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The Death of Batman
Rated: N/A :: Released: 2003
Director: Donald Lawrence Flaherty :: Starring: Christopher Stapleton and Trip Hope

By James D. Deaux IV
02 January 2008 — Street Fighter. Bloodrayne. Saw IV. All of these are movies I have reviewed and dissected with the fury of a thousand hells. One reason those films deserved the thrashings I gave them was because they had huge budgets and they still failed miserably. However, the film I'm reviewing in this installment of Tranquil Tirades is not a big-budget, silver screen feature — it's a fan film. Thus, there was a certain level of reluctance when deciding to write about it — especially considering I create music videos, which are really fan films in their own way. (The whole "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" proverb springs to mind.) However, this fan film doesn't deserve any restraint on my part. It is an utter abomination. It takes the character of Batman and mangles it, violates it, eats it and regurgitates it into a 28-minute mountain of bile. If you ever liked anything about Batman — the comic books, the movies, the TV show, the cartoons, the character — do not watch this movie. Ever. You have been warned.

The only thing this atrocious movie has over anything else I've reviewed is that it is about 60-75% shorter than all of them. Never fear, though. The creator of this horrific short made sure to compress as much nonsensical garbage as is humanly possible into 28 minutes that I will never get back. A heroin junkie kidnaps Batman and tortures him for wrongly arresting him seven years ago for a crime he didn't commit. The junkie kills himself and Batman then decides the best way to atone for this is to overdose on heroin and plunge himself into a river. Yeah, you read that correctly. But what fun would you, my dear readers, derive from me giving you a puny one-sentence plot summary? Onto the show...

The movie opens with a news report exclaiming that Batman has single-handedly apprehended 50 drug dealers and has all but put an end to one of the worst drug syndicates in Gotham. Elsewhere, a homeless guy emerges from a car with a stun gun looking quite sensually at it. He is next seen sitting in some abandoned building preparing to shoot some heroin. Suddenly, Batman appears behind him, stopping him. The guy asks him what the hell he wants, to which Batman replies, "I seek justice and repentance." Justice for what, exactly? Shooting up? The guy runs away and Batman, very smarmily, says to himself, "Let's make this interesting." As this guy runs and runs, with Batman staying three steps ahead of him at all times, Batman (channeling Spider-Man for some reason) continues to make wisecracks at this poor schlub. Ol' Bats continues to beat the hell out of this guy and he actually takes joy in doing it. Suddenly, the guy apparently goes into a heroin-induced seizure and starts convulsing on the ground. Batman, annoyed (yes, annoyed is the emotion he is expressing towards a guy who could be dying) walks over to him... and he gets Tasered in the testicles. Now, this would be embarrassing enough, except that they show this — in super slow motion, no less — for a grand total of 30 seconds. During this ridiculous display of rancid cinematography, the actor playing Batman actually starts bending backwards while keeping his crotch pointed further and further outward, as if to say, "Look! This is my package! See how it glows with electric radiance!" The junkie then kicks Batman squarely in the balls to finish off the brutalization of his crotch. Batman collapses and the junkie follows suit. What have we learned from this? Batman evidently doesn't wear a cup.

Following a series of random memory flashbacks in Bruce's mind, he awakens chained to a couple of poles, crucifix-style. Of course, he is still completely in costume. This junkie never had the common sense to take off his mask. (Who ever does?) Batman also can't escape. From two chains and a couple of poles. Right. So, anyway, the unnamed junkie starts belittling the ensnared superhero and he then sticks a syringe of heroin into Batman's neck. I suppose he wants Batman to feel his pain or some other lame clichι. Batman threatens him, saying that the guy better hope when he gets free that he only throws him in jail. Oh, snap, son! So now, Batman is threatening to kill someone! Eventually, Batman goes into a heroin-induced stupor, and starts dreaming about the deaths of his parents. When he wakes up, the junkie welcomes him back with a stick. While he whacks Batman in the torso repeatedly, he begins a monologue of unimaginable banality, yelling about his time in prison and what it did to him, complete with every emo phrase in the book. "They strip you of your soul!" He then walks up behind Batman, and I have to assume he dry-humps him because he whispers, "They strip you of your innocence." It's at this point that I feel like mentioning how terrible the acting is here, but I really don't think it's even necessary. Moving on, Batman tells the guy he'll pay for this, but he just injects him with some more heroin before injecting himself again. (Why isn't this movie over with yet? 12:07? Oh, Christ, it's not even halfway done yet?! Shoot me now.) I love how the guy keeps saying that he can't inject Bats with too much, and yet he's already shot him up twice in the span of three minutes.

