Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: WHAT THE F&#% IS IT ABOUT BATMAN?

Film Crit Hulk explores why Batman is such a popular character - and why his fans sometimes act out in extreme ways.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: WHAT THE F&#% IS IT ABOUT BATMAN?

 

BE TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY HONEST: WHY DO YOU LIKE BATMAN?

HULK THINK IT IMPORTANT TO ASK THESE SORTS OF BASIC QUESTIONS FROM TIME TO TIME. LIFE IS A STRANGELY PASSIVE AFFAIR, PERHAPS WE GO THROUGH IT THAT WAY SO OUR BRAINS DON'T MELT FROM THE CONSTANT STIMULATION OF A COMPLICATED AND SOMEWHAT CRAZY WORLD. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO ALL MATTERS OF SOCIETY, IT IS AWARENESS THAT ENABLES US TO COME TO GRIPS WITH OUR MOST BASIC HUMAN TRUTHS. LOGICALLY, THE AWARENESS OF WHY WE LIKE THE THINGS WE LIKE CAN THEREFORE TELL US A LOT ABOUT OURSELVES.

SO WHY DO WE LIKE BATMAN?

A KNEE-JERK RESPONSE WOULD OF COURSE BE "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!??! BATMAN'S FUCKING AWESOME! WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?" ADMITTEDLY, YES, THERE'S A LOT OF NEAT REASONS TO LIKE THE CAPED CRUSADER. FIRST OFF, HE JUST LOOKS LIKE A TOTAL BADASS. HE HAS A COOL CAR. HE HAS GADGETS. HE CAN LIKE GLIDE AROUND CITIES IN STUFF. HE HIDES IN THE SHADOWS. HE BEATS UP CRIMINALS. HE'S COMMITTED TO MAKING THE CITY SAFER. HE'S GOT A CODE. HE'S RICH. HE'S SHERLOCKIAN-LEVEL-SMART. HE'S STOIC. HE'S BROODING. HE SEEMS TO GET LADIES WITHOUT EVEN BEING INTERESTED IN GETTING LADIES. HE'S EVEN GOOD WITH COMPUTERS. AND ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE ALLURING TO THE POINT THAT, YES, EVEN HULK LIKES BATMAN TOO. WHO WOULDN'T LIKE ALL THAT?

BUT YOU WILL NOTICE TWO CENTRAL THEMES HERE: COOLNESS AND AN INDULGENT FANTASY.

HULK HAS TALKED ABOUT THE PROBLEMS OF COOLNESS AT LENGTH IN OLD HULK COLUMNS, BUT THE CHIEF PROBLEM IS THAT COOLNESS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH EITHER MORAL VALIDITY OR EMPATHY. COOLNESS IS SIMPLY AN UN-EMOTIONAL EVALUATION BASED ON CULTURAL MITIGATING FACTORS AND PREJUDICES. WE SAY THINGS ARE "COOL" WHEN WE DIG THE VIBE OR GENERAL SENSE OF A THING. BUT WHEN WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY EXPLAIN IT? COOL INSTANTLY REVERTS BACK TO VAGUE (OR SOMETIMES EVEN INSIDIOUS) SOCIAL MOTIVES. WHILE THERE IS NO DENYING THAT "BEING COOL" IS AWFULLY ALLURING, AND TO POSSESS IT IS TO POSSESS SOME INFLUENTIAL POWER, WHY IS THERE STILL SO MUCH VALUE PLACED A WILDLY FLUCTUATING AND ETHEREAL CONCEPT? ONE THAT ISN'T EVEN ALL THAT INTERESTING TO BEGIN WITH? SURE, MARKETING AGENCIES SPEND MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TRYING TO REPLICATE AND APPROXIMATE WHAT IS "COOL," BUT HULK FINDS THIS TO BE FOLLY. IT'S LIKE TRYING TO BOTTLE LIGHTING. AND NOT ONLY IS IT IMPOSSIBLE TO REPLICATE, BUT IT ACTUALLY SUBVERTS THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR MISSION OR PRODUCT. IT'S TRUE. PURSUING COOLNESS ALONE IS A PATH TO MERE HOLLOWNESS. IT REEKS OF FALSENESS TO ANY AUDIENCE MEMBER. WATCH ANY MOVIE TRYING TO BE TRENDY OR COOL ABOVE ALL ELSE (COUGH TRANSFORMERS COUGH) AND THEY OFTEN COME OFF AS LAUGHABLE, EMPTY BITS OF SPECTACLE WITH ABSOLUTELY NO AUTHENTICITY. AND IN CASE YOU ARGUE THAT SPECTACLE IS ALL YOU NEED AS VIEWER, THEN HULK ARGUE YOU ARE GRAVELY MISTAKEN. WE REQUIRE EMPATHY. LOOK AT SPIELBERG. LOOK AT JACKSON. LOOK AT NOLAN. HECK, EVEN LOOK AT CAMERON WHO ATTACHES HIS SPECTACLE TO WHAT HAS TO BE THE MOST BASIC FORMS OF IDEAS AND EMOTIONS AND GUESS WHAT? HIS FILMS RESONATE WITH JUST ABOUT EVERYONE, EVEN IF IT'S SOMETIMES CRASSLY DONE. SORRY COOLNESS, BUT AUTHENTICITY RULES OUR HEARTS MINDS. SO YES, BATMAN IS COOL, BUT HULK ARGUE THAT IS NOT SOMETHING TO LOOK FOR IN ANY CHARACTER, AND IT IS CERTAINLY NOT THE THING RESONATES WITH US ABOUT BATMAN.

