Mark Terry

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is Batman Insane?

July 18, 2012
This week's issue of TIME Magazine has an article by Richard Corliss about Cat Woman, especially as performed by Anne Hathaway in the upcoming THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Corliss goes on about Cat Woman through the ages, but what resonated with me was a comment he made along the lines of, "Batman is insane."

Of course, part of the context here is that, at least in the Christopher Nolan films (okay, and when you think about it, probably all throughout Batman's history), his nemeses are all insane. Certainly Joker, Riddler, Two-Face...

Granted, Bruce Wayne is a billionaire who dresses up in a Kevlar bat suit and acts as a high-tech vigilante. Does seem a little bit nuts. Gee, Bruce, just hire a security service and have it patrol the streets of Gotham. Invest in the police department. You can't fight corruption by hiring a really good law firm? You've got to go all vigilante on their ass?

Which, at least, is part of my issue with Nolan's second Batman film, THE DARK KNIGHT. My reaction to it was pretty much along the lines of, "If I wanted to watch THE DEPARTED, I'd watch THE DEPARTED. If I wanted to watch a fantasy about a rich guy who dresses up in a bat suit and opens some whup-ass on some crazy villains, I'd go see a Batman movie."

I'm sure fans would argue, why can't you do both? Why can't a comic book fantasy go deeper and have themes, and take itself seriously? Why can't it provide some sort of literary commentary on society?

Granted, I was probably in a minority. And I could recognize the brilliance of something without really liking it. I thought Nolan managed to take all the fun out of a comic book character. (To which I might add, I'm not that likely to go see the new film, although I imagine I'll see it eventually).

So what do you think? Is Batman insane? Is there some middle ground between dark, brooding, depressing and violent, and wham!, bam!, pow!???? Is it all about the director's vision?


Blogger Eric said...

To someone my age seeing Batman being discussed in Time magazine is really bizarre. He was my favorite cartoon superhero when I was nine years old. In 1959 he wouldn't have been taken seriously in a news magazine, I don't think.

I liked Batman better than Superman because having more or less unlimited power in the absence of Kryptonite is kind of boring. Batman seemed more human. Well, he was human whereas Superman is an alien. But also I liked the weird and dark aspect that the comic had, compared to others, even back then long before they got into the advanced noir stuff.

Gotham City was almost surreal, the villains were obviously warped, Batman -- like a bat -- was a creature of the night.

But insane? Well, I never thought of him an insane back then but I suppose it would be difficult to be any sort of superhero and maintain one's sanity. Then again, look at the super villains. You gotta fight fire with fire.

In some sense those old comics were serious despite the whamming and bamming. Heroes like Batman are pretty powerful archetypes which the "more serious" art forms like movies didn't catch onto for quite awhile.

7:54 AM  
Blogger dperdue6865 said...

Sure Batman is insane, but you have to remember that his sanity or lack thereof is not the draw.
In a way, Batman represents the revenge fantasy...If someone kill those I loved, I would hunt them down like the dogs they are and exact justice. This "Justice" is carried to such an extent that we get to live through it and possibly feel satisfied in the process. So, to level out Batmans NEED for kick ass justice (and let's face it, some times his sense of justice is so blurred he may need glasses after he is done) that villains of an equal or greater insanity are needed to balance it out.
Look at it this way, WHAT is Batman WITHOUT The Joker?

And as a final thought, in the beginning, Batman carried a .45, so not only did he kick your ass, sometimes he busted a cap in it for good measure.

7:56 AM  

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