Back in ’08, a friend told me that, while he loved THE DARK KNIGHT, he was torn over the movie being too scary and intense for him to bring his kids to. I heard similar concerns around that time and the funny is… I've noticed that tension dogging all of the Batman movies.
When BATMAN RETURNS came out in ’92, a lot of parents were upset over how dark it was in comparison to the first. What were they upset about? Catwoman’s kinky come-ons to Batman? Her bizarre sexual tension with the Penguin? The Penguin biting a campaign aid’s face off? Or maybe his master plan to kidnap and murder all of Gotham’s first born infants in one night? Supposedly, the backlash is what led to BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN & ROBIN being so much lighter and cartoonish; supposedly, Joel Schumacher was responding to piles of letters he was getting from from parents asking for a movie they could just bring their kids to.
== TEASER ==
That really brings up the question of who Batman’s for. Kids? Teens? Adults? All ages? That can be asked of superheroes, really, but I think it’s most pertinent to the Caped Crusader. The drastically-different takes he's had over the years have been celebrated as diverse interpretations of a common myth but, I don’t know… how broadly can be the character be defined and still reconciled under one identity? One Batman’s dancing and singing in the BRAVE AND THE BOLD. Another Batman’s crippling mutant gang leaders who threaten to rape and eat hearts in THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. And another Batman’s taking on the very real threat of international sex slavery in that ULTIMATE EVIL novel. I can understand how vexing it could be for parents - - it’s not like you’re might accidentally purchase a harder-edged version of, say, Harry Potter or Dora the Explorer.
I figure this has a lot to do with Batman surviving however many attempts at censorship. He started off as an uncompromising pulp vigilante and then had to tone things down considerably because of the Comics Code. Hence the campy 60s show with Adam West is just as much a part of the “cannon” as THE KILLING JOKE and Batmite and Mr. Zsasz can exist in the same mythos. Somehow, it works, but I think it’s worth noting that I can’t really think of too many other characters who can be as paradoxical.
Am I right, Comic Vine community?