I like when people make the effort to go forth and dive deep into a topic I love – such as Batman – and I crave this sort of in depth thinking wherever I can find it.
I enjoyed a couple of great video essays this year that take the time to think about Batman and have something useful to say, all of which are linked to below.
The first one is “How the Dark Knight Killed the DCEU” from the Lobster Magnet channel.
The other two videos are from HiTop Films, and are basically video essays on how the various Batman movie adaptations do or don’t stack up to the essential core of Batman established in various media. Both are EXCELLENT thought provoking videos that demonstrate a clear depth and understanding to Batman beyond the casual fan level.-
Batman 1989 is a Bad Batman Movie (from HiTop Films):
Batman does not kill (from HiTop Films)
I rarely link to any sort of video content here, as often videos disappear and leave a big ugly blank space in your blog post, but these channels are fairly active and hopefully will be around for a while, I hope you check them out.
I have no affiliation with these guys, but every year I look for interesting stuff related to Batman online and in all types of media – and these guys really stood out with their content. It gives me an idea, maybe a “best of batman media” type of post, a round of good stuff in one post. Something to ponder.
At times I’ve considered doing video content myself – but I don’t have the editing skills for that and it would take a lot of time to learn – to make something of the quality I would desire. I’d much rather do a Podcast anyway, and I’m still looking for someone to do a Batman podcast with, but have not yet found that person. It may happen one day, or maybe never. I considered doing a solo Bat podcast, but as an avid audiophile – I really don’t like solo Podcasts and much prefer the banter of a good dynamic duo.
So I’m grateful for cool videos like the ones linked to above that go above and beyond and are not just the usual run of the mill low effort clicky baity bullshit.
Despite being around for over seventy years, there is only a handful of quality books written about Batman, and surprisingly little to find online that is worth reading about Batman. Low quality ain’t the Way of the Bat my friend, Batman don’t do shortcuts and he don’t do lazy. It’s downright disrespectful to the Legacy of the Bat to create garbage online and add the Good Name of Wayne to it. So don’t do it! Avoid! Reverse the Batmobile at full speed away from stinking garbage.
THE FUTURE OF BATFAN ON BATMAN
My apologies for the lack of posts here lately. Lots going on behind the scenes creatively speaking, but not many finished posts here over the last year or so. I hope you enjoyed my epic long-ass in depth post on Harley Quinn, that more than a few people requested – including my fellow Batfan and friend Deboleena Panja.
At a risk or repeating myself, there is a lot more Batman themed articles in the works. Some nearly finished, others with tons of editing to do. This is post #82, and I have at least 200 more in me (probably more).
In the gaps here, I’ve also been doing other writing elsewhere. If you’ve never found my Transformers Multiverse Blog take a look if that sort of thing interests you. Currently I’ve started into a series of articles focusing on the Transformers 1986 animated movie. I talk in that blog about Transformers fiction, sometimes toys and the odd bit about Ninja Turtles appears in there too.
Also in the works is a Batman ebook. It will be announced here long before it becomes available for anyone interested. I’m thinking it will be between 50,000 to 100,000 words, and most likely in the $5 range for Amazon Kindle (you can get the Kindle app for pretty much everything these days, you don’t have to own an actual Kindle). Once I get it done, I will more than likely do some other volumes focused around different topics.
My focus in 2019 is shifting away from various online communities, endless (enjoyable) research and back to more hardcore get up at 0500 and drink some disgusting coffee – write for an hour five or more days a week before work routine. I’m sipping on yet another disgusting black sugarless coffee ‘write now.
For anyone wondering, will I ever do my own article series about the various Batman movies? In a word…….eventually. I prefer to focus on the comics, animation and essential core of Batman. The movies get so much attention that they are at the end of my “to do” list. I will dive more specifically into the Nolan movies for a bit as part of my upcoming “Symbolism of the Bat” article series, but that will be a tangent to my articles on Batman: the Animated Series and Batman Arkham Asylum video game article series throughout 2019.
2019 is just around the corner, and while it may not be my Zodiac Sign, I’m predicting it’s gonna be another Year of the Bat around these parts. It’ll also be the year I finally get another superhero tattoo, expect pictures of that one.
2019 – The year I do five impossible things before breakfast
2019 – The year of Making it Wayne
2019 – The year of BATITUDE
2019 – The year of many good fortunes, long life and lucky Bats.
