Tony And Daniel: Popping Culture 3 (Batman)

In this edition of Tony and Daniel: Popping Culture, we are the night.

Batman

Daniel:  Favorite Bat gadget from any incarnation, with the exception of the shark repellent?

Tony: I love that scene with the shark so much, that scene echoes in infinity. But I’m more of Batman using his wits and cunning kind of guy. I like when they actually show him being the world’s greatest detective. Like in the recent Death Of The Family storyline when a horse is charging Batman and Batman just punches it square in its horse head. Which leads to the scene where the now, understandably, stunned horse, fully recognizing Batman’s power and authority, allows Batman to mount and ride him into battle. Fuck Sherlock Holmes. Batman, horse-puncher=World’s Greatest Detective.

What comic book artist does your favorite depiction of Batman?

Daniel:  Tim Sale could draw Batman machine gunning an orphanage and I’d think it was a fairly accurate depiction of the character. He’s that good. I know that The Long Halloween gets a lot of flack because Hush came out, a story line built upon the fact that maybe people didn’t remember The Long Halloween, but Sale’s art still stands. At a certain point in Dark Victory, Harvey Dent manages to kill that giant Falcone daughter by dropping a noose on her and pulling on it, effectively turning him into Jason Vorhees, but Sale manages to make it look pretty cool. Sale can do anything.

dark_knight_returns

My favorite Batman comics are Batman: Year 100, Gotham By Gaslight and Dark Knight Returns. What are yours?

Tony: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is one of my favorite stories in any medium. I cut my teeth on that thing and I will always love it. So that has to be included. While I like Paul Pope and Mike Mignola a lot, I’d have to go with Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween. Arkham Asylum and Killing Joke were contenders too.

Batman has appeared with characters from Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image comics and others. What’s your favorite Batman inter company crossover team-up or battle thing?

Daniel: Did you ever see that Batman: Dead End short film? Can that count?

In the beginning it’s got that stupid Batman/Joker “Were the same, but you can’t kill me and you have rules and I’ll never be like you, Joker” bullshit, but all of a sudden Predator shows up to fight Batman and it’s not half bad. I’m usually not a big supporter of fan films because I’ve never really gotten behind the idea of “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if Superman fought Bane….in my local parking deck?” but it ends up being an alright short. Kudos on making a decent looking cloth Batman suit. And there’s a point where his cape is in a puddle that looks really good, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Biggest problem with the Batman fandom?

Tony: That’s tough because it’s so massive and fractured and still basically ubiquitous. Like who doesn’t at least kinda like Batman nowadays? I guess my only real beef with Bat-fandom is my beef with most fandom, at least for characters which have surpassed their original incarnation and creators and become wildly multifaceted. My problem is this: Fans who refuse to let there be other versions of the thing that they love. There’s room for campy Batman, there’s room for dark and brooding Batman, there’s room for Grant Morrison’s trippy Batman, there’s even room for Joel Schumacher’s Batman with bat-nipples. The concept of Batman is so simple and perfect that you can have a zillion variations and the central core idea will always be safe for someone else to try their version. Relax fanboys.

Rank the live action Bat films from best to worst. This list begins with Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989 and goes to Nolan’s latest. No Batman: The Motion Picture or Mask Of The Phantasm etc.

Daniel: Okay, this is tough but, like all things, I can do it.
7. Batman And Robin: Undeniably the worst one. At this point in our cultural self awareness, watching it feels like a parody of the same movie that I watched as a child. It’s terrible.
6. The Dark Knight Rises: Remember all that cool drive and momentum that made The Dark Knight so cool? Sorry, people who liked that, but here’s Rises! With the exception of the kickass musical cue that happens once, when the film cuts from one scene to another of Bane and Batman fighting in the crowd, I can’t really get behind Rises.
5. Batman Begins: This movie feels like you’re just waiting for Batman/someone else to say something meaningful that reveals another theme of the movie, and there just happened to be scenes between the quotes. It’s not a bad movie, and Cilian Murphy rocks at Scarecrow, but whenever I try to watch the Nolan trilogy, I never make it through this one.

Penguin's death in Batman Returns.4. Batman Forever: I tried to submit “If knowledge is power, then a God am…IIIIIIIIIIIIII” as my yearbook quote in senior year of high school. I got in a lot of trouble.

3. Batman: This used to be my favorite until I manned up and admitted to myself that The Dark Knight was better. I’m not saying that I like Heath Ledger’s Joker more. Jack Nicholson is so awesome and hammy in this movie, and is the movie villain that I find myself quoting most.
2. The Dark Knight: The best Batman film. Not my favorite, but it’s the best one.
1. Batman Returns: The end, where Danny DeVito bursts from the water and grabs the umbrella and Michael Keaton breaks the badass and sound barrier when he heroically turns around and DeVito realizes that he picked the wrong one and just dies. Then the penguins march him out to moat, and the great Elfman score plays. That’s my favorite Batman moment in Batman anything.
Also, in 2013, it’s so bizarre to write the words “Danny DeVito bursts from the water and grabs the umbrella and Michael Keaton…” It feels like I’m drunk, typing fan fiction.

