Something in the Way
The Batman is several things, but none of them include a superhero movie.
It took The Batman to get me to leave the friendly and safe confines of my home and venture forth out into the cruel and sick world, find a cineplex playing the movie, pay for my ticket, and sit in a darkened theater with several other strangers. A movie starring a character who means a great deal to me. A character who can be camp and silly, dark and brooding, old and world-weary, and so many other interpretations.
The Batman is the latest in a long line of interpretations. To wit, how you view The Batman is directly related to your relationship with the character. Love or hate this iteration, Batman, the character, has captivated me for decades.
I am eight years old, and after school, I love three shows: Star Trek, The Monkees, and Batman. In the days before cable or streaming, I’d flip the channel on the actual television to channel 13 and catch these shows back-to-back-to-back.
My first vinyl record was The Monkees. One of the first hardcover books I ever read was The Star Trek Reader by James Blish. But Batman was the one that really captured my attention. I didn’t understand camp. I didn’t know who Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, or Julie Newmar were. It was a live-action Batman and Robin, and I didn’t care about anything else.
I am ten years old, and my father brings home a plain paper bag filled with the week’s comics. Always DC, never Marvel or some other company’s heroes. Only DC. Always DC. There was a time in his life when he purchased the entire output of DC Comics every month. Back when comics cost ten or fifteen cents each. He kept it up until the mid-1980s, when he stopped. Comics cost about $1.25 an issue at that point, and I think the comics industry was evolving into something else, graphic novels, and he was out. He liked it better when it was all in color for a dime. A buck and a quarter for 22 pages just didn’t have the same attraction. Comics as books? Not quite there yet. We’d need another decade before that became the norm.
For me, though, the silver age DC comics were everything. My father’s collection sat in the attic for a long time when I grew up, and I’d beg him to go up and bring down a banker’s box of books…