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE INDULGENT FANTASY.

NOW. THERE IS AN INHERENT ASPECT OF THE TRADITIONAL SUPERHERO MYTHOS WHERE THE HERO IS ACTUALLY SOMEONE YOU WOULD WANT TO BE. ON ONE END OF THE SPECTRUM, THE HERO IS SOMEONE WE SHOULD ALL ASPIRE TO BE LIKE. THEY POSSESS AN INNATE GOODNESS OR HUMAN CAPACITY FOR ETHOS AND PATHOS. AND ON THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM? THE HERO IS MERELY A VESSEL THROUGH WHICH WE WANT TO WIELD THEIR POWER, OFTEN A POWER AND IDENTITY THAT ALLOWS US TO INDULGE OUR MOST BASE FANTASIES AND YEARNING DESIRES. "I WANT TO FLY!", "I WANT A POWER RING!", "I WANT TO HAVE SPIKES ON MY FACE AND HUG PEOPLE TO DEATH!"

OKAY MAYBE NOT THAT ONE, BUT IF WE ARE MOST HONEST WITH OURSELVES, WHY DO WE WANT TO BE THESE CHARACTERS SO BADLY? DO WE ADMIRE THEM? WOULD WE WANT OUR KIDS TO BE LIKE THEM? OR DO WE JUST WANT TO INDULGE?

... HULK WORRIES THAT A GOOD DEAL OF BATMAN FANS JUST WANT TO INDULGE.

THINK ABOUT IT. THERE'S ALL THE NICE THINGS HULK MENTIONED EARLIER, BUT LET'S PHRASE THEM A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT WAY: BATMAN BEATS UP THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF STREET THUGS. HE'S TOUGH AS NAILS. HE GOES OVER THE SPEED LIMIT. A PERFECT PHYSICAL SPECIMEN. HE HAS A JAW-LINE BRUCE CAMPBELL WOULD BE JEALOUS OF. HE DOESN'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MONEY AND CERTAINLY ACTS LIKE IT. HE DOESN'T ACTUALLY HAVE ACTUAL SUPERHERO POWERS, BUT THAT JUST MEANS IT'S ALMOST KINDA SORTA PLAUSIBLE! BUT LET'S CUT A LITTLE CLOSER TO THE BONE WHERE PERHAPS MORE TELLING IS BATMAN'S BASIC PERSONALITY... WHILE HE CAN PUT ON A NICE PUBLIC GUISE AS BRUCE WAYNE, AS BATMAN HE'S A TRUE ANTI-SOCIAL. THINK ABOUT HOW UTTERLY ALONE AND INDEPENDENT BATMAN IS IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THEINGS. ONLY, IT'S NOT REALLY TREATED AS BEING SAD, BUT INSTEAD AS DUTY AND SACRIFICE. AND OFTEN? IT'S THOUGHT OF AS THE IDEAL. A CHARACTER WHO DOESN'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE ASIDE FROM A FEW ALLIES. WHO GETS TO PUNISH THE EVIL EVERYWHERE. BATMAN DOESN'T TAKE ANYONE'S SHIT. HE SAYS FUCK YOU TO LAW AND THE INSTITUTIONS OF AUTHORITY. HE IS THE MOST PERFECT VERSION OF THE VIGILANTE, OFTEN FAULTLESS, BUT THIS UNENDING SELFLESSNESS IS NOT ONLY INHUMAN, BUT ACTUALLY ITS OWN FORM OF SELFISHNESS. AND DOES ANY OF THIS EVER MAKE HIM SEEM LIKE ROUND CHARACTER? NO WAY. THE BAT-VERSE HAS USED THE ONE NOTE EXCUSE OF HIS PARENTS MURDER TO FUEL AN PERPETUAL CYCLE OF JUSTICE MONGERING. AND AS A RESULT, EVERY SINGLE OTHER CHARACTER IN THE BATMAN MYTHOS IS WAY MORE COMPELLING BECAUSE THEY HAVE HUMAN FRAILTIES. BUT BATMAN? HONESTLY, HE'S KIND OF BAT-BORING. AND ALL THE WAYS HE'S INTERESTING ARE ONLY THERE IF YOU GIVE INTO THE IDEA THAT SOMETHING IS ACTUALLY WRONG WITH WHAT HE IS DOING.

