Jun 18, 2006

America IS Batman 

* Now updated with the "Robin Corollary"

By show of hands, who here has seen the latest Batman film, Batman Begins? Okay, now put your hands down, because you look silly sitting all by yourself in front of the computer with one paw in the air.

I’ve seen the film numerous times and have stated before that I thought it was the BEST. BATMAN. EVER. But today I caught the last five minutes of it and realized something: America IS Batman. This could take a bit to explain, and I’m going to save the kicker – the single line from the film that actually convinced me of this - for the end. So, follow me to the Batcave.

I know a lot of you would argue with me that no, no, no… America is Superman. Sorry to burst your bubble, but no, we’re Batman. Nothing against Supes. When I was a kid he was my favorite. I mean, he’s the easiest one to be: pull on your footie-jammies, put your undies on the outside, and tie a blanket around your neck. Then run around making “woosh” sounds with your arms out. Simple. No utility belt, no Batarang, no Batmobile required. Done.

On a side note about Superman, I saw a preview for the new film where the chief at the Daily Planet says he wants to know if Superman “still stands for truth, justice, and all that stuff.” All that STUFF? What the hell happened to “the American Way”? Superman = Truth, Justice, and the AMERICAN WAY. The “American Way” better have made it into Superman Returns, or I’m callin’ bull.

But as cool as Supes is, America IS Batman. And it goes to follow that the rest of the world can be broken down into very basic Batman categories.

The easiest is, of course, bad guys. If America IS Batman, then places like North Korea, Iran, China – these are the bad guys. Break ‘em down however you like. Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow, what have you. Iraq, however, is quite obviously Harvey Dent – aka “Two Face.” Has to be. A nation that has a split personality about America? Half want to kill us, half want to hug us? That’s a gimme. Two-Face, no doubt.

Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham PD? Well, as close as I can figure that’s the Brits. They help out as much as they can, but they have corruption inside their own ranks - locals who have aligned themselves with the bad guys. For these police who are on the take, the destruction of Gotham is either something they don’t care about, or are actively working towards.

So now, if the Brits are Commissioner Gordon, who’s Alfred? I mean, he’s BRITISH fer pete’s sake. Well, I’m thinking he’s more along the line of Canada. Stay with me, now… We’ve basically lived in the same house for years, and he’s not really the gun-toting, fast-car-driving, man-of-action type. He supports us. He knows our secret identity. And if he has to, he’ll crack somebody over the head to give us a hand. But most times when we hop into the Batmobile and go tear-assing into Gotham at Zero-Dark Thirty, Alfred stays at the manor, tidies up the Batcave, and has tea ready for us when we get back. Good dude, but not really a kung-fu fighter.

So, where does Robin fit in? He wasn't in the latest film and I originally didn't include him here, but when it was commented that Australia would better represent Alfred, that's when the Robin Corollary came about. You see, the Aussies are a more rough and tumble bunch (for the most part, I think) than our neighbors to the north. They're willing to throw a few more *POW*s and *WHACK*s than the Canadians are... nothing against the Canucks. When we leave the Batcave, Alfred has a tendency to stay behind. Robin on the other hand, may not be as big or have as much stuff on his utility belt as we do, but he's usually on his way into Gotham right along side us. He's a hell of a lot scrappier than he looks and you would do well not to underestimate him. Australia is Robin.

America IS Batman. Think about it:

-We are the richest guy in town. We run Wayne Enterprises. We have more money than everybody. We can be extravagant, buying hotels and building sometimes self-important stuff on a whim. But a lot of that is not really what we’re all about… people often forget that we’re the most philanthropic guy in town, too.

- Where do we get those wonderful toys? From a lot of places actually, but we’re the only one who has them, and we use them to kick a lot of ass.

- We’ve suffered tragedy, and it was this tragedy which spurred us to action. We have overcome our worst fears and then visited them upon evil doers. Justice is what we are after, and we will not stop until the good people of Gotham don’t need the Batsignal anymore.

The rest of the Westernized World, however, is Rachel Dawes - Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend - played by Katie Holmes. How so?

- She’s a lawyer, more interested in “the process,” and under the impression that justice and vengeance are always mutually exclusive, when in actuality we know that they sometimes – not always, but sometimes - happily coincide.

- She carries a tazer. A single shot, short-range only, non-lethal “weapon” that leaves the user barely less vulnerable than if they didn’t have anything worse than a bad attitude. It is a weapon carried by someone who has no interest in EVER going on the offensive, leaves the carrier completely vulnerable to an attack by a secondary party from a different direction, and is lamented at times - by the carrier - for possibly being too harmful to the attacker. In short, it is something used by wusses. In contrast, we – Batman – know martial arts, use a crapload of gadgets, strike from the shadows to divide and conquer, and generally fear no evil, for we are the baddest son of a bitch in the valley. We are constantly saving Rachel’s ass.

But this is what crystallized it for me that America IS Batman. The conclusion I came to first was actually that Rachel – Bruce’s girlfriend – was the rest of the Westernized World. America being Batman followed as a natural corollary.

I heard her say these lines:
Rachel: I never stopped thinking about you... about us... when I heard you were back, I started to hope... That was before I found out about your mask.

Bruce Wayne: Batman's just a symbol, Rachel.

Rachel: No, this is your mask. Your real face is the one that criminals now fear. The man I loved - the man who vanished - he never came back at all. But maybe he's still out there, somewhere. Maybe someday when Gotham no longer needs Batman, I'll see him again.
You catch that? The man she loved is gone. The new one who stands up for himself… who stands up for HER, is now too big and scary. She preferred the soft, wimpy kid who didn’t fight back. The one who suffered the tragedy and sat and cried, before he pulled himself together and started down a path to bring justice to the city. She hopes to see him again after he’s done cleaning up the place. She used to like him, but ever since he – you know – became a man… she’s lost all interest. And will probably belittle him for his methods and long for the old days when she loved him for being vulnerable and fragile.

And that’s when it clicked. She’s the Western World. And therefore, America IS Batman.

You may call me a loon. You may say that I’m one step away from being a drooling, fanboy idiot. But just TRY and punch holes in my logic… I DARE you.

To top it all off, just guess who (in the comic books) Batman’s next enemy is going to be.



So the next time somebody asks you who you are, you will be well within your rights to look at them and say:

I’m Batman.

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