Mon, 27 Jun 2005

Batman Begins. It’s a pretty good show, but because it tries to treat the mythology seriously, some of the sillier aspects of the character really stand out. For instance, the Batmobile. Now, I can appreciate that Batman’s mansion is located out in the boonies somewhere, where public transportation is poor, and he needs a personal vehicle to get downtown. But do we really need so much emphasis on his car? The whole point of Batman is that he’s an enigmatic nocturnal creature who lurks in steam-filled alleyways or atop Gothic towers, his cloak flapping in the wind. The new movie handles this stuff very well. He swoops down from rooftops, lunges suddenly from the shadows, strikes terror into the hearts of evildoers. And then…he hops into his tricked-out Hummer and drives home. One of the film’s action centrepieces involves the Batmobile being chased through downtown by half of the Gotham City Police Department, smashing through concrete barriers, even leaping from rooftop to rooftop, while a police helicopter buzzes overhead. Now this would be fine for Vin Diesel, or even for James Bond, but we want Batman to exercise a bit more discretion in his getaways. I found it disappointing.

I’m not saying they need to get rid of the Batmobile, only that it needn’t be foregrounded quite so much. As I related to Warren after the show, back in the ’70s even Spider-Man had a Spider-car. More like a Spider-buggy, actually, as I recall. Now, the logic behind the Spider-car is just as sound as the logic behind the Batmobile. Granted, Spider-Man lives downtown and therefore has no need to commute. But still, his crimefighting adventures must occasionally take him out to the suburbs – the Hamptons maybe, or Newark – where there are no convenient tall buildings from which to swing. A vehicle would be handy for such excursions. But the folks at Marvel recognised that, however useful a Spider-car might sometimes be, the image of Spider-Man tucked sedately behind the wheel of a bright red dune buggy clashed with our romantic idea of Spider-Man somersaulting amid the skyscrapers. And so the Spider-car was quietly done away with. But I guess the Batmobile makes a good tie-in for toy manufacturers, so we’re probably going to be stuck with it for a while.

PS. I wonder if Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet had an Invisible Cup Holder?

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