NOW YOU PROBABLY HAVE TWO REACTIONS. 1) YES, HULK IS SORT OF EXPLAINING THAT IN THE MOST EXTREME WAY OF PORTRAYING THE CHARACTER, BUT THAT DONE TO PROVE A POINT ABOUT THE INDULGENT PSYCHOLOGY INVOLVED. AND 2)  YES, THE MODERN AGE OF COMICS SORT OF REALIZED THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH BATMAN AND EXPLORED IT IN A VARIETY OF INTERESTING WAYS. AFTER ALL, THE MODERN AGE TURNED COMIC CULTURE ON ITS HEAD WITH SERIES COMPLEX ANTI-HEROES AND DEEPLY ANALYTICAL TEXTS ABOUT THE FASCIST NATURE OF VIGILANTISM. AND OUR BATMAN STORIES DIDN'T JUST GET "DARK AND GRITTY," THEY FIXATED ON THE CONTEXT THAT HAS TO COME ALONG WITH THAT DARKNESS: BATMAN'S POSSIBLE SOCIOPATHY, HIS LADY ISSUES, HIS LEGALITY, HIS ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT FROM LOSING PARENTS.  THE PIECES ALL  WORK AS FUNCTIONAL BATMAN CRITICISMS. THEY AREN'T PROPPING HIM UP AS SOME IDEAL AND CERTAINLY NOT LAUDING HIM AS "THE BEST" SUPERHERO.

SO WHY DO WE?

IS IT AS SIMPLE AS THESE IDENTITY PROBLEMS GOING AND INTERESTING THEMES GOING OVER PEOPLES HEADS? HULK NOT REALLY THINK THAT THE CASE (AND WILL EXPLAIN LATER), BUT IT CERTAINLY AN ISSUE. WHY? BECAUSE ONE THING THAT HAS BECOME ABUNDENTLY CLEAR TO HULK IS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE FUCKING LOVE BATMAN... AND IT SORT OF GETTING A LITTLE WEIRD.

MAYBE IT IS JUST THAT BATMAN IS REALLY THE PERFECT STORM OF BOTH COOLNESS AND INDULGENCE, WHICH LEADS  TO A LOT OF POSSIBLY-MISGUIDED LOVE AND STALWART DEFENSES, BUT SOMETHING IS REALLY UP WITH HOW SOCIETY (AT LARGE) SEEMS TO REGARD THE CHARACTER. IT'S LIKE BATMAN-TALK HITS PEOPLE SOMEWHERE IN IN A REACTIONARY FUNNY BONE AND THEY CAN'T HELP BUT REACT THAT WAY. HULK BEEN THINKING ABOUT ADDRESSING THE TOPIC FOR SOME TIME NOW, BUT THE RECENT BOUT WITH THE NEW DARK KNIGHT RISES TRAILER SORT OF PUSHED IT INTO "MUST ADDRESS NOW" MODE.

BECAUSE EVERY TIME HULK GO TO TALK ABOUT BATMAN, THEY DON'T EVER FEEL LIKE DISCUSSIONS... THEY FEEL LIKE AMBUSHES.

