Batmanism!

POINTLESS NOTES OF AN OBSESSEE FAN. Basically, the big posts I’ve made in the past about anything concerning Batman, all collected into one neat little page. Enjoy your Bat-Experience!

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BAT-RANT

WOW IT’S BEEN A WHILE.

I could -and really should- use this time to catch the blog up on my schooling down here in FL, new writing projects, latest cosplays, AKA everything that I keep saying I’ll be putting on a blog.

But you know what? No. No, today I feel like giving a nice little rant about the “controversy” surrounding one of the best events of my life.

I’ll start from the beginning. For those of you who don’t know/don’t care/I therefore feel sorry for, Batman the classic TV series is coming out on November eleventh of this year.

That’s twenty days from now.

*Breaks out into random victorious Batusi dance variations*

So for those of you who have no idea why this epic moment in television history matters, let me break this situation down for you: 2014 is my tenth year of being a Batmaniac (2004 was when I was bitten by the Bat-Bug, at the wonderful age of thirteen) and this TV series was what infected me with Bat-Love. Well, more specifically it was the movie that accompanies it, because the TV series was not available on any sort of home video format. My little thirteen year old self could not understand why, and she logged onto her parents’ amazon account back in 2004 and signed up to be notified by email when this series would be available for purchase (BTW I am pretty sure they didn’t send an email- thanks a lot, amazon).

Well, I would come to understand the reason for the delay as I got older and did more researching: Fox owned some rights, ABC owned other rights…. basically two corporations both wanted everything and they couldn’t meet in the middle about it like adults. So instead the fans have wept over harshly edited, non-restored reruns and wondered where our Bat-Justice was.

But finally, the day has come. Okay well, it hasn’t come quite yet, but in twenty days it will be here. We will have the entire series in an uncut, remastered state of glory along with over three hours of exclusive extras and books of never before seen set photos. God has smiled on us.  Gotham is saved. The messiah of 1960′s television is coming.

So why am I ranting? If you think it’s because I’m mad that the series took so long to get here, you are wrong. I’m just happy it’s here; wouldn’t you be happy too if you’d waited ten years? Or twenty years? Or even forty years? It’s true, some Bat-Fans have been waiting that long. But instead of rejoicing and saving their pennies up for the big day, what have they been doing?

They’ve been bitching.

If you go onto amazon.com and look at the ratings and reviews (for a product that HASN’T EVEN COME OUT YET, by the way) most of them read something like this:

“OVERPRICED!”

“You want me to pay over $100 for this? I’ll just watch it online.”

“I’ve been waiting for this release for thirty years, but I won’t be paying that amount. DISAPPOINTED.”

“Rip off!!!”

First of all, if you think it’s overpriced, WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE A BAD REVIEW AND RATE IT DOWN? The price is not the product, so stop giving it two stars, you so called “fans”! Second of all… really? Let me get this straight. You would go online and pay upwards of $50 for a vintage child sized utility belt replica, but you won’t pay a little over double that for the DVD set, the Holy Grail of all that is 1966 Batmania? THINK ABOUT YOUR PRIORITIES. This is why we’re all here! This is why all the merch exists! If you claim you have been anxiously waiting for thirty years and yet you won’t pay over $100 for a three season deluxe remastered set of a never before released classic TV series, then you need to question your nerd priorities.

Now for all the downers who are claiming that it’s not worth it because it’ll be “things we’ve all heard before”, let’s go through this step by step. Okay? Okay.

Take my hands. Listen very carefully to the words I am about to say.

I don’t give a half a shit.

You know what I did last week? I watched a ton of online interviews and comicon panel videos of Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar. You know what happened in every single one? The same things that had happened in all the previous videos. They were asked variations on the same questions, gave the same answers, and told the same stories. In all three of the comicon panel videos that I watched, Burt told the same exact story about how on their first day of shooting he had to do the dangerous drive in the Batmobile because his stuntman didn’t look enough like him and how he ripped his finger out of its socket because he had to hold on to the gear shift to keep from flying out of the car when the door opened during the turn. He also detailed how that was the first of four occasions during the first five days of shooting that he wound up in the emergency room.

