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A Non-Geek's Guide to Batman

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Jul 17, 2012 | 12:54pm EDT

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Guide to BatmanYou don't know that The Dark Knight Rises comes out on Friday? Wait, you don't know who Batman is? What kind of cave have you been living in? Not a bat cave, obviously. Wow, you really need some help — not just psychologically, but knowing just what the heck the caped crusader is all about. We're going to answer all your questions below.

Who is Batman?

Are you kidding me with this? Honestly?

No, I really have no clue who he is.

Fine, but we're not doing this for Harry Potter, Santa Claus, and the Beatles. It's not my fault you are culturally illiterate. Okay, so Batman is a comic book super hero who made his debut in 1939 in DC Comics.

What are his super powers?

Well, he doesn't have any powers. He's a billionaire named Bruce Wayne who is a skilled fighter and has all these cool gadgets and stuff that he keeps on a utility belt.

So his power is basically that he's really rich. Where did he get his money?

From his parents who are usually classified as "industrialists," but it seems like they run some sort of defense company.

Like Halliburton?

Yes, Bruce Wayne is basically just Dick Cheney with a worse attitude and a mask. But the parents aren't around anymore because when he was a young boy, Bruce watched them be murdered by muggers. Right in front of him. That's why he learned how to be a super awesome kung fu expert who fights crime at night while being a billionaire playboy by day.

Aren't playboy activities like going to parties, getting drunk in night clubs, and sleeping with hookers usually nighttime activities as well?

Hey, no one said it was easy.

If Batman is only in comics, why should I know who he is?

Are you kidding me with this? Seriously? Okay, there was a TV show in the '60s where Adam West—

You mean the mayor of Quahog?

So, you watch Family Guy but you have no idea who Batman is? You're crazy. Yes, Adam West played Batman in the '60s and it was an incredibly popular if campy show in which Batman and his sidekick, Robin, faced off against a bunch of different villains. Then Tim Burton made a Batman movie in 1989 and a few sequels. And then Christopher Nolan started the whole thing over again in 2005.

Who is this Robin lady?

He's not a lady. Robin is Batman's sidekick and partner-in-crime. Originally he was Dick Grayson, Batman's "ward" who was a circus acrobat whose parents died in an accident. Batman took him under his wing (har har) and made him into a high-flying crime fighter. Since then, in the comics at least, there have been a few different Robins.

Are they gay?

Some people kind of think so, but ostensibly, they are not. But, you know, they also kind of are.

So, why is everyone talking about Batman now?

Because on Friday the final movie in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises comes out.

These are different from the '90s movies?

God, yes. Are you even listening? Tim Burton made two, Batman and Batman Returns both starring Michael Keaton as Batman. Then Joel Schumacher made two, Batman Forever with Val Kilmer and Batman & Robin with George Clooney. There were nipples on the Batsuit.

God, that sounds awful.

They were. The sequels got put on ice until Christopher Nolan took over. He rebooted the series.

Batman wears boots?

No, that means they restarted the movie's mythology from the beginning. Gosh, you really are a simpleton, aren't you? So, in the first movie, Batman Begins, Batman is played by Christian Bale and after he sees his parents killed he's all moody and sad and emo and listens to The Smiths a lot and goes off on a quest to become the ultimate ninja badass. Then he comes back and has to kill Ra's al Ghul, one of the men who trained him in super secret ninja arts. He also defeats the Scarecrow, who uses a drug to make people very afraid. Katie Holmes was in it.

The one who divorced Tom Cruise?

The very same.

Wow, she's very famous. So this movie must have been popular?

Oh god yes, but not as popular as the second movie The Dark Knight, which made exactly $17 bazillion (okay, actually $533 million domestically) and is the third highest-grossing U.S. movie of all time. In this sequel, Batman takes on his traditional archenemy The Joker, who is a psychopath with a white face and grin plastered on it.

He sounds like a clown.

Exactly. He's like a clown with a really warped sense of humor. He was played by Cesar Romero on TV and Jack Nicholson in the 1989 movie. Heath Ledger, who died after filming the movie but before it came out, won a posthumous Oscar for his role in the film. He was really quite awesome.

Are there any other characters that I should know about?

Well, there is Alfred, who plays Batman's tireless and humorous butler. In the Nolan movies he's played by Michael Caine. There is also Catwoman, who is a feline-inspired baddy who has been in lots of Batman stories and is in The Dark Knight Rises, played by Anne Hathaway.

I don't like her.

What are you talking about? You don't even know who Batman is. How are you gonna talk smack about Anne Hathaway?

I just don't. I'm sorry.

That's stupid. Then you probably hate Tom Hardy, who plays Bane, the other baddie in Dark Knight Rises, who is like a 'roided out strong man with ties to Occupy Wall Street or something.

What does OWS have to do with any of this?

I don't know, I haven't seen the movie yet!

Then why are you the one teaching me all about Batman if you don't even know how it ends?

Well, I kind of do, because David Letterman ruined it for everyone.

Maybe you should go see the movie and then tell me what happens.

Please, you're not going to go see the movie anyway. You don't even know who Batman is. What is wrong with you? 

Wait, wait. Is Batman the one with the cape and the pointy ears and the yellow belt?

Yes!

Oh, I totally know who that is. Nevermind.

Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan

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