HULK MUST REALLY CONVINCE YOU THAT THIS IS TRUE. EVERYONE WHO EVER WRITTEN IN A PUBLIC FORUM ON THE TOPIC PROBABLY NODDING THEIR HEADS RIGHT NOW IN AGREEMENT. IT'S WEIRD. A LOT OF PEOPLE SUDDENLY COME OUT THE WOODWORK. WHY? BECAUSE THEY PROBABLY FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY HULK DOES AFTER THEY RESPOND. LIKE THESE MERE OBSERVATIONS ARE AMBUSHES. AND AS A RESULT THE TEETH COME OUT. BUT HONESTLY FOLKS. WHEN HULK TALKS BATMAN, THERE'S NO AGENDA. HULK USES THE SAME LENS OF ANALYSIS AND TONE THAT HULK ALWAYS USES. HECK, HULK EVEN LIKES BATMAN AND THE NOLAN MOVIES A GOOD DEAL. BUT THE SLIGHTEST EXAMINATIONS SEEM TO SEND PEOPLE IN THE WEIRDEST DEFENSIVE DIRECTIONS. HULK NEVER SEEN A TOPIC (OUTSIDE OF POLITICS) TAKEN SO PERSONALLY ACROSS THE BOARD. AND IT'S DEFINITELY NOT A NOLAN THING, BECAUSE HIS OTHER WORK (LIKE INCEPTION) ALWAYS SEEM TO PRODUCE FAIRLY HEALTHY DISCUSSIONS. MEANWHILE, THE BATMAN DISCUSSIONS ALWAYS SEEM...WELL... SORT OF NUTS.

PLEASE, PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS NOT A BLANKET STATEMENT ACROSS THE BOARD TO BATMAN FANS. THERE TONS SHADES OF GRAY IN THIS DISCUSSION, CERTAINLY ONES BEYOND THE REACTIONARY INSOLENCE HULK REFERENCES ABOVE. BUT THERE IS STILL SOMETHING SLIGHTLY ASKEW ON EVERY LEVEL REGARDING HOW PEOPLE LOOK AT THE PROBERPTY. HULK FINDS THAT SUDDENLY PEOPLE ARE WAY MORE WILLING TO BEND OVER BACKWARDS TO JUSTIFY A CHOICE THEY MAY OTHERWISE CRITICIZE. OR THEY ACCUSE HULK OF HAVING SOME SORT OF OBVIOUS-ANTI-BATMAN BIAS. OR THEY EMBRACE HUGE LEAPS OF TECHNICAL OR THEMATIC LOGIC. A LOT OF TIMES IT'S LIKE SUDDENLY SEMIOTICS BECOMES A GREAT INTEREST TO PEOPLE. HULK MADE A PASSING REMARK AT ONE POINT ABOUT HOW THE ORIGINAL TDKR TEASER SEEMED A TAD SLIGHT AND HULK WAS TREATED TO AN EMAIL CONTAINING AN ENRAGED 8 PARAGRAPH ANALYSIS AS TO WHAT THE LAST SHOT OF THE TEASER MEANS TO THE CHARACTERS OF BATMAN AND BANE. THERE WERE LOTS OF SUPERLATIVES IN THE MESSAGE AS WELL AS LOTS OF HULK-AIMED SWEARS, BUT THE FUNNY PART WAS THE ANALYSIS WAS KINDA INTERESTING! KINDA! AND DON'T GET HULK WRONG. HULK LOVES THAT NOLAN'S BATMAN INSPIRES THAT KIND OF THEMATIC INSIGHT IN PEOPLE, BUT WHY ONLY WITH BATMAN?

FOR INSTANCE, HULK RECENTLY BRIDGED THE TOPIC OF SEXISM IN ARKHAM CITY AND THE SAME GUY WROTE BACK CALLING HULK A FAG. NICE! AND IT WASN'T JUST HIM. HALF THE INTERNET KIND OF WENT NUTS OVER THE ARTICLE (THE OTHER HALF OF YOU WERE TOTALLY AWESOME SO MANY THANKS). SERIOUSLY. SHIT GOT KINDA CRAZY. THE RESPONSES HAD A LOT OF RANGE. SOME OF IT HILARIOUSLY JUVENILE "OH YOU MUST BE A VIRGIN. DON'T FUCKING PLAY BATMAN GAMES THEN," (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN????) TO ALL SORTS OF OTHER GRAND ASSUMPTIONS. LIKE HOW HULK "OBVIOUSLY NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE COMICS" BECAUSE, RIGHT, THE THING CALLED "FILM CRIT HULK" PROBABLY NOT FAMILIAR WITH ANYTHING LIKE COMICS (E.G. LITTLE HULKS ROOM HAD TWO ENTIRE SHELVES OF BATMAN COMICS). AND YES, IN THIS GRAND SPECTRUM THERE WAS EVEN ONE DEATH THREAT. (1) NOW, IT IS POSSIBLY FAIR TO CHALK THIS UP TO MORE OF A VIDEO-GAMES-MEDIUM ISSUE, BUT HULK WILL TELL YOU RIGHT NOW. THERE WERE THOUSANDS OF RESPONSES AND THERE WAS A LOT OF CROSSOVER BETWEEN THE TWO... AND HULK NOT GOING TO LIE... HULK REALLY DID ENGAGE AND RESPOND TO ALMOST EVERY SINGLE ONE, BUT.... SOME OF THOSE EMAILS... WELL... WHEN YOU STARE INTO THE VOID... THE VOID STARES BACK AT YOU.