I know that story too. I have read about it, and I’ve heard Burt tell it in videos before. I knew he would explain it again, in every single con panel he went to, and he’ll probably tell it on the BTS disks on the DVD set. But here’s the thing:

I DON’T CARE. It’s a classic story and I love hearing him tell it. If I went to a con and heard him speak, I would probably ask him about it just so that I could hear him tell it live.

If you are seriously going to bitch about hearing the same stories more than once, then I don’t know what to say to you. You really expect to hear brand new information about the series on this set? The show has been around for forty years, and many of those years the cast has been visiting cons and telling their stories. If you are bored with them, then don’t claim that you have been “anxiously waiting” for “your whole life” and that this box set “disappoints you” because of the price and the contents. And DON’T leave it bad reviews and one or two star ratings! You’re entitled to your opinion, and if your opinion is that it’s too much to spend for the stories you’ve heard before and the series you already know well, then keep it to yourself. Or go rant about it on your own blogs. But don’t rate down the product and discourage other potential buyers, at least not before the actual product has been released. That’s just stupid.

I, for one, have been saving up my amazon points and when the glorious November eleventh finally comes, I will be dancing my victory dance the entire day and ordering my copy. High definition Adam and Burt? Yes please. =3 (You didn’t hear that from me).

For all the rest of you, who feel it is your job to try to dampen the excitement of the true fans and stick your noses up at finally receiving what we have been waiting forty years for:

STFU.

batman robin pic

Thank you.

***

COUNTING CATWOMEN, SHELDON STYLE

First of all, if you don’t understand the title of this post, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vik1fJ2j1oA

Anyways.

There have been six different women who filled the role of the feline fatale herself on the screen, although one, Anne Hathaway, can’t really be considered until her performance is revealed in The Dark Knight Rises this July. That leaves five different women who have worn variations of the Catsuit. Their performances, though of basically the same character, are very different from actress to actress as well as from film to film. Sheldon (and I) find it worthy of looking through all these performances and rating them. You’ve heard Sheldon’s list but now you’ll get to hear mine, as well.

Starting with my least favorite and working up to number one, here are my ratings (and reasons for said ratings!) of all the film Catwomen.

Click on each picture for a youtube video of the Catwoman actress in question. If there are any specific parts of the video of greater importance to my reasons, the timing to watch will be listed underneath the photo.

NUMBER FIVE: HALLE BERRY

“CATWOMAN”

If you can stand it, watching the whole thing will give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, but if you just want to cut to the chase, watch 2:40-4:18

“Catwoman” the movie featured Halle Berry as Patience, a timid designer who is killed when she accidentally discovers some dark secrets about the makeup company that she works for. She is brought back to life by a mystical cat, which basically turns her into a human feline, complete with an unexplainable attraction to catnip. She uses her new powers to rock a sexy, barely-there black leather outfit, crawl around like Spiderman, and eventually defeat Patience’s murderer: the woman who was previously the face of the makeup company, but who has now turned into a villainess whose anti-aging makeup makes her skin as invulnerable as mithril.

THE PROS: Halle has a cat-like confidence once she starts getting into the role, and many of her physical actions mirror that well. She also delivers the best “purrrrfect” since Eartha Kitt.

THE CONS: First of all, the story just plain sucks. It’s basically Catwoman’s origin from Batman Returns copied into its own film. Then they add in a makeup powered villainess to make it seem more… feminine, I guess? The fights are cartoony, the girl power music always playing in the background is pathetic, and overall this is just a very shallow film and underserving of the title Catwoman. I understand that they were trying to make a completely new character, but if that’s the case, don’t call her Catwoman. Because this thing is a sorry excuse for one of the greatest female characters of all time (IMHO).

