If you were to come into my household and ask which is better, Marvel or DC, the answer would be DC. This is because DC has Batman. There is no other reason. Well, it helps that Batman has the best villains (no contest) but one can argue the other merits and faults of both universes equally.
But I will cut a bitch if they do not like Batman. I am irrational like that.
I do not so much like Batman because I’m a geek but simply because I grew up with it. One of my brothers was obsessed with Batman at an age where he was so young that he couldn’t even pronounce the letter J. I do not even remember that as we were that young. So every time there was an episode of Adam West’s Batman television series on, we watched it. Years and years later, I’d get the DVD of West’s Batman movie signed by the man himself.
My brothers and I are also children of the nineties. And I mean that all three of us were born at the very beginning of the decade (or the very end of the eighties if it’s me). And what did any true nineties child watch? The critically acclaimed, total game changer Batman: The Animated Series (BTAS). This series has changed the face of the Batman universe, including the comics. BTAS is where Harley Quinn first appeared. She was not intended for the comics initially but she was so popular with viewers that she was put in the comics. Now Harley is the title character of her own book series as well as having a successful run with the Suicide Squad. More interesting, the tragedy that Is Mr. Freeze and his wife Nora came from BTAS. Mr. Freeze has been around for a fairly long time but was little more than a crook with an ice ray. BTAS was the first to give him the backstory that broke many a heart. And OMG, Luke Skywalker as the Joker. Mark Hamill was brilliant. That laugh. That light-hearted than suddenly terrorizing tone. The vocal talents of that man astound me. Hamill is hands down the best Joker that there ever was and the others were all live action versions! Kevin Conroy was a solid Batman as well. Much of the voice work in the series was spot on.
There was of course the movies by that point too and we liked them all. The Michael Keaton Batman run is still solid but Val Kilmer and Gearoge Clooney’s Batman films don’t hold up well now that I’m an adult. As a kid they were great. They’re still great in a “what the hell kind of directing/acting/writing decision was that” way. I have a love/hate relationship with the Christian Bale Batman years. I loved Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman and Tom Hardy’s Bane but hated Heath Ledger’s Joker. Christian Bale did not wow me and whoever decided Michael Caine was a good choice as Alfred Pennyworth has an IQ of about 2. I am amazed that they were able to turn Gary Oldman in Commissioner Gordon though. He looked like he walked out of BTAS, older, thinner and more tired.
Before the Bale run of movies and post BTAS was a wonderful show called Batman Beyond. It was a concept that should have failed so spectacularly and yet was so fucking good. I love Terry McGinnis. I love him with everything I am. I love how he was young, how he would never kill anyone but he very actively did not stop villains from dying via accident. Seriously, in one episode, a villain knocks a building down on himself and Terry did not try to save him at all. The theme song was great. The design was futuristic and still very Gotham. Bruce Wayne was a crotchety old man who’d fuck people’s shit up as soon as look at them. This Bruce was still voiced by Kevin Conroy and it was not hard seeing the Bruce/Batman of BTAS growing into the Bruce of Batman Beyond. There’s this one scene that basically encapsulates why I love that show. Terry has a super nerdy classmate who gets himself a robot girlfriend. It’s the cliché possessive robot girlfriend story. She gets jealous, destroys the boy’s house at a party and so forth. Batman Beyond was an edgier, darker show than BTAS and that vibe was in this episode. But then it has scenes like when the boy’s parents come home early from a trip because their credit card was maxed out- robot girlfriends are expensive- only to find the house on fire. The father screams “What did you buy?! Dynamite!? Dynamite to blow up the house with!?!?!” and I die laughing every time. Batman Beyond was downright quirky in-between the grit and darkness and tragedy- for BTAS and this series shared in tragic characters.
I have spent my entire life with Batman. This is actually a literal statement. And as so much of my heart has been invested in Batman, I have started to read the comics. I loved the run with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne as Batman and Robin or Dick and the Punk Bitch, as I like to call them. I collect Scarecrow comics in particular. Although my favourite storylines have to be The Long Halloween and Dark Victory as they are ensemble casts that give equal time to the mafia and the rouge’s gallery… for Batman is not just costumed crazies. It is also a criminal network of old families and blood feuds.
