Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"The Dark Knight Rises" is apparently not the title of the latest Batman porn movie

Within the last six months, there have been two Batman pornographic film parodies released, Batman XXX: A Porn Parody, and Batf*cks Dark Night. Naturally, when you combine the great taste of comic book superheroes with pornography, you get an unbeatable, action-packed combination. And being that Batman is one of the best superheroes, porn parodies featuring the character are always to be welcomed.

So I was most excited to read that a third Batman porn parody is on the way: "The Dark Knight Rises."

That is certainly a more subtle title than "Batf*cks." I might have gone with something a little more obvious, such as "The Hard Dark Knight," or something like that. But then maybe that's why I don't work in -- oh, wait. I see that "The Dark Knight Rises" isn't a porn parody at all. It's actually the title of Christopher Nolan's third Batman effort:
Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film will be called “The Dark Knight Rises” and though the Gotham City auteur isn’t ready to reveal the villain of his 2012 film, he did eliminate one of the big contenders: “It won’t be the Riddler,” Nolan said in an exclusive interview with Hero Complex.
As for the title, it shows the writer-director’s intention to keep his Bruce Wayne trilogy tightly stitched together.
Emphasis added because, huh?

If Mr. Nolan's first two Batman films are any indication, I'm sure this latest film will be at least as entertaining as the porn parodies. Speaking of which, the new "rumor" is that "Rises" will feature a couple of love interests for Batman and Commissioner Gordon:
I heard a whisper last night from a good friend who works for (Agency name deleted)...
Charlize Theron, who is a client, has been approached to play a Detective Named Sarah Essen--a love interest for Jim Gordon. Actresses Kacie Thomas and Vera Farmiga have auditioned for the character role of Julie Madison. A love interest for Bruce Wayne.

I just thought you may be interested.
Sarah Essen was a character who was introduced in the very good Frank Miller-David Mazzucchelli collaboration Batman: Year One. That is a book that is definitely worth your time, if you're interested in that sort of thing. It was among the first of the modern age comic book character reboots that now seem to occur every other year or so. Mr. Miller's hardboiled writing was at its peak, and Mr. Mazzucchelli is one of the best illustrators ever. The (adulterous) relationship between Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen is complex and deftly handled.

As for Julie Madison. She was introduced waaaaay back in Detective Comics #31, cover dated September 1939 (reprinted in The Batman Chronicles: Volume 1, which is also worth your time). There was nothing deft or complex about her. In fact, the panel in which she is introduced is one of the best single-panel explanations of the Golden Age writing style you'll ever see:

Oh yeah. By the way. Batman is engaged. Did you not realize that?

Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, and appeared in every issue thereafter. Batman had by the time of this story appeared in four other issues. This was the first mention of Ms. Madison. The woman to whom he was, apparently, engaged to be married.

Granted, the stories back then were much shorter. Batman's first two appearances run six pages apiece. In the next two Detective Comics stories he got ten pages each. So there wasn't a lot of time to delve into Batman's or his alter ego Bruce Wayne's social life. The stories of the Golden Age were mostly conceptual. There wasn't a lot of  characterization, motivation, background, development, logic, or plot. As the great film critic Joe Bob Briggs might say, "There was no plot to get in the way of the story."

All that being said, one would think that somebody would have mentioned that Batman was going to be married. I hope that Mr. Nolan takes a cue from the old comics and just casually mentions that Batman's engaged, with no explanation of how the two met, and no romance. (That panel I scanned and posted above is about the most romantic moment the two share in her introductory story.)

We do know that Mr. Nolan has been taking cues from the comics, and from Batman's characterizations in other media. The new cable  network Hub has been rerunning episodes of the "Batman" television program from the mid-1960s (which was, up until Batman Begins, the second-best non-comics representation of the character). Watching these shows has been a revelation -- they are funny, kitshy, tragic, goofy, enthusiastic and surreal, while at the same time maintaining an air of earnestness and of completely unearned dignity. As entertainment it very nearly fails -- a lot of it might cause your eyes to roll so  far  back into your head that you'll never get them back -- but as genuine bona-fide capital "A" Art, it succeeds, dizzingly. The colors, costumes, sound effects, and corny dialogue all come together to form something that is, like the best Art, unsettling and compelling.

And Mr. Nolan certainly appreciates the show. Remember the ending of his The Dark Knight, when Batman goes out on the run, chased by the police, taking the blame for the crimes of Two-Face? The dialogue and voice over of that scene is an echo of the dialogue in the "Rats Like Cheese" episode of Batman, in which a Gotham City baseball player named Diamante is kidnapped by Mr. Freeze. Mr. Freeze offers to release Diamante, but only if Batman will exchange himself for the baseball player, who is the idol of Gotham City's children.

Batman accepts. His reasoning is that children need real heroes -- something to which they can reasonably aspire. They can't be Batman; Batman is a wealthy crimefighter who has spent years honing his body and mind, to make himself into the ultimate crime-fighting machine. But, those same children can become professional baseball players. And then they can win games, which is even better than fighting crime because, let's face it, the criminals in Gotham City aren't the brightest bulbs. For crying out loud, they always leave clues as to what kind of crime they're going to commit. Anyone could catch them.

Anyway, I put together a little piece with dialogue from both the Batman episode in question, and the Dark Knight, to compare the two. Click to embiggen:

But I mentioned that the Batman television program was the second-best non-comics representation of the character. I did that to be intriguing, to try to get you to read all the way to the end. And now that you have, I shall reward you: The best non-comics representation of Batman comes from the late, great musician Wesley Willis, and his (probably NSFW) song, "I Whupped Batman's Ass."

I could get all highfalutin and discuss the importance of the idea of the common man taking down a symbol of power and blah-de-blah-blah, but the song just plain rocks.

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