Christian Bale is a remarkable actor with a long and storied career that includes magnificent method performances that earned him a bevy of Academy Award nominations (and one win). However, to a large contingent of movie fans — he’s simply Batman! Bale played Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece Dark Knight trilogy. The first two pieces of the trident are now making their way to Netflix in February 2022 for all subscribers to enjoy again and again and again. The two movies are Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, both of which star Christian Bale and both of which are considered truly perfect movies to some.
Let’s start with the 2005 release of Batman Begins. At the time, there hadn’t been a new Batman movie since 1997 when George Clooney squared off against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. The movie was… I’m just going to say it — bad. Tim Burton made a visually stunning comic book adaptation in the late 1980s and early 1990s with two movies and Joel Schumacher took that vision and completely bastardized it, making a pair of movies that seemed more interested in selling toys than telling a coherent story. However, it allowed Batman to be one of the most recognizable characters to a whole generation of non-comic-book reading kids. So, whether the movies were good or not, Christian Bale had big shoes to fill.
Batman Begins’ first great decision was to appeal to adults. The story follows a young Bruce Wayne losing his parents and realizing that he cannot be like his dad and save the city they cared so much about through his intelligence alone. So, he ventures across the world to figure out how to become something more and understand the criminal element that’s overtaken the city. He meets a man representing the League of Assassins who train him, but there’s a pretty spectacular falling out. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City as The Batman and starts his uphill battle for the city. The criminal plot he unfolds is complicated, high stakes, adult and still decidedly comic booky thanks to Cillian Murphy’s performance as The Scarecrow.
The movie completely reinvented Batman and helped usher in the era of the “gritty reboot” that briefly dominated Hollywood. Just three years later, Christian Bale was back as Batman in a movie that was somehow a thousand times better than the origin story that came before it.
The main reason for that is that the veteran actor Christian Bale was now joined by the similarly shocking talent of Heath Ledger as The Joker. This time around, Batman was a well-known presence in Gotham City and he was actually having an impact on crime. That’s when the Clown Prince of Crime started taking things over through a series of ingenious heists and power moves that not only emboldened the criminal underground but put the very soul of even the city’s best, most moral residence into peril.
Because of Heath Ledger and Christian Bale’s incredible performances, the sequel is largely considered the best movie out of the entire trilogy. However, if you ask Christian Bale, he’ll put all of the accolades on his co-star for the movie’s success. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, he noted that Heath Ledger understood what he and Christopher Nolan were going for from the get-go. He said it was such a joy to watch the late actor work and that he never once worried about getting upstaged. In fact, he noted that being upstaged by The Joker is kind of the whole point of the movie.
All that said, Speaking to Yahoo Movies in 2016, Christian Bale confessed that something about the complete character arc of his version of Bruce Wayne never quite felt complete. While he has absolutely no plans of reprising the role for a fourth movie, he told the outlet that he never really found the psychologically damaged hero that he envisioned for the trilogy. However, if you ask the box office for both films, they’ll tell you that there’s definitely something his performance and these movies as a whole. Now, Netflix users can give at least the first two a good, hard look and decide for themselves if the actor’s version of Bruce Wayne truly is the greatest and just how big the shoes are that Robert Pattinson plans to fill.