Batman and Lewis Carroll – seriously, why all the intertextuality?

Batman Dark Knight: Knight Terrors (The New 52) by David Finch, Paul Jenkins and Richard Friend

Although I think I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland when I read it as a kid, I also think it terrified  me. I remember being too frightened to get through the Disney Alice in Wonderland (and if you can’t get through the Disney movie you’re pretty screwed). As far as I know I’ve never found an Alice in Wonderland interpretation I actually liked. The closest I’ve come is probably that Tim Burton/John Depp thing that came out a few years ago and it was pretty abysmal. Still, I suspect if I did some deep soul searching I’d realize the reason I nearly liked it was probably because it had almost nothing to do with the original story.

I have no idea why children still read it. If they do. Actually, that’s a lie. I feel like their parents make them because its a “classic”.

Whether it deserves that or not is probably a debate for someone smarter than me.

Batman has lots of Alice references. The Mad Hatter villain is an obvious nod towards the…. “classic” piece of children’s lit and as far as villains go, he’s not too shabby. Mind control is an  issue. Batman fights two thugs called Dee and Dum multiple times. Kind of stupid, big, roundish guys not really to be taken seriously. And in this one, we introduce the White Rabbit.

Of course, she’s a lady and therefore wears as few clothes as possible plus some rabbit ears and gets hired by a much smarter, more dangerous big bad to run around and ruin Batman’s day.

Still, it’s got me thinking about why this particular piece of nonsense keeps overlapping with everyone’s favourite superhero (right everyone?!?) and weirdly, the thing that kind of ties them all together for me is fear.

‘Cause fear is a pretty important motif in Batman (that’s right, I  just used the word motif in something that’s not an English paper). Bruce Wayne decides that the best way to fight crime is to make criminals afraid of him, hence the bat costume. Most of the villains are manifestations of pretty basic fears (Two Face – who isn’t afraid of a part of themselves? Joker- complete insanity everywhere all the time! Ivy – (warning feminist tendencies) fear of powerful women who can control men through their sexuality). This whole graphic novel was really a study in what Batman fears – failing the people he loves (everyone’s afraid of that), pain (terrifying to most living things) and fear itself (which scares me, at least, and probably most people really).

Alice in Wonderland is terrifying nonsense, or at least it came across that way to me as a kid. I feel like if I were to reread it I’d start to find connections between “stuff that happens in this book” and “stuff that scares me in the real world”. Maybe because in and of itself nonsense is kind of terrifying.

I like sense! It’s important.

Or maybe it’s all in my head because the Cheshire Cat still creeps me out.

Oh, also, that was an epic Batman. I strongly recommend it.  Tim’s new outfit – fantastic.

Last movie I watched: The first half of the Time Travelers Wife. God it sucks. The book is WAY better.

Last TV episode I watched: Still Merlin. MORGANA KNOWS!


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