SVEN NOTE: This blog was written before the tragic event at the movie screening in Aurora, Colorado.
The latest Batman movie is out- “The Dark Knight Rises”- and, no doubt, so will the box office receipts as this final part of the Christopher Nolan trilogy winds up in blockbuster fashion. I’m a Batman fan, but probably won’t get to see the movie until a couple weeks or so from now. I don’t really want to hear spoilers, but I’m sure I will… When did I first become a Batman fan? Well, it goes back to childhood -and a good pal was hanging around with another group of neighborhood guys around whom, quite honestly, I always felt like an outsider- not really part of their group, but they let me hang around since I was pals with someone whom they accepted. One day, they were all sitting around reading a bunch of comic books- specifically, those old “Batman annual” comics, also known as “80–page giants”- with reprints of lots of Batman stories. Once I started reading them , I was hooked. I had been a fan of the Carl Barks Donald Duck books and even Dennis the Menace comics, but- the superhero genre was new to me, although I was a big fan of the Superman TV show with George Reeves. I got into the DC comics, and my two main favorites at the time were Superman and –Batman! (Later on, I got into the other heroes like Green Lantern, the Atom, the Flash, etc.- but Mr. Kent and Mr. Wayne were my guys from the start!) I loved the Batman comics that had diagrams of the Batcave, highlighting the many trophies and weapons the Caped Crusader had (back then, he was the Caped Crusader, not the “Dark Knight” yet- and occasionally, “the Acro-Batman”, when he’d do some astounding physical stunt!) and the ones that showed everything Batman had in his utility belt. I also loved his version of the Batmobile, with the big bat face on the front and the huge fin on the back! That first version of Batman I knew was not the dark brooding gritty crime-fighter of today- he was a smiling pal, with just the black bat on the front of his gray uniform, and seemed right at home out in the bright sunlight, waving to the people of Gotham City in a parade. Sure, he dealt with the rogue’s gallery of villains like the Joker and Clayface, who looked like a big humanoid hunk of mud, and could make himself look like anyone- but he and Robin, the Boy Wonder, also were dealing with flying saucers and space aliens. Then, mid –sixties, the bats, they were a-changing- with less cartoony looking art, Batman having the yellow shield around the bat on his chest, and old enemies like the Penguin and Riddler more visible. Then- the Adam West TV show hit, and, having already been a Bat-fan, I felt right at home with the Bat-mania! The next changes came with the comics Batman moving away from the campiness- and the move to a much more serious Batman started there- and moved through several incarnations, returning Batman to what he first was in the late 30s when he first appeared in comics- a creature of the night, who conjured up fear- yes, a Dark Knight! Then came the movies- I had my doubts about Michael Keaton, but felt he did a good job, and enjoyed his run. Yes, the Bat-train roared on- and kind of went off the tracks with George Clooney- but, the Christian Bale movies have been outstanding. I look forward to seeing this final chapter. What would I like to see in the next incarnation? Easy- I’d like to see the feel and content of “Batman: the Animated Series” turned into live action. I have a feeling that the grim and gritty “Dark Knight Rising” will be tremendous- but-hey- I want a LITTLE fun with my Batman as well- and nothing captured that as well as those original animated cartoons. Just promise me they’ll bring in Harley Quinn!