Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Superhero Media: Batman & Robin

Zach Snyder apologists, bite on a belt or something, because Batman & Robin is actually a lot of fun to watch now that I'm an adult and don't care how other people perceive my sexuality. What's that, you think Batman & Robin is pretty "gay"? Well it is, though not in the pejorative term, but it is colourful, camp and very musical, all things that we've been conditioned to think Batman "shouldn't" be, and that's a damn shame. This film pays homage to the classic Adam West programme, complete with puns, team-ups, vehicles and gadgets and really deserves more credit and some positive attention once in a while. Do you have to enjoy it? No, if it's not your bag, no harm done. However, if the "gay" elements put you off, check your damn privilege and try to remember that Uma Therman spends most of the film in states of undress. Yes, parts like the nipples on the costumes and Bat-credit card are silly, but they actually pay off for great jokes in the moment. Also, if I can put my nerd hat on, Batman typically carries cash in his utility belt, why not an untraceable EFTPOS card? He has a robot T-rex after all. 

Once the puns start flying and Batman and Robin are fighting an ice hockey team, I'm charmed and much of the film was an enjoyable ride. The change in Bane bugs me, but honestly not as much as in The Dark Knight Rises, at least they kept the Luchidor mask and Venom, and didn't make him the most British Middle Easterner since Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia. I honestly feel Batman & Robin would have been better received if it was a bit shorter, it really does drag on in places, especially with the rivalry between the titular characters, which flares up every few scenes. Robin, now clearly in his twenties, is chafing at being treated as the "Boy Wonder" and wants equal billing with the Dark Knight, who is being overprotective for fear of losing anyone else. It takes the near-death of Alfred for Bruce to realise that he needs partners, not subordinates and he allows Robin and Batgirl to take on more responsibility in the battle with Mister Freeze. There's a scene where Ivy and Bane take on a street gang in neon, day-glo warpaint which I love and would like to reproduce in miniature, if I could find the right paints. 

Batman & Robin isn't a particularly good film, but I do believe it is better than people give it credit for. Much as with the classic Adam West programme, this film provides a contrast to the prevailing image of Batman that really needs more attention. The next Batman film being close in tone to Batman & Robin would probably be pretty bad, but one in which Batman has partners, cracks jokes and smiles occasionally would be a welcome sight. I've said it before, but Batman is much better when he has a team around him, at least Robin, but please feel free to throw in Batgirl, Oracle, Nightwing, Batwoman, Spoiler and more. I have to say that I am now quite sick of Batman films and need to take a break. I think I'll load up on some more Marvel and international films for a little while.

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