' ' Cinema Romantico: For Comic Book Carnal Knowledge

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

For Comic Book Carnal Knowledge

The other day the invaluable culture critic Molly Lambert threw up a pseudo-contentious Tweet declaring that Batman was bad in bed. Comically, she decreed this as canon. If some social media users objected, as they often do, especially if their quarters are chock full of DC Comics back issues, it also broadened into various off-the-cuff good/bad in bed Batman power rankings that broadened into even more, ah, uh, theoretical specifics of The Caped Crusader’s carnal knowledge. And though I tend to evade The Discourse, especially where comic book movies are concerned, I confess this comic book movie conversation intrigued me, not least because it wasn’t really The Discourse at all, more like a fun-loving subsidiary of it, a reminder of how amusing the oft-tiring Interwebs can still sometimes be. Plus, for once it wasn’t an argument about canon where comic book movies were concerned (which Lambert’s tweet was parodying), what it got Wrong and what it Got Right, but merely digressing on, shall we say, cinematic sensual sensation which, I shouldn’t have to tell anyone but still totally do, are more what the movies are about than honoring source material. 

My two cents:

Was Michael Keaton’s Batman bad in bed? Eh, I’m not so sure. I sort of imagine Keaton’s prominent neuroses in the part of Bruce Wayne transforming him into Ewan McGregor from “A Life Less Ordinary” – you know, when he finds Cameron Diaz the morning after they sleep together and she says “You were great” and he asks, not says, confused, “I was?” 

Val Kilmer’s Batman, on the other hand, I can’t quite picture getting into bed at all. I mean, sure, half the movie is Nicole Kidman just sort of chasing him around, trying to get him into bed, like Elizabeth Banks chasing around Steve Carrell in “The Forty Year Old Virgin.” But in the case of Kilmer’s Caped Crusader it’s more like if Steve Carrell was less a lovable doofus and more like the CEO of a suburban golf resort.

I don’t know if Clooney’s Batman was good in bed but he was definitely doing it. Whatever “Batman & Robin” was, it had something kinky going on, I’ll give it that, which is why all those Bat Nipple complaints were undoubtedly made by puritans. It’s no coincidence “Batman & Robin” was directed by Joel Schumacher because this is as close as a comic book movie will ever get to all those shots of Ashley Judd and Matthew McConaughey lathered in sweat “A Time to Kill.”

The Christian Bale Batman, he just strikes me as a Ken Doll. There was no heat between he and Rachel Dawes, in either movie; they were more like best friends. And even though Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle was sort of trying to mimic Kidman’s Chase Meridian in kind of trying to pull Batman toward the sack, even at the end, I didn’t quite buy it. We were a long way from Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief. I imagine a scene on the cutting room floor of Bruce & Selina in their Florence hotel room and the set design forcing them in Hays Code-style separate beds. 

I haven’t seen Ben Affleck’s Batman, but I’ll just assume he’s like Mr. Furious having the hots for Claire Forlani in “Mystery Men” but totally straight-faced, like Liam Neeson trying to do comedy in “Life’s Too Short.” 

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