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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Batman (1989)

This movie was a big part of my childhood, largely because one of my older brothers was crazy about it. I still remember him picking me up by my shirt collar on the jungle gym, growling, "I'm Batman" and then dropping me off the side (it was only a few feet down and we're siblings, it was fine. Funny, even.).


I remember the first time I watched the opening credits, how I couldn't see the contours of the logo on our CRT television (could anyone see that on a regular TV in the 90s?) but THAT SCORE. So exciting. I remember the Joker being my first understanding of death. ("Why are his eyes open like that?" "Well, he's dead.") This was my first introduction to Prince! And I did not understand that until much later, which is too bad. Who am I kidding? I was not prepared to appreciate Prince fully until my 30s.


As I've gotten older and have lived through many, many iterations of Batman, I still appreciate this one the most (after all, we wouldn't have The Best Batman - Batman: The Animated Series - without the Burton films). Mostly, it's because it's actually designed. There's style to it. Gotham is its own character. It upholds the weird, nebulous time/space setting of the comics. (It's not the 40s but it feels like the 40s.) The matte paintings that make up Gotham are so entrancing. The neon! The Brutalism! The added steam coming from ...places! The fashion is menswear from the 40s, women's costumes come from central casting (prostitute!), and Vicki Vale comes from a Robert Palmer video. And it works.


I struggle with Vicki. She's, by all accounts, a total badass, trying to evolve her career as a photographer beyond the pages of Vogue (already formidable) and straight into Time and then the reason she's in Gotham is because... she likes bats? Flimsy. THEN there's her ridiculous and unhinged behavior after ONE DATE with Bruce Wayne. He told you he was going out of town because after a one night stand, you were getting clingy. He doesn't owe you his dark backstory just yet, Vicki. You don't need to literally stalk him. And you certainly don't get to try and hold moral high ground after that. It is unsurprising they didn't work out.


But Bruce, Bruce I love. Particularly as played by Michael Keaton. There's something wonderful about the way the Burton movies handle Bruce. He seems to be a recluse. Just some random, mysterious (but not intriguing to anyone but Vicki) millionaire. Not Gotham's Son. You have to look up his parents' murder on microfiche. It's not the stuff of urban legend. People can't even pick Bruce out at his own party. So Keaton's choices to be offbeat and, dare I say, almost neurodivergent, are perfect and charming. It makes sense. He's not trying to convince a city that he's some fabulous playboy, he's just staying out of the way, and now he's awkward. It's great.


What else is great about the Burton/Schumacher (yeah I know) movies is that they focus on the villains. Batman is a given, and a constant. Modern superhero movies are soooo myopic on the origin story. But aren't they all the same? This era's choice to gloss over Batman's origin gives so much richness to this particular moment in Gotham's history. These movies are all about how we create our own villains, and there's something blessedly universal in that that just isn't true about the story of a rich boy working out and learning martial arts instead of, I don't know, going to therapy. I used to write in depth movie analyses on Facebook Notes and I wrote a big long thing about just this. That's lost to the ages now, but I still don't feel like rehashing it entirely. But I do think it's neat. Let Bruce be a weirdo. I don't need to aspire to Bruce, I just need to know that Batman will be there in the end.


Batman is my favorite, favorite comic book world. I could go on forever. I haven't even talked about Jack yet but if I'm being honest, my favorite thing about this Joker is his wardrobe. And my second favorite thing is Bob.

Bob's the Best.


Resin, paint in/on a cookie tin.

"If You Gotta Go, Go with a Smile"





Takeaways:

-This was one of my bonkers ideas that is mostly a checklist of techniques I've wanted to try. This was resin layered painting (those fish people do are so cool), acrylic pouring (I still don't get it), and found object miniature work (I used dollar store stick em gems and coffee stirrers to make the welded seams/bolts on the outside of the tin).

-If I could have started over/had more time, I would have lifted the bottom of my resin so the top met the rim of the tin. The placement inside just seems... wrong.

-UV Resin is stinky and expensive. I don't think I'll use it often (I'm disappointed by the sense of depth I was able to achieve especially given the time it took - it's slightly better in person but not by much) but it's a really great tool to keep in my back pocket, especially for miniature work.

-This was another piece that had many iterations in my mind. First it was going to be a flat panel that was larger but as soon as I added the resin component and knew I did not have the patience for a frame to contain it this week, I switched to a container and was delighted by the stroke of genius that called my attention to this cookie tin. I was also going to tint the resin green (which I think would have helped the sense of depth a bit) but I didn't want to lose the color of the paint and I made the right choice with that. I tried tinting a layer at the end, hated it, and scraped it out before it cured (ick).

-I wish he looked less ...delighted? in his face but it turns out that the trickiest part of the layered resin painting is that you really cannot sketch out your work. I did a ROUGH outline of the body on the first layer but that was it. Everything else was freehand painting and I couldn't fix any problems I saw later on unless I wanted them to float well above the actual problem. All that considered? I'm so proud of how this turned out.


OO-DE-LALLY! Next week: Disney's most attractive animated cast ever. Robin Hood. It's been a Week and I'm thrilled to kick back to gentle adventure and general do-gooder spirit.


I hope you have a lovely week that is kind and patient and not in a rush to do or be anything.

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