Newsletter #59: So I Saw The Batman
[SPOILER WARNING] Thoughts on the new Matt Reeves movie and more...
Hey guys, it's Scott.
Big week over here at Best Jackett. Before we get going, I just wanted to send love and support to the people of Ukraine. I know that sounds ridiculous coming from me, like an empty gesture, but my family does try and donate regularly to a bunch of causes that we believe in. I make my political leanings pretty obvious on Twitter and I've always tried to be open about the things that I believe in and balance that with the belief that social media is a terrible place for for any kind of robust political discussion. But what I'd like to do, at the very least, is include places that I've donated to, or that I feel deserve your support, at the end of different newsletters when the time feels right from now on. So, again, I want this to be a place that you can come to for creative discussions, for discussions about comics, for discussions about craft, for discussions about my history in the industry, for things that are coming up, all kinds of thoughts about the creative process and how it relates to engaging with the world around you so that you can go and make things that matter to you, whether they're openly political, whether they’re subversively political, whatever they are. So, there are a lot of places that I and we at Best Jackett have come to be proud of supporting over the last couple years, from WinC (Women in Comics Collective) Magazine, Virtuous Con, The Hero Initiative, and places that offer relief for refugees, things that I'd like to at least give you an opportunity to look at, so should you choose.
Anyway, back to comics. So, huge, huge week next week—Monday, Monday, Monday, Monday, this coming Monday, is FOC (Final Order Cutoff) for Nocterra #9, which is easily my favorite issue so far. If you like the series at all, you're gonna really love this one. This is where Blacktop Bill comes to shine.
And, crazy, We Have Demons #1 comes out in print with big extras from Dark Horse Comics.
Greg and I are celebrating by doing a signing at Midtown Comics. Tyler will include the link here, so please, please, come see us! We haven't been to a store signing in years. We've been to a couple conventions here and there, but we have not done a store signing together, I don't know, I think since we went to Vegas in, like, 2019 or something? So, come celebrate with us, it'll be a blast. We're really grateful for all the support you guys have shown this book and we can't wait to share it with you. So, yeah, huge week next week!
Also, we have a class! We have a class in two nights—or in one night. Oh my god, tomorrow, right? Yes, because it's Tuesday, not Monday—Sorry, Quinn has a cold and he is going through a sleep regression because he started the big boy room at daycare where he's one of the younger kids. And he loves it and he goes in proud of wearing his little backpack and all that comes out happy, talking about how he pee-pee’d on the potty. But he has been not sleeping well, so I am not the most cogent person right now. But things are opening up for me, we hand in the final drafts of our screenplays and all of this for Wytches. All the material goes in for the potential TV show in a couple of weeks and then we wait and see if it becomes anything. So, I love the process, I love the people in the room, I love the people we're working with, so here's to that. But a week from Friday, I'm going away with my 15 year-old for a father-son trip to Colorado, which I cannot wait for. We haven't been away in a few years and we used to take father-son trips regularly when he made it into the National History Bee and stuff like that. And I do that with my 10 year old too, that's why we went to Cooperstown a couple of weeks ago.
But I thought a fun topic for today would be Batman because I saw The Batman and I… loved it. I was very worried, and I didn't want to see it at the premiere, I wanted to see it with my kids because, again, it's been, like, 10 years since a solo Batman movie. 10 years! That's insane to me. And so, they were too young to go see The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, any of that stuff. Emmett is 10 and Jack is 15, old enough to see it, so we all went with our neighbors and our friends and had a big party. It cuts to your heart when you see a Batman movie because you spent so much time loving this character and being there and putting all your emotions and your feelings and your thoughts into him that you're worried that you're going to watch something and it's going to be rough, but it was amazing. I loved it. I mean, I don't say I love something when I didn't love it, but I loved it. And I'll tell you what I loved about it, I'll tell you what I hope for the next one that could maybe be slightly tweaked. But what I love most about a Batman take is ambition. I want someone to come in and swing for the fence, always. I would much rather a crazy take that I don't agree with than a boring take. And this one, to me, had ambition. I loved the way Gotham looked. It was unique, it was different, it felt coherent.
I love the fact that, and it was above all my favorite things, it was a young Batman—that he felt like he was built for my kids. I know Robert Pattinson isn't as young as he used to be, but he plays young and with that black makeup and the soundtrack, even though those are my songs, Something in the Way by Nirvana and all that, it felt younger. It felt cool. It was like making Batman cool, and I loved that about it.
He felt scrappy with his hands taped and the whole thing. He felt wild, and that's what I wanted. I wanted a young Batman after years of grizzled, older Batman, which I love too, but it's time to switch it up. So, so great to see that.
Also, I thought that Zoë Kravitz was great as Catwoman. I will be totally honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Catwoman-Batman relationships. When it's done well, I'm always there for it, but I just feel like it falls into the same pattern over and over again: they can't be together in the present, they get close, and then they fall apart. So, it's more just that it's so telegraphed, but I thought they did a fantastic job with it and I thought she was great.
I also loved the references to Hush. I thought it was really masterful.
So, I actually thought him and Catwoman was a huge plus and I really enjoyed it even though I was bracing against it because generally those aren't my favorite Batman stories. That's just me and that's just my version of Batman. I think there are tons of versions of Batman where that's, like, bread and butter and that's amazing. And if that's your bag, good on you, and that's your version of Batman and I respect that, it's just not mine.
