Wednesday, August 06, 2008


This is somewhat belated, but I finally saw the long-awaited new Batman movie a few weekends ago. A couple of friends had warned me that I would be uncomfortable with the many, many blatant civil liberties violations in the film. And I was -- very much so! It was disturbingly prescient. Warrants? Telecoms? Yeah....

But all that aside, the movie kicked ass. There's really nothing more to say other than that I concur with The Common Man's review. Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhardt were both incredible. Great action sequences, especially the car chase scenes involving the Batmobile.

And also, I spotted two blatant rip-off scenes: one suspiciously similar to Pan's Labrynth, and another highly akin to Inside Man. (Those are just the ones I caught, and I don't really watch movies that often....)

But again, aside from all that, the movie kicked ass.

It did get me thinking again about the superhero genre, though. A coworker mentioned that Batman doesn't actually have any superpowers, he's just a guy who has a lot of money and awesome gadgets, and uses them to fight crime. I hadn't really thought of that before, but she's right.

I waffle between loving the genre and being suspicious of it. I'm suspicious of it only in that in most superhero flicks and books, "the City" is almost always a place of evil, where people are greedy bastards and everyone's lost in violent and crime-ridden anonymity, and the happy Jeffersonian idyllic farm is where the "true" values of family and love and innocence are. And I am, after all, a die-hard City Mouse....

But car chases and explosions and shootouts onscreen are totally seductive.


The Common Man said...

Hey B,

Thanks for the shout. And for making me rethink all superhero related cultural production for the past 70 years. :)

So superheroes come to us out of the depression basically, yes? Superman and Batman both start out fighting against the mob, essentially an urban phenomenon in this country. So I guess, to me, it's understandable why the genre stays there, since the mythology tends to ground its heroes in a specific place. That said, you're right that it perpetuates that image of the city as lost and corrupt, particularly with the contrast in Superman.

I suppose that's the only thing really interesting about the WB's Smallville, since it portrays the town as dangerous. Also stupid.

What's the Pan's Labrynth reference? Now I have to go back and watch that.

Rainster said...

I was thinking the whiskey slushing out of the mutilated mouth was ripped from Pan's Labrynth, but only because that scene in PL totally traumatized me...

You make a good point about the origins of the genre rooting it in an urban locale. Now that you mention earlier superhero strips, I'm thinking of orientalist similarities between The Shadow and The Phantom -- both learned mystical "secrets" abroad and used them to fight equally as mystical evils on city streets.

Also, I never thought about Smallville! But now that you mention it, perhaps it's a thoroughly late-20th/early-21st century (but still horrid) cultural response to the the perceived rise of non-urban violence? (A "these things don't/shouldn't happen here" mentality...)

Why was this not a JanPlan in American Studies??? =)

The Common Man said...

Because the rush to sign up for it would have overloaded the primitive Colby servers. Also, you might be encouraged to actually work in January, as opposed to watching movies and working on "papers" like I did.

That would have been fun though. Think of the arguments we could have had with Wilmot over The Green Arrow!