Bruce Wayne decided as a boy that he would honour the memory of his mother and father by inventing himself as Batman and challenging many criminals in Gotham City.
I watched Justice League when it went to Netflix this month and I enjoyed it. The camaraderie between the members of the Justice League comes off as solid and the plot of the film is enjoyable. It is curious to see Superman return to life.
Some of the cool moments from my life were opportunities to see films, in movie theaters. In 1989, cinema fans filled movie houses to see the DC superhero Batman on the silver screen.
I had a good time. Actor Michael Keaton’s role as Bruce Wayne, with its heroism, detachment from wealth, and indifference to romance makes the character of Batman a reinvention. I suppose Keaton was a surprise star turn, and the subplot of Gotham City TV news anchors unable to appear beautiful on television, owing to poison in beauty products deliverered by The Joker, is clever.
Jack Napier’s transition to The Joker is memorable. In other scenes from Batman, Billy Dee Williams of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and subsequently in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, appears as Harvey Dent.
The climactic confrontation of the film, at the Gotham City parade beneath a cathedral with the height of a skyscraper, is wonderful.
When the creepy little video store in the shopping plaza near my home began renting to customers Batman, the store displayed tapes of the film like a phenomenon. Shelf after shelf were full of the Batman video. The format was VHS, the cassette for running a film with a VHS player.
I’d been to see it, but I wanted that VHS. Christmas came, and family placed hand-wrapped videotape-shaped objects under the holiday tree.
They were VHS tapes, but what titles were they? Us kids wouldn’t know until Christmas morning. At the appointed time, I opened mine, and to my delight, the tape inside was Batman.
As the family opened our presents, a second tape of Batman under the Christmas tree emerged. My mother’s brother and his wife had arranged for the gift of the movie Batman as well. Two VHS tapes of the same film–a double.
What did my dear mother decide, you might ask? This was a bummer. She would quietly return a copy of the film to its retail store.
As a twelve-year-old, the price of a brand-new edition of a blockbuster film must be extravagant, I reasoned. The VHS copy of Batman we had would belong to us all.
I suppose that taught me a lesson, like not to count your chickens before they hatch. It was as if my uncle and aunt had felt I deserved my own copy of Batman, and Santa Claus did not. The VHS tape of Batman was a gift, what I wanted and what I was losing.
In 1989, fate unfolded for Batman mobster Jack Napier. The criminal mastermind falls into a vat of burning acid. He loses the pigment of his skin and becomes molded with a permanent smile on his face.
I hadn’t earned my own copy of Batman, and I suppose the real lesson was that I should share. It is a state of becoming tantalized by the promise of something gold and being humbled by the requirement to give it up. Maybe we didn’t know that doubles of the Batman film were under the tree, but no contingency plan was in place.
I was cheesed.
Batman fans typically embrace the trilogy of Batman movies years later directed by Christopher Nolan, but I didn’t get interested in them.
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