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Halle’s Catwoman tried to exude confidence, but does so in such an over sexualized, cartoony way that it actually works against her. When all is said and done, this is just a prostitute-like chick who gets crazy powers and has a bitch fight with a pathetically lame villainess. It obviously tries to speak about female empowerment but really, this Catwoman is little more than shallow eye candy for the boys, which kind of defeats the “female empowerment” purpose. Nice effort, Halle, but your over sexualized and laughably cartoony Catwoman from a shallow film was far from worthy of the cowl of the Cat.

NUMBER FOUR: MICHELLE PHEIFFER

“BATMAN RETURNS”

The “transformation” scene. You’ll want to watch the whole thing.

Selina Kyle is a mousy secretary who is murdered by her boss after she finds out that his company isn’t as innocent as it seems. Unfortunately for him, she is brought back to life by a gang of alley cats, waking with a vengence against him and just about all other men. She is mentally unhinged which makes her dangerous but also alluring enough to catch the eye of millionaire Bruce Wayne.

THE PROS: Michelle has Catwoman’s love of what she does pretty much down. The scenes where we get to see her blowing up a store and whipping the heads off of display mannequins is gold.

THE CONS: I’m disturbed at seeing a Catwoman whose confidence, decisions, and entire personality is hinged on the fact that she is completely insane. That might work fine for the Joker or the Riddler, but not Catwoman. If you take away her confidence in herself, what do you have left? A crazy lady who seems to think that leather is the most comfy way to dress. As if Gotham didn’t have enough of those already. If you take away Catwoman’s sanity, you take away the fact that she is making all her life’s decisions for herself. She’s driven by craziness, not by Catwoman’s decision that this is how she wants to live her life.

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Insane Catwoman is a BIG no-go in my book. It makes her confidence seem forced and her sexuality more of a tool for her to lure men with rather than an actual part of her. She scores above Halle, but not by too much. I love Tim Burton, his vision, and his Batman movies; but his Catwoman leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

NUMBER THREE: EARTHA KITT

“THE BATMAN TV SERIES (SIXTIES)”

Montage of some Eartha Kitt Catwoman moments. Make sure you listen for her “purrrrr”ing!

Eartha Kitt was TV’s third Catwoman, slinking onto the series in its third and final season. Eartha’s run introduced not only an African-American Catwoman, but also the outrageous Catmobile, which was basically a car with a giant cat face and tail added on.

THE PROS: Eartha had one of the best Catwoman voices. There’s a reason why Yzma (the character she voiced in the Disney movie “The Emperor’s New Groove”) turns into a cat at the end. Eartha could roll her R’s and say “purrrrrrrfectly” like no one else. Her Catwoman was spunky and obviously having a good time.

THE CONS: This Catwoman, although she was having some fun, was still too much of a “black-and-white” bad girl character. She lacked the complexity of the previous Catwomen before her. In all honesty, this could in part be attributed to the fact that the series was spinning itself out at this point, but this Catwoman still is what she is.

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Eartha’s Catwoman was believable, but it was still pretty basic and got a bit repetative after awhile. She was an actress going through the motions of being Catwoman rather than really being Catwoman. Granted, she was wonderful at it, but she still could have been more… unique. This Catwoman was a pretty standard bad girl character.

NUMBER TWO: LEE MERIWETHER

“BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966)”

A scene that shows both Catwoman and her alter-ego, Kitka.

Lee only had one time in the spotlight as a Catwoman of the sixties. Julie Newmar was filming another movie when the 1966 Batman movie was being filmed, so a replacement had to be cast, and Lee Meriwether got the part when she imitated the bathing actions of her cat during her audition. She provided a more polished, good-girl-gone-bad spin on the character. She also provided Catwoman with a seemingly innocent but inwardly devious alter-ego, the Russian journalist Kitka.

THE PROS: What if a really good girl decided that she wanted to be really bad? That’s the question that this Catwoman best answers. Lee’s performance is confident and believable, but you can also see a bit of goody-two-shoes in her as well. It makes me feel as if she is channeling some other person that maybe she once was, in order to fulfill her current devious schemes. As Catwoman’s false alter-ego, Kitka, she was completely believable, letting the “good girl” side come out in full swing. But this in no way makes her status as a villain seem unbelievable or forced.