Back to the Future. Star Wars. Batman. Transformers. Predator. The Terminator. These are some of the cool properties you’ll be seeing in this short Q&A with Khai from Kool Kollectibles.
It’s no secret to anybody who knows me that I love Batman and Transformers. While I own a few Batman figures here and there, I have around a hundred or so Transformers toys from various toy lines, and a bunch of of the old Marvel Legends toys among other stuff.
But some people take toy collections to a whole other level, be it upmarket highly desirable or rare items, fantastic displays, and with the internet people can even develop their own fan following. Well, I for one am a fan of Kool Kollectibles, I love checking out new pics of whatever amazing toys he has picked up, and took this opportunity to ask him a few questions, and of course share some stunning pics of his amazing collection.
You can find Khai’s main site koolkollectibles.net, and link to all his other social media pages from there.
No two collections are the same, and no two collectors are the same. Thanks to the magic of the internet collectors and fans around the world can enjoy seeing what other people are into, get ideas about how to display their loot, discover something they never even knew existed or just admire a really fantastic collection.
So without further ado, here’s some quick questions and amazing pics from Kool Kollectibles.
JOHN: What are your overall favourite top 3 toys and why?
KHAI: I collect a lot of different lines of figures and other collectibles, but my top 3 right now would have to be (not in any order):
1) Hot Toys 1/6th scale Chewbacca figure
2) Pop Culture Shock 1/4 scale Ryu Ansatsuken statue
3) Hot Toys 1/6th scale Delorean Time Machine
JOHN: One issue every collector faces is space. How do you store and display your collection? Do you ever get rid of old items to make room for new items?
KHAI: The best bit of advice given to me as a collector was to put money aside for decent glass display cabinets. Some collectors continually spend money on figures, but either have no space to display them, or have open display cases that results in a lot of dust maintenance. So I saved up money for a while and bought some big glass display cabinets and it was the best decision I ever made. Having your collectibles displayed well in a glass cabinet really takes the collection to another level. With decent lighting too, it simply looks amazing, and is less maintenance with dust etc.
Also, a collection shouldn’t be judged on its size. Some collectors think bigger is better. That’s not necessarily the case. I’ve seen some smaller collections, but they’re displayed well and in a classy way, and are collectibles that are loved by the owner, not because they are the “in thing” at that moment in time.
I normally buy things to keep, and so have not had to sell many things at all. But for space and money, I did end up selling my 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures since I was getting essentially the same characters in the large 1/6th scale and didn’t need to double up. So now that I have my larger cabinets in place, I try to pick and choose the items I buy now to fit into themes or source material that I love.
JOHN: You have a focus on Hot Toys movie characters and Transformers Masterpiece figures, why these particular lines over other lines/brands of toys?
KHAI: Most of my collecting is based around nostalgia. I grew up in the 80s watching the classic cartoons such as Transformers, Battle of the Planets, He-man, MASK etc. Then through the 80s and 90s and even now I still love movies. I love the classic action and sci-fi movies from the 80s and 90s. I was lucky enough as a kid that my grandparents and parents spoiled me with the original G1 Transformers toys, many of which I still have today. When I saw the TF Masterpiece figures around the 2010 mark, it was mind-blowing for me to see the characters I loved in a toy form that was as close as their cartoon aesthetic as possible. And with such improved engineering, the TF Masterpiece figures are some of the best Transformers toys ever made. With the nostalgia that they bring, I smile each and every time I see them.
As for Hot Toys figures, Hot Toys is by far the benchmark at the moment on 1/6th scale collectibles. The attention to detail, realism, paint application, and tailoring is second to none. And with them making iconic characters from Star Wars, Terminator, Back to the Future, Predator, Aliens etc, and then new characters from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, there was no way that I could pass them up! They are simply some of the best action figures around at the moment, and look incredible when displayed together.
JOHN: Any advice for new collectors, or people looking to get into the hobby?
KHAI: Spending can quickly get out of control, especially with peer pressure in buying everything to keep up. I would say just stick only to source material that you truly love, and pick and choose carefully what you buy. Remember, it’s not about the size of the collection that matters, it’s how you love each item in your collection that really matters to you and those close to you that come and look at it.
