The little robin can really sling those zings.
Posts Tagged ‘Robin’
Yesterday at the grocery, I spotted a collection of the 1943 Columbia Pictures Batman serial adaptations. I obviously had no choice but to pick it up — my hands were clearly tied — and I’ve found the content … illuminating?
The Dynamic Duo are first seen rounding up some miscreants and leaving them cuffed to a lightpole with a note pinned to one’s jacket for the police. The original script called for the Caped Crusaders to be their usual vigilante selves, but the censors deemed that a little too risky?
And, I guess with all the purportedly people-based government shifts going on in the world, they didn’t want the popcorn-scarfing masses to get ideas? — so Steve Jobs converted Batman and Robin in to federal agents. (May or may not be accurate.)
Isn’t it bromantic? Lewis Wilson as a jaunty, kohl-browed Batman, with Douglas Croft as the Boy Wonder, congratulate themselves on a good night of taking the law in to their own hands without right or invitation after hopping in a Batmobile chauffered by good old Alfred Pennyworth, whose previous comic presence had been a facial hairless, rotund figure — colloquial wisdom credits this adaptation’s portrayal of Alfred as thin, stately, and mustachioed with influencing his subsequent appearance in the comics.
Accordingly, so far as I’ve watched, this opening scene introducing their crime-fighting prowess is the only bit of vigilantism Batman and Robin display in the serial. Everything else is under the aegis of fighting Communist and Axis spy infiltration.
The note pinned to the man up there on our right’s jacket is somewhat reminscent of the “deliver to Lt. Gordon” note from The Dark Knight. It also indicates that the key to the cuffs may be found in the apprehended man’s pocket. Ostensibly, the cuffs will be taken off and replaced with official ones, but as they do not know the secret identity of Batman and Robin, are the originals now a gift to the Gotham City PD? I assume so. Not to worry: Batman and Robin have lots more pairs of handcuffs. You know, for … crime-fighting.
This first segment in the serial is titled “The Electrical Brain” and is a total yawn fest, since all that it features is electric zombies, atom-smashing handheld ray guns, a sinister villain, and more astounding racism than you can shake a KKK hood at. Oh, wait — it couldn’t be less boring. If you’re a fan of camp and jaw-dropping behavioral archaisms, like your happy hostess here, run, don’t walk out and find this collection.
Get all of your latently guilty chagrin primed, though. I’m not made out of moron: I understand the film is a product of its time — it’s part of why I find vintage, obscure cinema from this era interesting. But, sweet mother of Edward Said, the orientalism and propaganda are strong with this one.
The villain of the piece, Dr. Tito Daka, is a self-proclaimed servant of Hirohito. Daka is a Japanese enemy of capitalism who I’m amazed to say constitutes only a fraction of the deeply-woven Asian-targeted xenophobic mise-en-scene of the picture.
U.S. readers, if you’ve nursed some fantasy that the internment of our Japanese fellow citizens during the second World War was not widely known by most Americans and did not make a big dent in pop culture, this little slice of 1940’s life will prove you all kinds of unfortunately wrong.
Narrator: This was part of a foreign land transplanted bodily to America and known as Little Tokyo. Since a wise government rounded up the shifty-eyed Japs, it has become a ghost street where only one buusiness survives, eking out a precarious existence on the dimes of curiosity-seekers.
Wise government. Rounded up. Shifty-eyed. I honestly triple-took. “Did that just happen??”
It seems boldly racist to me, even for the time. So like I said, this serial has so far shown me that I don’t know crap about what was “okay” on the day-to-day in my country during this time.
Daka introduces himself to a new recruit to his organization, the partner of a recently sprung white collar criminal of sorts (his niece is dating Bruce Wayne, which is how the plotlines tie together), with the following charming monologue.
I am Dr. Daka, humble servant of His Majesty Hirohito, Heavenly Ruler and Prince of the Rising Sun. By divine destiny, my country shall destroy the democratic forces of evil in the United States to make way for the New Order, an Order that will bring about the liberation of the enslaved people of America.
Daka is portrayed by totally-not-Asian actor J. Carrol Naish, a future Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner. Irish by descent, Naish actually portrayed nearly nothing but non-traditional races in his performances, from Japanese to Puerto Rican to Middle Eastern.
Congruent to his alleged continent of origin in this serial and his heavy “oriental” makeup, Naish would later bring a whole new ball of uniquely challenging race-based character traits to the role of famous detective Charlie Chan on the small screen, in television’s The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1957).
The teaser for the next installment. There was no Bat Cave in the comics until after the release of this serial. But so far the Bat Cave in the serial is a stone wall behind a regular desk, with flickering shadows of bats waving around in front of lights off-camera… so I’d have to say the comics Bat Cave, even if inspired by the serial, most certainly carries the edge.
In the investigation of a neurotic style of life, we must always note who suffers most because of the patient’s condition. Usually, this is a member of the family.
…To injure another person through atonement is one of the most subtle devices of the neurotic.