THE CONS: Since Lee was only a replacement Catwoman for the movie, we didn’t get to see what more she might have been able to do with the character if she’d had entire television seasons to play with, like the other Catwomen did.

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Lee’s Catwoman is not only convincingly bad, but she’s also convincingly good when she wants to be. It’s interesting to see her switch on and off the different sides of her personality as it best suits the intents of the character. This Catwoman really can be described by the old rhyme: “When she was good she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid.”

And that means…

Drum roll…

NUMBER ONE: JULIE NEWMAR

“THE BATMAN TV SERIES (SIXTIES)”

One of Catwoman’s most awesome schemes! 1:40-6:50

Sometimes the original just can’t be beat. Julie Newmar was the first Catwoman on the 1966 Batman TV series, and she brought the character to an entire new level. Being both sweet and sour, the sugar and the spice, Julie’s Catwoman held her own against the man she both desired, loved to annoy, and wanted to destroy: Batman.

THE PROS: Julie’s Catwoman NEVER sold out for anyone, not even Batman. She’s funny, smart, and 100% confident in her own skin and personality. This gives her an ability to be deadly alluring. You can tell that this Catwoman was Catwoman because she WANTED to be, not because she had mystic powers or was driven by insanity or was simply a bad girl who needed a gimmick. Even her desires that Batman make her his wife were always on her own terms, not his. And if someone didn’t agree with those terms, then look out.

THE CONS: Julie was replaced in the third season, so her reign as the feline fatale was not as long as it could have been.

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Cool, sexy, and never afraid to go for what she wanted, Julie took Catwoman from what could have been an average kitten performance to a real roaring lion. She’s never forced or fake: she doesn’t need to impress anyone but herself, and that really shows through. Julie’s Catwoman is number one because she really nailed the fact that Catwoman lives her life for her and not for anyone else, and she does it because she wants to.

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BLACK AND WHITE?

It’s an unfortunate thing that nowadays the superhero/apprentice team which once earned the name “Dynamic Duo” has been reduced to little more than a joke.  Robin is seen as a snot nosed, disposable brat, while Batman is an overbearing emo taskmaster. Either that, or the roles become switched and Batman is normal, which Robin is a psycho, or Robin is normal, and Batman is a psycho…. either way, you don’t get the Dynamic Duo. You know what you do get?

As my sister’s boyfriend would say, “What the cuss?”

Damien Wayne, the current Robin, is so weird now that he’s teamed with Bruce Wayne that I’m not even going to address him in this post. For now, I am going to talk about the way that current writers depict the relationship between Batman and his original Robin, Dick Grayson, and even his more current Robin, Tim Drake. The example I am going to particularly focus on is a book called “All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder”. Written by Frank Miller and illustrated by Jim Lee, this book has amazing artwork but the story makes me want to die. In this retelling of Dick Grayson’s origins, The Flying Graysons are killed and then Batman kidnaps Dick, takes him to the Batcave, and locks him in there to see if he can survive. To Batman’s mind, I guess this is considered “training”. So Dick is down in the Batcave basically killing rats to keep himself from starving. If I remember correctly, Alfred takes pity on the poor little kid and brings him some food, which ticks Batman off a ton. Anyways after that, Batman is like, “You are my trainee now” and basically shows Robin how to use his anger to attack people. Between that, all we see is Batman oogling after women and even having sex with Black Canary on the streets. To finish, Batman has Robin attack Green Lantern, and when Robin almost kills him Batman goes beserk and starts beating up Robin. Then, after all of this, he lets Robin go to the grave of his parents (John and Mary Grayson) and he and Robin have this big bonding moment where they hold each other and cry. And apparently Robin keeps at the job because he’s just that nice and optimistic.

If you just read that and went, “WTH?” then you’ve had the same reaction I did when I finsihed reading the graphic novel. So this is widely accepted now as the type of relationship Batman has always had with the character of Robin from the beginning. This, to my mind, is a big problem.

