and Penguin, all the villains were cheaply made (except I haven't seen Batman & Robin, so all I've seen of the villains is a little bit of Mr. Cheese) and were not very believable. Don't get me wrong, Burton's movies were pretty good, but I found Nolan's movies to be much more believable.
marvel72 - 1/29/2011, 10:05 AM
@ superman1991

i would like to see batman like this.

BIGBMH - 1/29/2011, 10:05 AM
Good points. I think it's more f a relative realism. The world feels real for the most part. Nolan's Batman movies are more realistic than just about every other superhero movie, so we tend to exaggerate how realistic they are.
TheSuperSoldier - 1/29/2011, 10:11 AM
uhm, you're not going to get the same results from a mounted gun, and it doesn't require any pain to do it. You're an idiot.
Hawksblueyes - 1/29/2011, 10:11 AM
Let me say once again that I loved all four movies for what they are. AND! the point of this article is not to tear down the "Nolanverse" or discredit Begins or TDK. The point is also not trying to say Nolan's are not a little more realistic. The point IS both versions are COMIC BOOK MOVIES and as such, take many liberties. Nolan's may be set in a realistic environment but they are no more "realistic" than either of Burton's.

Sea Otter: Do you think the Joker had a "mounted gun" when he killed those two police officers in that itty bitty apartment? Think about what you say before you throw the term idiot around.
marvel72 - 1/29/2011, 10:11 AM
@ intruder

be careful,you'll have the nolan,bale,ledger butt hurts after ya. :P

ManofSteel22 - 1/29/2011, 10:16 AM
@marvel72
Yeah i know what you mean man
You might like this if you havnt seen it,just ignore the predator and alien lol
DukeAcureds - 1/29/2011, 10:19 AM
Annetea@ softboot - love it, doll.
MichaelBay - 1/29/2011, 10:20 AM
TDK had a lot of good explosions. If you make things blow up, who cares about realism? Hell, who cares about substance? Just give me a good explosion!
karapandza - 1/29/2011, 10:22 AM
In Burton's Batman, Batman also destroyed whole factory with Joker's people in it and he did shoot at the Joker on the street from his Batwing.
And Catwoman survived in Batman Returns the same way Batman and Rachel did in The Dark Knight.
My point is... They Are CBM's, nothing is realistic!
DukeAcureds - 1/29/2011, 10:22 AM
Annetea@ softboot - love it, doll.
Fumbles - 1/29/2011, 10:23 AM
You all know that no matter what movie it's still based in a fictional world. We are talking about a guy that dresses up as a bat and fights crime, how do you expect to make that "realistic"??? Stop nit picking and enjoy it for what it is.
DukeAcureds - 1/29/2011, 10:27 AM
Nolan seems to put things in The Dark Knight that he wouldn't put in any of his other movies. As if it's an excuse to be cheesy and panto-esque, because it's Batman. The good thing about Batman Begins was how refreshing it was to see someone make a film about Batman that was not aware that it was a genre film.
ecksmanfan - 1/29/2011, 10:29 AM
Nolan. Is. GOd. Just ask him, he will tell you so.
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