Film Nerd 2.0: Indy and Batman and X-Men, oh my
Before now, the only "Batman" film that I felt was appropriate for the boys was the 1966 theatrical version of the Adam West show. They're super-excited about the home video release of the series scheduled for later this year. Toshi found a book in my library about the TV show and he's read the whole thing now, several times, soaking up every detail. On Sunday, though, it was the 75th anniversary of the character's first appearance, and I broke out Tim Burton's 1989 film, something Toshi's been asking about for over a year now.
Here's the thing… I don't really like Burton's film. I know what impact it had on the mainstream, and I honestly believe we wouldn't be where we are now with superhero films without Burton's movie, but that doesn't make me enjoy it as a film. I think it's a mess, and I don't think Burton has a flair for action at all. I think the costume is ridiculous and looks impossible to wear, especially during a fight, and Nicholson's Joker has to be one of my least favorite interpretations of an iconic character that I can name. It's Jack Nicholson, pure and simple, wearing weird make-up that never looks like anything other than make-up.
The kids loved it, though. They know the Danny Elfman music because it's still used in the Lego Batman games, and they were excited to learn Batman's origin in the film. They dug the Batmobile, and they thought the Joker was truly despicable. The film walks that fine line between being freaky and being too scary, and that seemed to be exactly what they wanted from it.
Even so, they commented on some of the things I've always found strange about the film. That first shot of Batman, looking down on Gotham from a balcony, shot from above, has got to be one of the worst special-effects of the modern age, with a poorly-animated form instead of a real person, and both of them asked me why Batman was a cartoon for one shot. Toshi also picked up on the fact that Keaton can't turn his head while he's in the costume, and he does a pretty good impression of that now, turning his entire body to ask me a question in his Batman voice.
They are eager to push forward and see more of the Batman films, which puts me in a hard spot. I personally think the best of the first four films is "Batman Returns," but I have a feeling the Penguin is just plain too gross for them. And I honestly don't want to show them the two Schumacher films, even though they're excited to see them. Toshi knows that he's not seeing the Nolan films for a while, so he's not asking about them. But once the door is open and we've seen one part of a series, he considers that permission to start pushing as hard as he can about seeing the rest of them. One of the things that I think he inherited from me, although I never told him about it, is the way he will turn into a lawyer when it comes to talking his way into a screening of something he feels like he should see. For me, ratings were always a big issue with my parents, and I became Clarence Darrow every time I wanted to see something that was rated R. For me, it started when I was around nine or ten years old, and Toshi's only a year or two away from that.
I feel the same way about "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." I really don't want to sit through it again, but I can almost guarantee that Toshi's going to wig out when he sees Gambit and Deadpool, even if they aren't the versions he knows. That seems to be nagging at him, and he's mystified by the various ways the "X-Men" films have changed the things he knows and loves about the comics, which I consider a rite of passage. You're not a real nerd until you're pissed off about some facet of an adaptation, and he's definitely got a running list of gripes. Still, the things that he loves about the films totally outweigh the problems he has, and that's another element of being a comic book fan.
With "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and "Days Of Future Past" both just over a month away, it's a big moment for my little comic fans, and their excitement is enough to rekindle my own anticipation completely.
It's going to be a hell of a summer, and considering the ways our personal life is changing, escapism is going to be more important than ever before.