Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Batsignals in the air

I must say I've really been enjoying gazing at the cover of the current Entertainment Weekly for the last several days, what with its tantalizing glimpse at the new movie batsuit. (I can't find an image of it to link to, but here's an illustrated excerpt of the article inside.)

I'm looking forward to the new film, though not the prospect of sitting through another origin story. (As I've written here many times before, those are my least favorite plotlines in general, and I haven't been totally happy with any of the big-budget batfilms thus far, although each has had an appealing aspect or two.) I just read somewhere that Bale has signed on to do three movies, which bodes well, even if I haven't seen anything resembling the batmania that preceded the first Burton/Keaton film in advance of this one. Which may not be such a bad thing.

Speaking of the Burton version, it's interesting, isn't it, how everyone now seems to take for granted that the outfit must be black rubbery stuff rather than the tights of old. Time for another mini-rant about how I wish for once a studio would cast a buff stud, preferably an unknown, and suit him up in spandex. I'm too tired at the moment to flesh out this argument for the millionth time, but let me just say that I've never bought the argument that a heavy, cumbersome rubber body armor ensemble is any more "realistic" than a skintight lycra unitard. For one thing, I'm not really looking for realism here, folks. (And, for the record, do you really want to be wearing a getup that weighs a ton, severely restricts your peripheral vision, and causes you to sweat like a pig when you're out there fighting the baddies?) For that matter, call me a traditionalist, but I'm way less interested in the B. Wayne side of the character than the Batman side (which is one of my many beefs against the earlier films, too--more attention paid to Wayne and the villains than to the title character). Face it, if this guy didn't lead a double life as a masked vigilante, his story would not carry much interest for anybody. I prefer the notion perpetuated in the '66 TV show and innumerable comic book versions, that his Wayne guise is simply a convenient means to an end--it affords Batman the bucks to pursue his night job, and gives him access to certain realms he wouldn't otherwise possess.

But enough of this talk. Since we live in an age of corporate crossover, a new batfilm brings with it the promise of tie-ins aplenty. (Starting with that EW cover--a wholly owned subsidiary of Time/Warner, of course.) In the last few weeks I've come across a new paperback reissue of classic Scarecrow stories, a pricey hardcover compilation of comic book cover art (with an entire chapter devoted to deathtraps old and new), and--most exciting of all--a trade paperback Batman Handbook along the lines of the recent fad for "Worst Case Scenario" books. Gone are the days of disclaimers warning purchasers of batman costumes that they are not Batman; this thing actually tells you how to do what your favorite fictional superhero does, detail by detail, lawsuits be damned. (Speaking of costumes, Halloween is bound to be more interesting this year.) Rest assured I'll be snagging a copy of the Handbook myself soon and surely writing about it here. The illustrations alone are worth the price.

In the meantime, I can't get enough of the glimpses of the new Caped Crusader popping up in other magazines, too. Gonna be a hot summer, yes indeed.

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