JOHN:What are you top toys that fall into the category of “unobtainium” for you. That is toys that are very rare, super super expensive or just not made anymore and are nearly impossible to get ahold of even if you have the money. What are your top “wish list” rare items, your holy grail items/toys?
KHAI:I recently got my first Pop Culture Shock statue with the Street Fighter Ryu. I have played Street Fighter since arcade days in high school, so for about 25 years now. The characters are ingrained in my consciousness! If I could wind back time, I would go back and buy the PCS Street Fighter statues previously released. PCS truly limit their edition sizes, and once sold out the price skyrockets to a point where I cannot justify the expense. So those PCS statues are some that fall into this grail category for me.
JOHN: Do you collect any traditional (meaning cheap and usually small eg 6-12″) action figures, or just the more upscale stuff with better detail and sculpting?
KHAI: I used to collect the smaller cheaper figures such as the Star Wars Black Series and NECA figures. But I found they were harder to display in a way that showed them off well, and then I was doubling up the same characters in larger scales. So to minimise my cost and space issues, I just decided to stick with the larger collectibles and buy less of them.
JOHN: Your entire collection gets sucked into a mini-black hole, except for ONE toy of your choice, what toy would that be?
KHAI: Always a hard question to answer, as collectors tend to end up with a few items that are their favourites. Strangely, if I had to save just one item in my collection from a fire or black hole, I’d probably pick the TF Masterpiece MP-13 Soundwave. Soundwave was my first TF G1 toy when I was a kid, and the Masterpiece version is amazing. So for nostalgia, fun factor with the transformation etc, I’d have to say that.
JOHN: Batman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Transformers – which is your favourite movie/comic/toon franchise and why?
KHAI: Star Wars would have to be my pick for favourite franchise, particularly the original trilogy. I used to watch the movies every weekend on VHS tapes, and just love the whole story arc and characters.
JOHN: Where can people connect with and follow you online?
KHAI: The best place to keep up with my latest news etc would be the Kool Kollectibles Facebook page and YouTube channel. I also keep the website and Instagram account up to date too! Links below 🙂
Thanks Khai for taking the time to answer some nerdy questions. There were so many great pictures of your collection, it was hard to pick, so I put as many in as I could.
There are some more great pictures below to enjoy, in some excellent display cases, be sure to follow Khai on Facebook / Twitter etc at the links above if you want to keep up with his collection, or view lovely full screen HD galleries of his toy collection.
So many wonderful toys. My favourites have to be the Batman 1989 toys, Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight and the Terminator toys from various films. Just a spectacular collection any comic book fan or action/sci-fan would be very jealous of.
We’re each others’ good luck charms. I always say to him, I’m not your good luck charm, you are mine!
Father figure, mentor, friend, guide, conscience, bad ass, gentleman.
Alfred is all of these and more to ‘master’ Bruce.
Alfred as portrayed by Micheal Caine in Chris Nolan’s Batman Trilogy is the character whose essence is perhaps most true to the comic book source material.
Caine embodies the best qualities of Alfred.
Alfred is loyal, passionate, tough, loving and kind. He is the father that Bruce conveniently forgets he has, the man who actually raised him.
The Alfred /Bruce relationship is at the core of the Nolan Batman films, their relationship is the core dynamic that binds the three films together thematically and emotionally.
Micheal Caine’s Alfred eases us into our Batman cinematic journey. The transition of Bruce Wayne boy billionaire to Bruce Wayne masked avenger is also the relationship of Bruce and Alfred.
Alfred is there at the beginning to hold our hand and guide us in the dark, he travels with us along the way through the hard times and the good times, he’s quick with a joke and a smile, he stands up to and questions Bruce’s journey as all good mentor figures do, and Alfred is there to shed a tear at the end of the journey, the lone figure standing over the empty grave of a strange man the world truly never knew.
Christopher Nolan began his cinematic relationship with Michael Caine in the film adaptation of the novel The Prestige.
Nolan has included Caine (his “good luck charm”) in every subsequent film from Batman Begins and Inception to Interstellar.
In Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Caine plays Alfred to Christian Bale’s Batman. Alfred is a father figure, mentor, guide, conscience and a friend to Bruce Wayne. Alfred is Bruce’s rock in a chaotic life, he is Bruce’s only family, and primary care giver, even though they are not related by blood.
