The past few months have seen Robert Pattinson’s life become the subject of much media scrutiny. Not only has he been linked to a number of beautiful women, but he’s also been dubbed the “Sexiest Man Alive!” Amidst all of this, the actor has maintained a friendly public face, making several high-profile appearances and even holding a book signing in London. While we may never know just how genuine these public displays of affection are for the heart-throb, his new film Mad Max: Fury Road tells us exactly what kind of guy he really is. In the role of Immortan Joe, Pattinson sports a grotesque prosthetic make-up that leaves little to the imagination. Critics have compared this latest cinematic evolution of the character to the 1989 Batman and its director, George Miller. As with Miller’s 1989 version, the comparisons to Batman aren’t exactly flattering. But, as with most films dealing with violent villains, Mad Max: Fury Road will be most effective at capturing the imagination of viewers. It’s a safe bet that Pattinson’s latest portrayal will spawn numerous memes and blog posts for years to come. Let’s have a look at how George Miller’s 1989 adaptation of The Dark Knight compared to the star’s latest cinematic incarnation of Immortan Joe.
The Man Behind The Mask
While it’s easy to attribute all of the film’s success to George Miller’s stylish direction, written by Colin McColgan and Frank Wilson, the role of Batman was actually originated by Michael Keaton. Before portraying Gotham’s Dark Knight, the actor had built a reputable career playing “ordinary” men and women who decided to go above and beyond the call of duty. In the original Batman, Michael Keaton is a cop who is determined to rid his city of criminals, even if that means going above and beyond the law himself. One of the reasons that Mad Max: Fury Road works is that it takes us back to the gritty origins of the Batman mythos. For decades, the Caped Crusader has been a part of popular culture, serving as both an inspiration and a cautionary tale. Miller’s 1989 adaptation is a gritty and realistic look at the origins of Batman, which will be familiar to most viewers. But, for the younger generation, who may be more used to seeing the character portrayed in a more cartoonish fashion, Pattinson’s rendition of Immortan Joe may represent a more modern and acceptable interpretation of the Batman legend. The similarities between the two movies’ villains is certainly striking, and it’s not hard to see why these two icons have been compared so often. The character of Immortan Joe was first introduced to fans in 1981’s The Dark Horse novel, written by Joe Rosenblatt. In the book, the character is referred to as the “Immortal Knight,” and he is described as a “living fossil,” capable of existing in the same century as his victims. With his bulbous nose and his piercing eyes, the actor portrays a character that is almost certainly the product of a few too many Jack Daniels and Red Stripes. What’s more is that, as with Batman, the character of Immortan Joe is also armed with a utility belt, filled with various gadgets and instruments of torture. Unlike Michael Keaton’s version, though, the character of Immortan Joe never becomes a superhero. While he does save the life of his sidekick, Furiosa, several times, the film version of the villain never puts on the Dark Knight attire. While it would have been interesting to see Pattinson’s take on the character, he is much more effective when playing a straightforward villain. While we’ve seen the “bad boy” image develop over the years, from Rowdy Yates in 1969’s How to Steal a Million to John Chase in 1974’s The Longest Yard, it’s apparent that society’s perception of what a “bad guy” should look like has changed considerably since the 1960s.
The film adaptation of The Dark Knight premiered in the US on August 3, 1989, and was released in the UK four days later on August 7. The movie had a decidedly different atmosphere to the mainstream American releases of the time. While not as graphic or as violent as many movies that came before it, this European import was something of an eye-opener. The film won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and it also featured a terrifying performance from Tim Curry as the Riddler. Like most Batman films, The Dark Knight was also critically acclaimed and established itself as one of the most influential comic book movies of all time. Though Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Batman won the actor his third Oscar, many feel that the role of the Caped Crusader should have gone to his clone, Christian Bale. While it’s true that Keaton managed to bring something unique to the role of Batman, Christian Bale could channel the spirit of Harvey Dent, the Caped Crusader’s alter ego, which provides a more complex characterization. If any actor can pull off a “Dark Knight,” it’s clearly be 32-year-old Christian Bale.
For those who may have forgotten (or never known) how sexy and sophisticated the character of Furiosa can be, let’s refresh their memories with a trip to the jewelry counter. While Mad Max: Fury Road may be geared toward an adolescent audience, the character of Furiosa may well be Miller’s greatest achievement. After all, up until now, the only characters we’ve seen regularly involved in sexual activity have been animals (specifically, in the case of the dinosaur flick, Jurassic Park). But it’s not just about the dinosaurs. When Furiosa finally does reveal herself to Max, she’s covered in leather and wearing a bandolier filled with jewels. While it would have been easy for the director to pack the film with as many full-frontal male nudity scenes as possible, Miller instead chose to focus on the characters’ relationships to one another. Though there is a great deal of action in the film, Miller’s direction allows the audience to get to know the characters and be emotionally invested in their fate. As with all of Miller’s movies, we’re given a glimpse at a decaying industrial society, where the only things that remain pure are greed and violence. In the year 2019, Mad Max: Fury Road will be 50 years old. It’s an especially fitting celebration for an important movie, since it’s also the year when Max’s story begins. Hopefully, we’ll soon be seeing more films that continue to explore the character of Furiosa and the wasteland civilization she leads. As with all of Miller’s previous films, Mad Max: Fury Road is a must-see for fans of the dark and often unpredictable director. As with most of Miller’s films, one can’t help but wonder what the legendary filmmaker would have done with the modern world, had he been given the chance. Mad Max: Fury Road is a timeless work that will be cherished by future generations. Though Miller passed away in 2016, his influence lives on in all of his creative works.