Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

SDCC Wrap-Up, Part Three

July 30, 2008

And finally, some miscellaneous SDCC news…

One cool announcement was that Paul Dini is going to be writing an ongoing Zatanna series starting, I believe, in January.  Dini’s a great writer; I’ve loved his stuff going as far back as the earliest episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, and he continues to do great work on Detective Comics… we’ll just forget Countdown ever happened, shall we?  Dini’s love for Zatanna is obvious, as he wrote the episode “Zatanna” for BTAS, he wrote the Justice League Unlimited episode that guest-starred her, he wrote a Zatanna one-shot a few years ago, he wrote her into his ‘Tec run a few months ago, and he essentially married her.  I don’t doubt he’ll do a great job with this new series.

Next up is big Batman: R.I.P. news.  Following the conclusion of Grant Morrison’s story in October, Detective Comics and Batman will cross over for two months for two special stories.  First will come a two-parter written by classic Batman writer and editor Dennis O’Neil that will examine whether Gotham city can survive wthout the Batman.  Following that, Neil Gaiman (Neil frickin’ Gaiman!), who should need no introduction, will write a two-parter with art by Andy Kubert entitled “What Ever Happened To The Caped Crusader?”.  The title is an obvious nod to the classic Alan Moore-penned “What Ever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” that closed the book on the Silver Age Superman, which should give some indication of the importance of this new story.  Gaiman’s tale will span the entirety of the Dark Knight’s history, and serve as a sort of “final” Batman story.  At the same time, it will presumably help to set up the post-R.I.P. status quo, which might revolve around someone other than Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl.

Lastly, because I seemingly can’t let a post go by without plugging Geoff Johns, it was revealed that an upcoming eighth-season episode of Smallville will be written by (you guessed it) Johns, and will introduce the Legion of Super-Heroes for the first time ever in live-action!  Johns is doing great work revitalizing the classic Legion, and his love for the characters and respect for their history is obvious, so I have high hopes for this episode!  The classic Legion first appearance story should be fairly easy to adapt to Smallville: Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl appear in present-day Smallville with amazing powers and high-tech flight rings and tell Clark that he will one day grow up to become a great hero that will inspire a thousand years of human and alien achievement, and as a result they want to make him an honourary member of their team.  Together they will presumably have some kind of adventure, or, if Johns wants to make the Legion out to be huge jerks like they were in the original story, the Legionnaires will force Clark to perform super-feats to prove his worthiness to them.  Because, y’know, serving as a universal source of inspiration for an entire millenium apparently isn’t quite enough to get you into a superhero club in the 31st century.  It’s about standards, people!

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Musings on Batman

July 23, 2008

So a little movie opened this weekend.  You maybe heard about it.  It’s about knights or nights, or something.  There’s something about the dark in there, I remember that much.

No, but seriously, “The Dark Knight” is out, and it’s clearly going to be the biggest movie of the year.  Haven’t seen it yet myself — hope to soon — but I’ve followed the production and the press surrounding it enough to know what kind of movie it’s going to be.  I can tell you two things with absolute certainty: it’s going to be really good.  And it’s going to be really dark.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.  Batman was created as a dark character, he’s been written that way pretty consistently for the last twenty years or so, and he’s been portrayed that way in media since Tim Burton’s movie in ’89.  These days it seems like you can’t play Batman in movies or on TV, even in animation, unless your voice causes grown men to crap their pants with fear.

But my favourite Batman in movies or TV is Kevin Conroy, and he didn’t always play it that way.  Conroy’s Bruce Wayne was haunted and brooding, yes, but he was human.  Especially by the time the Justice League series rolled around, Conroy’s voice had evolved to the point where he didn’t sound like a gruff, growling loner, but rather a man — a hard-ass, maybe, but it never sounded like a put-on or an act.  Conroy’s Batman was a real person first, and a quote-unquote dark avenger second.

Christian Bale’s Batman, by comparison, barely sounds recognizable as a human being.

 

I’m reminded of these things as I see new promo art for the upcoming Batman: Brave And The Bold cartoon.  It promises to feature a kinder, more kid-friendly Batman, and the art style certainly seems to bear that out.  While I haven’t checked the message boards to see what fans are saying about the series, I would bet that very few of their comments could be repeated in polite company.  “Batman has to be dark!”, they would shout!  “He’s supposed to be a bad-ass!  He shouldn’t be nice to people!”

Maybe.

But this is the attitude DC Comics adopted for a while, and they eventually thought the better of it.  DC Comics superheroes — the big guns especially — need to represent the best of ourselves.  They need to inspire us, to make us want to better ourselves.  They should make kids want to become good, moral people that give of themselves and help others.  They’re our modern mythology, and myths are supposed to teach us things about our own lives and help us live them in better ways, after all.

I can’t see Christian Bale’s Batman accomplishing that, can you?

I’m reminded of what Denny O’Neil has often said about Batman: there have been many different versions of Batman, and all of them are correct.  Batman reinvents himself with every decade because he, like Superman, like Wonder Woman, needs to speak to all of us, now, in the present.  Every generations of kids needs their own version.  My dad had the George Reeves Superman, I had Christopher Reeve, today’s kids have Brandon Routh.  My dad had Adam West, I had Kevin Conroy, and today’s kids should be allowed to have Batman: Brave And The Bold.

If you try to shove the entirety of Batman into the square hole of the violent, vicious vigilante, you’re doing a huge disservice to a hugely important character.  If a kid wants to laugh with Batman a little, I think we should let him.

Even Bob Kane knew that Batman needs to smile.