(Originally published in Issue #2 of Cobalt Magazine at Warwick University, released in November 2014. Read that version here, on pages 38-40.)
My God it never ends. A new poster has slated a Bananaman movie for a 2015 release [this never happened, the filthy liars]. Yes, the Man of Peel (their pun, not mine) is making a return, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg; Marvel’s current box office domination has extended into the amazing sink unblocking powers of Ant-Man, a scientist who can shrink himself down to any size provided it’s plot relevant, and Rocket Raccoon, a small furry Jack Bauer. But behind the faux-science shenanigans and random costumes of the modern superhero movie industry stands Batman, the big broody grandfather of it all. He’s practically part of the furniture at this point.
Batman films have been going for some time now, starting with the incredibly camp 1960s Adam West flick which was adapted from the TV show from the same time, featuring a snout nosed Batman who always seemed to be busting for a piss. After being put through the ridiculously successful NolanFilterTM of confused non-messages and Hans Zimmer brass explosions that seem to follow the director like a Doberman with a foghorn for a face, the character is due to be portrayed by Ben Affleck, a man who simultaneously looks like a confused baby and the sharp side of a cliff. Hopefully he’ll be as terrible as he was in Daredevil just so we can get rid of Batman for a while. The guy’s spent too much of his time working out his anger on drunk tramps in his pyjamas for the average billionaire, and not enough of it dedicated to buying out the world’s media or whatever it is they spend their weekends doing.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like Batman. I mean you can hang hats on his ears after all. It’s just that the character himself is simply not as interesting as his villains, probably due to having the personality of a frowny filing cabinet stuffed with money and with no concept of personal space. How many people remember the original Burton film primarily for Batman, and not Jack Nicholson as the Joker? The Dark Knight was similarly dominated by Two-Face and the Joker, probably since the plot was primarily about a sad businessman in armour playing a long angsty game of Blues Clues with a GCSE Biology diagram and Margaret Thatcher in drag. Even the incredibly atrocious (or atrociously incredible, your choice) Batman and Robin is mostly remembered for the Governators total lack of shits to give about the script, hamming it up so much it could be cut and sold at a butchers. Oh, and the Bat Credit Card. Fucking what.
No, despite being as interesting as a tub of lard with marital issues, Batman is now so popular he dominates huge sections of pop culture. He’s so integral in fact that he’s basically the modern day action character archetype, i.e. an angry bloke who says very little, punches people repeatedly and talks in shrouded half-metaphors. This is of course a far cry from the 80s action character archetype of an angry bloke who says very little, punches people repeatedly and talks in amazingly bad one-liners, but the point remains. Garrett from the recent Thief game is really just a skinny Batman, a man who says he steals things because ‘it’s what I do’. Thanks for that Garrett, but I doubt the jury will empathize with your suffering.
In my opinion, Batman just needs to go away for a while. Film, comics, TV shows, musicals, charity calendars, everything. There’s been a new cartoon with the chinned wonder almost every year since the excellent Batman: The Animated Series kicked things off back in the 90s. Man of Steel was essentially marketed as being Batman the alien, and he’s now being farmed out for the Justice-League-in-disguise film Batman vs Superman, which is a fight that should realistically last as long as a hamster in a jet turbine. Take a well deserved break from the self discovery and face breaking, put your Bat Boots in the Bat Wardrobe and go to the Maldives for a bit. You deserve it, you big mopey bastard.
When the public can actually get excited for a new Batman film, there should be some changes for old whiney Wayne. Stop trying to be Watchmen, and try a few ridiculously camp 60s throwbacks. It’s happened recently on TV, where Brave and the Bold freshened things up by pitting Bats against idiot villains like Clock King, Crazy Quilt and the amazingly named Animal Vegetable Mineral Man. My favourite Batman scene is in the 60s film where he’s running frantically along a holiday pier desperately trying to get rid of a giant bomb. Exasperated at insurmountable obstacles like a no smoking sign, some nuns and five ducks, he runs towards the screen, whereupon water and metal pipes go everywhere and the bomb is defused, somehow. It’s weirdly like the ending to Dark Knight Rises, on reflection. Anyway, Batman needs more of that brilliant nonsense and less bullshit hero statements based on the difference between the meaning of ‘deserves’ and ‘needs’.
In fact, just remake Batman and Robin. It was so ridiculously over the top that you can somehow manage to enjoy it, like Birdemic, The Room or Troll 2. Remake that stupid film with the clear intention that it’s going to be nothing like Dark Knight Rises (more Bane in flasher trench coats, less Bane struggling to be heard through a cyberpunk facehugger), develop a dumb side story that ties the goddamn Bat Credit Card in to the plot, and I’ll watch the hell out of that. I’ll probably be the only one that does, but who cares about brand strength when you’re Batman. You can just Batman the problem away by jumping on its face in your underwear.