12 July 2010

The Interpretations of Batman

By watching “Gotham Knight,” a series of interpretations of the Batman, I was able to see this superhero in many different perspectives. In the first segment, Batman is shown through the eyes of four children. Batman is a “living shadow” by one witness account. Batman’s ghostly ability to melt into the darkness keeps his assailant from ending him. By another witness, the Batman is a Bat-monster. Like a humanoid-bat, this version can fly and shrieks like the animal of his namesake when fighting. But that report is also challenged by another observer who claims Batman is not a man at all. In this testimony, the Batman is a robot—a machine that fights and uses sophisticated technology (think: crazy explosives and rocket launchers) to fight off bad-guys. The stories are proven to be nothing more than the figments of the active imaginations of the children at the end when the real Batman comes crashing through the window. Fighting the same type of villain as in the first stories, this Batman is definitely human, hurt and exhausted from fighting. Batman even has a moment of weakness that his attacker tries to take advantage of… but his young fan (and the only child who has no other experiences to draw on) steps in and has Batman’s back. The attacker is down, Batman prevails with the help of the child. Batman thanks the kid, then, is on his way. The other kids want the story… “Man, do I have a story for you!”

This first segment was the most memorable of the series for me because it shows how a legend is made… through hearsay. ;) These children tell their stories with conviction and even participate in the events surrounding their story… they weren’t just there, they were in the action. Batman becomes what they want him to be… a shadowy ghost with the ability to disappear into the darkness, a monster, a robot! Batman is anything but human to these children because he’s a superhero. The children can’t explain who Batman is without making him more than human.

The rest of short series explains how a man can do such extraordinary things. He trains hard, works through his pain, and uses his riches to attain special weapons and machinery. How he is seen through the eyes of children, the cops he aids to apprehend bad guys, Commissioner Gordon, the woman who trains him, Alfred the butler all vary. Who is Batman?? The question is an ongoing debate in the series.

I enjoyed these interpretations of Batman. Seeing the different segments gave me more background on the hero… I have seen the movies but only read the comics assigned in this class so my exposure is very limited. I feel that viewing these short films also gave me another perspective on “the look” of Batman. Batman was drawn differently in each section and the differences all served a purpose. How we perceive Batman can change how we interpret him.


  1. I like that first one best, too. It's actually a take on an episode of the old Batman animated series. In that one, too, kids sit around telling tales of the Batman. But each of their stories mirrors the different eras of Batman--the Golden, Silver, and Bronze ages.

    And that really speaks to your last point--our interpretation of Batman is based on our perception.

  2. PS I just included an excerpt from this post on my blog for the last Student Spotlight feature. Congrats, and keep it up!