With such stories, the team of Batman and Robin is hardly a “team” anymore. The darkness of the modern Batman well outweighs the lightness that Robin was created to bring about. Some might wonder why that’s a problem. Batman is still the darkness and Robin is still the the light, so why question it? They’re still technically fulfilling their positions of black and white.

The problem is that black and white is not enough. It defines them as characters, but it doesn’t address the way they interact with each other as a team, and that right there is where the problem is.

The best explanation and model for what Batman and Robin should be is a classic little symbol that everyone knows, and one that I love to examine in the world of Batman:

Ladies and gentlemen, the yin yang. Whoever wants to write Batman and Robin as a team should have this image hanging on their office wall at all times.

Yes, there is a darkness to Batman, and yes, there is a lightness to Robin. But that is not the end of the story. As you can see from the image, engrained within the darkness is some light, and similarily inside the light there is some darkness. Anyone who thinks that Batman should be all darkness and Robin should be all light has answered half the question of why such a team cannot stand: Batman and Robin would be too opposite, almost enemies. They have to be able to at least understand each other, or else how can they work alongside each other so well so as to be called the Dynamic Duo?

I repeat: they need to be able to understand each other. Each one needs to have not only the light but also the dark, so that they can work with each other and provide BALANCE. Thinking about this and looking at the yin yang as a pattern, you can see something else that’s important: equality. Batman shouldn’t be a task master, and Robin shouldn’t be stupidly optimistic. I find that their relationship should become less about being a teacher and a learner, and more about being two people helping each other in this crazy task of saving Gotham. Granted, one is definitely the mentor and one is the protegee, but that should become less important as they start to work with each other, and it most certainly should not define how they act towards each other.

If this duo is going to remain dynamic, then they must have equal respect for one another.

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SHIPPING

I am such a shipper.

“Shippers”, in case you didn’t know, are people who couple up characters and decide that those two are hopelessly, romantically meant to be. There’s bound to be shippers in every genre that involves characters, especially among nerds. And every shipper has their reasons, no matter how strange, for couple-ing the characters that they stand by (although personally, I don’t think “they’re so cute together!” is a good enough reason). So now it’s my turn to give my reasons for the characters I put together.

I have only three main comics couples that I stand by (as of this point), and they are the following:

1) Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl)

2) Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Selina Kyle (Catwoman)

3) Raven (earth name Rachel Roth) and Garfield Logan (Beast Boy/Changeling)

Before any mention is made of how that last couple isn’t really in the Batman universe, deal with it. Robin founded the Teen Titans and they’re both members of that organization, so there you go. Besides, Batman knows of their existence:

See? He mentioned Raven. He knows she exists, even if he’s not her biggest fan. At any rate, if Batman knows something exists, then that should be a good enough reason for anyone.

Anyways….

Couple number one: Dick and Barbara. Grayson and Gordon. They are SO meant to be. As the original Robin and Batgirl, they spent a lot of time working together in their young years as crimefighters, and developed a close friendship that continues up until now. They completely understand each other, and have a total honesty between them. Isn’t that important to a relationship? I certainly think so…

^Awwwwws!

This honest friendship gives them a special way of working with each other that is seldom found in graphic novel couples. They work so well together that why WOULDN’T they be together anymore (they were once, but now they’re “only friends”)? Oh, that’s right. Because writers are more concerned with creating drama than they are with writing about an honest to goodness spark between characters that developed ON ITS OWN after years and years of Robin and Batgirl working together!

So, instead of just giving in to what is meant to be, creators make Dick move on from woman to woman to woman…. but is it just me, or are they all redheads? Yes, they are. Even his current fling in the New 52, Raya, looks so much like Barbara that she might as well be a Babs impersonator. And then of course, there’s Starfire from the Teen Titans.

Yeah, that about sums it up. Basically, almost every single girl that Dick has romanced is a fiesty, independent redhead, JUST like Barbara Gordon. Come on, let’s stop with the copycat act and get the original couple back together.

