Sunday, July 22, 2012

B is for BATMAN!!

While reluctant to write about Batman this week given the tragedy of Aurora, Colorado, my hope is that this wonderful legend who has grown up with so many of us will not be tainted by the insane doings of a madman. But... Before beginning my "B" post for ABCWednesday I want to express my heartfelt sympathy for the victims of the Aurora tragedy and their families. I wish for all who were savagely touched by this catastrophe, a speedy healing of body, heart, and soul.


"...In Our darkest hour comes our greatest hope...."

In the original version, Batman (or Bruce Wayne - millionaire, playboy, industrialist and philanthropist) assumes his secret identity after witnessing his parents' murder as a child. andvows revenge on all criminals. He trains himself physically and intellectually for this life's mission, and while he has no super powers, he uses his wealth and ingenuity to develop strength and awesome  crime-fighting gadgets.

Batman was created in 1939 by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger.  He first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" and is still appearing in graphic form in DC Comics. Batman was so popular that by 1940 he gained his own comic book title and line. In this line Batman fights the likes of the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and Catwoman. He is joined and aided by his cohort Robin, his butler Alfred Pennyworth, police commissioner Jim Gordon and occasionally by Batgirl.

In the mid-late 1960's Adam West portrayed Batman in a television series (and 1966 film) that in my humble opinion is still wonderfully entertaining and 'campy' (although many comic fans were put-off by its campiness).  In 1989 Batman turned darker and more life-like in a film starring Michael Keaton, (directed by Tum Burton was produced by Warner Bros). with a sequel in 1992.  In 1995, Batman was portrayed by Val Kilmer in Batman Forever and in 1997 George Clooney played Batman in Batman and Robin.  The latest Dark Knight  movies (first film appearing in 2005 and the last (third) movie opened up this weekend), directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale- produced by Warner Bros. -  portraying an even darker Batman.

Here is the first TV episode. It's 25 min. but even watching just a few minutes is fun.  Dig the styles, the music, the separate "Bruce" and "Dick" poles leading to the Batcave, the computers in the Batcave, the Bat-scope in the Batmobile, the Bat-Boomerang /grapple hook used to reach an apartment many floors up that folds for future use... and how after cutting window guards to enter the Riddler's apartment Batman advises Robin to "watch out for pedestrian safety" and hangs the grating on a Bat-hook he takes out of his pocket.  And there are the riddles they find by literally 'reading between the lines' of a document they receive from the Riddler.

