September 17, 2016 marks the annual celebration of the Caped Crusader himself…Batman. Celebrations are held internationally for the DC Comics icon, arguably the most popular comic book hero of all-time! DC Comics have kicked off proceedings by providing information on how you can celebrate the great day here.
I wanted to celebrate Batman Day by sharing with our fans what the Dark Knight means to me, and why the character is such a huge part of my life. I’m 35 years old, and my earliest memory of Batman was when I was five years old. I was shooting a commercial for kid’s colouring books with two other children. We were dressed up as cartoon characters, and I was envious of the little boy next to me who was dressed as Batman. I wanted his costume so badly, and there I was sitting for the first take in my Inspector Gadget costume. As a young boy, I would spring up out of bed on Saturdays, well in advance, for the weekly cartoon entertainment to begin. I loved watching Batman, every weekend I would run out to the family room and switch on that TV with a huge smile on my face.
Then came Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989. I was eight years old and I remember the jaw dropping previews that hit screens everywhere. I rem ember asking my parents if they would take me to the movies to watch this new take on the Dark Knight. My uncle (Dad’s brother) who is eleven years older than me went with his friends to go see it, and I wanted to go so badly. Close family friends who also rushed to go see the film raised concerns at the time with my parents saying that this take on Batman was not for children, he was too dark, and possibly just as bad as the Joker. That was it, I was told I had to wait. I was devastated. After months of begging, my parents finally gave in and I got to watch it at my grandparents’ house on VHS. I will never forget how captivated I was by the dark, gritty take on Batman. I was seduced by this all-conquering character and his presence on-screen. The tone was set from there. At age eight I fell into that same hole that Bruce Wayne did when he discovered the Batcave. This was the time I discovered what my passion was, and it was the Dark Knight.
An Angry Teenager
The mid 90s hit, and I was an angry teenager. I remember walking out of the movies thanking Joel Schumacher for ruining Batman. Painting bright colours into the story of the Dark Knight, while trying to woo fans by bringing on big name stars who failed to portray the iconic characters they had signed on to become. It was a big let down, and at the time, I searched for salvation through comic books. I started to read graphic novels, comic books, and any material I could get my hands on that centered around Batman. I would work in my dad’s pizza restaurant, earn my pocket-money and then ride my Batman Skateboard to the local news stand to buy any Batman comic I could see on the shelf.
Thank you Christopher Nolan
In 2004, I found out that Christopher Nolan was shooting a Batman origin film and at that stage my world changed. This time, as a 23-year-old I didn’t have the issue of my parents telling me I couldn’t go to the movies to see Batman Begins when it hit the big screen. That film for me was the beginning of when I started to admire the man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne. It really humanized the character of Batman, and was a brilliant origin film that took me on a journey and really helped me understand what it was that drove Wayne to create the iconic symbol. Not the crime fighter, the symbol. From here, I got to see two other brilliant films in what stands as a phenomenal trilogy of Dark Knight stories that will forever remain close to my heart. The trailer below is nothing short of breathtaking. Spend the 5 minutes and watch it.
Everything I have done in my life, I have done with purpose. I have always had a goal in mind, and I always think ahead. That’s the type of person I am. At times I can live in the moment, but for the majority of my 35 years I am putting goals in place and working out how to achieve them. I am a working class human that has worked for everything I have today. To do this, I have used the symbol of Batman to inspire and drive me.
Those close to me understand how much I love Batman, and often people ask me. “Damian, Why do you like Batman so much?” The story of a little boy who loved his parents dearly, and having seen them murdered in cold blood is a traumatic event. Here is a story about a human being that is driven through such an act of evil and tragic circumstances to be the absolute best he can be. I’m inspired by the promise that a small Bruce Wayne made to himself that night, and it doesn’t matter what the promise was (in the context of the story). The fact that he made himself a promise to protect his city, and make sure that no one had to go through what he went through again.
That promise that he made himself in my mind required these following traits.
These six traits are what I believe makes up Bruce Wayne / Batman, and it is these traits that I try to live my life by. The symbol of ‘Batman’ is a byproduct of the human-being that is Bruce Wayne. With his inheritance, a small Bruce Wayne could have taken another path to help deal with the death of his parents. He chose to take the most difficult path of all, and with that came a huge sacrifice in not living a normal life. He can’t have people too close to him, he can’t love, he can’t have a family, he can’t have friends in the public eye. Pushing all that aside, takes courage like no other. He pushed all that aside, to teach, transform, build, and mould himself into something special, meaningful, and everlasting (mentally and physically). Through this process, the character builds leadership traits and has a formidable team around him to help achieve his goal and purpose.
Just imagine you are walking through the streets of your city one evening. It is dark, raining, cold, and all you want to do is get in your car to drive yourself home. You cut across an alley way to get to your car quicker. No one is around, it should be ok. All of a sudden it isn’t. You’re surrounded by four overbearing strangers who all have knives in their hands, and they want what you have. You freeze, you’re scared, and you have no idea if you’re going to get out of this alleyway alive. Out of the darkness descends a huge figure that towers over you and the four strangers, who are in for a lesson of a lifetime. This figure stands at about 6-foot 4-inches, no lighter than 230 pounds. He looks into your soul, and knows how scared you are. By the time you catch your breath, he has stretched out one arm and with a huge force of power throws one of these strangers across the alley. That sparks a massive blow up. The other three come at this figure from all sides. Within the next twelve seconds, he has moved so quickly and produced so much force that you know you’re safe, but at the same time you’re not sure if he has truly good intentions. He approaches you, puts his hand on your shoulder and tells you that you’re safe. As you go to reach for your smart phone to take a photo, he is gone. Never to be seen again.
The Physicality and Mortality of Batman
One major factor in loving Batman / Bruce Wayne, is that he is human. Probably like a large portion of fans out there, I am drawn to the fact that he is mortal. His strength, training, mental capacity, and combat knowledge is self-taught over a period of time through set goals and engagements. Through various stories, Batman struggles with his own mortality and like us in the real world, we are faced with the same challenge. Time waits for no one, we all have to grow old.
In my life, health and fitness play a huge role and with that comes the inspiration of Batman. I use his story to better myself. In the gym, on the running track, in the boxing ring, everywhere. While it is unrealistic to aim for the attributes of a comic-book character, I do use the symbol to tell myself that I have no limits. Bruce Wayne has limits, but Batman has no limits. It is a fine line in reality, but I use this as inspiration to push myself, and be the best that I can be. I love Batman for that. I always will. To my dying day.
- Favourite Batman Film: The Dark Knight
- Favourite Batman Actor: Ben Affleck
- Favourite Batman Animated Film: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 / 2
- Favourite Batman Graphic Novel: All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder
- Favourite Batman Artist: Jim Lee
- Favourite Collection Item: My UD Replicas Dark Knight Suit
Batman Day is a special one, make it count
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to love Bruce Wayne a lot more, and it get’s back to the six traits that I talked about earlier. By applying those six traits to this great character, I believe that Batman will stand the test of time. No matter what goes on in our world, Batman / Bruce Wayne will always remain relevant. We will find a way to apply his methods, his philosophy, and his purpose to our lives. So go out and celebrate this wonderful day in honor of this truly inspiring hero.