Cheers to Warner Bros. 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 series. Director Christopher Nolan (Memento and Insomnia) takes the character of Batman very seriously in telling this origin story that’s big on brains and refreshingly short on camp. Not since Superman 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 play Bruce Wayne for the next 20 or so years. He looks good in the suit, and he delivers the sort of angry, dangerous performance that befits the character. This isn’t the kind of superhero performance that will get him typecast, à la Christopher Reeve. Bale delivers a real performance in a serious film; he’s too good an actor to be labeled. This is one of the year’s best films.