Sun 2 Aug 2015
I really hadn’t given much thought of late to the upcoming film “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” I remember reading that Ben Affleck would be the next in a long line of actors to don the cape and I was left entirely nonplussed at that shred of entertainment news.
I grew up adoring Batman as a child — the campy Adam West version. Then sometime in the early 1980s I absorbed the mythology of the originating comic book hero — the Dark Knight — and my adoration turned to something bordering on idolatry. I loved the concept of flawed archtypes walking awkwardly and outcast on something of a frayed tightrope fighting an inner duality pulling them between sinister and savior. Into that mix you can add The Shadow, the Phantom of the Opera, and what the hell: Darkman.
My favorite film version still remains Tim Burton’s with Michael Keaton as the caped crusader. I thought it confidently treaded that fine line between the light and dark. The sequels that followed grew progressively goofy, until the reboot trilogy with Christian Bale, which restored a certain semblance of order, but also got a bit too caught up in the beauty of its own reflection.
So now along will come “Batman v. Superman” and my entire lack of enthusiasm for the movie — nevermind Affleck’s involvement — was quantified by the premise that a fight between the two couldn’t possibly be waged or sustained; that a battle between the two icons would/could last no more than it would take Superman to melt Batman’s brain with a bolt of his eye lasers.
Than along comes this extraordinary column and it blew a lot of conceptions I’d held straight outta Gotham:
Don’t let the headline fool ya, it is one of the most compelling opinion pieces I’ve ever read. Written gloriously bug-eyed and spittle-inflected by a fella named Albert Burneko, he not only succeeds in defending why this movie will suck as an enterprise, but much to my shock and awe he also with more than a few salient points succeeds entirely in stripping away the veneer of Batman that I’ve spent the majority of my life polishing and reveals him not only to not be very super, but also certainly no hero. and I quote:
Even on the terms of his most generous depictions, Batman is a dingus. He is a trust-fund billionaire who puts on a balaclava with ears so that he can do technology-enhanced karate at pickpockets and muggers; who sinks his fortune into paramilitary hardware in support of his one-man campaign to punch a major city into peace; whose concept of justice is throwing on his Goth Navy SEAL costume and terrifying people so they’ll follow the rules better; who evidently has never once considered that Gotham City’s continued awfulness might refute his methods. He throws darts shaped like his brand logo. He’s Jeff Bezos on steroids and paint-thinner fumes. He is a choad.
I wanted to hate Burneko for spouting such Batman blasphemy. But I can’t. Because it’s not. It’s the truth. A giant Biff! and Ka-POW! to all I’d held dear.
I can never look upon Batman with anything but contempt again.