#TBT: The Batman

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It’s odd to talk about a fictional character with so much fondness, and The Batman may be the one talked about the most. There are certainly people who judge others for doing so, but I choose to believe that they are just uneducated about comics and how important they can be to anyone, whether it be a child or an adult. And we all go through different phases of what’s important to us, which than influences us on who we gravitate to most.

As a kid, I was a Wolverine fan. I think that’s because Wolverine has that cool, bad boy persona about him. He’s always looking for a fight and let’s his temper get the better of him. He’s the very best at what he does, and what he does isn’t very nice. This could be the Philadelphian in me, we are known to cheer for the heels, but the fact that Wolverine was so edgy, but a good guy, really resonated with me. And then, I became a teenager.

What superhero best represents the typical teenager? Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man of course! Who wouldn’t want to web sling across town? But more importantly, I could identify with Peter Parker. I was an outcast, a “loser”; made fun of often. This kid, with all the power he had, not only had the mental capacity to keep it hidden– he didn’t use it to get back at Flash Thompson. I’d like to believe that maybe that had something to do with me never throwing a punch in high school.

As a young adult, I discovered Steve Rogers… Captain America. I never had the drive to join the army or any form of military; but after 9/11, I was very pro America. It was still a few years later that I really got into Cap; in fact it took Ed Brubaker killing off Steve Rogers for me to become a fan. I didn’t connect with him in the sense that I wanted to fight, but in the sense that he represented my country. And, in real life, the image of Cap punching Hitler meant something. It still does.

Supposedly I’m an adult now. I have a full time job, purchased a house, and have two beautiful children with my girlfriend. However, I still like reading the make believe. Perhaps the “adult” side of me likes to see justice served. Though, I likely believe that it’s because it’s the god damn Batman. He’s the only DC guy I’ve ever really read and have paid attention to. And, truth be told, my origins in geekdom and comics start with him. Without The Batman, I may have never been a fan of comics. But, he also means more than that.

Before I go into my history with the character and try to explain his importance, I’d like you to watch a video– a trailer to documentary about The Batman. I dare you not to cry at the last shot of this trailer:

That there should be enough to explain why The Batman is as important as he is. But, this is throwback thursday, and we like to try and keep it tied to us personally… so onward!

There is no doubt in my mind who my Batman is. Michael Keaton (though, I do hear Kevin Conroy’s voice when I read the comics). However, my entry point to The Batman is in fact the 1966 Batman TV series. They would air reruns when I was a kid and I would watch it with my father. I have not gone back to ever rewatch them, save for randomly catching one on some random channel. I remember them being campy and I just assume that they are still just that; which isn’t a bad thing. The kids today, with their Nolan-verse Batman, look back at my Batman and say “that’s just silly”. But, in the early 90s (as I was only 5 years old when the Burton/Keaton Batman came out, so I didn’t see it in theaters), that was dark and gritty.

There really wan’t the Superhero Genre that we have today, but from what was available, this was different. It wasn’t bright and it certainly wasn’t shark repellent goofy. We saw the birth of The Batman; when Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered. We saw a scarier Joker. It was dark. It wasn’t “Biff! Pow! Zap!”. It was awesome.

The only time I ever hesitate about talking about who my Batman is, is when we talk about Batman: The Animated Series. It was a cartoon, but it took the material just as serious as the 1989 movie. It gave us the iconic voice of both Batman and the Joker… if you watched that show, then you know those are the two distinct voices you hear in your head as you read the Batman comics. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created an Animated universe between Batman, Superman, and the Justice League. As much as I liked the Spider-Man Animated series, DC always trumped Marvel in that department.

That brings us to the modern day Superhero genre and how Batman fits into it. Marvel redefined the way to make these superhero movies and DC, for whatever reason, had issues getting to their level. The only success was the Nolan-verse Batman movies– some may argue Man of Steel, but I loathe that movie. It was around this time that DCU talks began.

Bale wasn’t a bad Batman, but just not my cup of tea. I never thought I would see someone possible dethrone the one two punch of Keaton and Conroy… and then Batfleck was cast. We now live in a world, where there will be four generations, most of whom are alive, that have their Batman (we’ll stick to live action for arguments sake)— Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and, now, Ben Affleck.

To wind this down, I don’t think Ben Affleck gets a fair shot. Then again, which actor listed (with the exception of Adam West maybe) didn’t get chased after like they were monsters because the accepted the role of Batman? I, for one, am excited for Batman V. Superman. I think it could fair, but I’m choosing to be optimistic. Will it be Marvel successful? Doubtful, but only time will tell.

Oh, and I guess the point of this throwback is that Batman, just like in the stories, is a symbol of justice. That one man can make a difference. That’s why he’s important.

Kevin M. Gallagher, Jr
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