Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy represents cinematic perfection to me: Batman Begins (2005) was the Batman movie I’d waited my whole life to see; then, much like Batman himself emerging from the cover of shadow when least expected, came The Dark Knight (2008), a gripping thriller à la Michael Mann’s Heat in which the Al Pacino and Robert De Niro roles were assumed, quite credibly somehow, by Batman and the Joker; and just as no artist before Nolan had tackled the early days of Batman’s crime-fighting career (including his apprenticeship and inspiration to go vigilante), no one had authored its concluding chapter, either, until The Dark Knight Rises (2012)—it is, if you take my meaning, the Last Batman Story. For a character that had been in continuous publication—across multiple media—for seventy years at the time these films were produced, Nolan managed to find new, vital aspects of Batman’s rich hagiography to explore.
My analysis of Ghostbusters II provoked some healthy debate when it was posted on Proton Charging’s Facebook page yesterday. It is a testament to Ghostbusters—the movie, the franchise, and the sequel—that it continues to inspire such a passionate following over twenty-five years after the last installment was released.
Speaking of which, I suspect the development of Ghostbusters II went something like this: Someone on the creative team—probably Dan Aykroyd—became taken with the notion of a river of slime as a key element of the sequel (I believe I’ve even seen drafts of the script in which “River of Slime” was suggested as the movie’s subtitle). It probably didn’t take long to realize, however, that a river of slime is a noncorporeal entity—flowing ectoplasm has no agenda beyond existing, no antagonistic impulses whatsoever—and this Monster in the House movie was clearly in need of a monster—i.e., someone the Ghostbusters could actually fight. Hence, Vigo the Carpathian was conceived.
In my analysis of the Joker, I made brief mention of Norm Breyfogle, the masterful comic-book illustrator whose work graced the pages of, successively, Detective Comics, Batman, and Batman: Shadow of the Bat between 1987 and 1992. Mr. Breyfogle began his tenure as resident Bat-artist at a very exciting time for the Caped Crusader: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986) had just rocked the comics world, heralding a brand-new era for both the legendary character and the medium itself, and Tim Burton’s Batman would go on to become the highest-grossing film of 1989, thrusting its titular hero out of the shadows of specialty shops and into the national spotlight, irrevocably changing both the comics and movie businesses in the process (probably for the worse in both cases, but that’s a subject for another article, I suppose).