Warning: this post may contain spoilers
I've very loosely applying the title I used in yesterday's post because quite honestly, I can't even call what they did with the movie a modernization.
Old stories are always being updated for lots of reasons, ranging from trying to appeal to new audiences to correcting toxic depictions to fitting better to the current social or political climate and more. There's nothing new there. However, one thing I find a bit odd lately, as in the last five years or so, is that a lot of this modernization is actually done pretty poorly in main stream media. We see more forced diversity, queerbaiting, and generally bad storytelling.
There will be spoilers for both.
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore (1988)
This is probably my least liked batman comic that I still recommend fans read.
It's one of the few Joker origin stories and have impacted the tone of Batman since. It's honestly the story I think of whenever I'm thinking of Batman and the Joker's relationship, and makes Joker the all-time greatest DC villain.
And of course, through the paralysis of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), we get one of the strongest female heros in DC - Oracle.
The Killing Joke is infamous for adding Batgirl to the list of Women in Refrigerators. The treatment of women, specifically Batgirl, is probably the most easily agreed upon aspect to modernize. She was pulled into this story without much thought on the effects of the character before or after.
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
When details about this movie was in the works, it was hinted (and then confirmed) that about half an hour will be added to the beginning of the movie and better flesh out Barbara Gordon. This was exciting. The end result was disappointing almost to the point of offense.
The additional time was devoted to Barbara debating with her "gay best friend" (who is every stereotype that phrase can embody) how her "boss" (Batman) doesn't respect her and that she should just quit. Also comes with a scene where she insists on being heard, is aggressive and then has sex with Batman. Yeah...I can't even truly describe how bad it was... (I'm just glad tickets were sold out at the theater so I didn't have to pay money to see it. I borrowed it from the library for anyone wondering.)
The quitting thing in particular really bothered me. Barbara is one of the few heros in the DC universe that does not have a tragic back story. She chose to be Batgirl for the same reason someone chooses to be a cop in a corrupt city like Gotham. In the animated series and in Adam West's Batman, Barbara became Batgirl independently. She wasn't seeking approval or permission.
Enough of the rant...why it didn't work? Ultimately, it was a lack of respect in general. There was a feeling all around that the team was asked to modernize, but they themselves weren't convinced. The end result was what you would expect a bunch of closed minded straight guys to write. Obviously no research was done to better understand gay men or women. They were ultimately not treated as real people. There was no research on Batgirl herself, and this includes watching Adam West's Batman, or reading any comics with Batgirl or Oracle.
The sad thing is, they had a chance to really add to the original story. I would have love to see Batgirl in her prime. Show how strong and capable of a hero she was before she was paralysis and emphasize the loss Batman and Gotham will feel from loosing Batgirl. Show Barbara's determination in perhaps a little Oracle origin story. She's very smart, let's see some of that. Show her dealing with her own loss while still carrying a duty.
Edit to add: I would also drop the gay best friend. In the new 52, Barbara's roommate is trans and they build a real friendship before she's comfortable enough to tell Barbara. Steal directly from that!
What are your thoughts? Any other comic adaptations that stood out for you? (There are so many!)9 votes
I've always loved how comics evolve alongside our real world. I have very passing knowledge of the old incarnations of Batman, but know he is quite different today than he was seven decades ago....
I've always loved how comics evolve alongside our real world. I have very passing knowledge of the old incarnations of Batman, but know he is quite different today than he was seven decades ago. For example, he used to have a gun, wasn't a crazy paranoid doomsday preper, and wasn't all angsty about his parents' death. He was also way more a detective than a human superman.
Anyhoo, here are some modern Batman characteristics/stories that stood out to me.
Batman vs. Schrodinger's Rapist
A long while ago, I posted Schrodinger's rapist here on Tildes. If you haven't read it, you don't have to. I'm going to take it to the extreme and basically bastardize it a bit for Batman.
Basically Schrondinger's rapist is any stranger a woman meets - he is both a rapist and not until proven otherwise. It comes with a mindset of vigilance and risk assessment. The idea that a woman will evaluate the situation and the stranger for risk and react accordingly to her acceptable level of tolerance. I think this is the perfect characterization of the "trust but verify" Batman. He is hypervigilant, constantly looking for an exit and preparing for flight or fight. Everyone is both trustworthy and not until proven otherwise.
Batman vs. Branding
In the New 52's Batman, Bruce decides branding and expansion is important, and creates Batman Inc. It's a very capitalistic/entrepreneurial take on providing private security, and comes with a tone of "trust depends on branding" and "security requires big money". It may be a good service with good intentions, but has a "selling weapons for protection" franchise-y feel, that I don't think is accidental.
