Cheers to Warner Brothers for shutting down the Batman franchise after the second Joel Schumacher debacle (the nightmarish Batman & Robin), regrouping and hiring the right man to steer the franchise, director Christopher Nolan. Nolan (Memento and Insomnia) takes the character of Batman very seriously in this origin story that is big on brains and refreshingly short on camp. Not since the first Superman movie has a superhero film been treated with the epic scope it deserves. Stepping into the Batman role is Christian Bale, who establishes himself as the only man who should ever play Bruce Wayne for the next 20 or so years. He looks good in the suit and delivers the sort of angry, dangerous performance befitting the character. This isn’t the kind of superhero performance that will get him typecast ala Christopher Reeve or Michael Keaton. Bale delivers a real performance in a serious film. He’s too good an actor to be labeled. One of the year’s best films.