This TV show is much like the comic book format in that each panel or frame has visual and verbal JEWELS waiting to be noticed - in addition to the story itself - or better - ENHANCING the story itself.  Furthermore, these shows are pure tongue-in-cheek entertainment - fun for the whole family and there are numerous ways to turn this into an educational project (at home or at school):
  • have the kids read the "ZONKs" "POWs" and ZOKs" with you;
  • discuss the use of similes "The Riddler contrives his plots like artichokes, you have to strip off spiny leaves to reach the heart..."   and tons of puns!!!
  • talk about the gadgets which were timely then but so out of date now
  • and, try to solve the Riddler's riddles, and make up some of your own..Here are three (of many) from this episode (CAUTION: the first is TERRIBLY corny and a pure pun]: 
  1. "Before you trip over your cape, Batman, riddle me this: There are are three men in a boat with four cigarettes but no matches, how do they manage to smoke?" 
  2. "What is it that no man wants to have yet no man wants to lose?"
  3. "When is the time of a clock like a whistle of a train?"
As Batman's character in the comic, TV and movies has been tweaked from simple detective/crime-fighter to campy entertaining crime-fighter to dark crime-fighter, so too have his gadgets. Batman's most awesome asset/gadget (in my opinion) is the Batmobile. There was an exhibit 2012 San Diego Comic-con sponsored by Warner Bros. displaying the various Bat-mobiles and it was a BLAST to see how these vehicles have morphed and grown over the years keeping pace with modern fantasy and technology.  Here are some SUPER photos of the BATMOBILES and their specs. That said, here is a brief, albeit incomplete, view of its transition ---- The first vehicle (not at the exhibit)  from the 1939 comic looked like this:
It was a simple red convertible with no special functions other than serving as a means for crime-fighting transportation. In the 1960's television show (and 1966 movie) the Batmobile was a spiffed-up 1955 Lincoln Futura painted a glossy black with fluorescent stripes. This vehicle was equipped with tons of "gadgets" including a: Bat Ray Projector, anti-theft (and fire) device, "Detect-a-scope, Batscope, Bat Eye Switch, Antenna Activator, Police Band Cut-in Switch, Emergency Automatic Tire Inflation Device, Batphone, a Bat-tering Ram (for knocking down reinforced doors), Bat Smoke Screen, Emergency Bat-turn Lever (releasing a parachute enabling quick turns), Batmobile Bat Computer (in the trunk), a remote Bat Computer Switch and even some Bat shark repellent.
The most recent vehicle by contrast, The Tumbler, as seen in The Dark Knight series, is a modified spiffed-up cross between an armored vehicle and a Lamborghini. It can accelerate from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, has a 5.7 liter GM V8 engine with an additional 'jet engine' in the back fed by propane tanks.
 ...here's the camouflage version:
The Tumbler has a pair of autocannons mounted in the nose of the car between its front wheels.  In 'attack' mode, the driver's seat moves to the center of the car, and the driver is repositioned lying face down with his head in the center section between the wheels.  This way he has added protection from the multiple layers of armor plating AND this 'center' position enables easier maneuvering. Other 'gadgets' include a rocket launcher, a landing hook, integrated fire-extinguishing system, a stealth mode (which turns off the car's lights and cuts off its main engine, powering the car via an electric motor), explosive caltrops (rope mines released to explode behind the Batmobile and deter pursuing vehicles), heavy armor at the front of the car and both wheels can eject when the vehicle is damaged turning the wheels into Batpods (motorcycle-like vehicles).
***
Relating this post to my last one, Batman is a modern antihero who has no special superpowers, and instead fights crime and avenges the death of those close to him using gadgets developed by Wayne Enterprises. The power of Batman, is that even without superpowers, smart enterprising 'regular' guys can fight back injustice. And, while the Dark Knight movies are dark and not for all kids, the Batman figure and story (in addition to its life lessons) can provide wonderful learning opportunities:
  • The TV series has wonderful play on words- watch for puns and similes which abound, and solve the Riddler's wacky clues (all of which are play on words);
  • The comics provide great visual and verbal literacy sources for readers of all ages be they reluctant or gifted;
  • The "ZAPS" "POWS" and "ZOWIE"s provide wonderful reading opportunities and kids/students can create their own sound effects and onomatopoeia words for additional fun;
  • The comics, TV and movie gadgets can be wonderful springboards for your kids creating communicators and defensive or offensive gadgets of their own.
 *****
One final point worth mentioning - especially in the wake the the Aurora Colorado tragedy - Batman started out with a gun and got rid of it!  The New Yorker Magazine has an online article "Batman's Gun" (posted by Jill Lepore) in which Ms. Lepore notes that:
In a story published in October of 1939, Batman used a handgun to shoot a vampire...He used a gun again in the next episode to fire some shots at two evil henchmen...At the time, Detective Comics just hired a new editorial director...named Whiney Wllsworth...When Kane submitted his next story..."Ellsworth said to take the gun out," Kane remembered..Superheroes weren't soldiers or policemen. They were private citizens. Villains carried guns.
Maybe it's time to disarm Batman again, and most of Americans. Guns for hunting are one thing - while I don't hunt and never will, I understand why others want to.  I am not sure why everyone needs assault weapons and Kevlar vests....  Maybe its time for politicians to rethink gun control laws.
***** What do you think? What does Batman mean to you?  Please share you loves and insights in the comments. Have a great week and  thank you for your visit.
 *****
Answer to the Riddler's riddle:  
  1. "How did they manage to smoke?  They threw one cigarette overboard and made the boat a cigarette lighter"....again, wonderful puns.
  2. "A law suit"
  3. "When it's two to two" (Robin toots this and sounds like a train)
What does Batman mean to you?  Please share you loves and insights in the comments. Have a great week and  thank you for your visit.

42 comments:

  1. haha...you title drew me over...i have loved batman since i was a kid...have enjoyed introducing my kids to the tv show...which is def tongue in cheek but so much fun...i love the new series bringing batman into the real world...have yet to see the new one...will after i get home from vacation...what happened in colorado is tragic and should never happen....

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  2. It's best not to pass up on the new series. These days we look at what gadgets and other innovative special effects they have in store. The story line is basically the same - good against evil!
    Very exhaustive offering here!

    Hank

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  3. Once again, very informative and creative post ~ I enjoyed the movies yet never really thought much about Batman ~ Good vs evil is great theme ~~ thanks, namaste, (A Creative Harbor)

    ps ~ thanks for linking up with Magical Monday

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  4. I love this! What a great concept for a blog! I just followed you, check out my blog at Musings of an Imperfect Mom

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  5. Batman has been a long-time favorite of mine, though I admit that when I got into actually reading comics, I started with Marvel. But once I switched to DC, Batman was at the forefront of all other characters due to his complexity. Among all others, he has so many facets, he can never truly be figured out.

