TOPS: Gotham’s Finest

With The Dark Knight Rises about to hit theaters this weekend, I found it fitting to release a TOPS list dedicated exclusively to Batman.  This isn’t your ordinary TOPS list though, oh no.  This is more like the Gotham Awards.  I’ve created ten categories, two of which were “Readers’ Choice” categories, where the “winners” were selected by those who partook in a survey.  Let’s begin, shall we?

10. Batman’s Best Toy:  The Batmobile

Since Christopher Nolan intercepted the Batman franchise, the hero’s car has become a staple weapon of sorts.  This car is one many of us only wish we had during rush hour traffic as it comes complete with a rocket launcher, dual front cannons, and stealth mode – and those are just a few of the features.  The Batmobile has been synonymous with The Dark Knight since the early comics and has been the most reliable vehicle used for getaways and chases.

9.  Gotham’s Most Spectacular Explosion:  Gotham’s Hospital – The Dark Knight (2008)

That Joker is one evil character… blowing up a hospital?  Despicable.  In fact, despicable enough that Daffy Duck would say it about ten times over.  What makes the moment memorable though, is the explosive delay and Heath Ledger’s improvisation.  If what’s been said is true, then the explosives didn’t detonate in time, creating an awkward moment for Ledger to play with in the 2008 film.  It comes off as both chilling and comical – but the end result is a leveled Gotham hospital.  Take a look:

8.  Mr. Wayne’s Biggest Enterprise:  The Dark Knight (2008)

Nolan’s follow-up to the 2005 hit Batman Begins turned out to be the most successful Batman film ever.  The Dark Knight yielded returns totaling $533,345,358.00 domestically and $468,516,467.00 internationally for a worldwide total in excess of $1 billion.  The closest domestic runner-up was the 1989 film Batman, featuring a Batman-Joker clash between Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.  In addition, The Dark Knight racked up 8 Academy Award nominations and boasts 2 wins.

7. Gotham’s Most Comically Star-Studded Film:  Batman (1966)

Over the years, Batman has developed a couple of allies, but has an entire army of super-enemies, the most famous of which include The Joker, Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman – all of whom are featured against Batman and his sidekick Robin.  Sure, this 1966 version is not the most well-acted and is pretty campy, but all things considered, the deck hasn’t been stacked against Batman like this ever since – perhaps the closest we’ve come is in 1997 for Batman & Robin, which featured a deadly (also campy) trio of Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Bane (Jeep Swenson).  Since then, Batman seems to tackle two major villains per film – such as Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) and The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) in Batman Begins (2005), The Joker (Heath Ledger) and Two-Face/Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) in The Dark Knight (2008), and now Bane (Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) in The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

6.  Saddest Death in Gotham:  Rachel Dawes – The Dark Knight (2008)

When Katie Holmes left the Batman franchise after Batman Begins (2005) and the role of Rachel Dawes went to Maggie Gyllenhaal, fans knew the role would become more fascinating and would have greater depth and be better acted.  That’s why when Batman fails to save Rachel from being murdered by The Joker, it’s all the more upsetting, creating Gotham’s saddest death, one of Batman’s greatest losses, and his inadvertent creation of a new enemy.  The letter that follows in the wake of Rachel’s death imposes a mournful tone on Mr. Wayne.  Relive the scene following Rachel’s death:

5.  The Mrs. Gotham Award:  Michelle Pfeiffer – Catwoman – Batman Returns (1992)

Michelle Pfeiffer’s embodiment of Selina Kyle/Catwoman left fans of the Batman franchise longing for more of her kitty cat roar.  Pfeiffer played the part in a way that was both seductive and unsettling.  She has her moments where she’s a good girl, but more often than not, Catwoman is a bad kitty.  Deadly kiss anyone?

4.  Gotham’s Most Unsettling Conflict:  The Joker’s Interrogation – The Dark Knight (2008)

Who among the fans could forget the moment Batman (Christian Bale) goes into the interrogation room to question the Joker (Heath Ledger)?  Batman’s desperate to find Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent – but as the Joker says, only one can be saved.  As expected the situation escalates into a violent and unsettling confrontation – to which we all know the ending.  See for yourself:

3.  READER’S CHOICE:  Gotham’s Most Menacing Nemesis:  The Joker – Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight (2008)

You have spoken and Heath Ledger’s Joker takes the prize as Gotham’s most menacing nemesis – the Academy agreed, allowing Ledger to posthumously receive an Oscar for his portrayal in a supporting role.  As far as villains are concerned, Ledger raised the bar and dramatized the usually colorful adaptations of supervillains.  Ledger’s portrayal created an unnerving, psychotic, dark and demented character that, at moments, could be quite frightening.  I bet he’d read this and be sure to ask me “why so serious” while dragging a knife across one of our faces…

[runner up:  Jack Nicholson – The Joker – Batman (1989)]

2.  READER’S CHOICE:  Gotham’s Sexiest Inhabitant:  Michelle Pfeiffer AND Halle Berry – Catwoman (tie)

When the voting had settled, there was no clear winner in this cat fight! Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry tied one another for their sex appeal as the iconic Catwoman.  Pfeiffer, though, has the claim to being the one who actually worked with, mounted, and kissed Batman.  Berry, on the other hand may boast that she was the star of Catwoman’s spin-off feature Catwoman (2004), that she’s the first black Catwoman, and that her outfit trended skimpier than Pfeiffer’s.  It doesn’t matter how you look at it, she’s the sexiest of sexy in Gotham – though Anne Hathaway’s (unseen) portrayal and Christian Bale notched up a vote or two each – but did they really ever stand a chance against these ferocious felines?

1. The Mr. Batman Award:  Christian Bale – Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christian Bale is perhaps the greatest Bruce Wayne/Batman ever.  His voice is leant perfectly to the role, as is his physical stature and look.  Since director Christopher Nolan helmed three films using the same actor, Bale is set to become the most iconic Batman ever.  Need proof?  Look at the films – they’re darker and more dramatic than ever before – as is the Batman character.  I’m certain that with the newest feature launching this weekend, Bale’s legacy is all but guaranteed – especially if he’s to contend with Bane (Tom Hardy) is this go-round and if the previews are any indicators of what to expect.

There you have it, an odd, but complete TOPS list.  Thoughts?  Shout ’em out in the comments section.


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