Bleats

'Batman Begins' Ushered Superhero Films Into A New Era, For Better And Worse

What was seen as groundbreaking soon became a Hollywood punchline.

Batman has been in his share of superhero films ever since he made his big cinematic debut in 1989, some of which were great (or could’ve been great) and some that were… not so great. Of all the superhero films featuring the Caped Crusader though, Batman Begins still stands above the rest for not only rebooting Batman in a plausible way but for leaving behind a legacy that left a mixed mark on Hollywood cinematic trends for years to come.

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Let’s start with the good things Batman Begins brought to the superhero film table. Unlike every film starring the Dark Knight before it, Batman Begins managed to make its protagonist pretty damn interesting for once by diving deep into what made him tick and actually making him the focus.

It also didn’t hurt that Batman Begins not only had a believable leading actor in Christian Bale, who essentially plays four different characters in the role, well as an all-star cast playing both the big and smaller supporting parts.

But beyond the focus on Bruce Wayne and the great cast, the most impressive thing Batman Begins was pulling off a delicate balancing act of making things grounded enough in reality to be plausible but not so realistic that it’s completely devoid of the usual superhero film bullshit.

Sure we can buy that Bruce Wayne built his Batman suit using military tech, but there’s just no way to believably tell a story about a billionaire playboy who dresses up like a bat to play vigilante every night because he wants to make the world a better place. Batman Begins grounds what it can and trusts its audience to suspend their disbelief enough to buy it. And it worked.

So in that sense, Batman Begins showed that reboots of well-worn superhero franchises are doable and it is possible to reimagine comic book movies in a grounded way that is palatable to both nerds and film snobs.

On the flip side, Batman Begins also left behind the unfortunate legacy of popularising the “gritty reboot.” When Hollywood saw Christopher Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader, all it took away from it was “gritty reboot = winner.”

Hollywood didn’t understand the foundational strength on which Batman Begins‘ dark tone was built upon, how the character lent complemented this sort of aesthetic rather than the other way around, and how detailed backstories don’t need to be told for every character.

In the decade or so following the release of Batman Begins, it seems like there’s a new gritty reboot of some old franchise or a “darker take” on some popular property every few weeks. Some of them mostly worked, like Casino Royale, J.J. Abrams’ two Star Trek films, and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

But a majority of these “gritty reboot/darker takes” either disappointed or just failed miserably – like Robocop, The Amazing Spider-Man, Hellboy, Terminator, and The Mummy just to name a few – because Hollywood learned the wrong thing from Batman Begins. A grimdark aesthetic does not equal a good movie.

Batman Begins didn’t deliberately set out usher in a new age of half-arsed reboots and gritty aesthetics. It’s just the way Hollywood works. But the frequent cinematic misses that attempted to jump on the reboot trend started by Batman Begins show that there was something special about this particular incarnation of the Dark Knight.

It’s just too bad that most of these “gritty reboots” of superhero and franchise films missed the point of what made Batman Begins so good.

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'The Last Of Us' Killed Off Its Most Interesting Character Before We Got To Know Them

We hardly knew ye.

The Last Of Us revolves around Joel and Ellie, and the development of their relationship as they experience tragedy, complications, and a crapload of fungus zombies while traversing across a post-apocalyptic America. It makes sense they’re the most recognisable and popular characters in the game since they’re the protagonists after all. In saying that though, it’s time we shine some light on a character in The Last Of Us who gets only a small portion of the screentime yet is just as important and as interesting – if not more – than Joel and Ellie: Tess.

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When we first meet Tess in The Last Of Us, she acts as our guide in introducing us to the game’s world and mechanics. Over the course of the game’s opening hours, we come to understand the world and what kind of character Joel is. Yet we don’t get much of a glimpse into who Tess is.

What we do discover is that she’s clearly the brains of whatever operation she and Joel runs. She clearly wears the pants in their fuzzy-and-undefined relationship, her name carries weight in this dog-eat-dog post-apocalyptic world, and she’s obviously more than just a badarse partner-in-crime to Joel. If anything, he’s like the Robin to her Batman.

