It's Good To Be A Fan
The age of superhero movies is upon us – the continuous supply of new content resulting from the titanic clash between DC Comics and Marvel Comics has fans rejoicing all over the world. The cinematic adaptation of our beloved heroes brings to life the relentless battle between baddies and goodies. DC, and Batman, are my fantasy peddlers of choice - I love it, love it, #loveit.
Today, superheroes jump off the screen through computer generated imagery and effects that leave kids and adults alike engaged in believing they too are Batman (“no, I am Batman”). Kids really are spoiled for choice in choosing their favorite big bad bat.
We all have our reasons for our love of Batman, the tipping point for my fandom can easily be traced back to 1989.
My first introduction to Batman was from watching the 1970s Adam West version. I was enthralled with the Caped Crusader and his weekly antics on the television, however looking back now - there was a greater expectation on kids to use their imagination...
Once I was hooked on the Batman television series, I began collecting comics to my Mum’s regrettable delight. You see, the problem with my enthusiasm was the two-hour drive to reach the only decent comic book store near our house. There was no option to order online then, and because of the distance involved, school holidays were the only opportunity that I had to convince Mum to make the journey to Gotham. It took a prolonged strategy of pleading, whining and begging until her mind was swayed towards the comic book store. “We will make a day of it” was an angle readily applied, with mixed results.
When Batman Changed Forever
Little did I know, my passion for all things Batman was about to reach a defining young fanboy moment in 1989. I was at home one evening when my Mum put down the telephone, turned to me and said: “Bruce Wayne, Roddy, I won!” I didn’t know what was going on, Batman was about to start on the TV, and time was short. “Looks like you are going to see the new Batman movie!” Whaaat? At first, my mind had trouble comprehending the meaning of my Mum’s words like one of the Riddler's riddles:
Q: What belongs to you, but is used by others?
A: Your name
Then my Mother's words became clear to me as I heard her say “I won a radio competition to go see the new Tim Burton Batman movie premiere.” POW! I could not believe what she had just said. Had I just been hit in the back of the head with one of my Batarangs? It was really true; my Mum had just won two tickets to the Batman movie premiere and my first true adventure began.
The premiere was on George St, Sydney (Gotham) Australia. Because of the distance, it was decided we would drive half-way, and then travel by train the remainder. My grandfather was to be my Robin for the evening, which was good considering how dangerous Gotham could be at night (especially when I was off duty).
Once we arrived, the scale of Gotham was grander than any comic book illustration, and I was glad Robin had my back. As we walked into the lobby of the cinema a photographer stopped us to take a photo.
Robin: "Holy molars! Am I ever glad I take good care of my teeth!"
Batman: "True. You owe your life to dental hygiene."
It was on Polaroid camera, which after putting stars in our eyes, she kindly handed me the the photo. Before I could view the image, Robin kindly reminded me “the movie is about to start”, so I placed the photo in my pocket for safe keeping and we made our way in.
Tim Burton's, Batman
As soon as we sat at our seats, down went the lights, and the movie began. I knew I was going to see Batman, but I still had Adam West in my head. Suddenly the music began, and I was literally on the edge of my seat. This was not going to be anything like the television show! Jack Nicholson’s name appeared first, then Michael Keaton and finally Kim Basinger, as the opening credits took me on a journey exploring an unknown structure. The camera weaved down and across what appeared to be caverns, and then up and over showing cultivated stone with lines and curves hidden in shadows. Finally, the music reached its crescendo, and the camera panned back to illuminate Batman’s symbol. Wow!
No longer was there the disparity between the Dark Knight of the comics and the big screen. Tim Burton had impressed on my mind, anything and everything, I could have imagined to be a cinematic reality. The moment had passed for any hope of me ever changing direction in my passion for Batman. The combination of Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger and Tim Burton alone is a powerhouse of awesomeness. In gaming terms, it would be like the ultimate button bashing combination for a Street Fighter move - BATRYUKEN!
Once the movie had finished, I knew my place would be forever in Gotham. The impact of that movie had aligned my psyche to be one with the bat. My childhood innocence of Adam West had died that night by the death of Martha and Thomas Wayne. The Dark Knight had presented himself to me in a way that left my juvenile perspective of Batman behind forever. I too, had visions of the bat.
A Life Changed
The journey home was easy, my view of the world expanded far from home, comic book stores, or ‘70s puns.
Robin: "To the batcave?"
Batman: "And up the batpoles."
Robin: "The batpoles?"
Batman: "Even crimefighters need their sleep, Robin."
Once I woke up in the morning I remembered I had the photo from the previous evening, and I went searching through my pockets. After finally finding the image, it quickly became apparent to me how much older Robin was and how much I had relied on his friendship to make the adventure possible. We had been on an adventure together, which had changed both our views of Batman forever.
The introduction of Virtual Reality (VR) gaming provides a new opportunity to complete the quest for full immersion into the Batman persona. Players will be looking at themselves in the game screaming "NO, I AM BATMAN!!"
Rocksteady Studios have designed a game completely from scratch as a VR game. Sefton Hill explained that
From day one, minute one, this is a VR experience. It's completely around leverage and what is completely unique about VR. That sense of presence and being, and then applying that where you are not actually just in this environment, but you are Batman in this environment.
There are so many upcoming opportunities with VR, I can't wait to see what I look like as Batman. Imagine if all the Arkham games were playable in VR -now were talking!
The Cinematic Future
In addition to exploring Batman through VR, there are quality movies being produced such as the animated movie The Killing Joke. This adaptation takes fans to a dark world where Batman must face losing his sanity, morality and virtue in his adversarial fight against the Joker. In both the Rocksteady Studios VR game and animated movie, Mark Hamill provides a binding strength in his role as the voice of the Joker.
The combination of VR games, The Killing Joke and the upcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League movies are generating optimism for good reason. The DC Universe is being explored like never before, with fans wanting to be front and centre for the ride.
The pieces are now available to progress the complexities of Batman even further. The momentum is there and the demand is evident. Initiatives such as Batman Day, from DC Entertainment, is all the excuse fans need to declare "I LOVE BATMAN" to the world.
My passion for Batman, and the DC Universe, will be in over drive over the next few years. The opportunity to explore and experience Batman has me once again at the edge of my seat in expectation. Where will this journey end? I cannot answer that, I feel I am personally midway in mine; superior to that young Batman from 1989, but inferior to that of being at liberty to confidently declare “I am Batman.”