Batman Day 2016

Posted: September 17, 2016 by patricksponaugle in Comics, Opinion
Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Batman Day! I didn’t even know Batman Day was a thing until last year, when it had already passed (but I wrote up a long post about Batman after the fact and promised I’d try to keeping having something timely about the Caped Crusader going forward.)

batmanminion

Straight up, I thought Batman Day was going to happen later this month, so I was surprised when I visited my favorite comic shop this week and discovered that Batman Day, like Batman does, had snuck up on me. But I’d made a promise to write about Batman, so here it is.

This post might seem a bit random and rambly, but so do the ones I plan out months in advance, to be honest.

There is a lot of new Batman potential content to explore, specifically in the cinematic realm. 2016 featured the Darknight Detective in two live action movies. (And in animation, but I didn’t see The Killing Joke.)

Ben Affleck’s Batman, heavily inspired by Frank Miller’s transformative* Dark Knight graphic novels, made his debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as appearing in Deadshot’s and Harley Quinn’s backstories in the Suicide Squad.

Straight up, neither were great movies.

I haven’t written yet about my dissatisfaction with Batman v Superman, but my complaints largely have to do with Superman rather than Batman, and today is not really the time. (When is Superman Day?)

I didn’t dislike Suicide Squad as much as BvS, largely because I think the stakes were lower for the DC cinematic universe if Suicide Squad flopped, and it didn’t really matter even if it was wildly successful, since so much seemed to be riding on Batman v Superman for setting the stage for the upcoming Justice League movie.

It did feature problematic Batman events.

I know there were criticisms about the scene where Batman captured Harley Quinn underwater by punching her in the face. I think they boiled down largely to these two points:

  • Don’t we have enough violence against women?
  • Batman punching a lady? That’s so out of character!

I’m sympathetic to the first statement, which I think is a valid point for discussion. Women are often the targets of violence in the comics, often because of their association with the male protagonists. That might be a symptom of storytelling in general in the crime genre, so I don’t necessarily consider Batman in Suicide Squad to be an egregious example.

harley

In Batman’s defense, it seemed like his options were to knock out the knife-wielding criminally-insane woman, or let her drown. The choice Batman made doesn’t seem surprising.

I’ve heard a variant on the complaint, that is less critical of the scene than how it was reacted to by audiences. One of the podcasters I listen to was dismayed that the audience she was watching the movie with laughed when Batman punches Harley.

I don’t remember if I laughed, but there was certainly a slapstick-like essence to the scene, with the playing-possum Harley suddenly lurching at Batman with a knife while trapped in a sinking car, eyes filled with joyful madness and a suicidal grim. Batman immediately punches her and her face goes slack. It’s kind of funny. Maybe in an uncomfortable way, but maybe I’m just laying that on in hindsight.

I asked my teenage daughter (who thought Suicide Squad was a great movie because she doesn’t know any better) about the scene where Batman knocks out Harley Quinn.

Me: Hey, remember in Suicide Squad when Batman and Harley Quinn were underwater and Batman knocks her out?
Her: (smiling) That was funny.

I asked her if she could tell me what she thought made it a funny moment (I can’t remember my exact wording, but I swear I was trying to present it as neutrally as possible. She couldn’t really explain, she mostly pantomimed Harley’s crazy face, made a twitchy punch, and then the Harley slackface. Maybe I should have video’d her.)

Anyway, I don’t think I need to dwell too much on this, since I don’t really have that much insight into if laughing at that moment in Suicide Squad automatically makes you a misogynist. (Although I can imagine Men’s Rights Activists loving that scene.)

I have more contrary opinion on the second complaint, about Batman punching Quinn being a bad characterization of Batman.

The Batman I know would totally punch a woman. (For the record, I don’t really know Batman. You understand I’m talking figuratively.)

planetary_batman_pg23_anthony

Crimefighting in the comics is serious business. In general, Batman might be less concerned with pulling his punches on dudes, but he won’t take off the table reasonable force against female opponents.

Although to be fair, people with this complaint might be overly attached to the Adam West 60s version of Batman.

adamwestbatmancrop

For me, the more serious problem with Batman’s portrayal in Suicide Squad did not happen during the Harley Quinn backstory, but during the Deadshot backstory.

Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot (played by Will Smith), after scoring a major amount of money for killing a police informant, is enjoying some quality time with his daughter. He and his little girl stroll through an alleyway, you know, one of those things that you do in a crime-ridden city at night.

Batman has recieved a tip from Amanda Waller about Deadshot, and decides to take that moment to arrest Lawton. The movie implies that Deadshot might have killed Batman had Lawton’s little girl not intervened. I’ll ignore that ridiculous amount of fiction, since there’s a much bigger problem.

Batman, whose parents were famously killed in front of him in an alleyway at night, decides to choose to arrest an extremely dangerous gun-centric villain in an alleyway. At night. In front of the criminal’s daughter.

deadshot

Deadshot: In the unlikely event that I get killed in this alley, I want you to avenge me. And clear my browser history.
Daughter: You are so weird. I think I’d just move on.

I can only imagine that Batman was REALLY BUSY that night, was swinging overhead and saw Floyd Lawton. Then got a text from Amanda Waller saying “Floyd Lawton’s in town. If you don’t arrest him in 5 minutes, I’m telling everyone your secret identity.” And he just acted without thinking. You know, like Batman does. (He doesn’t. Ever.)


I have a lot of potential bat-topics that I could explore, but I think I can stop now in this post instead of going on and on. Maybe I’ll post stuff later this week, since DC Comics is now saying that Batman Day is lasting a week. Time is weird. And hard for some people, I guess.

