“And he never stops sucking back the sauce and jabbering about the old days. The Glory Days. The ‘Golden Age’ he calls it. The age of heroes. And if you’ve got half a brain, you’ll listen. They talk about amazing adventures, sounding like a bunch of retired car mechanics the whole time. They talk about a Man of Steel. An Amazon Princess. But they never talk about the mean one. The cruel one. The one who couldn’t fly or bend steel bars with his bare hands. The one who scared the crap out of everybody and laughed at all the rest of us for being the envious cowards we were. No they never talk about him. Was he quietly assassinated? Or did he decide we all just weren’t worth the grief? The question hangs in the air for a moment or two, then someone springs for a round for everybody. They get talking again. About the old days. The glory days. They remember. They were right there. In the thick of it. Back then. It wasn’t so long ago. We had heroes.”
This quote from a fake news clip acts as a bit of a pre-amble to Frank Miller’s magum opus, The Dark Knight Returns. Imagine being a eight years old, sitting in the same barbershop you and your dad have had your hair cut in your entire lives. It’s got a comic book rack in the back that’s got a lot of Superman and a little Green Lantern. The owner is a big Superman fan, and you’ve read only Superman since forever. Superman is the best. He can fly. He’s the strongest. The fastest. The best. You’ve read him fight Doomsday in that terrible mullet and seen the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. You’re dad likes Batman. Well, you’re Dad grew up with Adam West ’60’s The ‘POW’ WHAM” Batman. The silly one. And you know he stinks because he doesn’t have any super powers. He’s just a dude in blue and grey tights. Then ‘it’ happens. The moment when you’re view get’s shaken. It happens to us all from time to time, and one of the first for me was when I was first handed ‘The Dark Knight Returns.”
From the moment I read those words above, and read the rest of The Dark Knight Returns, Batman has been my one and only. I fell in love with Batman: The Animated Series. I watched the Keaton Batman’s and was in the theater opening weekend for Batman Forever. I was a comic book nerd and couldn’t be more into Batman. But then we seemed to drift apart. Much like many of the loves of youth, Batman was turned uncool by Batman and Robin and by the time I started liking girls, comic books were out the door. I kept up with Batman on film. It helped that the Christopher Nolan trilogy was so mainstream successful. But I went from 1999 until April 7th 2014 without buying a comic book, or watching a Batman cartoon.
Now that I’ve a father of a son, and expecting my second (here’s hoping for Nolan Richard Holt – or Grayson Richard Holt) I’m thinking more than ever about what I want to share with my sons and pass on to them. The 75th Anniversary of Batman could not be coming at the better time and I am back into the scene in a big bad way. I’m back buying all that I’ve missed and forgotten in the books. I’m making sure all versions of Batman cartoons get streamed in front of my son. I’m blogging about Batman movie news. I’m rediscovering one of the great loves anyone can have, and I know he’s in my hear to stay.
Here begins my, and this blogs coverage of 75 years of Batman. We’ve got some great news to mention and a distilled thesis on what Batman means to me and why I believe he is the greatest hero of all time.
1.) Batman vs. Superman – Dawn of Justice : So we’ve know that we are getting some kind of Superman/Batman movie in the same world as Zach Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’. We know the Ben Affleck will be Batman. We know it’s coming in two years. And we know it is the set up movie for a DC Comics movie universe. For the title itself, I actually think it’s a little clunky. I don’t think the film needs a subtitle, but subtitles are the trend in movies these days. Ideally, I hope the subtitle gets cut and our poster and title card only reads Batman vs. Superman – and this logo below.
2.) As I stated above, we have a new Batman – Ben Affleck. Despite immediate fan reaction, I am cautiously excited for this casting. I respect Ben Affleck as a film MAKER – and have enjoyed his come back as a director and producer. I WANT him to be amazing as Batman and I think the teased Batman suit reveal we received last week is a great step in the right direction.
I love this suit. It is by far the most ‘comic booky’ suit the Bat has ever worn on film. It is reminiscent of mainstream Jim Lee Batman as well as the previously mentioned Frank Miller Batman. It would seem that the Batman vs. Superman title would infer plot lines from The Dark Knight Returns, and so it makes sense that this version of Batman looks older, grizzled, and antagonistic. We’ve got the biggest chest symbol for the Bat-symbol and we’ve got the bulkiest man in the suit. Keaton, Kilmer, and Clooney didn’t even work out and relied on rubber suit muscles to look buff at all. Christian Bale worked out a lot, but he was sleek – the ninja detective Batman. Ben Affleck looks bigger than Superman here. He looks like an MMA fighter and that jaw line alone could kick my ass. We definitely seem to be getting the cruel and mean Batman here. The version of Batman that got me hooked on the character.
3.) This is the last thing I want to touch on. The legacy. I’ve mentioned “versions” of Batman throughout this post and it is because we have been treated to so many great interpretations of Batman over these 75 years and almost all of them are formative and near and dear to fan. Even campy, silly, ’60’s Batman. Sure Adam West never worked out, but he was fun. He also had something key to his character that is critical to the Batman construct. You remember ‘Bat Shark Repellent?” While that is stupid sounding, it plays to the aspect that Adam West was always prepared. That utility belt always had a heat ray, or anti-mind control pills, or some other ‘Bat’ labeled tool that helped out of that week’s adventure. Batman is always about being smarter, being prepared, and this is why even the silliest version of Batman still works as a piece of the character as a whole.
We’ve had the Dark Knight Detective. The Master strategist of the Justice League who has secret plans to take down the Justice League if they get to full of themselves and try to use their super powers for bad. Batman is such an amazing character, he is a member of the Justice League with no super powers. We have the tech-Batman and crime thriller Batman that Christopher Nolan focused on in his trilogy. Batman is a character that has been interpreted from silly to fascist and it ALL FITS and it is ALL Bruce Granted, there have been a few times that other characters have temporarily been Batman, but 98% of the time, if you’re getting Batman, you’re getting a shade of the same character somewhere on this scale. Unlike the three Flashes, 2 Spider-Men, and hundreds of Green Lanterns – when the writers of Batman want to take him in a different direction, they just do. Batman is a character that you can grow old with and pick up versions as you age. There is no point of your life where there is not a Batman story you can relate to. You can watch ’60’s Batman and watch Brave and The Bold in pre-school and grade school. In grade school you can move to Batman: The Animated Series, and The Burton Batman movies. Going into middle school and high school you can pick up the mature comics of Batman (Hush/Long Halloween/Killing Joke/Death in the Family) and see the tragedy of the character. Then as an adult, you can pick up the Nolan films and appreciate them as the closest interpretation of Batman that could work in our world, and the first time Batman was ever used on film to talk about themes bigger than the character itself. As an aging man, you can pick up The Dark Knight Returns and Year One – you can see the adult problems that the Batman can help you though. There is no generation for Batman – you never out grow him.
Batman is not a superhero. He is an icon. he is a CHARACTER with layers and pathos. Professors across America will give social sciences credits for taking the psychology class : Batman. I could talk about Batman forever. And while this year. Here is the start. This year is the 75th anniversary of Batman. I’ll be giving you comic book reviews. TV show reviews (yeah Gotham – Fox – this fall – be there), movie news in celebration. Here it is and here you go. I love Batman and I love all of you.