I really wanted to like Robert Pattinson. I think he’s a lovely guy and quite talented. But something about him just isn’t connecting with me. It could be his acting or his choice of clothing. And before you know it, you’re hooked on YouTube videos of cute dogs and up-doggles.)
But who cares about me, right? It’s always about YOU! The latest casting news has gotten me all hot and bothered!
Apparently, Hollywood has found its next Batman. And he’s making his big-screen bow in the form of Batman & Robin, the upcoming collaboration between director Sam Miller and star Robert Pattinson. Weighing in at a trim 5’9″, the British actor is a perfect match for the Caped Crusader. And let’s face facts: this version of Batman is all about charm and charisma. With a perfectly coiffed hair turn and a snarl, he’s the very definition of cool.
While we wait patiently for the trailer to drop, let’s take a trip down memory lane (erm… arrow lane?) and revisit seven iconic Batman toys that changed the way we see The Caped Crusader forever.
Tomy Toys’ Visionary Line
It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since the last cinematic Batman movie but it seems like just yesterday we were all hyped up about Batman Begins. Or at least, I was. The hype started slowly, with rumors and leaks about the new film, but once those initial teases started trickling out it became clear: this was going to be something special.
If you’ve been sleeping on the job (or in a jar) since then, then it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Because what has happened in the interim hasn’t been “breathing room” so much as it has been remedial. We’ve had seven years of mediocre films and desperately needed villains and this is all going to change with Batman & Robin. At least, that’s what we’re being led to believe.
It’s not hard to understand why Warner Bros. wanted a new Batman. The first couple of films in the series weren’t bad, just not as creative or polished as they could have been. But with each subsequent film, the creative team got more and more room to explore their unique artistic visions. Which is exactly what happened with 2008’s The Dark Knight. With its bleak vision of Gotham and Heath Ledger’s haunting performance as the Joker, The Dark Knight introduced a more adult and disturbing side to the Caped Crusader. Something that wouldn’t be out of place in ’60s Batman comic books.
Then there was Tim Burton’s Batman, released just a few years later in 1989. With its dark interpretation of Gotham and a terrifyingly surreal Joker, it too introduced a more adult tone to the series. But the major difference between Burton’s Batman and Ledger’s Joker is that while the former is a self-serious dark knight, the latter is an anarchic sociopath who sees Batman as a playful foil to enhance his warped sense of humor. And let’s face facts: if you’re going to go to the dark side, you might as well laugh while you’re at it.
And while we’re at it, let’s not forget about Danny DeVito’s memorable portrayal of the Penguin in 1992’s Batman Forever. A character-defining performance that helped cement his status as a Hollywood villain. Or Harvey Dent’s tragic downfall in 1995’s Batman & Robin. The role that launched him into superstardom and, for a while, made him my personal favorite to play the Caped Crusader.
Tomy’s visionary line of Batman toys represents a culmination of all these ingredients. The first set of toys in the line is a tribute to Burton’s Batman and features the silhouette of the Dark Knight against a yellow and black checkerboard pattern. As the line progressed, so did the aesthetic, incorporating elements from both Ledger’s Joker and Dent’s Two-Face into the design.
One look at these toys and you’ll get an idea of what was going through the minds of designers at the time. A dark knight against a vivid checkerboard pattern. It’s almost as if they were playing off each other, like a joker and a penguin against a robin.
Hot Toys’ Joker
While you might not think that a hotchpotch of a spider, frog, and duck would end up being the future of Batman toys, you’d be wrong. Hot Toys’ take on the Joker, based on the version inspired by the 1988 film, is the ultimate in kitsch. As its name would suggest, the company took a cheap, cheerful route, pumping out over-the-top designs based on the movie’s biggest pop culture reference. So while the other toys in this list aren’t bad, Hot Toys’ take on the Joker will out-gross them all. Not surprisingly, considering it was designed by the company that owns the rights to the Batman character.
This is a character that could arguably have been left out of the movie entirely. Like Harvey Dent, the Joker doesn’t really fit into the grimmian mold of Batman’s rogues’ gallery. He isn’t a traditional villain and is most effective when used as a comedic foil. Like Burton’s Batman and Ledger’s Joker, Hot Toys’ take on the clown prince of crime injects an extra dose of humor into the Dark Knight series. This comes in the form of two inseparable characters, a Batman knockoff named Honey Bunny and a miniature jack-o’-lantern with an orange wig and an American accent named Uncle Pennywinkle.
Indeed, it’s hard to know what is more ridiculous: Hot Toys’ interpretation of the Joker or the character itself. But even if you hate the guy with the orange hair and the pennywhistle, you’ll have to admit that the company did create one badass jack-o’-lantern. And let’s face facts: most adults wouldn’t know how to react if they weren’t given credit for some of their funny quirks. So let’s give them that. And for the record, Hot Toys has also brought the Riddler and Penguin to life as well, adding even more colorful personalities to the mix.
Sculpted In Plastic’s Harley Quinn
In some ways, Harley Quinn from the Batman sequel is the female equivalent of the Joker. Like him, Harley is a colorful character who doesn’t fit into the typical box of good vs. evil. But where the Joker is a chaotic evil, Harley is a chaotic good. An example of someone who believes in balance and fairness, Harley actually helps the police capture the criminals she sets free in exchange for money. Or at least, that’s the version portrayed in the film. Because, in the comics, Harley has been known to do some pretty reprehensible things. Like wearing disguises and getting tattoos.
From a design standpoint, Sculpted In Plastic’s take on Harley Quinn is as faithful to the character as Hot Toys’. While the later company went for a more cartoonish look, Sculpted In Plastic stuck to a sleek, minimalist style. The sculptor credits a great deal of their designs’ uniqueness to the character. Like Quinn herself, their Harley is a modern woman with attitude. And let’s face facts: at least in the comics, Harley is frequently seen wearing very short shorts.
The Batmobile From The Dark Knight Trilogy
Here’s a character that you might not want to cross paths with. The Dark Knight Trilogy’s Batmobile, built by Joe Chilli and inspired by the one driven by Michael Keaton in the 1989 film, will strike fear into the hearts of even the most hardened criminals. It’s a sleek, muscular vehicle, perfect for tearing up the streets and scattering the bad guys. Not that you’d ever actually have to use it that way. The Batmobile can also be a mode of transportation, allowing the Caped Crusader to travel from one end of town to the other in a flash. Or to dive into a hot-air balloon and travel throughout the clouds. Yes, it’s a toy that can do everything and it’s not even close to being big enough to fit any adult inside. It’s actually big enough to fit two grown adults with child seats in the back.