Hell, she’s the reason why the story of The Last Of Us happens in the first place as she’s the one who introduces Joel to Ellie.

Tess is smart and tactical in a way Joel isn’t, yet she can be cold-blooded and violent like him should the situation come to it. This all raises the question of how did Tess become the character she is in The Last Of Us? What sort of hell did she go through before we meet her in the game? Was she always like this?

So when Tess’ death sneaks up on us in The Last Of Us, we’re left with several unanswered questions that sticks in our mind. Just before she exits the game in a blaze of glory, she tells Joel, “There’s enough here that you have to feel some sort of obligation to me.”

It’s a subtext-laden final sentence for a character whom we know but don’t really know, yet we’ll sadly never find the answer. 

Despite keeping their cards close to their chest when it comes to Tess, it’s clear that the writers of The Last Of Us has some grand plans for her before realising how her story didn’t quite fit into Joel and Ellie’s journey.

Writer and co-director Neil Druckmann revealed that Tess was originally meant to be the antagonist of The Last Of Us who pulls a heel-face-turn on Joel and Ellie. However, this didn’t work out since her betrayal was deemed to be unrealistic.

While this version of Tess was scrapped for the better, it does demonstrate that the writers and developers of The Last Of Us thought a lot about the character and had a heap of ideas for her before settling what we ultimately got. One has to wonder what sort of plans the writers had in mind for Tess.

Here’s hoping we’ll get some sort of deep dive into Tess’ backstory at some point in the future, whether it’s part of HBO’s live-action adaptation of the game or some prequel/side-story Last Of Us game to come out on the PlayStation 5.

Tess played such a small yet integral part in the series that it’s almost a shame she was shuffled off this (fictional) mortal coil before we all really got to know what made her tick.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

Angelica Pickles From 'Rugrats' Deserves Your Sympathy, Not Disdain

There's a sad kid underneath all that bratty exterior.

If you were to describe the character of Angelica Pickles from Rugrats, the words that come to mind are usually something like “spoiled brat”, “pain in the arse”, “antagonist”, and “chocolate pudding lover.” All these are valid descriptions of a character that played a big part in many people’s TV childhoods. However, underneath Angelica Pickles’ snotty exterior is a sad, tragic little kid who deserves our sympathy rather than hate.

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There’s no denying that Angelica Pickles is the absolute worst on Rugrats, but that sort of entitlement comes from the environment she grew up in. And based on what we know from the show, it’s not a particularly pleasant one.

We know that Angelica is depicted as an only child on Rugrats and she’s from the far more privileged side of the Pickles family thanks to her parents’ high-powered jobs. However, having parents who earn big bucks mean they’re hardly ever around to spend time with their kid.

How else do you explain why Angelica is always over at her cousin Tommy’s house?

This parental absence only scratches the surface as when Angelica’s parents are actually around, they don’t really spend any time with her per se. Rather, they just shower Angelica with toys instead of acknowledging her in any meaningful way. Hell, her mother is always on her damn phone.

When you got parents with endless pockets of money catering to your every whim instead of setting proper boundaries or forming any form of emotional parental connection, it’s little wonder why Angelica Pickles is such a spoiled brat who craves so much attention.

But arguably the most tragic part of Angelica Pickles’ existence in Rugrats is just how lonely she is.

Angelica just wants some actual acknowledgement from an adult, hence why she’s such a nightmare towards her Tommy: she’s jealous of the love he gets from his parents.

What makes this even sadder is despite her prickly outward demeanour to Tommy and his baby pals, Angelica actually thinks of them as her best friends. Yes they’re all infants on Rugrats, but the two-year age gap is a big developmental difference between Angelica and the rest of the babies.

It sort of explains why Angelica still doesn’t have many friends as a teenager in Rugrats: All Grown Up! – she never developed proper socialisation skills with kids her own age.

The shitty part of a person has to come from somewhere and for Angelica Pickles, it comes from an unexpectedly tragic childhood filed with neglect disguised in the form of expensive toys and endless cookies from her absent parents. Angelica deserves our sympathy instead of the disdain that she already cops and harbours.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

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