In the Batman source material, Alfred Pennyworth has been portrayed as a bungling amateur detective and failed actor for comedy relief.
Alfred later died and then turned into a super-villain called Outsider in one of the silliest and ill-conceived ideas in comics history. Of course the idea would be repeated with Jason Todd / Red Hood as well as other ludicrous stories that make no real sense. Alfred got better better and reverted to his normal self after Batman punches some sense into him (see the image below, top left panel).
Alfred over the years evolved into the sarcastic but warm hearted mentor/father figure to Bruce Wayne that we are most familiar with in the modern era of the Batman mythos.
Alfred is an essential of element any great Batman story. Without Alfred, Bruce is just some spoilt rich manchild in a silly costume who takes out his anger on criminals and refuses to move on with his life. Alfred is Bruce’s conscience, stand in father figure, mentor and friend. Without Alfred, Bruce would rapidly descend into his own self-invented Batman persona, leaving behind the ‘Bruce Wayne’ parts of his personality.
As a character, Alfred has never been more vibrant, wise, sarcastic, kind and loving as when Sir Michael Caine brought the cheekiest, toughest and most loyal Butler in town to life in Chris Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.
If there is a valid criticism to be made of Nolan’s Batman trilogy it is perhaps they are TOO serious, too grim, too dark and depressing. Batman is a dark character, but not one hundred percent of the time. Spawn and The Shadow are darker characters (and both are killers), lets say not one hundred percent, but around ninety-nine percent.
I see Batman as more like 60-70% dark, in my hypothetical ‘just imagined for this sentence‘ scale of darkness for popular fictional anti-heroes, vigilantes and masked avengers. Otherwise Batman becomes too much like Spawn or the Punisher.
There has to be a line somewhere, and I think maybe Nolan went over that line. But I still love the films, even when they are not being true to the comics by having Batman kill, or when Bruce gives up being Batman after The Dark Knight to go sulk in his mansion like a bratty child.
Batman basically kills the main villains in each of the Nolan Batman films, something that doesn’t sit right with the comic book version of Batman. Most of the time when I watch The Dark Knight I forget that he kills Harvey Dent / Two-Face at the end of the film by knocking him off a building, which muddies the character of Batman in a film I really love.
The thing you have to accept to really enjoy Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, is that this is HIS Batman, not our communal (comic book) Batman. It is Nolan’s version of the character, and the internal film logic makes sense to him,but not always to us.
The cinematic Batman is its own thing, you can’t hold a director/writer accountable for following their own vision in telling the story they wanted to tell. Whatever the story ends up being, it is basically the writers/directors subjective opinion/interpretation of the character, so can not be “wrong” in any absolute sense.
You can argue “Batman doesn’t kill” and pick plot holes in the Nolan Batman Trilogy all day long, I have no issue with that, but remember that you can do that with any film ever made. You could say, in an imaginary heated exchanged with the tea drinking heavy coat wearing Nolan:
“Wait a minute, I don’t think you are really being true to the essence of the Batman character here.”
And you would have a valid point.
But the counterpoint is that Nolan went with his version of Batman, his cinematic Batman – a character based on the source material that was never intended to be the same literal Batman from the comic books. So calling out errors based on what people like in the comics is just irrelevant, because it is a movie, NOT a comic book!
I do have issues with Nolan’s Batman, – such as Batman killing Two-Face – but overall I love the films.
As Batman’s conscience, Alfred (Michael Caine) helps Bruce Wayne reach the outer limits of his psyche, harnessing the power of the villain / shadow archetype without fully giving in to the darkness he feels inside himself. Batman owns his demons, they don’t own him. It would be easy to just kill criminals and be done with them. But Batman holds himself to a higher moral standard.
At the end of the day, Batman values life, and the lives of all people. He is not an executioner, nor a judge. Batman is more like a cop, bounty hunter or sheriff in the old West. He chooses to operate outside of the law, because of the high level of Police corruption and all around ineffective law enforcement at all levels in Gotham City due to the stranglehold of the mob, serial killers and masked maniacs.
Some may call Alfred an “enabler”, in that he at first resists Bruce, then ultimately supports and helps Bruce to become Batman. He enables Bruce Wayne’s particular brand of madness. Alfred is such a highly principled character, so strong, motivated, caring, loving, and yes – wise – that I feel it speaks volumes about the rightness of Bruce Wayne’s choice (or mission / calling) to become Batman.
