Damn Batman, at it again with the blue undies.
Alarm bells echo from the Gotham City Bank you just robbed. Fleeing down a dark alley, you sense a menacing presence breathing down your neck. The sounds of squeaking bats rapidly whistle past your ears, like screeching darts from hell. You scream in terror, as you’ve never witnessed something so symbolically fearful! As you drop to your trembling knees, you look up to see a shadowy man bat leap through the misty city air! Lit by a flicking light produced by a dodgy street lamp, not properly installed by the Gotham City Council, you see a man in an awkward looking bat-costume – who seems to have put the outfit on in the wrong order. Instantly relieved you laugh out loud. “bahaha… For a second there I thought I was a goner!” you snort, “I thought you were Deadpool!”
For some reason, I just like making fun of Batman. I have always liked to. As a kid I drew him all the time. I drew him in so many different ways, from cartoony to super-real. I don’t dislike Batman, he’s one of my favorite superheroes. In fact, I love the rich source of archetypal characters in the Batman comics. Yet, my thoughts about Batman’s character have changed over time. This is been because I’ve witnessed him change so much over decades. His myth has been rewritten to suit the current pop culture agendas and has been revised to fit current western ideologies. Stories have a big emotional effect on people, they can strengthen beliefs systems or change minds. The stories cultures tell also tend to evolve in order to suit the current dominant narrative. This is what has interested me the most: the way his archetype has changed over time.
Just a quick update about Batman’s origin story, in case you’ve been living in a cave all your life: I offer you my account of Batman’s origin story: Spoilt rich kid with abandonment issues gets every toy he could possibly want. Spends his time taking out his aggression on those who didn’t have a similar financially fortunate childhood. Likes: darkness, skulking. Dislikes: penguins, getting beach sand in his costume.
Growing up in the 80’s Batman was on morning TV, he went on adventures with Scooby doo and in the afternoon he got his camp on and performed pantomimes. Although I have fond memories of this Batman, he differed from the comics I was ready at that time. In the 80’s the Batman comic books started to become much more gritty and dark. At that time I loved this darker more psychologically disturbed Batman. Comic book artists such as frank miller were breathing new life into the character without separating him from Bob Kane and Bill Fingers original vision.
In the nineties, Tim Burton had a crack. Though I haven’t watched it in a long time, for fear of how much it probably has dated. I really liked his adaptation of the character at the time. It felt like you were watching a comic book come to life. It didn’t have the psychological depth of the rough and old batman from the comics, but it still did the character justice.
The recent Batman trilogy is where I parted ways with my love of the character; or more precisely what the character had become. His archetype had been changed by the new hands of Hollywood, turning him from a cunning detective into a militarized super soldier. They took the old Batman and turned him into something he wasn’t. I felt he had become incredibly narcissistic. Adam West batman was just a millionaire, Christian Bale’s Batman was a billionaire playboy and the money had got to his head! The more they retell batman’s origin story the more the character goes further into itself; like a snake eating its own tail. Like in the TV series Gotham the web between the characters becomes too complicated and tight. When origin stories beginning to overlap the story becomes nonsensical and silly.
My first realization that the batman had changed was when watching The Dark Knight. It’s the film I realized how much more I liked the joker over batman! It’s akin to watching star wars and thinking “you know that Darth Vader’s got a point! Blow it all up Darth!” But the facts were there in front of me on the screen. Batman was a jerk. In the final scene, Batman justifies using mass surveillance, when he actives a device that uses the camera on every device in Gotham, in order to catch the joker (a familiar story we hear every day – there are bad guys out there, so you lose more of your privacy & freedoms in order for us to look like we’re catching them) Meanwhile the joker paraded through the movie pointing out how corrupt and hypocritical society was. I couldn’t help but agree with him!
A similar thing happened when they made a slight change to superman’s archetype in The Man of Steel. In the end scene, he kills the bad guy. Superman doesn’t kill the bad guy. He’s not a killer!
As a culture, not only should we protect our archetypes and stories, but we also need to be able to interact with them. They old ways of passively engaging with pop culture are dead. We need to have a say by using these pop icons to tell our own stories. Hence, I decided to make my own batman comic. From deep in the shadows of the comic book part of my brain came 134TM4N! a legally copyright free knock off! The Daft Knight was born. My Batman is an amalgamation of all the Batmans! From the early day up until now, he’s a little Adam West, a little Michael Keaton, and a lot of Ben Affleck!
Satirizing the comic The Killing Joke I highlighted Batman’s narcissistic ways and revealed him as an anti-hero. While at the same time I decided to make all the villains good guys. I thought to myself what if all the villains were just decent people trying to do their best in life, all the while this rich annoying spoilt brat is just vilifying them making their lives hard. Yeah, so he leans a little more to the right now!
I’d like to see a return to the blue and grey Batman from the past. I think Batman lost his way and has become a bit of a jerk. For now, I’ll just have to be a fan of the joker.
If you’d like to read the Daft Knights adventures Bat-click here.