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  6. Growing up, us kids used to act out some of the Batman scenes - even pretending the traditional 'POW' and 'WHAM' words were highlighting our scenes. ;) I have only seen the first Batman movie - not sure why I haven't been more interested in seeing the new ones...at some point I'm sure I'll get them on DVD. For now, I like to remember the 'old' batman and us kids pretending to be the characters. ;)


    Heat and Sleep, Ice Cream Fun, Compliment, BlogHer ’12 and I’m With Stupid – RTT Rebel

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  7. Batman is my very favorite graphic novel character, and I grew up reading comics in the 70s. There is an entire Imaginext line of DC Universe figures especially made for younger children to play with, and my son has had hours of fun having Batman and Robin defeat the Joker, Penguin, and Two Face. Batman is the kind of 'superhero' anyone can aspire to be, and I like that.

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  8. Oh, I'm aging myself, but I remember the original...terrible tragedy in Aurora and condolences to all those victims.

    Leslie
    abcw team

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  9. Somewhere out on someone's Facebook page is a picture of me standing next to a Batmobile at a comic book show in Saratoga Springs, NY.
    I've lived through so many incarnations of Batman, from Adam West (which I watched) to the Dark Knight (the original of which I read). Sometimes difficult to think of them all as the same character.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

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  10. I love Batman and always found his character to be so mysterious and strong. Because of what happened to his parents at such a young age, your heart just melts for him, since he created Batman to try to avenge his parents' deaths. I used to love watching the Batmobile's gadgets and I always loved that Batman had Alfred to take care of him. At least Alfred provided some connection to his lost parents.

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  11. It was heartbreaking what happened in CO but I'm glad you went ahead with this post. Great history of Batman and I well remember watching the 1960s batman on TV when I was but a girl.

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  12. There are certainly many fans of Batman out there. Your post begins with a sensitive tribute to the tragedy and its victims.

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  13. I really like the old comics best! They are so fun to look through the drawings!

    My oldest has 3 drawing of Batman that I kept tucked away.

    We heard about the shooting, while in the lobby waiting for our car to be serviced. I knew my oldest (who LOVES Batman) ears would perk up as soon as he heard, "Batman". I did my best to keep them occupied. Talking with adults about it is hard enough to understand. Kids really wouldn't get it. My sons are only 4 and 7.

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  14. Great post as always and regarding the tragedy in Aurora, CO well said - such an incomprehensible tragedy. My son's birthday cake was Batman, I thought about leaving that picture out of my WW post. Have a great week.

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  15. I used to love watching Batman and Robin as a kid. The recent stuff doesn't do much for me. I'm appalled by the actions of a seemingly intelligent (medical student) young man in Aurora. I can't imagine what would drive one to do something so horrendous.

    I think this post would not be complete without mentioning the history of the villain Bane. Apparently, he was introduced into the comic book series some twenty years ago and is the only villain who has the potential to defeat Batman. With that being said, the right's ludicrous accusations of the left making Bane a villain in response to Romney's Bain Capital is unfounded. Bane was around long before talk of Bain Capital and to change the villain's name would be untrue to Batman's loyal fans.

    Thanks for linking up.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2012/07/wordless-wednesday-cousin-katys-super.html

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  16. Thanks for a positive post, and I stand with you for the families that are hurting so deeply.

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  17. Such an unspeakable tragedy, and the sad truth is criminals will always get guns. We certainly need limits with better control, however it seems a complete ban could leave good citizens utterly defenseless. While we can admire Batman for standing up to injustice, can we condone a vigilante who takes matters into his own hands? All things considered with this economy, I'm wondering does millionaire Bruce Wayne pay his fair share of taxes, or is he hiding assets in the Bat Cave?

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  18. I too am a BatFan in the many incarnations of Batman. Two stand out for me ,the Frank Miller authored comics and Batman the Animated Series from the 1990s.
    The voices in BTAS are spot on,Mark Hamill does the Joker voice perfectly. Harley Quinn is a major player in these episodes.
    The Frank Miller comics are dark and brooding in the way Batman is portrayed and just very well written.

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  19. The senseless tragedy last week was devastating in so many ways. I think this post was a nice tribute :)

    Thanks for linking up for WW :)
    Paula
    lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com

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  20. I love reading your articles every Wednesday. It was a senseless killing this last weekend, but we must remember--the guns did not kill those people, it was the person who pulled the trigger!

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  21. I remember watching Batman as a girl and loved it. Haven't watched the newer ones though. I am glad you went ahead and posted this up this week. It's a very lovely tribute to those whose lives will forever be affected by such a senseless tragedy.

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  22. It's sad that Batman cannot defend those people.

    Set of B's
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team.

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  23. I grew up with the Adam West version of Batman and the video reminds me why he's still the best! Over the top and camp, but great entertainment.