Other things I loved… Penguin, I loved the down and dirty aspect of the villains, I thought Riddler was super cool and I love the way he felt threatening and modern. And there were nods to the kind of violence that we see nowadays and yet he still felt comic booky. It was a perfect blend, to me, of an artistic vision where it had a visual aesthetic that reminded me of comics without feeling corny, and I thought it was just really well calibrated. I love the fourth act, even though I'm not usually up for fourth acts in a movie. I always usually say three acts, but I thought they pulled it off here. And, obviously, I loved the fact that it reminded me of Gates of Gotham and Zero Year with the flooding of Gotham, which hopefully they carry into the second movie.
And here's where I get into the things that I hope for in the next one and the things they could maybe tweak I love the idea that the second movie might be something that's like a blend of No Man's Land, Zero Year and the Arkham City game (I love those games). So, having Gotham be wildly different and new and something that's yours as a new viewer and as a new generation of Batman fans where it's overgrown and strange and different areas and zones are cordoned off and different villains have them, I love that. I hope they use a villain that they haven't used yet. I hope they use Clayface, for example.
I think Clayface could be redone in a really exciting way, especially in these times with all kinds of science-based stuff and also the idea of identity, all of it. I think he could be great. Of course, I'm partial to them using the Court of Owls. I've been amazed by the clips of the cast and crew talking about the Court of Owls so much (Tyler put in the clips!)
And I do think they would be the perfect villains for a destroyed Gotham, because that's when they would swoop in. They were probably behind some of the Riddler stuff, right? If I was writing it, they’d come in and say “now Gotham is ours to reshape…” That would be amazing. And then in the third movie you bring in the Joker. What I would do is in movie #2, Batman needs the help of, or goes to Arkham to consult, villains about the Court of Owls or about Clayface and whatever. You get to know those villains, and then in #3 all bets are off and Joker comes in. That's what I would do if I was structuring it. The only thing I'd say is I hope they continue to be more and more ambitious. I really would love to see a suit that isn't black and armored. I love the suit now, I think it's really cool and I love the arm arrows. It gave me vibes of a lot of things, like I do feel there was a spiritual connection to a lot of things that I love in Batman and some of the stuff we did, especially in Zero Year—that feel of him being DIY, young, the Batcave being this remade train station (I hope they show more of the Batcave next movie). But also, I want to see him be more nimble. I want to see him be fast and more under-armor than armor. Don't be afraid of having, like, the sleeveless or the purple gloves. And not because we did it—think Paul Pope’s Year 100, that kind of a design.
Have a Batcycle that, like, literally hangs upside down in a configuration and then unfolds and, wham, high-tech Batcycle right there for you. Have a cape he can take off and throw instead of a collared cloak thing, you know what I mean? Have batarang things that pop out of his head, have him be able to detach the ears and throw them off the costume. I want him to be mobile and tactile and fun and fast and scrappy and wild, a young Batman that’s doing things you haven't seen before that's high tech but nimble, like fast and agile, all of that. Not encumbered with that whole dark, black stuff.
So, that's just my opinion. Like, I love the way he looked in this one. I would tweak it a little bit, but I think you could move into the next one being even a little bit more radical with his costume, because you've proved its true to core and it fits the story, you know what I'm saying? Give him, like, a more punkish, out-there young Batman feel. Make him yours. Love the Batmobile, favorite moment in the movie.
So, yeah, those are my initial thoughts. If you have any questions or you want to bring up anything to me, do it. Of course, I was super in the bag for the film the second the contact lens popped up 10 minutes. And I was like, “that's in my first issue of Batman with Greg Capullo, oh my God!”
The other thing was the last line. That's the thing about the Catwoman story, I'll say this and then I'll stop. I genuinely believe my version of Batman—not yours, necessarily—my version of Batman is happy. The argument that “he is not happy, why doesn’t he deserve to be happy?” He is happy. He’s happy married to Gotham. He is happy going out every night and doing the thing that he thinks prevents what happened to him from happening to another child. And that makes him happy, being a symbol of the best of us that way. And I love the emotional thing they were trying to say at the end of the movie, which I think was literally the messenger from Zero Year almost word for word. Not to connect it to that, but I mean, the words are in the comic about how he realizes he needs to be a symbol of hope, a symbol of inspiration, not a symbol of darkness. Instead of scaring bad people into the shadows, you bring good people out into the light in these dangerous times. And for me, that makes him happy. And he has a family that he's built because they're inspired by what he's doing and he's inspired by them. So, getting married and having kids, to me, I've never felt that with my version of Batman. Other versions of Batman I completely respect, and again, it's not that one is better than the other, it's just my take my take. I didn't like the end of The Dark Knight Rises where he got married and left. I felt like he wouldn't be able to do that without coming back, but that's me. That's just my take. So, all the power to you if you have a different one. For me, I loved that they used the last line—the last line of Zero Year is where Alfred says to Julie Madison, “I'm sorry, but he's spoken for…” And in this movie when Catwoman said, “I know you're spoken for,” I was like “oh, my heart…”
So, anyway, thank you guys so much! I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you go see it. Go support it! It's a great film. Huge congrats to Matt Reeves, Rob Pattinson, Paul Dano, Zoë Kravitz, everybody involved. It was fucking great. So, thanks, guys. And again, collaboration. We're gonna have a surprise guest and FOC is Monday for Nocterra. And on Tuesday and Wednesday we have big comics coming out—Clear #5 and We Have Demons #1. Come see us at Midtown Comics—Greg and I will show you a good time. Bye!