Gordon's Batman vs. Militarizing individuals
I'm going to start by saying I'm not at all a fan of Jim Gordon's Batman. It had potential, but honestly really failed to live up to it.
However, they did do one interesting line, which was Mr. Bloom (New 52, #41-46). I'll try not to include too many details, as to prevent spoilers, but no promises.
Gotham is in it's usual chaos, but oh no, it's extra bad right now, because the real Batman (Bruce) is gone. On the streets there's these seeds that grant superpowers until you remove them or they kill you.
The average lowly citizen of Gotham has felt so unprotected that this seems like a good option. The story starts with gangsters using this and arcs up to normal people using it.
So what are you thoughts about these points or others? Are there other comics or storylines that stand out as a really good mirror of real world issues and events that stand out for you?4 votes
I'm a pretty big DC fan, and they are notorious for killing and bringing back characters, such as Superman, Jason Todd (Batman's second Robin), Bruce Wayne, and more. Warning: Jason Todd spoiler...
I'm a pretty big DC fan, and they are notorious for killing and bringing back characters, such as Superman, Jason Todd (Batman's second Robin), Bruce Wayne, and more.
Warning: Jason Todd spoiler ahead...
I didn't like Jason as Robin (who he died as), but love him as the Red Hood (who he became after his resurrection). I didn't vote, but I would've in favour of killing him. So I'm pretty torn on his resurrection. His death is one of the single most impactful storylines in the Batman universe (another being Barbara's spine, which might be worth its own discussion...). It changed Batman, how other heros viewed Batman, generally changed the feel of the safety of pretty core characters for the reader. And I wanted to keep all that. I liked that Batman that has to take responsibility for putting a child in danger and getting him killed. I liked that shadow that Jason's death cast on the Bat family and the way it haunts them.
However, I really enjoyed Under the Red Hood, and it remains one of my favourite arcs. And in the new 52, the mending of Jason's relationship with Bruce, and the other Robins. He's the black sheep that works great to contrast Batman (Bruce and Dick's).
Though I enjoyed the stories that are only possible through resurrection (or rebooting), I can't help but feel it takes too much away from the original story, and in many ways disrespects the original work and its reception. And what use to be a devastating turn in plot, is just an almost ridiculous trope.
How do you feel about resurrections in general? How does it change when the stories are supernatural? Any other Red Hood fans?11 votes
This place seems a bit sparse so lets have some comics talk. Now Im no hard core Batman fan so Im looking at this from a casual lens but it seems to me that Bruce Wayne has the potential to do SO...
This place seems a bit sparse so lets have some comics talk.
Now Im no hard core Batman fan so Im looking at this from a casual lens but it seems to me that Bruce Wayne has the potential to do SO MUCH for Gotham with his billions but doesnt because he wants to run around at night reliving his revenge fantasy over and over.
Yeah he donates to charities and dedicates an orphans home every now and then but with his economic wingspan you'd think he could dump money into the city to improve it in all aspects.
TLDR: Bruce Wayne is gotham's biggest villain. Change my mind.6 votes
I thought, since it's Father's Day weekend, I will talk about a father in a favourite comicbook run of mine - Bruce Wayne from New 52 Batman and Robin by Tomasi. For a lot of Batman fans, me...
I thought, since it's Father's Day weekend, I will talk about a father in a favourite comicbook run of mine - Bruce Wayne from New 52 Batman and Robin by Tomasi.
For a lot of Batman fans, me included, Bruce is the mask. The New 52 Batman and Robin run is the first time Bruce was a person for me. We see him back from the dead and now teamed up with his young son, Damien. At the beginning of the series, Damien is transitioning from being Grayson's Robin to Wayne's. A transition that is not dissimilar to working for your fun big brother to suddenly working for your demanding dad.
Bruce and Damien is a really interesting pair because previously you always get a serious partner and a fun one. In the original, Bruce is serious and Grayson as Robin is fun. Later, Grayson becomes the fun Batman, and Damien becomes the serious Boy Wonder. So pairing Bruce and Damien, you end up with serious and serious. However this is not the case, and readers end up seeing two people with similar personalities both loosening up.
Bruce has to become more than Batman to be a father and in doing so, Bruce stops being a mask and starts being a real person.
I am trying to leave out spoilers, for both the plot and the characterization, which honestly made this really hard to write. For those who haven't read it, I recommend it. For those who have, what do you think?9 votes