I’ve seen every animated Batman movie with the exception of the ones based around the New 52. I watch Gotham regularly, even though I have a love/hate relationship with it. Oh Gotham, you do some things so well and others so poorly. I will be seeing Batman V. Superman and I am looking forward to Ben Affleck’s run. I do not care what anyone says!
I’ve never cosplayed Batman himself however. But I have cosplayed as Poison Ivy, a steampunk Scarecrow and as classic Catwoman.
I won’t bother talking about Scarecrow as that costume was awful. Just know that he is one of my very, very favourite characters and that he may get his own blog entry later.
As a child, Batgirl was my favourite character as I myself was a girl. Being a girl automatically made girls better. Once I hit my teens I got over that pretty fast. In fact, I identify with male characters far more than I have ever identified with a female despite being a cis hetero woman who wears makeup all the time and only wears dresses. At heart, I’m a man though. I don’t know how clearly that comes across though as I’ve never known a disconnect between my gender and sex. Anyway, I gravitate towards male characters, male story lines and male gender roles in the books I read and the shows I watch. I generally prefer male singers to female ones as well. Maybe it’s because men usually get to play dominant characters and I have an extremely dominant personality. I think that makes my love of the ultra-feminist Poison Ivy slightly odd. And she was quite the feminist in BTAS.
My Poison Ivy cosplay was actually pretty terrible but it was one of the very first I put together. I won’t say made because I don’t sew. I buy everything already made. I would eventually come back to it and create a formal dress Poison Ivy and I plan to do a version that actually looks good. I enjoy Ivy as a character because she’s so very intelligent and yet so completely mentally ill. The woman is a highly accomplished botanist, she’s well educated and she has enough skills as a chemist to create compounds that turn plants semi-sentient. And yet she acts like she herself is a plant and that humans are lesser beings to plants. Ivy cares for other people, such as Harley Quinn, but she doesn’t seem to be aware that she herself is a person. She’s dangerous because of that delusion but not necessary malicious. Sometimes she is if it suits the story being told but most times Ivy comes across as a mentally ill person that doesn’t realise the harm she’s causing. If Ivy did not have the ability to destroy Gotham with mutated plants then she would simply be someone in a mental institution with doctors trying to figure out with meds she needs to be on. This makes her such a complicated character. Like many of the rogues, Batman cannot simply punch her out because she’s not a criminal really. She’s someone that needs help but is too powerful to actually be helped. That is so beautiful and tragic and I just eat it up.
I picked Catwoman simply because I needed someone to cosplay as for New York Comic Con. My friend Mad Maddox made the costume as a graduation gift- this was the year I got my BSc in psychology. I picked a classic era Catwoman for a very shallow reason. I am fat and I would not look good in a cat suit. Catwoman isn’t one of my favourite Batman characters. Out of all the sane Batman characters I much prefer Alfred, Dick, Tim, Barbara and Gordon. Bruce does not count as a sane character, by the way. He is much too broken emotionally for that. Yet Catwoman is fun. She’s a criminal but not a rogue. She will help people out and she can be kind but she will take something just because she wants too. She’s not afraid of Batman and she can be as honest as she wants with him. Selina Kyle is probably the most independent character in the comics because, even though she’s in love with Bruce, Bruce does not affect what she wants. She’ll get mad at him at times because who wouldn’t? But Bruce can’t damage her sense of self the way that he can Jason and he can’t cause her emotional distress the way he does Alfred or Dick or Barbara. Selina certainly doesn’t try to become the person that she thinks Bruce would want her to be like Jason or Tim had tried. Selina loves Bruce but she still steals even though she knows Batman does not approve. She can give him up if she has too. He’s not imprinted into her psyche. And the Bat is good at imprinting on people as seen by the way that the Joker, Scarecrow, Ra’s al Ghul and so forth are obsessed with him. I also enjoy the way she teases all the Robins.
I love the Batman universe. It’s so incredibly important to me. It is in the fabric of my youth and still shapes how I view the superhero fandom. As such, there are bound to be many more Batman cosplays in my future.
Ps. Which book/comic/show/etc. is the most important to you?