Second couple! Batman and Catwoman.

Since she first arrived on the scene in 1941, Catwoman has always had Batman’s eye. The very first encounter between them ended with her giving him a huge kiss to distract him and then jumping out of the edge of the boat that they were in so that she could get away. And Batman let her, because he was so smitten with her.

The reason Batman and Catwoman work so well is because Selina is literally the only woman who can handle Bruce. No matter what era you look at, Batman/Bruce Wayne is an interesting and intimidating person. There’s so much complexity to his character. The reason none of his other lady loves have worked out is because they can’t handle the fact that he is Batman, or they don’t like that Bruce Wayne is so distant, or both. Catwoman doesn’t have this problem because, unlike so many others, she is not a doter. She will not be all mushy crap on Batman/Bruce simply because she’s a woman and he’s a hot guy. Catwoman is on team Catwoman, the end. She does what best serves her in her own life. Why does this make her an ideal equal to Batman, you may ask? Quite simple: she pulls him out of himself.

Batman has always been a thinker, but lately he has become an outright brooder and now I would even say he is downright emo. He tends to get lost in his own inner darkness. Catwoman doesn’t play into that. She doesn’t accept his attitude, or his over-darkness. She doesn’t dote and worry about what he wants or even what he’s feeling too much when he’s in those moods, and by doing that, she can snap him out of it.

Who else can stand up to the big bad Batman, look at him without feeling intimidation, bring him back to his senses, and do all of that with a kiss to make it better? Not too many.

That’s why this couple is a must:

Couple number three = Teen Titans Time!

Beast Boy and Raven are the most unlikely pairing, given that BB is a total clown and Raven is an empath who must keep her emotions under control in order to be master of her great power.

If you’re thinking opposites, like night and day, think of a yin yang instead- yes, my favorite thing when it comes to discussing comics! Raven needs someone to boost her spirits, someone whose own spirit is strong and determined to see the bright side of things. Meanwhile, Beast Boy could definitely use someone to let him see the deeper side of life. He’s always been a comic relief in every situation, so having a close companionship with Raven helps him to see the complexity of the world and broaden his views a little more. They are a perfect yin yang and there is no way they could or should be paired with anyone else.

And for once, I guess the writers agree with me. Teen Titans #100:

Thank you, writers. Now please just freaking leave it that way. This couple has been off and on for almost as many times as Dick and Barbara have. Please, just accept that the pairing works well and STOP POKING IT!

I guess that would be my advice to the writers of all the couples I’ve mentioned: stop poking it. When two characters work together so well and have an obvious spark, why should they be messed with? Let them be. Drop the drama, and let the characters develop.

***

This was my final paper in my 2011 English course. Yay for recycling! For more info/proof on this subject, including pictures, check out this site: http://www.comicscube.com/2010/07/reclaiming-history-bill-finger-real.html

A LEGEND’S TRUE CREATOR

The character of Batman has become one of the most well recognized figures in American fiction since his introduction in 1939. The creation of this legend has always been attributed to an artist named Bob Kane, who first came up with the concept of a masked superhero who would call himself “The Batman”. Even to this day, the phrase “Batman created by Bob Kane” can be seen in the credits of every Batman related cartoon, book, and movie. But no credit is ever given to Bill Finger, the author who helped co-create this fictional phenomenon. During his time as a writer for the Batman series, he never even got to see his name credited on the stories he penned. After living all of his life watching his greatest creation being credited entirely to someone else, it is time that Bill Finger gets his due credit.

