Frank Miller: Batman v. Superman? “They’re only lines on paper”


Frank Miller: Batman v. Superman? They’re only lines on paper

Last night, a Playboy interview with Frank Miller was brought to my attention as he discusses his new film, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, as well as his interpretation of Batman as seen in his graphic novels “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” and “Batman: Year One“. He also doesn’t shy away from giving his impression of movies based on characters he’s worked on, up to and including Christopher Nolan‘s Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, but let’s take this one step at a time.

As far as his approach to Batman, whom he portrayed as older and more grizzled, he says, “Well, you do get crabbier as you get older. [laughs] Also, I never believed that a guy who tortured people and dressed like Dracula was the most pleasant person to have over for dinner.” Zack Snyder appears to be taking this approach to the character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and has made no secret that Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” was an influence on the project, which makes this next quote all the more interesting considering Miller and Snyder worked closely together on Snyder’s 300.

When asked about movies based on comics he wrote — Daredevil and Elektra specifically — he says, “When people come out with movies about characters I’ve worked on, I always hate them. I have my own ideas about what the characters are like. I mean, I can’t watch a Batman movie. I’ve seen pieces of them, but I generally think, No, that’s not him. And I walk out of the theater before it’s over. It includes all of them.”

He’s asked if this includes Nolan’s Batman trilogy to which he says, “It includes all of them. I’m not condemning what [Christopher Nolan] does. I don’t even understand it, except that he seems to think he owns the title Dark Knight. [laughs] He’s about 20 years too late for that. It’s been used.”

There is clearly some level of resentment here because to be so petty as to call out the use of the term “Dark Knight” is a little childish, especially in the way he does it. However, the one piece of the interview I liked most was when the interviewer says, “A lot of Dark Knight readers think you love Batman and hate Superman. Any truth to that?”

Miller responds:

The Dark Knight series is all from Batman’s point of view. But if you look at Dark Knight 2, you’ll see a Superman who’s much calmer than the one in the first Dark Knight. Batman and Superman are dead opposites. I love Superman. Do I love Batman more? They’re not people. They’re only lines on paper.

That last bit is wonderful. Someone recently asked me about my favorite “Game of Thrones” characters. I answered as best I could, naming those that stood out most for me, but when he then asked, “Just wondering why you wouldn’t consider Robb Stark a favorite character for you?” I didn’t really know how to answer because, in all honesty, I’m not really a “fan” of any of those characters, they’re just aspects of a story I find (or don’t find in some cases) compelling. Why not Robb? I don’t know… because that character is dead… I guess?

The idea of fandom is a curious one and in some cases I find it to be a little disturbing once it reaches a certain level, but at what point are we talking about fandom and when does it become an unhealthy obsession? And what exactly are you obsessing over, and does it have to do with age?

I don’t think it’s necessarily as extreme as this following quote from Alan Moore (via The Guardian), but I think there’s a little something to chew on with Miller’s comment and Moore’s comment when considered together:

When I mention that Geoff Johns has done a whole series of Green Lantern based on his story “Tygers”, [Alan Moore] gets tetchy. “Now, see,” he says, “I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen. I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”

As I said, Moore takes it to some extremes as I don’t think it’s at all odd for adults to be entertained by a comic book movie, but there is a certain point in our lives where I think a continued level of fandom because unhealthy, stunting someone’s emotional maturity. I’m not going to attempt to say at what point that is, but if a person’s birth date was required when commenting on the Internet I think we could come to a general consensus on an approximate age range.