And Then There Was the Time Batman Became the Spokesman for Onstar [Video]
Over the past few months, David Uzumeri and I have been bringing readers an in-depth examination of the Batman films, but there’s one piece of bat-related cinema that we’ve yet to discuss: a series of commercials in which Batman became the spokesman for OnStar.The commercials, which saw Batman using the power of mobile email and hands-free cell phone use to battle against the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin, aired from 2000 to 2002. Thanks to the magic of the Internet and the obsessive qualities of YouTube users, however, you can see the entire six-part arc of advertisements right here, right now.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little weirded out by seeing Batman shilling for consumer products like… well, like the corporate-owned property that he is, I suppose. But that said, there’s enough awesome stuff in these ads to make them actually pretty fun. For one thing, they actual feature Michael Gough as Alfred — who, it should be pointed out, totally takes credit for tricking out the Batmobile with all these awesome features. And now that I think of it, that’s entirely in character for Gough’s verison of Alfred.
And speaking of characters, Batman himself is played by Bruce Thomas, and while I’m going to go ahead and assume that he got the part based on the fact that he shares names with both Batman and Batman’s father, he actually does a pretty solid job. So solid, in fact, that he was brought back to play Batman in the pilot of the Birds of Prey TV series, though admittedly, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Either way, he’s better than Val Kilmer.
As to the commercials themselves, I think it’s pretty interesting that aside from a little Batman Forever stock footage, they were so heavily based on the Tim Burton pictures, despite being created two movies and an entire decade after Batman Returns. Just goes to show how effective the marketing blitz was for that thing. Of course, it also stands to reason that the Batman of Burton’s movies is totally the sort of guy who would need OnStar assistance in order to wage his war on crime.
And it only gets better once you see the Batmobile’s airbags:
A bat-shaped airbag. Not until the Arkham Asylum video game revealed that Batman drew his own logo in explosive gel before blowing it up would there be such an amazing example of how dedicated that guy is to his living his gimmick.
The best part, though, comes when Batman is forced to use his voice-controlled email when he sees a glowing clue left by the Riddler:
That’s right everyone: The Riddler uses Comic Sans. No wonder he gets locked up in Arkham.