Favorite Batman villain that, to this day, has never been done with proper creative justice?

Tony: Gotta be KGBeast. There’s so many things you can do with a guy named….KGBeast. Kidding. Although despite his dorky as fuck name, he had a cool showdown with Batman, look it up kids. I’d say Killer Croc. He has never been used in a cool way but there’s something there that I think a good writer and artist could extrapolate and do an awesome story with. Right now he’s just strong and dumb and boring.

Lee Meriwether

Of the many femme fatales and lady crime fighters of the Bat universe who’s the sexiest in your opinion? Who stars in all your secret shame Batman fanfic, Daniel? Who?

Daniel: All I’ll say is that, at one point, Lee Meriwether walks into the room, dressed up as Catwoman and Poison Ivy, explains to me the story line in which this mutation occurred, and I just explode from erotic excitement.

Most badass Batman line?

Tony: There are so many good ones from Dark Knight Returns alone, I’ll go with:
[While Fighting the Mutant Leader] “You don’t get it, boy. This isn’t a mudhole… It’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon.”

But seriously, Miller’s stuff in that book is noir superhero poetry. Another line,

“It was tough work, carrying 220 pounds of sociopath to the top of Gotham Towers — the highest spot in the city. The scream alone is worth it.”

Batman from time to time can be a real prick, especially to other superheroes who are just trying to help him. What’s your favorite “Batman is being a complete dick moment” from any medium?

Daniel:  I actually like All Star Batman and Robin. At one point, Batman lights some thugs on fire, shouting “Here’s a lesson IN CHEMISTRY” which is exactly what I would do. Also, at the end of Dark Knight Strikes Again, when Bats is taunting Dick Grayson and he hangs on the side of the comic panel. When your dickishness transcends the fucking paper medium you’re contained in, you know you have something special on your hands.

You’re the Batman of the town you live in now. What is the first thing you do to prove that you are the night?

Tony: I live in a suburb of Boston called Arlington. It’s primarily populated with old people and high school kids. The only area of my town which could use some cleaning up would be the parking lot of the Ace Hardware that’s between my house and the local liquor store. Let me explain: This is the area of town where the local high school punks have chosen to congregate at night on the weekend so they can smoke cigarettes, share a single beer between groups of three of them, and possibly give each other blowjobs in the backseat of their cars. I keep hearing about high school kids and blowjobs on the news, is there some sort of high school kid blowjob epidemic in America nowadays? Big deal, in my day we weren’t too busy with Tumblrs and tweets to just get it over with and actually fuck one another. Blowjobs, psssh.

Anyways, my girlfriend and I walk past this parking lot every weekend and for some reason my girlfriend is quietly terrified of any group of young people cloistered together that exceeds the number 3. There’s actually no reason for her fear and she knows this but for some reason, that many young people together unsupervised makes her uneasy. I think she’s afraid one of them might use brand new swear words at her that she doesn’t yet understand. I meanwhile find all of this hilarious. Because I have no fear at all of greasy-faced, adolescent, cardboard-would be-badasses hiding in a hardware store’s parking lot from their parents while smoking cigarettes and trying to look like as hard as the rappers their white suburban upper middle class asses watch in music videos.

So….Batman? Right. I’d just put on a pointy-eared mask and make one of those kids wet his pants in front of his friends. Also there is always, always, always at least one teenage girl walking away from a larger group of kids, she’s by herself texting or talking on a cell phone and crying her little eyes out. Always. Many times she’s being closely trailed by another teenage girl, who is attempting to console her theatrical friend. It’s always a different girl that’s crying but they might as well be the same girl. I don’t need to know what teenage meltdown she’s currently suffering, I’m sure it’s a total authentic-I’m 16 and my parents pay for everything and I don’t have to work at all-crisis. I’d just like to swoop down in front of her dressed in full Bat regalia and scream into her cell phone clutching face, “What the fuck do you have to cry about, Hot Topic? MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!!!”

Adam West action figure

Batman has the best collection of villains in comics. Period. But he still has more than a few stinkers in there. Who’s the lamest member of the rogues gallery?

Daniel: The lamest member is Bane. He’s only great for that single, first appearance and even that doesn’t work half the time. There’s no other villain that gets beaten, and as soon as he gets beaten, becomes objectively less cool as a character.

Best Batman costume?

Tony:  Movie? Batman Returns. Comics? I like Bats with the black and grey and just a big bat on his chest, no yellow.

Favorite episode of Batman The Animated Series, Batman Brave and The Bold and Justice League/Justice league Unlimited?

