caped fury

It’s hard to overstate the impact Batman ’89 had on me as a young geekling.

I have a firm memory of collecting the Batman trading cards and pasting their stickers all over the case to my baritone horn. This was the summer after (or maybe before) my 8th grade year, which ostensibly is when you’re supposed to transition from a kid to a teenager. But there I was, toting my giant, geeky band instrument plastered with geeky stickers.

But, as Dan Savage says, it got better. Batman ’89 moved me irrevocably toward superheroes. I had been into “funny fantasy” — Piers Anthony’s “Xanth,” Robert Asprin’s “Myth” books, “Castle Perilous,” etc. I maintain that superheroes are a less toxic form of geekism than “nerd whimsy,” although I suppose you could argue the point.

Batman ’89 led me to pulps, which led me to the 1940s and 1950s, which led to vintage stuff in general. That led to rockabilly and lounge music. These were all touchstones for me throughout the 1990s. Those interests widened my sphere of friends and led, in a roundabout fashion, to girls.

With the exception of the gatling guns, I love everything about this movie. The otherwordly retro setting, Jack Nicholson’s over-the-top villain, Bob the Goon. Batman ’89 has so much texture that it can use Jack Damn Palance is a throwaway character. Michael Keaton’s offbeat Bruce Wayne is an unexpected classic. He’s second only to Kevin Conroy in Batman actors.

So let put on my Warner Bros ball cap and raise a toast to Batman ’89. You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts.