For ages, I have been in love with the Bat.
Batman ... the Dark Knight ... Bruce Wayne all done up in his dance with mental illness gone rogue altrusim. My identification with and admiration of his pursuit of justice as foil to the ultimate injustice to him as a child -- the murder of his parents -- was akin to emotional crack cocaine for my lurid fascination with stoic, strong, intense humans. His was a gestalt of damage and strength and focus; I was addicted to his persona. It was the old sexual chemistry adage, but exponential -- I wanted to be with him, plus I also wanted to be him. He had taken tragedy and given it gothic purpose. He functions both outside the law and because of the law. He is my all time favourite super hero character.
And it wasn't just his bad-assery that made me love him. What self-respecting, actualized (and straight/bi) female doesn't respond to such steely strength in a tight black suit? It's catnip (no pun); it's classic primal urge. I have shamelessly wanted to peel a variety of Batmen out of their bat suits. Repeatedly.
This fascination with all things Bat has lead me to all kinds of fun activities, including hoped-for tattoos of his various siguls/logos, compulsively watching the movies and the series (yes, the campy one) innumerable times, and any and all manner of psychosexual musings. [A humorous take on this was handled recently by io9's Postal Apocalypse column "How Good is Batman at Sex?" (Batman in Bed). I have to say, I was in complete agreement with most of the conclusions: he's badass, he's human, and I'd visit his cave any time he desired it. I took this kind of daydreaming oh-so-seriously!] I have dreamed up countless permutations of Batman interludes, from fighting alongside him a la Catwoman to being damsel-in-distress rescued by him, to being his own love fixation. I have had Bat Fever most of my life. I could daydream myself into starring roles in what -- and who -- might "fix" my damaged Batman.
Part of my Bat Addiction included repeated listens to the movie scores, which lead me to a love of most things Hans Zimmer, the composer and co-composer of the most-recent Batman films.
Mr. Zimmer became part and parcel of my Bat love. (Batman Begins Theme) His stirring, and disturbing, Dark Knight scores seemed to embody the inky black grit that was intrinsically Batman and so compelling for me. (Dark Knight Rises - Risen from Darkness) Listening to those scores reveals epic menace and foreboding. Their gravitas lies in their discordant darkness, that typefies the essence of Batman's bent. (Dark Knight Trilogy Epic Mix) Zimmer has helmed several other modern film scores, from Sherlock Holmes to Inception (another addictive favourite of mine) to Gladitor. (I confess here that I own the soundtracks to most of Zimmer's films.) Here's a chance to listen to some of his best: Zimmer's 10 Best. (Not all the links work, unfortunately, due to copyright issues. Take the time to dig them up elsewhere if his music speaks to you. It'll be worth it.) This creative genius has coaxed innumerable moments of fervor and passion out of me, most so transportative to me that they are indelibly part of the films and characters they accompany.
Which brings me to the trailers for the new "Man of Steel" movie. If you haven't seen one yet, here's your chance: ("Man of Steel" trailer on YouTube ). The music in the trailer is intense, and today I stumbled across a link to the complete track here: ("Sent Here for a Reason"). And yes, it's more Hans Zimmer.
With some shock and distress, this striking, intense melody has instantly begun to encapsulate a new, now-suddenly-compelling character for me, given the musing I've done in recent months on who exactly Superman is, and how cool (meaning, detached and unapproachable) I've always found his character. He is alien, in every sense of the word, and his high-browed alien superiority was never all that compelling to me. Of course he's a god to us lowly humans, who cannot defy gravity without tools. Of course he's perfection to us lowly humans, who carp and claw and cavitate to the peril of ourselves and the world around us. He can afford to be a boy scout idealist; no one on this planet can beat him. It's all so predictable and un-human and boring. Yet even before Hans' hypnotic suggestions, I was already considering Superman anew, and with more of an open mind: the immense responsibility he shoulders, to always keep himself in check; the intense loneliness he must feel as one apart from the world he inhabits; the pressure he endures, to be the focal point of judgement and suspicion and wonder and jealousy. He presents us with proof that we are not the only intelligent life in the universe; in fact, we are poor, pathetic creatures by comparison to more advanced technologies and minds. Oh, the threat he must present to Earthlings. That's a lot to ask of anyone, even an alien. My new state of grace for Superman surprises me, deeply.
Not surprisingly, I am again humbled and entranced by Zimmer's exquisite
instrumental magic. But what does surprise me is the specific effect this music -- this Superman music -- has on me. It slides softly down inside, carressing and sighing, as it slips around my inner core. We rest for a moment and then it climbs, carrying me with it. Soft chills float up and out on the
nape of my neck, meeting the ones rising from deep under my solar plexus. As
the melody expands toward its own crescendo, I ride with it, stirring everything with its growing intensity, and it is like I am riding on a bubble of hope, a bubble that rises squarely from where my heart resides and does not stop rising. I am deeply moved every single time I hear this music; every part of me stands at attention, feels hopeful and expansive. And wants more.
That's when I realize Superman may have me; he may be in the process of snatching me away from my beloved Bat. Could it be that all along I only meant to have affairs and dalliances with the dark, brooding Batman, and I'd be happier living longterm with the sunnier-disposed, optimistic Superman?! Gasp.
And so I take my own too-rare humanistic inclinations -- about what might be good or positive aspects of human nature, assuming there truly are any (as realized almost exclusively for me in moments of classical music rapture ... for who, but gods, could make music so transcendant and mesmerizing), expanding on the waves of Zimmer's tutelage -- and meld them with not my dark, damaged, human Knight but this alien god who best personifies what humans dream of becoming. Alien as idealized human.
I would never have expected that these two very tortured, lonely characters -- that could hardly be more different from each other, save for their super hero personas cloaking (or revealing) alternate sides of them -- could vie for my fan's heart. Batman is Superman's failsafe, the switch to be thrown if Superman ever goes off the rails. And Superman is Batman's humanity; he keeps the Bat from becoming too dark. Superman looks for the good in people, while Batman expects the bad -- his own darkness colours everything. And oh, the irony, that an alien could represent the ideals of humanity so well, and so thoroughly. And who would have thought I might ever choose hope over reality, idealism over pragmatism. Light, over darkness.
Do I have to choose between these two characters? Perhaps. Perhaps I already have.