July 12, 2015


(Dedicated with great affection and admiration to Chuck Moore, Brant Fowler, and John Wilson)

As a blogger, I always receive press releases around products, movies, etc - many of which I either ignore or forward to others. So when I received an e-mail announcing that the Legends of the Knight would arrive on Hulu, I filed it away for July's Comic Related column. However, since the site's closing...I sure as heck wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by, so consider this my final column.

Growing up, I played Batman incessantly .Yes, Poplar Street in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood was protected by a young, chubby boy wearing a DePaul Blue Demons t-shirt, hand-sewn cowl, and towel wrapped around my neck. (Insert "that explains a lot" reference here). Although I was crazy for superheroes....I loved Batman. He was, in a weird way, an aspirational character - I wasn't lucky enough to have been rocketed from another planet (trust me, I asked Mom. Multiple times), but I could, if I applied myself, aspire to become Batman.

That's the premise of Legends of the Knight, a 2013 documentary that is a must-watch.

As I'm writing this, San Diego ComicCon 2015 has come and gone, with a plethora of moments, trailers, and all sorts of talk. I've also been witness to a bit of a back-and-forth in another fandom, leading me to wonder what my place is in fandom. Thankfully, Legends of the Knight was a great wake-up call for me, reminding me that at its core, fandom is about sharing common values, as well as a great love for a character.

Make no mistake - I'm not being cynical or snarky when I tell you that this is the most heartwarming movie about Batman that you will ever watch. (And I've embedded the video so you can watch at your heart's content).

Many of the stories focus on how the character of Batman - most ironically - is one of the more compassionate characters in popular culture. Legends of the Knight focuses on many such stories: the man who dresses up like Batman and visits sick children; the writer who uses Batman as a role model for facing her own challenges; and even a prison chaplan who describes Batman as a powerful metaphor for a unique cultural experience.

(Even the talking head segments focus as much on psychological and emotional aspects to Batman than on the usual comic/pop cultural bits.)

But my favorite part of the movie - Petaluma Batman. An anonymous college student decided to dress up like Batman and bring a positive attitude to a small California community. Unlike the HBO documentary Superheroes, this isn't a case of a damaged person trying to bring order: just a regular person deciding to be a beacon of hope. (Sadly, he has since given up being Petaluma Batman...but this movie is a fine tribute to that spirit).

And ultimately, that's what makes this movie a must-watch: one of the biggest items from San Diego was the Batman Vs. Superman trailer, which put superheroes in almost god-like positions. One of the great arguments that Legends of the Knight makes is that Batman - perhaps more than any other hero - reminds us that we have our own challenges. As we face and overcome those challenges, we find something deeper, even more heroic than we could expect....and in those small moments of heroism, we find the strands of humanity that connect us all.

As the movie puts it very succinctly, "We are Batman" 

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