#NYCC – Batman vs. Two-Face: The Cure For Superhero Fatigue?
Note: This review is by guest nerd, Daejah Woolery.
Batman vs. Two-Face, the much-anticipated feature based on the 1960s Batman TV series and Adam West’s last work before his passing, had its world premiere this past Sunday at New York Comic Con. The crowd couldn’t have loved it more. There was an infectious sense of belonging for comic book fans and newcomers alike that I haven’t seen in a theater in recent memory.
Admittedly, I took myself out of the suspended disbelief as often as I could to try dissecting tone the feature. Perhaps it was Noir – the music was there – but there were also slapstick elements (including a legendary Batman Slap!) that were atypical of the darkly toned genre.
No sooner had the post-premiere Q&A started when Burt Ward (Robin) gave me the answer: “camp noir.”
The feel good nature of camp has rarely shared a screen with the dark, smokey crime noir genre, especially in recent years. However, on Sunday viewers saw it work to perfection.
The genius of the film was immediately identifiable. There was a genuine 60s style and the characters clearly took themselves seriously. These crimes, no matter how odd, felt real. The criminals, no matter how ridiculous, were dangerous. The events, no matter how unlikely, were completely plausible within their universe. While some fantasy films fail to strike this balance, Batman vs. Two-Face did. When Burt Ward’s Robin wildly exclaims, “Those are some enormous balls, Batman!” the audience understands that he hasn’t said anything odd in their world. At the same time, the comedy did not detract from the danger the caped crusader and his young sidekick experienced in any way.
Animated superhero features have always been very successful at disarming situations, no matter how perilous the circumstance. This film, however, took it to new heights. It reminded me that a superhero movie can be funny and serious at the same time.
Batman vs. Two-Face never sacrificed the integrity of a serious moment with unnecessary jokes. Harvey Dent’s relationship with Bruce Wayne was truly heartfelt. William Shatner (Harvey Dent/Two-Face) and Adam West (Bruce Wayne/Batman) voiced their characters with such sincerity that viewers could empathize with the desire to trust a friends against all odds. Notably the writers, James Tucker and Michael Jelenic, didn’t inject much comedy into the relationship.
Superhero Movie Fatigue, or tiring of the formulaic system and constant release of new superhero movies, is real. I think the cure may just be to look to the past. Animated features have taken a backseat to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the growing DC Extended Universe as of lately, but they are certainly capable of giving us respite from the same-old while letting us enjoy our beloved characters.
Animated features come with a number of unique benefits.The releases are free from the fanfare and painstakingly avoided spoilers; they usually release digitally allowing you to watch in the comfort of your own home. Their universes drastically depart from the world we live in, allowing for a true escapism experience. They love indulging the die-hard fans with references and asides. Animated superhero films can easily serve as self-care for nerd culture.
While watching Batman vs. Two-Face I settled into my seat, feeling none of the ‘oh-my-God-is-Joss-Whedon-going-to-make- this-a-couple’ or ‘Don’t-kill-my-fave’ stress. While that has its place in film – suspense is necessary – we need the feel good, too. Just as camp noir can happen when creators take good care, so can a feel good superhero movie that maintains the sense of peril. But, until we get that dynamic in live action, Batman vs. Two-Face has proven that animation can very well be a refuge.
Burt Ward mentioned a project he is working towards that will hopefully be more of the amazing, classic feel viewers were given in Batman vs. Two-Face. The 72-year-old actor said, “I am looking at possibly doing a project that would involve 120 episodes of a TV series that my own company would produce, or maybe Warner Brothers would be interested… All I can tell you is I loved this feature.”
With the amazing job that this feature has done, we can only hope his expressed love for it is hinting towards a future of more amazing animated productions.
Remembering Adam West
The moment the prolific actors voice filled the room, the audience was in a fury of claps and cheers. Adam West has touched the lives of many even the writers of the feature. All those at the Q&A expressed their love towards West. Burt Ward, his friend since the 1960s, noted, “When Adam and I were in costume, we never left character.” There was a serious dedication to the caped crusader that allowed him to soar into the hearts of countless viewers of decades. “Rest Well, Bright Knight.”
Daejah Woolery is a freelance writer and student from Connecticut. She writes particularly on issues of pop culture as an avid fan of all things nerdy. Her favorite form of writing is poetry, so she loves adding to her YouTube channel, but at the end of the day she believes every type of writing is poetic in its own right; so she keeps writing with zeal.