After Batman passes out again, we are shown a news broadcast hosted by two women who confirm that Bruce Wayne is Gotham City's Man of the Year. You know what's great about this? There are pictures of Batman behind the women. Think about that for a second. While this is happening in the bottom left corner of the screen, we get the other three corners filled with scenes of Batman chained up screaming in agony from the heroin. After another fade-out, Batman wakes up, with a beard. Presumably, this guy has been holding Batman hostage for over a week. (I can't even begin to imagine the amount of excrement piling up inside the Batsuit.) The junkie holds a gun to Batman's head and pulls the trigger. Click. He then rambles on about how masked vigilantes don't have a set schedule and that they make their own hours. (Then unmask him, you imbecile!) He goes on to explain that in prison, you always know your schedule — when you're going to sleep, eat and "get the shit beat of you". He then pontificates about how he's surprised he hasn't managed to escape yet. (You ain't the only one, buster!) Batman goads him into unmasking him, but the guy says he doesn't care who he is — he only wants Batman to feel immense pain and to want to die. So, in another horrible picture-in-picture moment, we watch as the junkie beats the hell out of Batman with that huge stick in slow motion as another news report plays in the bottom right corner of the screen. The anchorwoman tells us that Batman has been missing for seven days and that Commissioner Gordon has sent out an APB, hoping that someone will call the police if they see someone matching Batman's description. Someone matching his description? He's a guy in a giant bat suit! All you can see is his chin!

Several more days pass and the junkie releases Batman from the chains and he collapses on the floor in a heap. The junkie gives him a dog dish full of water for humiliation's sake, though I fail to see what the point of this is since there isn't anyone else around. The guy tells Batman that they're placing bets on who killed Batman since everyone assumes he's dead. The Joker is coming in at 2-1 odds, which irks this druggie for some reason. "I finally do something great and I don't even get credit for it." Yeah... because you're right at the top of Batman's rogues gallery, aren't you, buddy? Batman calls him a coward, and this sets off another droning monologue — this time, though, the junkie explains who he is. Batman recognized that he was present at a meth lab raid he pulled off seven years ago. Unfortunately, the poor guy was only there because his car broke down, not because he was involved with drugs in any way. Batman immediately drops his jaw, distraught at this revelation because this guy couldn't possibly be lying. Oh, heavens no. The guy drones on about how he had a life until Batman took it all away playing the hero, as Batman sits there in shock. Okay, how ungodly inept would your lawyer and the police have to be for you to be arrested and sent to prison for five years for a crime you clearly did not commit? I guess the DA and police didn't do any actual investigation, because otherwise, they couldn't possibly have missed all of the exonerating evidence. If he wasn't involved, then he wouldn't have any drug residue on his hands or clothes. Nor would he have any drugs in his system like meth lab operators would. He also said his car was broken down outside. So, how could that possibly be missed? Not to mention that the guys who really were involved with the drugs didn't know his name, so how could they implicate him? Absolutely nothing about this makes any sense.

The idiocy of this entire scene culminates in the guy shooting himself in the head, which causes Batman to scream for some reason. Oddly enough, there was no exit wound or splatter of blood. But the best part is that he died smiling. Never mind the fact that rigor mortis wouldn't set in for quite some time later, and his facial muscles couldn't possibly stay like that unless he was a clown who fell in a tank of acid. Batman kneels by his body and, after several unnecessary fade-outs / fade-ins, he spots a syringe of heroin on a nearby table. In the next scene, we see a news broadcast confirming the death of Batman. Apparently, he committed suicide via a massive heroin overdose. The news anchor, who calls Batman "The Caped Crusader" seven times during this mercilessly god-awful scene, says that the police believe that the Joker and his gang kidnapped Batman, ruthlessly beat him, killed him with a drug overdose and threw him into the Gotham River. All of this was supposedly because Batman disrupted their illegal narcotics network. (Since when is the Joker a drug dealer? The only poison he uses is the Joker toxin, and I'd hardly consider that a narcotic.) She goes on to say that the police believe over 200 criminals were involved in this plot. Where in the blue-blazing hell did they get that number from? And since when are the police actually doing investigative work? They can't even find a stalled car outside a meth lab, let alone this. I suppose an arbitrary, unexplained number fits the theme of this senseless abortion of a film. Batman has a week-long wake held for him by the GCPD and, according to the newscaster, Batman's wish was to be cremated. How, exactly, did they find out what Batman's burial wish was? I haven't the words to explain how unbelievably moronic that is. That's where the film ends, and I almost feel like killing myself for watching this atrocity.

I still have no idea what the hell I just watched. All I know for certain is that that was not Batman. Batman isn't a wisecracking, bravado-slinging brawler who can't escape from two chains and a couple of bars. He's a brooding, unhappy wretch who can escape from some of the most complicated deathtraps ever conceived. And he would never kill himself. Ever. This is a guy who believes himself responsible for Jason Todd's death. Do you really think he'd commit suicide over a junkie who chained him up and beat him within an inch of his life for a month? This film is an embarrassment and it should be destroyed in a gasoline fire. I would rather watch Two-Face and the Penguin make out by an ocean sunset than watch this miserable excuse for a fan film again.

Final Grade: 4 / 100 — If you were worried about my final grades getting too high lately, this should put your mind at ease.

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