In honor of the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, take a peek into Bat-history with a few interesting (I hope) Bat-connections:
All in the Family
The second Rachel Dawes’ real-life brother has slept with, fictionally, (probably), both the Joker and Catwoman. Did you follow that? Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, who portrayed Rachel Dawes in 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” is the sister of Jake Gyllenhaal. The male Gyllensibling has starred opposite both Joker Heath Ledger and Catwoman Anne Hathaway in 2005’s critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain, and again with Hathaway in 2010’s Love and Other Drugs.
Another Batman family connection lies with Tom Cruise. Two of the actor’s former wives have played love interests to Bruce Wayne. Nicole Kidman, who was married to Cruise from 1990-2001, played Dr. Chase Meridian in 1995’s Batman Forever. A decade later, Katie Holmes, who married Cruise in 2006 and separated from him earlier this year, originated the character of Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins. Interestingly, both Cruise/Batlove marriages lasted for six years after the respective wife fell for Batman.
I Believe in _____________
While DAs, mayors and (SPOILER ALERT) even a president have had roles in the Batman universe, several real life lawmakers have appeared in the series. 1997’s Batman & Robin easily takes the cake. Top-billed star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played villain Mr. Freeze, would go on to be the Governor of California for two terms. Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura made a cameo in that movie as a Arkham Asylum guard.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has actually cameoed in three Batman movies: B&R as well as both TDK and TDKR. His most memorable part was probably in The Dark Knight when he played that partygoer at Wayne Manor who stood up to The Joker. The Democratic senator also had a guest-starring role on the 90’s Batman cartoon.
And the Oscar goes to….
Twelve. That’s the total number of Oscar winners to have starring roles in the Batman film franchise. Starting with the first Batman (1989), the villains began the trend of winning acting’s biggest award. Jack Palance was already a Hollywood legend when he played crime lord Carl Grissom in Tim Burton’s blockbuster. Two years later, after five decades in film, he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for City Slickers. Vicki Vale, also known as actress Kim Basinger, was the first Bat-girl (pun intended) to bring home Oscar gold. The former Mrs. Alec Baldwin did it in 1997 for L.A. Confidential. And of course, the Joker himself, Jack Nicholson, has three Oscar statues, tied for the most all-time among male actors.
1992’s Batman Returns only features one Oscar-winner: Christopher Walken, who won for 1978’s The Deer Hunter. Batman Forever upped the ante, with both Two-Face/Tommy Lee Jones (who won for 1993’s The Fugitive) and the aforementioned Nicole Kidman (2002’s The Hours). In Batman & Robin, the good-guys finally got some love, with Batman himself George Clooney going on to win an Oscar for 2005’s Syriana.
The trend continues in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Michael Caine (Alfred), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate) and, of course, Heath Ledger (The Joker) are all Oscar Winners, with Ledger’s win coming posthumously for his iconic role in The Dark Knight. Behind the scenes there are likely many more Oscar winners in the Batman franchise, but a couple of well-known examples are composer Hans Zimmer, (Best Original Score, The Lion King), and Wally Pfister, (Best Cinematography, Inception), who both worked on the three Nolan films.
Play it again, Alfred
While the Nolan trilogy strayed away from it a bit, the Burton/Schumacher movies were marvels of multimedia marking. (Holy alliteration, Batman!) In addition to toys and games, the series’ musical tie-ins were exceptionally successful. For Batman, R&B icon Prince recorded an entire album inspired by the movie. The album, as well as the song “Batdance,” reached number one of the Billboard charts. This success was matched by the Batman Forever soundtrack, which featured the Top 20 U2 hit “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” and Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose.” The latter song was wildly successful, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning three Grammy Awards. Joel Schumacher, the director of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin even directed the music video. Batman & Robin’s soundtrack was also very popular, reaching the Top 5 and winning a Grammy for the Smashing Pumpkins’ “The End Is the Beginning Is the End.”
If you haven’t seen TDKR yet, go now. It is a masterpiece.
Photo courtesy of people.com.