SO WHAT THE FUCK IS IT ABOUT BATMAN? WHY IS HE THIS BIG CULTURAL RALLYING POINT FOR DEFENSIVENESS?

IF WE'RE GOING TO LOOK AT WHY FROM AN OVERALL CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE, HULK THINK THE ANSWER LIES IN SUPERMAN.

 

WAIT, WHAT? HULK WILL EXPLAIN. HULK HAS TOUCHED ON THE IDEA BEFORE, BUT FOR DECADES EVERY SINGLE YOUNG KID USED TO GROW UP WANTING TO BE SUPERMAN. THE REASONS WHY ARE A BIT MORE HEARTBREAKING: POLIO. FREQUENT STILLBIRTHS. WW2. KOREA. THE LOOMING, CONSTANT THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR. MEANING THE LOOMING, CONSTANT THREAT OF DEATH WAS A TANGIBLE THING TO KIDS AND THEIR FAMILIES NO MATTER WHAT STRATA. AND SUPERMAN? WHY HE WAS INVINCIBLE. NOT ONLY COULD HE FLY AND STOP BULLETS, HE COULD SAVE FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES. THERE IS SOMETHING JUST SO APPEALING AND INDULGENT ABOUT THAT TO KIDS, FOR WHOM MORTALITY IS A REAL CONCERN. AND BETTER YET? SUPERMAN STOOD FOR TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY. HULK DOESN'T WANT TO START SOUNDING LIKE YOUR GRANDPA, BUT HONESTLY PEOPLE USE TO CARE ABOUT THOSE ABSTRACT CONCEPTS. SURE THERE WAS A LOT OF ARCHAIC B.S. THAT WENT ALONG WITH THEM, BUT THE HEART OF THESE CONCEPTS WAS EVIDENT IN THE IDEAS OF DUTY, CITIZENSHIP, INTEGRITY, AND A KIND OF DECENCY THAT WAS IMPLICIT. EVEN IF IT WAS A HALF-TRUTH, IT WAS A GOOD THING TO ASPIRE TO.

THEN OUR CULTURE CHANGED IN TWO RADICAL WAYS.

FIRST OFF, TRUTH JUSTICE, AND AMERICAN WAY BECAME A CRUEL JOKE. VIETNAM. NIXON'S LIES. THE RISE OF CRIME, DRUGS, AND DEATH OF AMERICAN CITY. WE TRIED TO KEEP UP THE FACADE, BUT AMERICA'S IDENTITY WENT UBER-DARK. AND COINCIDENTALLY SO DID THE COMICS. NOT ONLY DID THE TEXTURE OF AMERICA'S IDENTITY CHANGE (ALONG WITH IT'S PROBLEMS AND VILLAINS), BUT THE ROUSING ECONOMIC SUCCESS OF THE UPPER MIDDLE CLASS GAVE WAY TO ENTIRELY NEW BRAND OF CHILD. GONE WERE THE VAGUE SENSE OF CITIZENSHIP AND DUTY, IN FAVOR OF SOLIPSISTIC CYNICISM, BUT GONE TOO WERE THE LOOMING THREATS OF MORTALITY. AND WHEN INVINCIBILITY IS A REALITY, WHO NEEDS SUPERMAN?

BETTER YET, THE REGULAR TROUBLES OF GROWING UP NOW SEEMED SO MUCH MORE PROMINENT. SOCIAL ALIENATION. BULLIES. THEY WERE ALWAYS PRESENT, BUT THEY WENT FROM REGARDED AS A NUISANCE TO BEING THE GREAT CULTURAL THREAT TO THE NEW COMFORT. HULK ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THIS LITTLE NARRATIVE HULK CREATING IS ONLY A VAGUE ESTIMATION OF OUR SOCIOLOGICAL HISTORY, BUT THERE IS NO DENYING A CHANGE IN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL MAKE UP OF CHILDREN. AND IN THIS NEW WORLD, BATMAN IS A PERFECT VEHICLE FOR OUR INDULGENT INCLINATION TOWARD REVENGE AND VIOLENCE ALL IN THE NAME OF "JUSTICE." HE BEATS UP THE BULLIES. HE CLEANS UP THE STREETS FROM SCUM IN ANY WAY HE CAN (ALL UNDER GUISE OF A CODE). HE EVEN NAVIGATES THE BROKEN CITY BUREAUCRACY TO HIS OWN RIGHTEOUS END. AND NOT ONLY ARE THESE ACTIONS OFTEN CONSEQUENCE FREE, HE IS LAUDED FOR IT. IT IS THE GREAT SUBURBAN FANTASY AND IT CONTINUES RIGHT ALONG, SHIFTING THE "BULLIES" TO NEW CULTURAL FORMS.

