Face-Off: Batman Begins vs. Casino Royale

SPECTRE hits theaters this weekend, and while not all the reviews are stellar, most people are having fun with 007's latest adventure. After the last couple Pierce Brosnan movies, the Bond franchise sorely needed a makeover, which we got in the form of Daniel Craig and CASINO ROYALE. Similarly, Batman had become a punchline in the late 90's after Joel Schumacher's BATMAN & ROBIN... that is until Christopher Nolan helped change the face of comic book movies with the impressive BATMAN BEGINS. Between the second season of Gotham, Batman: Arkham Knight, and hype increasing for both SUICIDE SQUAD and BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, it seems you can't go a day without hearing Batman related news. Whether you're on the side of spies or superheroes, there's no doubt CASINO ROYALE and BATMAN BEGINS revitalized two suffering franchises, so this week it's the battle of the gritty origin story reboots. Begin!
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne aka Batman
Daniel Craig as James Bond aka 007

Okay, I'm not even going to try to choose between these two. The characters are two of the most iconic heroes to come out of the 20th century, and hopefully we can all agree that both actors were very good choices and delivered solid performances.
Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon
Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes
Liam Neeson as Ducard / Ra's Al Ghul
Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane / Scarecrow
Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone
Judi Dench as M
Giancarlo Giannini as Rene Mathis
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
Simon Abkarian as Alex Dimitrios
Caterina Murino as Solange
Rachel isn't so much a love interest as a constant thread throughout the story keeping Bruce's conscience in check and helping to ground him in reality. She's a solid character, and her refusal to take things further with Bruce until Gotham no longer needs Batman is a nice touch.
Vesper Lynd is the linchpin of the Bond reboot. Not only do her wit, prowess, and fragility cause James to lose all interest in MI6, but the truth of who she is gives us an incredible amount of insight into Bond's character (say what you will about QUANTUM OF SOLACE, but I love that it's a movie dedicated to Bond dealing with his emotions rather than just ignoring Vesper ever happened).
BATMAN BEGINS takes an incredible amount of care to explain how and why a person could become a masked vigilante. The scenes with Bruce as a young boy are contrived and not terribly well-acted, but the trial with Joe Chill and the conversation with Rachel afterward, the League of Shadows, and Bruce's relationship with Lucius Fox go to great lengths to believably show the source of the no-kill rule, fear as a weapon, the batsuit, the gadgets, and the need for an alternate form of justice.
As above, CASINO ROYALE gets a ton of points for giving us an origin story we didn't know we needed. James Bond has become so famous for his cold and promiscuous nature that it was just an accepted part of the 007 mythos. Showing a Bond truly in love and stripped of his armor- and then taking it away from him in a particularly scathing move- allows us to empathize with a character in a more significant way than ever before.
Christopher Nolan went from acclaimed auteur to master filmmaker with this film, raising the bar and setting a new tone for comic book movies and action movies in general.
Martin Campbell's direction is solid here, but the action hits some over-the-top moments, and the "hey look it's a James Bond movie" moments can be a little grating.
Gotham is overrun by fear while Batman tries to defeat Ra's Al Ghul and stop the train from carrying the microwave emitter to Wayne Tower. Scarecrow rides around on a horse, Rachels protects King Joffrey from thugs, and Batman takes care of the train and Al Ghul in one fell swoop. It's a solid finale, and the moments depicting how people see each other through fear goggles are particularly noteworthy, but it's just not as memorable or impressive as many of the earlier moments in the film.
In a Shakespearean twist, the main villain Le Chiffre is unceremoniously shot by Mr. White, leaving James and Vesper free to travel the world. The real finale hits when Bond learns Vesper's secret, and the ensuing shootout, building collapse, attempted rescue, and subsequent suicide leave Bond a changed man. The action itself is fairly standard, but this one gets the edge for disposing of the villain early and letting the tragic love story become the real catharsis of the film.
"I'm Batman."

"Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up."

"A vigilante is just a man lost in the scramble for his own gratification. He can be destroyed, or locked up. But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely."

"I know the rage that drives you. That impossible anger strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved one is just... poison in your veins. And one day, you catch yourself wishing the person you loved had never existed, so you would be spared your pain."

"It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you."

"Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread."

"I won't kill you... but I don't have to save you."

"Does it come in black?"

"This is your mask. Your real face is the one that criminals now fear. The man I loved - the man who vanished - he never came back at all. But maybe he's still out there, somewhere. Maybe some day, when Gotham no longer needs Batman, I'll see him again."
"The name's Bond. James Bond."

"Made you feel it, did he? Well, you needn't worry. The second is-"
"Yes... considerably."

"So you want me to be half-monk, half-hitman."

"You think of women as disposable pleasures, rather than meaningful pursuits. So as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government's money - and off your perfectly-formed arse."

"I'm sorry. That last hand nearly killed me."

"Shaken or stirred?"
"Do I look like I give a damn?"

"I'm afraid that your friend Mathis... is really my friend Mathis."

"Now the whole world's gonna know that you died scratching my balls!"

"I have no armor left. You've stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me... whatever is left of me, whatever I am, I'm yours."

"You don't trust anyone, do you?"
"Then you've learned your lesson."
IMDB: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (audience score: 94%)
Metacritic: 70 (user score: 8.6)
IMDB: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% (audience score: 89%)
Metacritic: 81 (user score: 8.3)
This really comes down to whether you're a Bond person or a Batman person. BATMAN BEGINS is darker and probably the better film from a technical perspective, but CASINO ROYALE is more fun and watchable while still being impressively sobering for a Bond film. I'm interested to hear whether any of you consider yourself more of a Bond fan but prefer BATMAN BEGINS or vice versa. The same goes for those of you who like both characters equally- which film was better for you? Are you more excited to see SPECTRE this weekend or BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE in March?

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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