It has often been observed how malleable a character Batman is. Over the past several decades he has found himself equally at home busting the heads of petty street criminals and out-witting cosmic menaces with (new) god-like powers. What unities such diverse plots is a common interest in the humanity of the hero. The tone of the narrative might emphasize oppressive bleakness or optimistic redemption, yet what all the best Bat-stories have in common is an interest in who the man is beneath the cowl. This is true of the movies as well; for example, Christopher Nolan’s masterful Bat-trilogy is as, arguably more, concerned with Bruce Wayne than it is with Batman. In many ways, The LEGO Batman Movie liberally skewers the melancholy tone of Nolan’s films, while sharing with them an interest in the hero’s personality. Amidst the bonanza of gags, Chris McKay’s new film has something to say about Batman’s character.
Proving, if nothing else, the estate of Freddie Mercury is still doing alright . . .
Suicide Squad opens on August 5th.
Trauma comes in a variety of forms, sometimes more mental than physical, often very much a blend of the two. Regardless it is never easy to process privately, let alone share with others. That daunting task, though, is exactly what Paul Dini set out to do in his original graphic novel, Dark Knight: A True Batman Story. In the 90s, Dini was the victim of a random beating from two young men. While technically a mugging, as portrayed by Dini and artist Eduardo Risso, the robbery element seems almost an afterthought. The focus of the crime is very much the vicious glee with which they attack Dini. By simply telling the tale of his assault and recovering, Dini would have had a naturally poignant story. Instead, he deepens it further by placing the incident in the larger context of his life, not sparing any of his own character defects along the way. At the same time, he weaves his own story into the world of his beloved Batman. In the process, he creates a compelling narrative about his experience and how the colorful characters of Gotham helped him process it.