In ordinary terms becoming Batman is basically an insane choice. It would not be the choice of a well adjusted person.
But Gotham City is no ordinary city, it is the most crime ridden most corrupt city in America. Extreme times call for extreme measures, and given the depths to which Gotham City has sunk, and the cities genuine need for some force outside of government and law enforcement to allow for genuine change and progress, progress here meaning not capitalism, but a return to wellness, in this situation the invention of the mythic “Batman” may be a very reasonable response.
Any system that is so corrupt as to be completely ineffective has lost any sense of wellness, or sanity. A return to sanity, or wellness then requires either abolishing the current system, or change from outside of the system itself that ultimately pulls the old system down by proxy, or coerces it the old system to change by demonstrating a superior model. A city that lives in its own Shadow (as in the psychological term, not actual shadows) and refuses to evolve becomes a cancer on the land, and Batman is like an immune system response to the overwhelming attack of corruption (cancer) on the body of Gotham City.
Sanity and wellness then are ultimately the same thing. Once the city has been rehabilitated, then in theory there is no need for Batman, or if Batman is to continue, he becomes no longer an emergency response to a sick body, but a worker preserving the healthy status of the city. Batman becomes a defender of life, wellness and sanity, despite appearing to be a bit of a loony.
People in all times and places respond to Mythic characters, not with their intellect, but at a primal instinctual gut level. Mythic characters and archetypes bypass our everyday rational mind and penetrate our subconscious, they haunt our dreams and fantasies, they live in the space between worlds and flow from our intuition speaking to us of timeless tales and life lessons.
In this sense, Batman is an idea whose time has come. He is the antidote to the sickness of Gotham. He is Gotham’s underbelly given form and shape come back to haunt them, he is a wrathful deity determined to drag us kicking and screaming out of darkness and into the cold hard light of truth, showing us what we refuse to see or acknowledge for ourselves.
Michael Caine’s accomplished career has seen the actor staying the course in more iconic roles than most of us can even remember. Early films such as Alfie, The Ipcress File, The Italian Job, Zulu and Get Carter established Caine as a versatile actor. He could be an effortlessly charming ladies man, a tough guy, a quiet spy, a soldier, an upper class gentleman, or a lovable James Bond-like rogue.
Caine’s seventies roles were stereotypical male power fantasy roles that later led into his more intellectual roles in eighties cinema. Caine featured in further dramatic and comedic performances in the nineties, and a surprising return to both action and thrillers in the post year two-thousand era amidst the resurgence of aging male action stars in B grade films such as Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Arnold and Sly Stallone.
Throughout his career, Caine has played a mix of heroes and villains. He has every bit the talent and ability to play a Bond, Batman or Bruce Wayne. Caine is well suited to a variety of roles, but he is not limited by those roles, nor afraid to do something different.
From working with Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters to boldy strutting around with a shotgun in Get Carter to being Austin’s dad in Goldmember, and the pseudo-father to Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, Caine never really felt like a “young man” even when he literally was a young man on screen.
Michael Caine seemed to appear fully formed on screen, full of wit, bravado and effortless class. The seasoned veteran is a thoughtful actor whose acting style has changed and grown over the years, while still remaining effortlessly charming and unique. Caine is a perennial favourite among impressionists. The list of celebrities and laypersons who love to impersonate his distinctive voice are legion.
Caine can play a tough guy loner, spy, mild mannered intellectual, charming thief, father figure, mentor or just a lovable rapscallion that you can’t help but enjoy on screen no matter what mischief he gets up to.
The Italian Job while a relatively boring film, is memorable for two reasons – the fantastic car chase getaway scene in the iconic mins through the stunning shops and streets of Italy, and leading man Michael Caine. Remove either of those two elements and the movie would be a totally forgettable sub-par Ocean’s 11.
Even when playing a villain or amoral selfish character, Michael Caine remains very likable. There is something about his face that he just seems trustworthy and reliable. At this stage of his career, he literally is the archetypal Wise Old Man. It is hard to imagine Michael Caine in his younger days being a scoundrel running around with Sean Connery picking up women. Michael Caine starred alongside Sean Connery in the John Huston directed The Man Who Would Be King (1975). Caine and Connery remained lifelong friends.