(Dr. Alfred Adler. Problems of Neurosis. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd, 1929.)
Neurosis — keep it all in the family.
This advertisement for Detective Comics No. 27, the debut of Batman, was featured in Action Comics No. 12 in 1939. The character grew so popular that one year later he got his own title.
Girls like a boy in a cape.
I just find it interesting that Action sold DC ad space. I mean, I guess, thinking about it, like, why not? They probably weren’t worried about competition, and comics likely still felt like a who-knows-where-this-is-going gambit. Action ruled the roost with Superman, basically starting it all. Originally just to move toy catalogs, novelty companies would include little gimicky “Adventures Of ___” strips to entice boys to pick up the next catalog and beg their Depression era single mothers to buy them all the lovely needful things inside.
For an actual factual account of all this, try something like The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture. But my heart belongs to the historically accurate (mainly) work of fiction, Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. Oh, and Steranko’s History of Comics (foreword by Fellini). I’ll try to schedule something for later today to prove how rad Steranko is. Let them blow ya mind.
Schnitzt einer eine Marionette, wo man den Strick hereinhängen sieht, an dem sie gezerrt wird.
We are only puppets, our dangling strings pulled by unseen forces.
(Karl Georg Büchner, Dantons Tod. Act II, Scene 3. 1835).
What this criminal doesn’t know is we’ve secretly replaced his regular superhero with a grudge-bearing, wealthy revenge-freak who will literally go to the ends of the earth to screw you if he is bent out of shape. When he says something like, “I’m going to find out who you are,” he does not plan to forget. Sorry, dude.
via fyeahbatman on the tumblr.
Burt Ward goofin’. I am planning a Green Hornet post where I’m going to talk about an incident between Ward and my darlingest bamf Bruce Lee on the Batman set, but for now just enjoy this provocative pose from television’s take on the irrepressible Boy Wonder. (And if you’re feeling particularly gleeful and trashy, pick up Burt’s autobiography. It’s a hoot.)
I think this is via thatissofetch on the tumblr.
The Boy “Blunder.” Originally the “My parents are deaaaad” panel.
vintage poster art by Michael Myers on the behance network.
“Like the girls in other stories, Robin is sometimes held captive …. They constantly rescue each other from violent attacks by an unending number of enemies. The feeling is conveyed that we men must stick together because there are so many villainous creatures who have to be exterminated. They lurk not only under every bed but also behind every star in the sky” (p. 190-1).
Wertham argued that danger could be stimulating, and that in the wrong circumstances that stimulation could take a sexual turn. He called such stories “erotic rescue fantasies.” They were intended, he said, to make Robin more devoted to Batman than to anyone else on earth.
(Wertham, Frederic. Seduction of the Innocent. 1954. qtd in “Wertham’s Ghost,” The Animated Batman. April 19, 2006.)
Childrens’ rights crusader, noted comic-“reformer,” and homophobe Dr. Frederic Wertham took special care in his explosively nonsensical bullshit-book Seduction of the Innocent to devote more time to dissecting the perceived homoeroticism in Batman than to any other comic of the time. Winner, winner, chicken dinner? Dubious and highly disputed honor. For the record, the creators initially found his accusations laughable and explained that the character of Robin was indeed intended as wish-fulfillment, but only to keep the audience of young boys who imagined themselves being able to aid the Dark Knight in his efforts to clean up his city. Oh, what rabble-rousers.
On the other hand, Wertham is perhaps the first theorist of any note to take a genuinely psychological and critical eye to comics, trying to root out the source of their success and overarching mythos in their stories, and, though I may not 100% agree with his conclusions, I cannot in good conscience decry that early and earnest undertaking of a stab at a [misguided] unified theory of comics. People read them: they do matter.
If you know how HIMYM turns out, please don’t tell me. I like surprises. Anyway, Robin has been my favorite character on this show (which I admit I only sporadically catch) since the time that, in a green and white button-up baseball jersey, she talked the character Lily in to ordering Chinese and smoking cigars in Marsh’s car. That is just exactly my kinda gal. And she “suited up” for Laser Tag? Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Talia al Ghul by Stephane Roux.
Said it before but I say again:
If I could design subliminal messages, I would pipe those two things in to Chris Nolan’s dreams, I swar to gar.
She’s not getting any younger, Mr. Nolan. But you know what she is getting? Ever-more-perfect to play the part of Talia and take these films to the Next Level. Already had her dad as a villain, and his invisible hand is present in the sequel (the drugs Dr. Crane is still moving around GC in The Dark Knight are obviously chemically based on the hallucinogen he weaponized for Ra’s when he was a little more, ahem, put together; as he could have no present access to original stockpiles of that drug’s ingredients due to the plant’s destruction during the riots in the Narrows which concluded Batman Begins, Crane is likely acquiring the material to continue the synthesized manufacture of the fear drug from the League of Shadows, who’d provided him with his chemicals in the past. Yes?). Tie it all in and bring us home by bringing Talia in and let’s do this!