Michael Gough

If nothing else, we can thank Tim Burton‘s 1989 film for the explosion of the Bat-franchise. Even if you hate the flick (and I understand there are some that do), we all owe it something. Without it, we don’t get the brilliant animated series that kept much of its tone (and Danny Elfman‘s glorious score), we don’t get nearly as many Batman action figures and t-shirts. Sure, someone would have made a Batman film eventually, even if this one never got off the ground. But it did, and thus it’s the launch pad not just for the Batman franchise, but for the modern age of superhero cinema.

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We have to wait a little longer to see Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises, and NerdBastards’ Matthew Jackson is dealing with the wait by filling his head with as many other Batman tales as possible. In the six weeks leading up to the flick’s release, he’ll be revisiting all six Batman franchise films so far (yes, even the crap ones) and writing retrospective essays on what worked, what didn’t, and what each film means to the franchise at large.

And here we are at the end of the most painful part of this retrospective. I relived the Schumacher era and survived, so now it’s time to talk about the last tragic installment in this chapter of the Batman’s cinematic saga: Batman & Robin. It’s one of the most universally loathed films in history, and managed to knock the Dark Knight’s movie franchise flat for an eight-year stretch. It’s the reason Joel Schumacher‘s name is still met with scowls when you mention him around fanboys (though in his defense, he’s made some pretty decent movies since), and it’s still the biggest blemish on George Clooney‘s career. But just as I was surprised last week that I hate Batman Forever for a different reason than most people, I was surprised this week with a revelation about Batman & Robin: I actually find it less terrible than its predecessor.

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We have to wait a little longer to see Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises, and NerdBastards’ Matthew Jackson is dealing with the wait by filling his head with as many other Batman tales as possible. In the six weeks leading up to the flick’s release, he’ll be revisiting all six Batman franchise films so far (yes, even the crap ones) and writing retrospective essays on what worked, what didn’t, and what each film means to the franchise at large.

After my essay on Batman last week, a reader theorized that the biggest problem with the Tim Burton-era Batman films is in fact Tim Burton. After all, he’s been rather publicly dismissive of comic books overall, and he’s always more interested in the visual aspect of his films than the characters that populate them. While it might be the most powerfully distilled version of a Tim Burton superhero movie, and that may be a big problem for some viewers, Batman Returns is a fascinating, darkly gorgeous entry in the franchise with far fewer and (mostly) shallower flaws than its predecessor.

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Oh noes! The only good thing in Batman Forever has died. Michael Gough, the actor who portrayed Bruce Wayne’s servant and confidant Alfred Pennyworth in four Batman films, passed away Thursday at 94 years of age. 94? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit, that bastard was old when I was born. Fuck, I thought he was 94 when batman came out.

We’re going to need to need a bigger cave 🙁

Gough’s career included more than 100 movies and TV shows, from early Doctor Who and The Avengers, countless Hammer horror films, and movies such as Top Secret, Sleepy Hollow, and several Shakespearean adaptations.

All respect to Micheal Caine, but I’ll always consider Gough the definitive Alfred. RIP you glorious bastard!