Daniel: Batman The Animated Series: “The Man Who Killed Batman”
Sid the Squid, man. I love that Joker is so pissed off that someone else killed Batman, when he had so many chances to.
Batman Beyond: “Meltdown”
I wasn’t sold on Mr. Freeze as a tragic character, since Batman once beat him by throwing hot Campbell’s in his face, until this episode. “Believe me, you’re the only one who cares.” Don’t make me feel things, Batman Beyond. I can’t handle it.
Justice League/Justice League Unlimited: “The Cat and The Canary”
This episode is just a stupid amount of fun.
Title card for The Man Who Killed BatmanThe Batman: “Night and The City”
Best episode in a show that was half cool and half felt like it was making fun of me.
Batman Brave and The Bold: “Death Race To Oblivion!”
Also a stupid amount of fun. Greg Weisman is my favorite writer in all of animation. He’s great.

Compare the Danny Elfman Batman scores to the Hans Zimmer scores. Thoughts?

Tony: I love what Hans did. Especially with the Joker’s music in Dark Knight. But Danny Elfman’s score and of course the title theme is so iconic and harkens back to my childhood that when I hear it, I just feel Batman. It helps that it’s also used in Batman: The Animated Series. The scores are really indicative of the different approaches for both films. Elfman’s music like Burton’s films is stylish, mythic sounding, and has that gothic, Victorian almost type of sound about it. Zimmer’s score is like Nolan’s films, gritty, hard-hitting and angular. They’re both perfect for their respective films.

Least favorite Batman thing ever. Story, movie, TV series, name it. What has besmirched the Bat legacy in your eyes?

Daniel: The video game Batman: Dark Vengeance. If you’ve ever wanted to play as an incarnation of the world’s greatest detective who could barely walk and only knew how to perform a sweeping leg kick to take down foes, then this is the game for you.

 Are you a fan of Batman being a team player or are you more of a solo Batman guy?

Tony: Both can be fun, but gun to my head I prefer Bats on his own. Mostly because I think it’s more in line with his basic character. He’s a loner and always will be in some ways.

Despite the much lauded fact that Batman has no actual superpowers many writers have enjoyed letting him do many superhuman feats which are basically impossible for any one person to do. Whether it be keeping up with the rest of the Justice League while they’re battling alien hordes or solving an impossible riddle or other mental quagmire left by a villain, Batman does plenty of superhumanly impossible stuff. It usually works because he’s fucking Batman and we love him. What’s your favorite Bat moment from any medium where Batman is doing something which is just absurdly impossible and it’s still awesome that he’s doing it and that we accept it because he’s Batman?

Daniel: Batman has plans to defeat all of the Justice League members? Bullshit. It’s absurdly awesome, and maybe I’m envious and that’s why it frustrates me so much. I’m jealous of Batman. There, I’ll admit it.

Story wise though, I know that it seems cool. But I’m still under the opinion that, unless the conditions were absolutely perfect, most of the Justice League members would just punch his Bat head off if they ever got into it.

Create your own plan for a Batman villain. Who is it? What do they rob? Who do they hold hostage? What do they do?

Tony: I have had this crazy idea for a Joker story for a couple years. Basically it begins with the Justice League all captured by Lex Luthor, Joker and the Legion Of Doom of Injustice League of whatever they’re calling it now. Only Batman is left fighting and he’s about to free the rest of the heroes when Joker gets the drop on him….and kills him. He does it, he finally kills Batman. The rest of the heroes are executed soon after and the villains reign supreme. But almost immediately after killing Batman, Joker realizes his mistake. After a few weeks of the bad guys running everything, Joker is positive he’s screwed up and he is more depressed than ever. Even torturing Robin and Batgirl doesn’t cheer him up. His life is now pointless.
So he decides to steal a time machine, (I don’t know from where, it’s the DC Universe, somebody’s holding) and go back and stop himself from killing Batman. The rest of the story will be Joker fighting with Lex Luthor and the other villains trying to prevent him from destroying their victory over the heroes. It’ll be a weird comment on how much Joker needs Batman. In the end he’ll rescue Batman from himself and his Dark Knight damsel will punch him in his big toothy smile for his troubles. Joker will tell Batman how he saved him and as future Joker disappears since the timeline’s been altered now, Batman will know it’s the truth. And that will mess with his mind thoroughly.

What’s the most Batman thing you have ever done in your life?

Daniel: When I was 19, about 5 years ago, I played Batman/Christian Bale twice. I’m warning you now, it gets pretty awfulsome. We played the first of these at my college’s campus movie theatre before The Dark Knight and I swear to god, I’ve never been in a larger group of people that hated me more.

For Tony and Daniel discussing John Carpenter, go here.

For Tony and Daniel discussing Mortal Kombat, go here.

Daniel Dockery is a writer who lives in Asheville, NC. You’re currently reading his blog. He’s also writing a book. Study while you can. He’s all the hope there is.

Tony McMillen is a writer and novelist living in Boston. You can find his pop culture musings, usually full of vitriol and whimsy, at DigBoston.com where he writes the column “Touch The Wonder”. You can also find more of his stuff at sites like ManArchy and Hecklerspray. If you wanna party with Tony, find him on Facebook. If you are David Lee Roth time displaced from 1984, don’t worry, he’ll find you

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