Batman’s Poison Gas Fetish

I just watched Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins again.  Burton’s film has an irrepressible panache that still makes it terrific fun, and Nolan’s first Batman film shouldn’t be underrated because it stands in the shadow of its even more superior sequel.

But I never noticed a plot element they have in common.  In each of those movies, the villain’s plan to plunge Gotham into chaos hinges on getting much of the city to inhale a massively-dispersed poison gas at the same time.  In Burton’s Batman, Joker uses the Smilex in his parade balloons to kill everybody who came to get some of the $20 million he was throwing around.  In Batman Begins, Ra’s al Ghul vaporizes the city’s infected water supply to instantaneously gas the populace.

The latter plan is the better of the two (why would people come to Joker’s parade right after he already killed a bunch of people by poisoning their beauty products, anyway?), but it strikes me as strange now that essentially the same plot device would be recycled like that.  But then again, I never noticed for several years, so I guess it’s not that bad.


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