In 1995 I was 9 years old and I went to the cinema (with dad, obviously) to watch my favourite actor at the time (Jim Carey) playing my favourite villain (The Riddler) from my favourite superhero franchise (Batman). It was like a dream come true, to have your favourite actor play your favourite character. Obviously, Val Kilmer instantly took favourite actor no.2 spot and to be honest I was familiar with some of his roles, especially the one in Willow.
The summer after, close to my home – I used to live right in the middle of Bucharest, where everything happened essentially as they were no shopping malls back then, all the big stores were more or less within that range – a shop that carried some toys – toy shop is not correct because… it’s hard to describe as all the shops back then were like convenience stores and some carried TVs and VCRs, while others carried shoes and track suites + furniture, and others groceries and toys.
Now, you had those fake toys, but every now and then you’ll find the real deal, all the cool toy brands. At an exaggerated price, obviously – one simple action figure could cost 2 months’ salary – again, different concept, inflation, etc.
Long story short (it’s hard on my blogs) a shop where the Nike store is today carried a series of Batman toys, and they brought the Batman Forever Riddler action figure; boy were we obsessed. By we I mean myself and 4 or 5 other classroom mates that use to form a line and simply hold and watch the doy inside its box, inside the store.
We were devouring it and I believe our imagination makes us didn’t need to actually have the toy. I remember on the back of the box were listed the other toys in the series and I said man, why one would want something else in life?
That went on for a couple of weeks until dad bought me that toy (I probably didn’t realize at the time I was frustrating my friends, as they were not so blessed on having a parent so generous as I did) and probably I still have it somewhere home.
It had a gimmick with a device that had nothing to do with the movie, but who cared?
I found this video review of the action figure, and by watching it, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just me with the obsession.
But the obsession was not limited to the action figure, as I admired the character – and somehow always saw him as a victim. I had a green tracksuit and you could guess I’ve made a couple of question marks on it with a marker (something really hard to find those days) and made myself a small green eye mask.
I had a friend who lived across the street on the 6th floor and made a couple of flyers with the question mark on them and had him throw them via a paper plan – failed attempt as the plane was crashed on the 5th-floor neighbour’s balcony. But you can understand how much I liked the character.
After that phase, I went back to admiring Batman (again).
My dad was an accountant, a CPA, and a good one, which was essential when some laws did not exist then. Many foreigners were employing his services for the businesses they were operating in my country (that’s how I ended up cheering for AS Roma as opposed to Lazio, but that’s a topic for another conversation).
Well, whenever I heard he got a new client from Italy I would ask him if he could buy me an uomo pipistrello costume – as this is how it was advertised on the Italian TV channels. They didn’t have any commercial with a Batman suite, but I thought that it’s so popular they don’t need to advertise. I got a bunch of cool stuff, a Juventus t-shirt (which I traded for one with Roma) but never the Batsuite.
I’ve been a couple of times in Italy and no one there is wearing Batman suites, as I thought they are.
Obviously, I got the VHS tape of the movie (a bootleg doubled over the Spanish version) and watch it X many times. Then I thought somehow all the 3rd movies from a franchise series have forever so I was waiting for Mortal Kombat forever for the longest time.
I still am… in a way.
I haven’t seen the second Batman movie, Batman Returns – it seemed very hard to get that movie (and also thought that the second movie from a franchise series always returns). I remember seeing the movie was playing at the cinema from the bus we used to take when we were visiting some friends and saw some promos about the Catwoman and Penguin, but that completely skipped my radar and I had little power to do something about it. I just remember a scene with the Catwoman over the Penguin, probably from one of those promos.
I saw it later on TV, I believe on a German station. I’ve enjoyed it but the impact wasn’t the same.
What I had at home was Batman – Tim Burton’s Batman starring Michael Keaton. That’s why I have huge respect for Michael Keaton, because he played the Batman, and he did it well, in a time when this was not something serious. I’ve probably seen that flick a million times – the one with Jack Nicholson as the Joker.