There is something of a retired James Bond feel to Micheal Caine’s Alfred in Batman Begins. Beneath the cool and fatherly exterior is a man of remarkable depth and insight. While Batman despises guns, Alfred has no issue with them, and will not hesitate to shoot an attacker.
As much as we learn about Alfred over the three films, by the end of Dark Knight Rises we still know next to nothing about his personal history. The original Alfred introduced in Batman #16, 1943 was a fat bumbling Detective, a failed actor and son of Thomas Wayne’s butler Jarvis.
Later revisions of the character saw Alfred slimming down, changing his name and becoming the slender snooty sarcastic butler we are more familiar with today. Another retcon of the character made Alfred a former cold war spy. In yet another take on the character – Geoff John’s Earth-1 Alfred is a former Royal Marine, sharpshooter and martial artist who trains young master Wayne in martial arts. It will be interesting to see which version of Alfred turns up in the next Batman live action film.
When Micheal Caine made Harry Brown following his success in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it instantly reminded me of his seventies film roles such as Get Carter. It is easy to forget that Michael Caine is not just a classy English gentleman, but is also suave, sexy and charming on and off screen. Just as dangerous as BOND on screen, and real life friends with BOND (Sean Connery) off screen.
Harry Brown was a return to the anti-hero character made popular in revenge films by Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. A senior citizen who grows tired of the endless street gang violence and drug dealing in his neighborhood, Harry Brown is set on a path of destruction when his best friend is murdered. Being a former soldier, Harry is more than familiar with guns, and goes to town like a senior citizen version of Marvel’s Frank Castle / The Punisher.
Michael Caine makes a difficult role believable. It is Alfred’s role to convince us that Batman is plausible, that it is not completely insane to dress up like a Bat and punch crime in the face. Alfred is the cinematic bridge between our everyday world we inhabit and the realm of the unknown world, or underworld that Batman makes his own.
When Bruce decides to dress up as a giant bat and punch crime in the face, Alfred is the voice of reason. Micheal Caine sells this role by being a very warm, gentle and yet tough no nonsense mentor. Alfred’s acceptance of Batman ultimately becomes our acceptance of Batman, we want Bruce to succeed in his insane quest.
Alfred helps us to make the unknown known, he helps us to see the shadow that is Batman is not some threat, but an essential part of our personality that we have been afraid to explore. The power of Batman is not just about fear, but that there is a little of Batman in us all, we all have a dark side, and we all have hidden strengths demanding to be expressed.
Batman is an also an explorer of the human psyche
Batman then is not only a highly trained martial artist, scientist, criminologist, strongman, gymnast and detective. He is an explorer of the human psyche, making his home in the place where most of us fear to explore within our own lives, he not only journeys to the mythic underworld daily, he embraces and empowers himself with the symbols of shadow. Batman uses a criminals own fear against him by appearing to him as an otherworldly wraith, an invisible ninja, an unkillable spectre of the night.
Alfred doubts Bruce Wayne’s reasoning, methods and motivation. He is the sounding board to Bruce’s eccentricities. By running up against barriers and resistance in life, we are better able to gauge our actions, and know when we are moving beyond a barrier through the natural growth of our personality, of whether we are pushing ourselves in a direction which ultimately does not serve our best interests. Bruce butting heads with Alfred over his decision to become Batman only leads Bruce to further solidifying the idea in his mind.
Bruce Wayne becomes determined to become Batman, despite Alfred’s well reasoned and sane pleas not to. When Bruce later decides he no longer wishes to be Batman, Alfred reminds him that once you start something, you should really follow through. Alfred suggests to Bruce that the city may need Batman after all. Of course by the third film, Bruce Wayne has lost his way. He has given in to his own ignorance and self-delusion. He has walked away from his quest and Alfred, again the voice of reason pleads with Bruce not to be Batman.
After years of being idle, Wayne has lost his edge, and he faces new dangerous enemies he knows nothing about and fails to understand. Rather than retreating from his enemies, instead Batman charges head on into situations in which he has no hope of being victorious. This is where the movie version of Batman departs from the source material. The comic book version of Batman would have retreated, studied his enemies and their tactics, and eventually moved in like a ninja, catching his foe unaware to kick ass and take names.