REALLY HULK? YOU ACTUALLY THINK THIS CULTURAL ESTIMATION EXPLAINS WHY WE STARTED FINDING THAT LAME BOY SCOUT SUPERMAN TO BE SO DULL AND WHY WE FINALLY EMBRACED THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS BATMAN? AREN'T YOU EXAGGERATING?

NOPE. NOT ONLY DOES HULK FIND NEITHER CHARACTER INHERENTLY MORE INTERESTING (BOTH CAN BE WRITTEN JUST FINE), BUT HULK'S REALLY THINKS THIS CULTURAL THEORY HOLDS WATER. FOR EXAMPLE, SUPERMAN STILL REMAINS EXCEEDINGLY MORE POPULAR IN BAD INNER CITY AREAS WHERE THREATS OF ACTUAL VIOLENCE ARE VERY, VERY REAL. IT WOULD BE NATURAL TO ASSUME THAT BATMAN IS MORE POPULAR IN INNER CITIES BECAUSE HE BATTLES THE KIND OF CRIME THAT PLAGUES THE AREA, BUT NOPE, SUPERMAN. IF SUPERHEROES ARE ABOUT OUR INNER MOST DESIRES THEN IT SIMPLE: A KID WHO SENSES HIS LIFE IS MORTAL WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER. A KID WHO GETS PICKED ON WANTS REVENGE. IT'S NOT ABOUT IDENTIFICATION BUT ABOUT WHATEVER IS MORE INDULGENT.

AND THUS, THE MODERN INCARNATIONS OF BATMAN STRIVE MORE AND MORE TO REVEL IN THE MORE INDULGENT ASPECTS. HULK MENTIONED HULK HAD PROBLEMS WITH THE SEXISM OF ARKHAM CITY, BUT JUST THE OTHER DAY HULK CRACKED THE PROBLEM OF THE GAME'S WHOLE APPROACH. FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR, THE GAME TAKES ASPECTS FROM ALL PARTS AND HISTORIES OF THE BAT-VERSE AND MIXES THEM INTO ITS OWN UNIQUE WORLD... BUT THEY ONLY TAKE THE MOST INDULGENT PARTS. SUDDENLY THE WHOLE THING MADE SENSE TO HULK. SUPPOSEDLY "GOOD" BATMAN TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH HE ENJOYS BREAKING BONES. CATWOMAN = WALKING SEX. THEY TAKE THE HARSH TERROR FROM NOLAN'S JOKER, BUT SEEM TO CARE VERY LITTLE FOR THE THEMATIC IDEAS THAT GO ALONG WITH IT. EVEN ROBIN SHOWS UP JUST TO BE (PROPERLY?) MOCKED IN A BIT OF INDULGENT FUN. BUT NONE OF THESE THINGS ARE APPROXIMATED WITH ANY KIND OF CONSEQUENCE. FOR THE MOST PART THE GAME DESIGNERS SEEMED WHOLLY IGNORANT OF TONE ALL TOGETHER. IT WOULD BE LIKE IF THE COMICS IN THE 80S WENT DARK, BUT STILL PRETENDED BATMAN WAS THE HERO HE WAS IN 60S. AND IT DOESN'T WORK... BUT AT THE SAME EXACT TIME IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE BECAUSE  HERE IS THE GAME WHERE YOU LITERALLY GET TO "BE" BATMAN. YOU GET TO ACT OUT THAT CHILDHOOD DREAM, THUS IT PLACATES YOU IN THE WHERE WHERE YOU ONLY HAVE TO INDULGE. IS THIS EXACTLY WHAT BATMAN FANS ACTUALLY WANT?