The real event that made a mark was Batman & Robin in 1997. Can you imagine that after Jim Carey, Arnold took up my new favourite villain from the Batman universe? (you can imagine how I knew which villain will be portrayed by Silvester Stalone and who JCVD will be in the next movies).
I was arguably 2 years older and wiser since the last movie so I went and saw this movie at the cinema 3 times; for the first one I’ve bought tickets myself – actually asked someone to do it because they wouldn’t sell it to me. My parents didn’t want to go when then so I gave them to someone to re-sell them.
The first time I saw it with dad, then somehow managed to trick mom into taking me. And then I asked my grandmother – who wasn’t my actual grandmother but kind of raised me as she was my downstairs neighbour – to take me as well.
Boy did I love it – they released the comic book version and you could bet I’ve ripped that edition apart. It was the equivalent of an action figure as I didn’t want to leave that magazine. I have this living memory of me being in the countryside with dad, visiting my grandparents and having that magazine in my inside pocket from that jeans jacket I had for a beautiful spring. Nothing particular happened, I just remember it as it was yesterday.
Some toys (the fake one this time) came into my possession and although I was somehow realizing that the movie was shit, it was not.
Alicia Silverstone ? wasn’t for sure.
And then nothing happened, in regards to the Batman universe.
Later I found one of the QUELLE catalogues my mom brought from Germany in 1990. That’s a story just by itself but for now, we’re just going to stick to the toys page where they had something featured with Batman and his sign/symbol, a symbol which I tried to imitate on a carton and apply on the chest of my black school uniform – the closest thing I could associate as his costume.
A dark male Venetian mask was also the closes thing – which made me look more like Robin – still close.
Then nothing happened for years in terms of Batman’s cinematic universe. You would hear a rumour every now and then but only that… rumours. No Sly or JCVD… no nothing. I had the cartoon series from Caroon Network to console with – which are not bad AT ALL by the way, even for kids and/or adults.
Then life happened.
In 2004 Warner Brothers released Batman Begins starring an upcoming actor (upcoming lol – when his first big role was in 1986, the year I was born – and he was 5 – and the legend says he stole the role from Leonardo DiCaprio) directed by an upcoming hotshot movie director.
I was impressed by Memento and saw Insomnia around that time but had no idea who made what.
Let’s just say I wasn’t at my best when the movie was released. But once things settled, the first thing I did was to create an elaborate scheme to see the movie – rent it out. I pursued my mom to rent it out and I went to a friend to watch the DVD. No, I wasn’t that poor, it was just the circumstances.
The rest is history. Nolan was the only guy who took this seriously and he essentially set the foundation for what will come (the Marvel Universe). Heath ledger’s death prior to releasing the second movie of Nolan’s trilogy somehow created the Erie universe around it. And of course, everything cooled off with the last movie – which was to no one’s surprise, not intitled Forever. Tom Hardy is the start of that one and out of all three movies, I found myself watching snippets on YouTube the most from that one.
I also had the patience to go through all the seasons of Gotham and all I can remember is that version of the Joker is no.2 in my opinion.
Oh, and then Batman vs. Superman and all the DC Universe happened. I almost forgot to mention them… and what saved was last year’s Snyder’s Justice League release.
Fast forward to March 6, 2022. The first movie is seen in 2 years at the cinema – The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, an actor I’ve watched closely since the announcement (but not Twilight).
Maybe I’m not at that age anymore, maybe I was tired after a long week of work, and the 3-hour movie starting at 10 PM was not the right choice… 2 weeks later and I haven’t decided if I liked it or not. It’s treated seriously for sure, but felt somehow goofy and was kind of disappointed by/from Paul Dano’s performance of the Ridler, who was supposed to be the star of the show.
Or maybe I’m just jealous as both Robert and Paul are my age and doing what I thought back in 1995 I was supposed to e doing – to become a famous actor who would play either/or Batman/Riddler.
I’ve also seen Jarhead recently, starring Jake Gyllenhaal – that movie has The Batman’s Nirvana song featured on the OST. And I was thinking – where does Jake fit into the next Batman movie?
Oh, and I don’t know exactly why I thought, for a short period, that Ben Foster would be a great Bruce Wayne.
Photo by Picography from Pexels