The announcement that the new batsuit in the “Batman vs. Superman” movie is “awesome” probably means more to adult comic book fans than kids who are much more invested in what cool new phrases their brooding hero will utter.
While fans of the classic “THWACK!” and “KAPOWIE!” days when Adam West played Batman on TV in a shiny cowl, tights and a chunky, yellow utility belt can rejoice at reports that Ben Affleck’s attire may hearken back to West and the actual Batman vs. Superman comic, kids walk around being Batman all day long in their jeans and Batman T-shirt.
Kids don’t need a new batsuit when they have their imaginations and can base their playtime more on the most memorable lines spoken and scenes enacted in films. All they need from the new Batman is good writing and a sense of ironic humor.
Sadly, comic book characters like the new Batman are transitioning from page to screen and are being clad to suit cosplay, role play fantasy by adults (short for "costume play") rather than kids. Remember when comic books were for kids?
Batman is a prime example of kid play turned cosplay, having transitioned over the years from the emotionally scarred son of billionaire parents, orphaned by a street thug during a robbery, turned to crimefighting wearing a utility belt with a “Batarang” (boomerang shaped like a bat) to a heavily armored, weaponized franchise.
According to Business Insider, “Comic book lord and filmmaker Kevin Smith spilled during his latest Hollywood Babble-On podcast that he has seen a picture of Affleck in the new costume straight from director Zack Snyder and its awesome.”
Two of my four sons, Ian, 18, and Quin, 9, stood before the computer this morning reading about the new, highly praised, batsuit and shared the same sentiment, “Meh.”
“It’s on Ben Affleck, so it really doesn’t matter,” said Ian. “Was Christian Bale not available?”
“Can he do the voice? The deep voice,” Quin asked, trying his best to sound like Bale, “I’m Batmaaaan.”
When it comes to super heroes and my boys, you can cast anyone as Superman, but you have to be careful with the bat.
I think that’s because Superman is from another planet. He’s pretty, perfect, and he has actual super powers like heat vision, flight, super strength, and so they can’t imagine being him.
Batman is human so they can relate to that, but above all he has great lines that they can deliver in daily life.
According to my boys Adam West was “awesome” because he had “the voice” and the fighting was funny.
Michael Keaton was “too goofy.” Val Kilmer was too pretty. Quin says, “He looked like Batwoman.” Ouch! George Clooney was in Batman and Robin, which the boys dismiss as having no memorable lines.
Christian Bale is “the real” Batman and everybody who comes after the Dark Knight had better have the haunted eyes and voice to carry off the role.
Note that nowhere in there was costume a factor.
The armored bat battle suits, weapons, and cars are all there for two reasons – toy sales and cosplay fans.
In reality, when it comes to super heroes, what it really takes to make a kid into a fan is justice, coolly delivered with a side dish of humor.
In the Avengers, it was The Hulk saying to Loki, “Puny god” after he slams the troublesome, allegedly all-powerful, Asgaardian villain into the ground.
In Batman, it’s the moment when criminal kingpin Carmine Falcone, who had earlier lectured on how insignificant and doomed the good guys are, is cornered in his car and frantically demands to know what the heck he, Batman, is.
Batman breaks open the limo's sunroof, pulls Falcone out, and Christian Bale growls the now classic line that kids everywhere now say in a moment of supreme self-confidence, “I'm Batman!”
When making the new batman I hope the filmmakers remember the best superhero line of all, from Spiderman, “With great power come great responsibility.”
The responsibility isn’t about the wardrobe, merchandising, or the toy sales, but fighting for truth, justice, and all the while empowering kids’ imaginations.