Instead, the Nolan movie version of Batman goes further down the rabbit hole. He gives in to his own selfish false needs, his gives in to his own anger, desperation, rage, his need to prove to himself that he can still be Batman, and Bruce fails spectacularly when he is beaten physically and mentally by Bane. Bruce is robbed of all his wealth and resources, cut off from his allies and then dumped in a third world prison. Bruce then is his own worst enemy, and his spectacular failure seems to be what he needed to get him out of his Howard Hughes inspired self-exile.
Eventually Bruce Wayne comes back, he redeems himself. He trains and reinvents himself like Rocky and other movie heroes. But Bruce loses the one companion he has known his entire life. Alfred warns him not to continue his insane quest, and walks away, leaving Bruce to his fate.
Bruce Wayne redeems himself as Batman, but betrays his relationship with Alfred. He destroys his relationship to the man who raised him and cared for him his entire life. Bruce betrays Alfred by not telling him that he is alive after the resolution of the terrorist actions by Bane and Talia that threatened the city. The crisis has passed, and what possible reason could Bruce have for not telling his friend, father and mentor that he is in fact still alive, and did not die in the bomb blast, we, the audience never find out.
At the end of The Dark Knight Rises Bruce/Batman is revealed as still alive, but the pain and anguish that Alfred went through because of Bruce’s deception will take a lifetime to heal, if at all. The ending is bittersweet, as we see no evidence of Bruce Wayne attempting any reconciliation or re-connection to Alfred, the man who has been by his side his entire life, and whom he conveniently cut loose when the relationship no longer suited him.
On the one hand, we can say Bruce Wayne is a spoilt rich brat, on the other hand we can see his dedication and commitment to being Batman and serving the common good is total, and he is willing to sacrifice his friends, father figure, his wealth, resources and ultimately his own life.
Starting in Batman Begins, Alfred supports Bruce in his one man war on crime, but he never really fully approves of Batman. When Bruce insisted on becoming Batman, Alfred reluctantly supports him in his choice, but his loyalty is never in question. It would be quite reasonable for Alfred to walk away and have nothing to do with “Batman”.
It would be reasonable to go to the cops when your former employer starts punching criminals in the face while dressed up at night because of his childhood trauma rather than going to therapy or burying his misery in a bottle of booze.
The fact that Alfred never does any of these things speaks volumes of his character and integrity.
Alfred’s actions also suggest that he is not just the Wayne family Butler, but also Bruce Wayne’s primary care giver, the man who raised him more than his own father did. The man who has been by his side his entire life, supported Bruce, loved him and never let him down.
Few of us in the real world have it so good. Despite Bruce Wayne going through a terrible trauma and loss of his parents as a child, he was never truly without parents in the sense that Alfred was always his third parent, and continues to be his parent, mentor and counsel even as Bruce begins his career, obsession and calling as Batman.
The conflicting nature of the Bruce / Alfred relationship is one that has been tested to the limits in both Chris Nolan’s films, and in various comic book stories. Most people have heard of Batman and Robin, but few appreciate how integral Alfred is to Bruce Wayne. Robin, whether Dick Grayson, or any of the subsequent people to take up the role of Robin, can never be Batman’s equal.
Bruce Wayne found in young Dick Grayson the boy he thought he had lost, his inner child. The child he so desperately lost in himself, who never got to grow up with his parents. The death of Dick Grayson’s parents (also a murder) means Batman reliving his trauma, and knowing how it affected him, wants to guide young Richard Grayson to a happier, healthier life than Bruce had after the death of his parents.
Richard Grayson looks up to Batman, and sees the man he wants to become, while Bruce looks at Dick as the child who he never got to be, the child who died along with his parents the day Thomas and Martha Wayne were brutally murdered in a back alley. Bruce, Richard and Alfred then are an impromptu family. Alfred is the wise elder in the family, and guardian of the family traditions, while Bruce Wayne is the progressive rebel who cares nothing for tradition, and insists on doing everything his way. Alone, Bruce, Dick and Alfred are broken men, but together they are a great team, and family.
While the Robin we know from the Batman comic books was not part of Chris Nolans Batman Trilogy, Alfred very much is, and that core relationship remains, proving to be the most emotionally resonant and satisfying relationship in the three films.