10 Things the ‘Batman Live’ Arena Show Needs to Be Truly Awesome
As ComicsAlliance has reported, Batman Live, a big-budget live-action stage show, is coming soon to arenas all over the world, kicking off in Europe next year and making its way to America sometime in 2012. And as you might expect, I'm planning on being first in line to see this thing. After all, when I missed out on Pokemon Live ten years ago, I swore I'd never let an opportunity like this pass me by again.
Thanks to DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, we already know a little about what the show's going to include -- a cast of 45 characters including villains like the Joker and Catwoman, a hundred-foot stage with different sets including Arkham Asylum, and a story centered on the origin of Dick Grayson as Robin. But with 9 months before it debuts, I imagine there's still a lot of details up in the air. That's why today, in my capacity as the Internet's Foremost Batmanologist, I'm offering up ten things Batman Live needs to have to be as awesome as it oughtta be.
Let's be honest here, folks: As much genuine, completely un-ironic excitement as I have for this show, I'm at least a decade removed from the target audience. This is going to be a show for kids, and while I'm completely okay with that, I'm hoping that the creators of the show take the opportunity to do something special to make it memorable for them.
So since we already know the plot's going to revolve around Robin, why not go the extra mile and give one of the kids in the audience the thrill of a lifetime by bringing him or her on stage to become the Caped Crusader's stalwart sidekick?
This would, of course, come with a pretty hefty set of problems -- not the least of which being the stack of lawsuits you'd be inviting by dragging a child on stage and simulating the murder of his or her parents at a circus, let alone the hassles of getting the choreography right -- but I think it'd be worth the effort. After all, bringing kids into the magical world of super-heroics and then having an evil clown pretend to beat them to death with a crowbar in front of 10,000 people at the end of Act II?
That's the sort of memory that lasts a lifetime. No matter how much therapy you get.
At this point, we've been told several times that unlike Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark -- the other headline-grabbing super-hero adaptation for the stage, which is scheduled to hit Broadway last summer this month by 2011 sometime before the eventual heat-death of the universe -- Batman Live will not be a musical.
Really though, what's a stage show without at least one catchy tune? Even if it's just dramatic cues to highlight the action, there's bound to be music in this, so why not go all out with it? With the first round of tickets going on sale tomorrow it's a little late in the game to start writing songs, but here's the beauty of it: Ywu don't have to! From the 1966 TV show theme to the recent "Mayhem of the Music Meister," there are already plenty of songs to choose from!
Personally, I was strongly considering advocating for Prince's classic "Batdance" -- if only so thwat we can get that "Vicky Vale... Vick-Vick-Vicky Vale" sample etched into a new generation of minds -- but when it all comes down to it, there's really no choice. It's got to be Batman Beyond's "A Superstitious Cowardly Lot."
Heck, you could pretty much base the entire show around that video. That thing's good enough to get you a Tony, a Grammy and a Cable Ace award, and I don't think they even exist anymore. That's how awesome it is.
One of the nice things about a touring arena show is that you can adjust each performance to suit the audience, and I've seen enough pro wrestling in my lifetime to know that the easiest way to do that is to tailor lines to fit your location. Now, you could accomplish the basics pretty easily (say, by having the Joker claim to be behind the local sports team's losing season), but why not go a step further and actually change the way the characters talk to suit the regional dialect?
Batman is, after all, the character that any of us could be -- well, any of us who were born with a photographic memory, a preternatural aptitude for athletics and a trillion-dollar trust fund, anyway -- so keep the illusion up by making it seem like Batman's from, say, Boston...
The lines could be matched up to any city on the tour, and believe me, people would love it. I mean, I live in South Carolina, and I'd pay pretty much anything you wanted to hear Batman say he was fixin' to save Gotham City right quick, right after he finished up a glass of sweet tea.
All right, look: I don't want to hear Batman shill for anything but justice any more than you do, but this is a matter of economic necessity. Tickets to this thing are already going to be expensive, and I'll take pretty much anything that'll knock a couple bucks off, even if it involves Alfred tricking a reluctant Dick Grayson into staying at Wayne Manor by offering him a delicious delivery pizza... that's actually a DiGiorno. You guys can have that one for free.
Plus, if you're taking a kid to this thing, the fact is that you're going to be buying some merch. Wouldn't you rather it had an actual storyline purpose?
"Once again I've defeated you and saved the city, Joker! And I couldn't have done it without the help of this commemorative t-shirt!""Curse you and curse those shirts, Batman! They're the ultimate weapon in your anti-crime arsenal!"
"That's right. In fact, I'd say anyone who purchased one of these for $24.99 in the lobby (Visa and MasterCard accepted, no checks) wouldn't just be an ally in my fight against evil... but also my best friend."
Not gonna lie, folks: That's a sales pitch that would work just as well today as it would've when I was six.
According to the press release, the Batcave is going to be one of the sets featured in the live show, so odds are, they're building Batman's three most recognizable trophies already. Because really, nothing says "grim avenger of the night"...
...like an oversized penny.
Point being, if if we take Chekov's gun to its logically awesome conclusion, there's no reason at all to show us a giant robotic Tyrannosaurus without actually having it get involved in the action. Just borrow one from Walking With Dinosaurs. They won't even miss it.
And speaking of Walking With Dinosaurs, if there's one thing we've learned from that show and broadway hits like Avenue Q, it's that stage shows are the most perfect venue for puppet-based entertainment since PBS. And they're perfect for Batman.
Not only do I think it would be hilarious to see an actual live-action Batman on stage smacking the living crap out of a bunch of puppets, but they'd actually fit thematically as well. Considering the fact that Batman's villains tend to be the scariest and most psychologically challenging foes in super-hero comics, could there be any more appropriate way to represent them than with a series of creepy, dead-eyed marionettes?
No. No there could not.
Plus, the Ventriloquist and Scarface, a villain who speaks through a murderous dummy already?
That guy would be a puppet operating another, smaller puppet. Consider your mind blown.
In mass media, super-heroes tend to trade on recognizable imagery. If you watch the movies, for instance, it's a big deal when Clark Kent pulls open his shirt to reveal the Superman logo beneath, or when Spider-Man pulls on his mask. With Batman, though, things are different: If you want to get the crowd pumped, then you need the power of Bat-Chest-Hair.
Now that is some raw manliness that we can all enjoy. Quick note to the actors who plan on playing Batman: You guys need to start doing crunches, like, last year. So get to it.
One more note if you decide to go this route: Make sure that while the shirt comes off, the mask stays on at all times.
Further explanation should not be necessary.
Because seriously, I have been waiting to see this again since I was eight:
Now, most of these points, I'm pretty flexible on, and I'm willing to accept that many of them may not actually make Batman Live a better show. But there's one element I have utter confidence in. If the creators of Batman Live want to succeed, then they must include this:
One of Batman's greatest strengths as a character is that he has some of the best villains in comics, and with the huge cast being promised, it looks like that's something the producers of Batman Live intend to take advantage of. But while the obvious choices like Two-Face and the crowd-pleasers like Harley Quinn are great, if you really want to do it up right, then you need one man: The KGBeast.
The KGBeast is not only the best idea anyone has ever had for a Batman villain, it's quite possibly the best idea anyone has had for anything, ever. And he deserves the kind of showcase that only a live-action arena spectacular can provide. Why? Because he is a Communist assassin luchador who cut off his own hand and replaced it with a gun that is also a knife.
And that will put people in the seats, my friends. Believe it.