I have never really sat down and posted what certain comic books and superheroes have meant to me throughout my life. Obviously, like millions of other people sharing this earth space with me, Bat Man is a multicultural phenomenon that has been present in my life since I could pick up a toy, watch cartoons and go outside and play make believe. A lot of kids fondly remember stuffing the back collar of their t-shirt with a red bath towel and playing Superman....I probably did that too (I love Superman.) but I also had this affinity for Bat Man. My first encounter with Bat Man was the Adam West television show, a psychedelic spoof, comic opera that literally tried to interpret comic book logic through a live action tv program. The opening of the show was an animated pageant of Bat Man's villains, complete with a funky 60''s rock and sock theme song and a shot of the eternally hip BatMobile....Bat Man was a young boy's perfect escape into the world of mindless entertainment. I began to collect Bat Man comic books and I soon learned that Bat Man was in much better physical shape than Adam West could ever hope to be. I also found out that the show had taken some liberties with Bat Man's villains and had completely omitted others. While watching the television show...I never knew that as a child...Bruce Wayne had witnessed his parents being murdered. Or that the Joker was a murderous lunatic who enjoyed terrifying people for no particular reason. As I became more of a student of Bat Man lore...I soon learned that Bruce Wayne was just a facade that remained to allow Bat Man to move about Gotham City during the day. This would be about the time you could say that Bob Kane and Bill Finger's creature of the night hooked me. What is impossible for casual fans and acquaintances of Bat Man to comprehend is the numerous layers that exist within this very complex literary creation. Bat Man at first glance is a vision of primal fears and exists because of an extremely violent act. The murder of his parents has traumatized him to the point of turning his body and mind into a weapon...and then dressing as a universally loathed mammal to strike fear into others who would break the law. Bob Kane originally envisioned THE BAT MAN as a grim and gritty swashbuckler who dealt out justice with two fists and the occasional assist from his utility belt. Bat Man was about revenge...about a man driven by demons to do the right thing...if that even makes sense. But at what cost is he willing to do the right thing? I loved Bat Man because he at once makes sense but is also the greatest of all revenge fantasies. During the fifties, comic books had become a mainstay in pop culture and things were competitive...writers and artists tried making Bat Man friendly...more scientific....less inspired by delirium and nightmares and more of a boy scout. This was still popular and remains a facet of Bat Man's personality. He is essentially a good person...but he is fucked up. He has issues. And his psychotherapy is going out and beating the shit out of people who aren't in the least bit interested in his agenda....which is to protect Gotham. I enjoyed almost every Bat Man movie that's been made except for Bat Man and Robin (Sorry George Clooney)....but I have to say that the latest trilogy...Bat Man Begins/ The Dark knight/ The Dark knight Rises captures the essence of Bat Man and why we love this damn character. Bat Man is really Tyler Durden from Fight Club before Tyler Durden existed. He is an instinctive response to the pain and fear that we experience as human beings...a by-product of Freud's id. He is the Darkness that battles Darkness. These concepts have been brilliantly delineated for the masses in Nolan's tour de force trilogy and while some feel his Bat Man was too realistic...I think that his Bat Man finally got to the root of our fascination with him. Bat Man Begins dares to tell a tale about Bruce Wayne that most comic fans always knew existed but never officially witnessed in the panels of a comic book. His training in the League of Shadows was some very cool back story that explains a lot about his fighting prowess...but the scene in which he falls, as a child, into what will later be known as the Bat Cave is classic mythology at its best. Here we learn that fear is an overriding component in Bruce Wayne's life and he becomes determined to eliminate it....but simultaneously perpetuate it in other men as his flying rodent alter ego. In the Dark Knight, we see Bat Man again displaying discipline and determination as he wages war on the Gotham Underworld...the scene where Bat Man ventures to Hong Kong to extradite a slimy executive caught up in gangster doings is for the record one of the most badass action sequences in a superhero movie to date. In the same film...we see Bat Man match wits with an incarnation of the Joker that can only be described as a mean spirited force of nature. Dark Knight Rises shows us that a legend can fall....be beaten. But as the title implies...Bat Man rises. The final film is more of a film about Bruce Wayne breaking out of the cocoon that Batman has encased him in. Yes...Bat Man does a bunch of dope ass shit in the BAT...Bane is actually quite unnerving and Catwoman is very entertaining for the time that she is given...but this final act belongs to Bruce Wayne.The scene where we see Bruce Wayne rise again from a pit that he's been imprisoned in is rousing and inspirational. These movies were just the thing the Bat Man franchise needed after being somewhat tarnished by bean counters and a souled out Joel Schumacher. It's a shame these movies will be haunted for eternity by the deaths of Heath Ledger and the twelve moviegoers in Colorado. I'm glad people are still going to see Dark Knight Rises and embracing the inherent fun in the concept of a man sick to death of being scared, of being bullied.....so he decides to fight crime dressed as a bat. Edith Bullfinch aint got shit on my generation's superheroes!!! Go see Dark Knight Rises and embrace the Bat Man in you!
Labels: Bane, Bat Man, Bat Man Begins, Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Bruce Wayne, Cat Woman, Dark Knight Rises, Edith Bullfinch, Fight Club, Heath Ledger, Joker, League of Shadows, Superman, Tyler Durden