Because I’m crabby, I will say that I’m giving some stink-eye in regards to the released shots of Batman’s tactical bat-suit from next year’s Justice League movie. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not a fan of a heavily-armored Batman.

armorbatcrop

It’s tactical, as opposed to the usual comfy hanging-around-the-cave-not-expecting-to-fight-crime batsuit.

I mean, if one is going to design a Batman costume with obvious lenses over his eyes, one might as well make the lenses white, so there can be a thematic comic book aspect of Batman’s cowl.

cowl

Like there always should be.

Not being able to see Batman’s eyes was the best part of the armored batsuit in Batman v Superman.

batman-v-superman-trailer-kryptonite-gun-bullets

Batman: Ironically, I’m blind as a bat with these flashlights obscuring my vision.

Okay, enough of this before I start in on Batman v Superman. I’ll save that for a future post. And probably more Batman stuff. I mean, I really should talk about:

  • The Joker
  • Batman through the eyes of my millennial niece
  • Bat-knives? What’s up with that? RIP Batarangs
  • Why Batman needs a Robin if they want him to be the World’s Greatest Detective
  • More thoughts on the television series GOTHAM

At some point, I’ll expand on those.

In the meantime, feel free to talk to me about Batman, especially if I’ve gotten things wrong. (I can’t possibly be wrong all the time, but I can certainly be wrong some of the time.)

Happy Batman Day! (Not that Batman will be happy today. Or any day.)


* When I say Miller’s Dark Knight books are transformative, I don’t necessarily mean in a good way. But it had a major influence on the character of Batman from then on.

Images are from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, both properties of Warner Brothers. Images of Batman (in two different incarnations) fighting Jakita Wagner of Planetary are from the Planetary crossover with DC comics, featuring Batman. Obviously.

Collage of Batman cowls are from various covers of Batman comics, again all property of DC.

That fantastic image of the Bat-Minion was from a promotional postcard I picked up in 2015 from the Wizard World Comic-Con in Philadelphia. The artwork is from Chris Flick of www.capesnbabes.com – you should check out his work.

I make no claims on any of the images, but some claims on the text here. So there.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved

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Comments
  1. ghostof82 says:

    That tactical suit looks like NiteOwl from Watchmen. Zack just can’t leave that film behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Google informed me that Superman Day is June 12 so you have plenty of time to gather fodder for the epic rant!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. chattykerry says:

    I think I am okay with Batman hitting a bad lady… BTW, the Emmys are on tonight with Game of Thrones up for many awards.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tim says:

    Thanks for liking my GoT post. Amateur compared to you lol. Now I know where to turn for any information I want about the subject. Never read the books but have ordered the first one from my local library. There is a Batman Day? How did I not know this? Ever since Adam West played the part Batman has always been my favourite hero, along with briefly The Green Hornet back in the day when Kato was played by Bruce Lee.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know about Batman day until last year, so don’t feel too bad.

      I hope you enjoy A Game of Thrones from the library, it really expands nicely on the show.

      And thumbs up on mentioning Bruce Lee as Kato, one of the great things about the Green Hornet!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, it’s much appreciated

      Liked by 1 person

  5. erinb9 says:

    I didn’t realize there was a Batman Day either until i read your post!

    You bring up some interesting issues. I haven’t seen the movie, but these are complicated topics. I mean, if female characters are going to participate in superhero dramas, it seems patronizing for them to not be able to get into fights.

    On the other, if a bunch of woman-punching scenes happen to come up in these films, you have to start wondering if there’s wish-fulfillment going on.

    Eh, you’d probably get a hundred different opinions depending on who you’re asking…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad I could bring Batman Day to light (although, he’d prefer to still be in the dark shadows, that Batman.)

      Harley Quinn as a character generates a lot of conflicting opinions, depending on how she’s being presented, since she’s one of the Joker’s more tragic victims. (Her backstory as presented in the Suicide Squad movie is just a mess.)

      I appreciate hearing your take on things, as always. With more female-led creative teams making comics and writing great stories with characters like Captain Marvel (making her cinematic debut next year (or maybe the next?) with Oscar winner Brie Larson as the Captain – your daughters will have more positive superhero content available to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • erinb9 says:

        Like I said, I haven’t seen the movie, which might change my take. But it can be a matter of context–if the ONLY women involved in the action are bad or get punched in the face, it feels different than when it’s a particular character.

        I’m guessing as more female superheroes get involved, we won’t be as worried about specific ones… they’ll just be a detail in the larger picture.

        And yeah, I’m super excited that my girls have more powerful role models. I hd to grow up with Princess Leia having Jedi powers but never getting trained. Now my girls have a female Jedi and I’m ridiculously excited about that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • My daughter was SO RESISTANT to seeing Star Wars The Force Awakens. My dad was pretty excited to have the extended family go see it during Christmas. I told Grace “Hey, Dappy wants to take you and his other granddaughters to see Star Wars, so we’re doing that.”

          Complaints, complaints. In prep for The Force Awakens, we watched the original Star Wars, and Grace crabbed and crabbed (although she got less crabby when they got to the Death Star, where all the humor is …)

          So she grudgingly went to see The Force Awakens. And came out a Jedi.

          She loves Rey so much now. Just thinks Daisy Ridley is just the best.

          It’s a good time to be geeky and have daughters to share that experience with.

          Liked by 1 person

          • erinb9 says:

            Haha, that’s so awesome. My four-year-old loves it too, even though she couldn’t possibly understand a lot of it. She likes BB8 and sees a cool girl defending herself… she’ll grow up thinking girls can be Jedi knights too. And as a fellow geek, that warms my heart 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  6. […] via Batman Day 2016 — I Can’t Possibly Be Wrong All the Time […]

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