Creators now are very protective of their work, and with good reason. Plagiarism runs rampant, since there are many people in the world who would do anything to get some quick fame, even stooping to steal another person’s ideas. Bill Finger is an early example of this, but the offence against him was even greater than his work being copied. Finger’s reality was that his greatest work was credited solely to a man who was supposed to be his friend. The Batman would not have been half the character he is today without Finger’s creative additions. As the writer, he gave the Batman his soul, making him the dark knight detective and suggesting changes that made the outward design reflect that inner soul. He changed Bob Kane’s original design of a man in red long underwear with stiff wooden wings sticking out of the back to the black uniform and scalloped cape that is seen on the character today. He changed a pair of simple black glasses to the terrifying bat-eared cowl with the white eyes. In other words, he is just as much responsible for the creation of Batman as Bob Kane, if not more so (Daniels, 18-21). If this bothered Finger, he never showed it. He continually wrote the stories that made the character a legend, suffering the lack of appreciation silently while Bob Kane racked in all the profits. But if he’d only been given the opportunity to speak up and seize his proper share of the credit, maybe things would have been different. If someone had put Bob Kane in his place when things were still starting out, maybe we would have been able to see the phrase, “Batman Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane” at the beginning of every Batman movie, as we should. The question of whether or not Bill Finger would have spoken up if given the chance is a question that has haunted the history of the comic book industry since its beginning and will continue to do so.

Whether or not Finger felt ripped off from the very beginning of his collaboration with Kane did not stop him from pressing forward. He was involved in writing until at least the 1960’s, which is known because his name is in the credits of an episode of the 1966 Batman TV series. This might be one of if not the only Batman-related work that he received credit for during his life (Eisner, 177). The character of Batman went through intense changes while Finger was alive, as any devoted reader will be able to tell. Batman was originally a grim, silent detective, much like the version that is presented in movies nowadays. But eventually he became much more of a jovial sort of character who loved to crack puns as he was cracking criminals’ jaws. Bill Finger had the unique advantage of being able to write both of these very different versions of the Dark Knight, and it is only logical to assume that he must have had a preference as to which version he preferred, just as many of the fans nowadays have their own preferences. Perhaps he would have enjoyed the funny, quirky stories with the outrageous twists and plotlines and the giant props that Finger himself introduced into the comics (Daniels, 65). But his original concept was the grim creature of the night that never spoke. Maybe, if given a choice between those two versions of Batman, he would have decided that his original depiction was his favorite. After all, an original creative vision is often the most raw, true idea of the character.

That same transformation that the character of Batman has gone through has been chronicled not only on the written page but also on the big screen. Any average viewer who watches the various television serials, TV shows, or movies that have featured the Caped Crusader can see that. Many different actors have devoted their talents to bringing Batman off of the page and into the real world, and with each new person under the cowl there would be a different interpretation of Batman. This has sparked an ever changing, always present debate among devoted Bat-fans as to which actor has done the best job capturing the essence of Batman. Each individual has their own opinions, and their own reasons to defend that opinion. If Bill Finger were still alive, he would doubtlessly have unimaginable insight into each of the performances given, and why each one was good or poorly done. As the man who gave Batman his soul, there is probably no one else who would be able to answer such a debated question as who has done the best job bringing the Bat to life.

That is probably not the only question he would be able to answer. The man who remained silent as he created a legend would be loudly welcomed in today’s world, and his insights on the character that is now a celebrity would be eagerly awaited. He has already begun to be recognized for the work he did, and now has fans who consider him to be the true creator of Gotham City and its inhabitants. But perhaps the best tribute to Bill Finger is the homage paid to him by his world renowned creation, Batman.

During his lifetime, Bill was kept in the shadows. Perhaps that’s why Batman also sticks to the darkness, choosing to be the Dark Knight rather than the glorified savior of a broken city, like many of his brighter superhero peers. He remains the quiet hero, rarely seen by the people he serves, facing pain and misery every day because it serves a greater purpose. In this way, he reflects his true creator and gives Bill Finger a silent salute on each and every comic book page.

Daniels, Les. Batman: The Complete History. N.p.: Chronicle Books, 1999. 18-21. Print.

Eisner, Joel. The Official Batman Bat Book. 2nd ed. N.p.: Author House, 2008. 177. Print.

Daniels, Les. Batman: The Complete History. N.p.: Chronicle Books, 1999. 65. Print.

