01 December 2021 651 Views

#MIDWEEKMOVIES. With BATMAN! Can our Dark Knight ‘do’ Christmas?

by James Murphy

Pinch punch, first of the month. White Rabbit. Etc. 

And it’s ADVENT! But that is not, contrary to the advertising campaigns, quite the same as CHRISTMAS. This should be like a mini Lent. Tad dark, even? As in it is the scary bit before the fun and the dawn in the darkness.

Mary and Joseph face a dangerous time ahead. The circumstances are less than ideal for them. And whether one likes it or not, the prophecy of a chosen one comes with caveats, notably, that the Messiah must suffer and die once grown up.

Yes, that still gives us the joy of Christmas and indeed, Easter/Ascension. But the happy ever after must be earned. Just like in movies!

Where am I going with this? Well, without forcing religious analogies on you all, BATMAN is a very apt character for Advent. And, indeed, Christmas. He is not all light and hope like SUPERMAN.

Bruce Wayne uses the imagery of darkness, vampirism, the demonic and primal/primordial/primeval. Yet he does so in order to execute a mission to return civilisation to the city where its absence, to his mind, took the lives of his parents. Is that an obsessional quest without end? Maybe.

Is it mentally ‘well’. Probably not. But it is rooted in a nonetheless pastoral sense of duty, community, virtue. Which is why it makes perfect sense for Bruce to indeed earn a happily ever after in DARK KNIGHT RISES in a manner it did not for James Bond in his recent outings.

As for Christmas? Well, it depends, as always, on which iteration one accepts as canon to their own version of Batman lore.

A fairly common denominator in the comics is that the character accepts the existence of God, because he has encountered the supernatural on occasion. Agnostic. Occasional bits of atheism. 

He cannot bring himself to pray in the strictest sense. In any event: his is a Monk like existence, save occasional punctuation. There is a Chapel at Wayne Manor though it sits unused, gathering dust and shards of light, witnessed only by accident as Bruce attends to his enterprises.

 

In the films? BATMAN RETURNS is set at Christmas. Is it a ‘Christmas’ movie? Not really, no. More an Advent one. The lights are on trees etc but the film itself is not season specific.

It is indeed a rather downbeat affair. But ends on a note of hope as the Bat signal flashes, indicating all is forgiven and a third movie was indeed on its way. Speaking of which..

..BATMAN FOREVER is a perfect Christmas film. Or at least it was for a few years when I was growing up. Though set at Halloween, the film is about hope, reconciliation and moving on in your life. It is also colourful, funny, upbeat and romantic. Still Batman of course and those who deem it camp or a nadir really ought re-examine the piece. The problem is that it suffered in comparison to..

..THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY. This suits ALL seasons. Light and dark and the bits in between. Though I have made it clear that I deem the second film in the sequence to be overrated, it is nonetheless visually impressive and for all its violent pretension, does still leave a grain of hope.

And everyone knows of my devotional love for ‘the cafe in Florence’ coda in film number 3 in the trilogy. That is Christmas, Easter and an eternal summer of joy as a magic movie moment imho.

So: in short? Yes of course BATMAN can do Christmas. And Advent!

HAPPY MID WEEK. BATMAN WILL RETURN. X



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