AS A COUNTERPOINT, THIS IS PRECISELY WHY HULK LIKES THE NOLAN FILMS. THE MAN SEEMS GENUINELY INTERESTED IN CONSEQUENCE AND THEMES, NOT JUST OF VIGILANTISM, BUT THE THEMES OF CULTURAL SOCIOLOGY AT LARGE. IT'S FUNNY, HE'S SORT OF REMARKABLE AT GETTING BATMAN FANS TO EAT THEIR VEGETABLES. BUT EVEN WITH THAT, THE PROBLEM MIGHT BE TWO-FOLD. MAYBE THE BATMAN IS AN IRRECONCILABLE CONCEPT. AN AVATAR OF INDULGENCE AND DARK FANTASIES WHOSE PSYCHOLOGY CAN'T BE FULLY RIGHTED WITHOUT ALTERING THE CHARACTER'S CORE COMPLETELY. OR THE REAL PROBLEM IS JUST THAT A GOOD DEAL OF BATMAN / NOLAN FANS SEEM TO LIKE THAT THE MOVIES ARE DARK AND SERIOUS. HE "LEGITIMIZED" BATMAN FOR A GROWN UP AUDIENCE. NOT BECAUSE HE, YOU KNOW, MADE THE WORLD THEMATICALLY INTERESTING, BUT BECAUSE HE WENT FOR "GRITTY REALISM." DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY READERS WROTE TO HULK AND SAID THAT THE WORLD OF ARKHAM CITY WAS EVEN BETTER THAN NOLAN'S VERSION? THAT THE ENDING WAS THE MOST AMAZING THING THEY'VE EVER SEEN? IT DOESN'T ONLY NOT MAKE LOGICAL SENSE, IT MAKES NO THEMATIC SENSE EITHER. YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T SO DISHEARTENING BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVED GETTING TO PLAY AS THE BONE-BREAKING BATMAN... IT WAS SO DISHEARTENING BECAUSE IT BECAME SO READILY APPARENT THAT NONE OF THESE PEOPLE REALLY SEEMED TO TAKE IN ANYTHING OF IMPORT ABOUT NOLAN'S MOVIES.

HULK MEAN, FUCK, SOME PEOPLE MISS THE POINT TO THE EXTREME BY MOST IDENTIFYING WITH THE JOKER MOST OF ALL.

 

SAY WHAT?

YES, THE JOKER IS THE BEST PART OF THE FILM, ALL MALEVOLENT AND DARKLY HILARIOUS, BUT HE WORKS BECAUSE HIS IDEOLOGY AND METHODS ARE JUST PLAIN TERRIFYING. HE REPRESENTS 100% PURE NIHILISTIC GLEE AND A PURE, CRYSTALLINE COMMITMENT TO ANARCHY. THOSE TWO CONCEPTS SHOULD BE SCARY AS HELL TO ANY LIVING, BREATHING HUMAN BEING. SO WHAT THE HECK WOULD SOMEONE IDENTIFY WITH IN ALL THAT? EASY. POWER. THERE IS AN INCREDIBLE FREEING POWER THAT COMES WITH NILIISM. IT'S A DURDEN-ESQUE NIGHTMARE ABOUT DISPLACING THE SHACKLES OF RESPONSIBILITY AND EMBRACING THE CONTROL THAT COMES WITH TEARING DOWN SOCIETY'S WALLS. ANARCHY IS OFTEN RESORTED TO BY PEOPLE WHO FEEL POWERLESS, AND THUS THEY TEAR DOWN THE VERY IDEA OF CARING ITSELF TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD. IT IS THE SHEER TYRANNY OF WILL. AND ARE JOKER FANS THIS ABSOLUTE? FUCK NO. BUT ALL HULK ASK IS THAT YOU LOOK TO WHY YOU ARE REALLY LIKING HIM. THE JOKER CAN BE ENJOYED, BUT ASK YOURSELF, WHY ARE YOU REALLY DRESSING UP LIKE HIM? WHAT IS THE CONTEXT? WHAT ARE YOU GETTING? WHAT FEELING DOES IT GIVE YOU TO ACT LIKE THE DOES? IT MAY BE FINE AND INNOCENT ENOUGH IN THE END... BUT IT'S WORTH BEING SURE.

BATMAN. JOKER. SUPERMAN. HULK. WHOEVER THE HELL. WE SHOULD ALWAYS BE AWARE OF WHY WE IDENTIFY WITH THESE FOLKS.

BECAUSE LET US NOT FOR ONE SECOND PRETEND THESE MOTIVES AREN'T IN PLAY WITH WHY WE LIKE THESE HEROES AND VILLAINS WE DO. IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM NOT TO BE. THERE IS A REASON WE FLOCK TO THE WOLVERINES AND HAN SOLOS OF THE WORLD AND ROLL OUR EYES AT THE NAMORS AND JUBILEES. WE CHALK UP IT UP TO MATTERS OF BEING COOL OR FUNNY (THOUGH HONESTLY BEING WELL WRITTEN DOES HELP), BUT REALLY IT'S ABOUT OUR OWN IDENTITIES AND DESIRES. IT'S ABOUT HOW THE CHARACTERS REFLECT, ENLIGHTEN, OR JUST PLAIN INDULGE US.