***

HORNS, DRUMS, AND STRINGS

In any given movie,  the soul is spoken most clearly through the music. To give life to a soul as complex as Gotham’s Dark Knight in this way is no small task. What is he at the innermost part of his character? What drives him and what haunts him? Who is he really, and how can that be best translated into music? Many great and talented composers have tackled this dilema, among them Danny Elfman, Neil Hefti, Hans Zimmer, and many more. All of them have had some degree of success. Careful listening of their work reveals three main musical themes that keep presenting themselves in varying degrees, deprending on what version of Batman is being presented. These three sounds are the grounds for any music that wants to capture the spirit of the Bat: horns, drums, and strings.

Horns are one of the first sounds to be heard in both the Batman theme song from the 1966 TV series and Danny Elfman’s Batman theme for the 1989 Batman film and its many sequels. Interesting, considering that Adam West’s Batman and Tim Burton’s presentation of the same character could not be further apart from each other. Even more interesting when we think of what the horn is: a very loud, brazen, in-your-face sound. And Batman, after all, is a creature of dark shadows and solitude. Who would make the connection between him and the blasting trumpets?

The problem with that is that it’s only seeing Batman in one angle. Batman is not only the Dark Knight, he’s also Bruce Wayne, a plain human without alien strength or x-ray eyes. (Yes, that IS a jab at the flying boy scout.) All Bruce’s piles of money won’t bring him back from the dead if he gets a bullet through the brain. For Bruce Wayne to put aside the risks of his humanity in order to become the symbolic Batman, and to do that each and every night, is an incredibly brave thing to do. It is defyingly daring, born of a courage that outshouts everything else. It is the very idea of fear and weakness being pushed aside with a fierce battle cry. The horn represents this, this idea of unstoppable determination and courage. It is true that its loud sounds don’t represent Batman’s methods or image; the story that this instrument tells goes deeper than that. It shows us the depths of his courage and the force of his determination, which pushes him through the slime of Gotham’s underworld and makes itself heard above all else.

Of course, this fearless battle cry cannot go unchallenged. The costumed and crazed villains of Gotham represent many things, such as fear, destruction, and pure randomness. Combine all these things and it’s clear that Gothamite maniacs can stand for only one thing: chaos. If this is true, then there has to be a yin to balance out that yang. (Not only is this logical, but the yin/yang effect is something that is often seen in other aspects of the Batman universe, too.) The obvious block to the villains is their enemy, Batman. Therefore, if villains represent chaos in Gotham, Batman represents the steadiness of the law. Even though he doesn’t wear a badge, in the minds of many criminals he IS the law. He is justice come to life to hunt them down and finally revenge itself upon them.

The sound of the law has always been a drum. It’s steady and the beat never falters, just as real justice always looks for a way to stand against lawbreakers. It’s the instrument to which armies march, keeping soldiers in step.  Therefore the drum is a necessary part of Batman’s musical interpretation, as he represents law and order to the Gotham villains who, in their chaos, refuse to recognize anything less than the dramatic cowl of the Bat as a symbol of justice.

Being the type of character that he is, a huge part of the Dark Knight’s person is tied up in tension. It is an underlying factor in everything that he is, right down to WHO he is. The public billionaire image of Bruce Wayne could not be further than the grim and dark image of Batman. And yet, the man in the cowl must keep up both personalities simultaniously, as he cannot deny that he is Bruce Wayne any more than he can deny that he is Batman. This tension between the images of Bruce and Batman is only one of many other tensions in the Dark Knight’s life. Gotham’s Guardian must also fight a never ending battle against the crime and corruption that is trying to suck the life out of his family’s city. Always there is Batman standing in opposition to not only everyday criminals, but also the outrageous Rouges Gallery.

There is no better sound to depict these deep seated tensions than that of strings, particularly violins. They can stay in the background but rise up to the forefront of attention in a matter of seconds. This is similar to the way that tension can be simmering in the back of our lives but, when provoked, can rage up to near breaking point in little to no time at all. Because the soul of the Dark Knight is so torn with different tensions, strings are necessary  for any music that seeks to describe him.

***

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