The Dark Knight has risen and Christopher Nolan has signed off on his Batman trilogy. It’s been an eventful trip from Joel Schumacher’s gaudy neon and fetishistic bat suits. Nolan leaves us in a Gotham where interrogation scenes have political subtexts and the hero’s lifelong love perished in a ball of fire. How things have changed since the 60s.
It’s nice to get a double-whammy of great superhero movies in a few short months. The Amazing Spider-Man was saved by a great cast, but it was The Avengers who really delivered something special and will get a sequel or three, if not as soon as we might have expected. Marvel will first give us Guardians of the Galaxy, a ballsy move considering this is a cosmic superhero team that includes a super-smart plant called Groot and a bi-pedal space raccoon. And it’s unlikely Robert Downey Jr will play either one.
In Movie Land Bruce Wayne may be seeking his own guidance, but there could be feedback from an unexpected source. Wayne will walk down to the kitchen one morning for a protein shake, only to find a letter tacked to the fridge door, the prose scrawled in spidery handwriting:
“Dear Bruce: This is your dad. Yes, really. I’ve been haunting the corridors of Wayne Manor these last few years and I can’t hold it in any longer – what the hell is the deal with this Batman malarkey? I completely understand that you had a hard time adjusting to life as an orphan, but I’m not sure I really approve of this whole black rubber, gravel-voiced, social recluse vigilante thing you’ve got going.
“Surely there’s a better way to fight social injustice and turn fear on those who prey on the fearful than dressing up as a bat and prowling the streets at night? Your mother and I are hoping this is maybe just a phase, but it’s been going on for a while now.
“We weren’t too happy when you spent your gap year basically off the map ‘researching’ the criminal mind. I understand your rebellious need to be unconventional, but you can study criminology at university! You don’t necessarily need to hang out with The League of Shadows to figure out how to fight crime, but if it means that much to you maybe you could use some of my money to arrange a field trip for Gotham’s police trainees. They could all head out to the remote Far East for the summer and learn some ninja skills – at least then you’d have some help when you’re scrapping with the criminally-insane!
“I’m sorry; I’m ranting. I’m just worried about you. It’s great that you’ve been taking yourself a bit more seriously over the last few years. Your acts of vigilante justice have been rooted in reality in a way that’s resonated with the public. You’ve managed to stir debate on real issues, like how we deal with domestic terrorism, how we look for inspiration from our leaders, the practicalities of dressing yourself like a winged mammal and whether Marvel trivialises itself with lighthearted material.
“For the record I still think that agonising over whether to blow up ducks with a cartoon bomb – remember those shenanigans back in the day? – can be pretty entertaining. But steer away from the rubber nipples you had in the 90s – they were rubbish.
“So where do you go from here Bruce? You’ll be hard-pushed to resist the pressure to return in three or four years. I’d like to think you’ll have hung up the cape, swapped the Tumbler for something a bit more refined and maybe even have started a family (your mother insisted I put that out there). You could be running an evening course on the nature of fear for Gotham’s police recruits in a purely advisory capacity…?
“But I suspect it’ll be business as usual, although something tells me you’ll have more of a sense of humour in the coming years. There will, after all, be a lot of pressure to compete with the boys and girls at Marvel.
“Just look after yourself Bruce. Your mother and I have struggled with some of your lifestyle decisions, but we support them regardless. You dress up as a bat and don’t seem to be able to hold onto a girlfriend, but at least you don’t smoke. Sometimes it’s the small things in life.
“Love, Wayne Senior (aka Dad)”