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  24. Great Batman history! I'm usually rooting for the "villains" in his world - Gotham City Sirens is my favorite recent comic book series. :D

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  25. Adam West's batman was part of my youth so always remain my favourite both funny and clever. Not to forget Robin who when they were in imminent danger said things like holy Atom Bomb, holy haddock or holy whatever that weeks peril was. Its not unknown for me to occasionally say the same thing today. Who can resist those cars through the various incarnations.

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  26. Great post,Meryl!Thanks for your comment! I am back after a delay of 26 hours due to a typhoon in Hong Kong. We spent one night sleeping on the floor of the waiting area of the airport and one day talking to fellow passengers. Now I am going to have my mail sorted out.

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  27. wow that's like a batman thesis. I grew up watching Adam West as Batman. Major crush

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  28. So glad you gave out the answers to the riddles...would've driven me batty not knowing♫♪ Great post.

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  29. Grew up with Adam West as BM too-but did NOT have a crush on him! I always thought the structure of their dialogue (Batman and Robin) to be unnatural-but that's the perspective of a 10 year old.
    Loved reading the history of Batman-but I am steering clear of the gun question! Too loaded a topic! (pardon the pun).

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  30. B is for batman!? I had to follow all the hype about batman and i'm slowly watching the recent trilogy done by Christopher Nolan. I even made Batman cupcakes and blogged about it.I stumbled upon your blog from the Wordless Wednesday Link party and I love the layout!

    -Milynn
    Love and Whimsy

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  31. I loved Batman when I was a kid. I have tried to get my son to watch the old episodes but he just isn't interested. This post was very informative. I found you on BHE and I am a new follower. Don't be a stranger. Stop by and say hello.
    http://www.thesexysinglemommy.com

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  32. First time here, thanks to ABC! Interesting that, in this "B" week, both creators have "B" names as well. You really did your research, and I love the idea of interacting with kids re: the series. Never did understand how "BIFF" became an action word!

    I once met Julie Newmar (for my money, the best Catwoman) in Hollywood. She was sooooo tall. My favorite Batman memory? Seeing Christian Bale's take on the role and watching Heath Ledger obviously having the time of his all-too-short life playing the Joker. Truly, two great actors, and one lost to soon, but still, their acting is excellent. Thanks so much, Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/07/27/bleed-warning-precedes-poem/

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  33. My favorite Batman was Michael Keaton, although, you really can't beat Adam West. I'd have to say George Clooney was the worst and I can't remember, was he in the one with Alicia Silverstone? I will never understand why they chose her to play Bat Girl, wasn't there anyone else available? I think I've only seen bits and pieces of that one and Uma Thurman kind of stole the show in that. She was good Poison Ivy!

    Michelle Pfieffer was probably my favorite Cat Woman, Halle Berry was okay, not the best, but gorgeous and her abs were amazing! I'm not sure how I feel about Anne Hathaway, I haven't seen the movie, so I'm not sure. I like her and when they first said she was going to do it, I thought it was a good idea, but then when I saw the previews, I kinda changed my mind.

    Oh and Jack Nicholson, hands down the best Joker from any of the movies! I never saw the one with Heath Ledger, I'm sure he was amazing, but I'm always for the classics.

    If I were a parent, I don't think I'd let my young children watch those movies. They are pretty violent. I won't let them watch Spiderman either. What is this new movie rated? It's definitely not rated G! I did watch the TV show when I was a kid though.

    Well, honestly, I am still in shock over what happened last weekend. Every time I hear about it or see that guy on TV, all I can do is shake my head and think about that 6 year old little girl, her poor mother, and the picture of her father afterward. I refuse to even mention that monster's name!

    Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Take care!

    Sarah
    http://skylarinc.blogspot.com/

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  34. Thanks for pulling this all together . . . I'm a '60s Batman boy, myself. Hated Danny Elfman's version, but love the Dark Night and am planning to take my daughter to an IMAX presentation next week (in lieu of another week of day camp. My ABC Wednesday is Begonia Pope.

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  35. oh wow! I had almost forgotten those awesome riddles...thank you for reminding me!!!

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  36. Having grown up in the 60's, I love the campy TV Batman, but I also love all the movies that came after that... May the victims of Aurora, Colorado massacre rest in peace, and their families find comfort. Blessings!

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  37. I always waited for Catwoman to show up on all the Batman shows. She is my hero. Stopping by to say Hi from the blog hop. Come visit sometime, tea is cold and no shoes are required. Kathy B. http://www.southernmadeintheshade.blogspot.com

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  38. New follower courtesy of Crazy Mama's Blog Hop! hope to get a follow back!

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  39. I remember watching the original Batman! He was my favorite super hero as a kid because he doesn't have any special super hero abilities AND he doesn't have guns from what I remember. I thought he was pretty awesome, but I kind of always found Robin annoying lol.

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