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Batman vs. James Bond


The Batman has just released starring Robert Pattinson, an actor who seems to be winning more and more respect in Hollywood. This starring role follows on from Ben Affleck in a film from Matt Reeves that has been touted as the best iteration of the self-made superhero since The Dark Knight. This is high praise when you consider just how many Batman films have graced the silver screen and how The Dark Knight is widely regarded as sacred - the best superhero film of all-time.


Batman or Bruce Wayne is often compared to James Bond, based on the cutting edge gadgetry, special skills, seemingly limitless resources, playboy lifestyle and tendency to work alone. While there are obvious similarities, this helps explain the superficial appeal of the character, loosely modelled on aspects revolving around what society deems to be the ultimate expression of masculinity. James Bond has been this figurehead since the secret agent man revolution of the '60s, as inspiring or harmful as it may be. The Batman has also evolved over time also taking on a grittier and more realistic edge.

Batman vs James Bond

James Bond, however, isn't quite as flamboyant when it comes to wardrobe (he doesn't have a Bat Cave) and has only started to become more of a rogue in recent times. While you can imagine Daniel Craig playing Bruce Wayne, it's a little bit more difficult to think of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan taking on the part. Maybe this is why George Clooney struggled so much.

This speaks to Batman's slugger attitude, preference to stick to the shadows and his tendency to "take out the trash" without looking for recognition. The Batman has a much darker, dangerous and sinister edge than the smarmy, ultra-confidence and sly instinct of Bond. While the charm and sophistication of James Bond are traits that gentlemen seem to aspire to, there's more of a primal rage and unpredictability to Batman.

While Bond seems to have the gift of the gab, Batman is more economic with his dialogue. The MI6 agent uses language to weave a web of doubt in the minds of villains and henchmen, able to shift into the theatrics of seduction quite effortlessly. Similar to his Batman alter-ego, Bruce Wayne also uses words sparingly, owing to the importance he places on privacy and protecting his true identity. Christian Bale made "the voice" of The Dark Knight, adapting to the Nolan's vision for the character as more of an embattled brute. As with some iconic cinematic moments that reach boldly, the voice has been lampooned by Will Arnett in Lego Batman's many appearances.

Batman has a range of genre perspectives, treated like a crime epic in the world of Christopher Nolan or more theatrical, verging on pantomime in Tim Burton's Batman. The same can be said for 007, whose balance of action and comedy have been quite adventurous over the decades. Daniel Craig, much like Christian Bale, ushered in a much more serious reflection of a beloved character. While deconstructing the well-known persona and type, the modern versions have taken on a much grittier edge from Batman Begins and Casino Royale.

Fantasy played a much greater role in the earlier versions, which could speak to the lack of overall confidence in the visual effects at the time, acknowledging the sometimes campy spin-off of these effects. Delivering cheesy one-liners, there was also a more playful tongue-in-cheek aspect that played up the spectacular comic book fun rather than trying to ground the stories in a hard reality.

Nowadays, it's about trying to serve the demands of both fantasy and drama. There are many people who do not appreciate the fantasy to the point of not even attempting to immerse themselves into films like Peter Jackson's monumental The Lord of the Rings. This sort of make-believe entertainment is too difficult to grasp or appreciate, which makes the prospect of grounding the fantastic in a much more relatable world much easier to savour for them.

Perhaps it's the notion that Bruce Wayne's dark and tormented past has created a vent to avenge injustice and turn bad into good that keeps his character more compelling as he walks that tightrope between good and bad. Bond operates according to his government's wishes, responsible to M and Bruce Wayne seems to have much more free reign. Essentially only responsible to himself, it seems ironic that a self-made billionaire could still be imprisoned by his own struggle to make peace with the past. These timeless themes around justice and forgiveness make the Batman's tortured existence and compulsion to keep thwarting the bad guys deeply satisfying as we too attempt to make peace with our pasts.

Whether you identify more with James Bond or Batman, both characters are ultimately heroes whose incorruptible strength of character, mission focus and physicality shines through.