09 November 2021 330 Views

#MIDWEEKMOVIES. WITH BATMAN! This week: the GHOSTBUSTERS connections..

by James Murphy

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE is imminent. Rave reviews pouring in!

Did they reveal too much in the final trailer? MAYBE.

Still exciting though, to fans old and new!

But WHERE is THE BATMAN? He’s at home: WASHING HIS TIGHTS! 

Trust me. These two cinematic / comic book/cartoon/other media brands are connected in sooo many ways. Here’s a few to ponder…

 

  • IVAN REITMAN! BILL MURRAY! EDDIE MURPHY! 

Before Tim Burton scored the gig, BATMAN was almost in the hands of other directors. Joe Dante and Ivan Reitman both had a shot at it. Hence, there were rumours of Bill Murray as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Eddie Murphy as Robin. Is that so ‘out there’? No, not at all.

Michael Keaton is not dissimilar in talent and style to Murray. Neither man is an obvious action /romantic lead yet both have a commanding charm and charismatic style.

So yes, Murray could indeed have done something fascinating with the character. He’d have been an equally good Joker and he and Jack Nicholson often ended up in the running for similar roles.

Murray was considered for Witches of Eastwick and As Good as it Gets. Jack was almost in Groundhog Day. Both men regret turning down BAD SANTA. For a glimpse of Bill’s Joker? Maybe check out QUICK CHANGE /MAD DOG AND GLORY.

Eddie Murphy as Robin would have made box office sense at the time. He was still a twenty something new kid on the block and could have made the character more a partner akin to cops on the beat. Murphy was almost a Ghostbuster, too. Small world!

  • CITY AS A CHARACTER?

Gotham City is basically New York in many senses. And though we adore said location, it is also a scary place on occasion. The original script for the 1989 caped crusader’s outing on film even described a New York style city where hell had erupted. Which in turn was the literal pitch for GHOSTBUSTERS 3! (With Alec Baldwin as a Trump styled Devil, managing ghost overflow in Manhattan; seriously!). 

The Batman ’89 nightmarish vision is a thing of beauty and fear at once. Made real and ‘reel’ by director Tim Burton and production designer, Anton Furst (subsequently, Bo Welch and yes: Barbara Ling did a splendid job on the Joel Schumacher films, too). 

So the hero must save the location he loves but also understand and embrace its darkness? Something like that. And in GHOSTBUSTERS, that same conflict is ‘there’, onscreen.

The buildings are haunted and designed to be portals of evil. At the same time, symbols such as the Statue of Liberty are there to be harnessed in defence of the good.

Both Batman and the Ghostbusters rescue their fellow citizens from a series of small irritants. Before one final big battle with the evil mastermind seeking to ice/freeze/flood/possess/destroy the city.

Urban heroics, abound and the story follows that process.

  • TECH! LIFESTYLE! FRANCHISES! $$$$

Both brands are VERY lucrative. Their symbols and logos alone dominated the imagery of summer movie posters in the summer of 1989. The word ‘franchise’ was practically made for these film series.

Bill Murray’s Dr Peter Venkman even talks about the concept of licensing the ‘Ghostbusters’ brand in the first film. The original script to BATMAN RETURNS also had an in joke whereby Gotham shops sold merchandise dedicated to the eponymous winged vigilante.

It’s the American dream. White collar professionals who can engage in blue collar dirty work; facing down bureaucrats and supernatural /criminal menace, with equal aplomb, all in one day’s work.

And note: Batman and Ghostbusters are always backed by tech and toys and gear to match. The Proton pack is cool as is a Batmobile/boat/copter/banana skin/whatever. We cannot have the real things. But playing with the toys /games/VR experiences /vicariously living through the films is the next best thing.

These are versatile properties. And that is why they thrive and survive, always facing some reinvention or other, onscreen.

The animated shows enjoyed varying levels of success. Some movie reboots/sequels may have failed /flopped/disappointed. And yet? Here we are. A GHOSTBUSTERS sequel coming within the month and THE BATMAN (plus THE FLASH) out next year.

As Prince says in BATDANCE: ‘Keep bustin’! 

 

 



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