HULK REALIZE A LOT OF THE TONE OF THIS PIECE SORT OF COME ACROSS ACCUSATORY. THAT NOT REALLY HOW IT'S MEANT. THESE DYNAMICS BEING DISCUSSED HERE ARE COMPLETELY HUMAN BEHAVIORS. HULK KNOW THERE'S SHADES OF GRAY IN ALL OF THE IDEAS PUT FORTH HERE. ALL HULK WANTS TO DO, IS ON THE SLIGHTEST CHANCE INSPIRE INTROSPECTION. IN TOTAL ADMISSION, THE REASON HULK SO KEEN ON THIS BATMAN ANALYSIS IS BECAUSE WAS HE WAS ONE OF HULK'S FAVORITE SUPERHEROES FOR A LONG TIME TOO. AND ONE DAY, THE DEEP-SEEDED PROBLEMS WITH THAT BLIND FAVORITISM JUST BECAME APPARENT. IT WAS EITHER HULK'S MATURITY OR THE LENS OF THE MODERN AGE. HECK, IT WAS PROBABLY RORSCHACH IN WATCHMEN, WHO IS THE BEST EXAMPLE OF IMPROPERLY "IDENTIFYING" WITH A MESSED-UP CHARACTER. HE'S NOT AWESOME. HE'S INTERESTING. HUGE DIFFERENCE. AND HOW DEEP DOES THE SELF-CRITICISM GO WITH THAT ONE? WHY HULK'S DRESSED AS RORSCHACH A FEW HALLOWEEN'S BACK. SO AGAIN, THIS IS NOT SOME ACCUSATORY PARTY. HULK HOPES THAT IS CLEAR. BUT THERE IS NO DENYING THAT THE WHOLE BATMAN ISSUE JUST CLICKED AT ONE POINT AND HULK SORT OF BEEN REFINING THE TAKE OVER TIME. HULK STILL REFINING IT TO BE HONEST, AND IN YOUR COMMENTS BELOW HULK WANT TO KEEP REFINING THE IDEA STILL.

IT'S ALL ABOUT AWARENESS.

TO LOOK AT OUR MOTIVES AT LIFE AND FIND OUR TRUTHS WE MUST ASK OURSELVES THE MOST BASIC QUESTION, "WHY DO REALLY WE LIKE THIS?"

AND THERE AIN'T NOTHING WRONG WITH ASKING THAT.

THANKS FOR READING AS ALWAYS FOLKS. COMING UP ON CHRISTMAS DAY, HULK WILL FINALLY EXPLORE HULK AS A SUPERHERO! THROUGH THE LENS OF THE OLD TV SHOW AND THE TWO MOVIES! THE CONTINUITY IMPLICATIONS OF HULK REVIEWING HULK PROPERTIES WILL BE TERRIFYING! HOORAY!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS,

<3 HULK


ENDNOTES:

(1) - A LOT OF PEOPLE INQUIRED ABOUT THE DEATH THREAT. BECAUSE HULK THINKS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH ONLINE THREATS, HULK TRIED TO HAVE A BIG LONG FOOTNOTE EXPLAINING IT INCLUDING HULK'S OWN EMAIL... BUT IT JUST DIDN'T SEEM RIGHT AND A BIT OF A VIOLATION OF THE INTERACTION. SO SHORT VERSION: HULK WAS VERY NICE AND ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE PERSONS ANGER POSSIBLY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ARKHAM CITY OR EVEN HULK. AND THAT IF THEY EVER FEELING LIKE THEY IN TROUBLE OR OVERWHELMED, HULK GAVE NAME OF A GOOD PSYCHIATRIST WHO WILL HELP AND PUT HIM IN TOUCH WITH PEOPLE WHO WILL HELP. SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE JUST HAVING A HARD TIME IN LIFE AND THEY NEED HELP AND NO ONE IS THERE TO POINT IN A DIRECTION. OR THEIR AFRAID. EVERYONE DESERVES HELP... AND IF HE WAS JUST FUCKING AROUND AND THOUGHT IT WAS FUNNY AND TRYING TO GET A REACTION OUT OF HULK, MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED! NICE TRY!

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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