Batman: Black and White

I read about a fan-film called Batman: Black and White today on a really great Batman blog, BAT-BLOG. Then I took the time to watch it.

This is a good fan-film, especially for how long it is. These things aren't usually over an hour long and that's impressive. It takes itself pretty seriously but doesn't come off as ridiculous for doing so - it's pretty easy to look stupid for treating your project too serious in any fan-film, let alone one based on a comic book. Shooting in black and white was an inspired choice since it probably hid much of the unavoidable visual problems that go along with having no budget.

The only problem I had with the film was the extremely weak characters. Every single time, each and every character took the easy solution to his conflict. No strong characters. And by the way, I don't mean the acting. For a fan-film, the acting was bang-up fantastic.

Batman was passive (even worse in Bruce form), Catwoman a victim, Tim was straightup helpless. Let's just talk about Batman. I recently read Batman Unauthorized and in the essay by Lou Anders there is what could be called a check list for properly representing Batman:
  1. Batman's force of will must be staggering. "The Batman of the comics, as he is portrayed today, is a "normal" human being who can enter a room full of super-powered beings and command their attention and send a chill down every spine there -- despite having no powers of his own -- by his mere presence and force of personality."
  2. Batman always has something to prove.
  3. Batman's refusal to kill is paramount.
  4. Batman's secret identity is not his core persona.
Batman: Black and White misses all of these.
  1. Nobody in the film feels Batman's presence. Not the criminal's who run from him, not Robin, not the Tallyman, not even Selina (and if that's not what's attractive about Batman for Catwoman, you've missed something).
  2. Batman is portrayed as confident. He walks like Tim Burton's Batman which isn't so much of a problem for me. But it's the wrong kind of confidence. It's an old man's confidence. It says, "I've been doing this forever and I'll beat you" rather than "I'm the goddamn Batman and I WILL beat you." It felt like Batman was just going through the motions.
  3. Batman always walks the line when it comes to killing. It's the one thing that separates him from those he hunts, therefore it works well as his great temptation. However, other characters were dealing with this, not Batman (which is fine) but if you're not going to have Batman tempted by it he must be thoroughly against it. In this fan film he's pretty apathetic to the deaths happening three feat away.
  4. This one implies he has a personality. Superman doesn't have to have a personality! Batman does. (That was a joke - I love Superman. I just mean he's more of a Christ-figure, a morally untouchable god)
I probably felt this all the more because I was reading Batman: Ego and Catwoman: Selina's Big Score both by Darwyn Cooke who's characters are all so strong. He captures the staggering heroic proportions of their mettle and then contrasts that so well by refusing to give herculean form to the art of his heroes. Great stuff but I might have just digressed.

While re-reading this post for errors I realized it may seem like I really rag on this film. But that's misleading. I really liked it. If it had been bad, I wouldn't have mentioned it at all. The fact that I took the time to think about it and critique it means it had an effect on me. Well done 27th Letter Productions.

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