Wayne’s Worlds: Images of Batman – 5

This series of articles has been outlining how much of an influence the character of Batman has been in my life. I’d like to include just a few more thoughts before I turn my at­tention to other areas of interest.

Batman, BatmobileThe Batmobile. I know that “chicks dig the car,” but automobiles are often a “guy” thing. Corgi made a massive collection of Bat-vehicles, and to my knowledge, I have every one they ever released. That includes the Joker’s car to Robin’s Redbird. Now Hot Wheels is into it, and I’m collecting those as well.

I must not be the only one who loved the Batmobile that appeared ABC’s Batman. Versions of it still make the circuit, appearing at car shows around the world. I actually got to sit in it last year!

I also like the new flying car in the comics these days. Makes sense to have a flying Batmobile.

The movies. I’ve already talked about the Michael Keaton Batman film, which remains a classic to me. The other films in that series didn’t fare as well, in my opinion.

Batman Returns had smooth action sequences and an interesting relationship for Batman with Catwoman, but it is tough to juggle that many story elements and make it work. That movie didn’t do it well.

Batman Forever used Jim Carrey well. It effectively mixed humor and action. Val Kilmer wasn’t a bad Bruce Wayne. In this group, this was the best after Batman.

Batman & Robin was the realization of all my worst fears. While Batman was based on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic, this film was intentionally a return to ABC’s Batman show, which I had come to despise.

That said, there were parts I really liked. Pulling the backstory of Mr. Freeze from TAS was a good idea, but the Governator was too distracting. And introducing Batgirl so soon after bringing in Robin before we knew him very well was too much.

George Clooney often worried out loud that he had killed the franchise. He had seri­ously wounded it, but only for a while.

Until The Dark Knight, Batman Begins was the best film the char­acter had been in, in my opinion, and that even includes Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. (Sorry, Joss Whedon!)

As my twin brother likes to say, it would have been a great movie even if Bruce Wayne had never become Batman. Good story, good acting, surprises galore (like Ra’s Al Ghul), this one surpasses even Batman to me. And that’s say­ing something!

Batman, Dark KnightOf course, The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins, was spectacular and my favorite Bat-film to date! I got to see the first midnight showing, and I was blown away by the movie–and the fact that I was in one of seven rooms full of Batfans watching the same picture!

Good plotting, fast pacing, incredible action and a spectacular acting job by Heath Ledger as the Joker shot it to the top of my list.

I always said that the Joker had to be watered down in order to be seen in any arena that kids could access. In the 60′s Batman, he was silly. In other carnations, he would be a giggling idiot. Even in Batman: The Animated Series and later shows by the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini team, he was nasty but not always threatening.

That was not the case in The Dark Knight. I literally was terrified every time the Joker showed up on the screen. He was death waiting to happen. It was like watching a shark circle its prey, and sometimes it was hard to even look. For the first time in my entire life, I was truly scared of the Joker. Wow!

And the final film in the series, The Dark Knight Rises, was very good, but that back-breaking is so tough to watch!

Recent DVDs. Not too long ago, I received DVDs of a Batman cartoon series I had never seen. Released in the late ’70s, The New Ad­ventures of Batman came out in a time when I was busy with other things. Also, it had Bat-Mite in it, which really worried me.

The interesting things about this show were that it brought Adam West and Burt Ward back to voice the roles they had become famous doing in the ’60s. And it was Filma­tion, the studio who brought the animated series that immediately followed the live-action show’s exit from ABC.

So there was some nostalgia to seeing the program.

One day, when I actually had some time on my hands, I watched all 13 episodes in a row. Fortunately, my brain didn’t rot out of my skull.

The bad news is that Bat-Mite pretty much served as the impediment for Batman, Robin and Batgirl from beating the bad guys in just 10 minutes. With Bat-Mite around to get in the way, it always took 30 minutes, the length of the show. Then too, a la He-Man, there was a pontificating “Bat Message” at the end of each episode, usually telling kids not to solve their problems with violence (though that’s what they had seen for the last half-hour).

That said, I did find it similar to the com­ics of the ’50s, in which Batman had to beat not only criminals, but space baddies as well, as they did in the final three episodes.

Final thoughts. I don’t know why, but when one is a fan of Batman, it seems a cer­tain question always rises up:

Batman,“So which one are you, Batman or Robin?”

When I was younger, I was always uncer­tain just how to answer. No one wants to be known as a sidekick, so I’d always say, “Batman, of course.”

But as time has gone along, I’ve thought of the proper answer to this question.

“Which one am I, Batman or Robin? I’m not Batman, I’m not Robin. In fact, I’m not Nightwing, Commissioner Gordon or Alfred.”

You see, there are things I admire in all of them, but that doesn’t mean I am ONLY that character.

I guess that answer works because I don’t seem to get asked it very often any longer.

  • Batman continues to sparkle, with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo presenting a run on the comic that was instantly a classic. I’m not so sold on the current Tom King books, but I’m still enjoying them.
  • Batman portrayed by Ben Affleck has been excellent! More of him!

Who knows what the future holds? I just hope it continues to shine, and that the Dark Knight lights up the comics, the animated worlds, the TV and the movies for decades to come!

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