The other day I was strolling past a nice(ish) hotel and I saw Father Christmas. He seemed to be promoting some kind of Christmas event that was being hosted within the establishment.
He was not alone in doing so, for he was accompanied by a woman that I supposed to be his good lady wife (Mother Christmas?).
Flanking the festive pair were two other personages. One I recognised as being Iron Man.
The other was Batman.
It was not a quartet one generally expects to see on a cold morning early in December.
I mean, Father and Mother Christmas I was absolutely fine with – the event they were promoting was all to do with the forthcoming yuletide celebrations and I suppose when we’re within the jurisdiction of the Advent calendar then all such events are fair enough.
But why promote a Christmas party with Marvel and DC’s respective ‘crime-fighting-billionaire-geniuses-with-no-real-superpowers-but-lots-of-cool-technology’? Were Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne bank-rolling the event?
The excited faces of the small children who seemed to be the target market of the event suggested perhaps not. Perhaps in this day and age Father Christmas alone is not enough of an attraction for the kids. Maybe an Iron Man/Batman combo is what’s necessary to get the youngsters through the doors.
Although, if that is the case, then really they needed to invest in better quality costumes. Certainly the superhero outfits were somewhat inferior to the garments worn by ‘The Christmases’.
While Father Christmas looked like he might actually be the real Father Christmas, and Mother Christmas was certainly convincing enough as a woman that might be married to him (although Mother Christmas is a figure cruelly overlooked in popular culture so I’ve no idea whether her costume was ‘authentic’ or not), Iron Man wasn’t fooling anyone. For starters his costume was, very clearly, made of some kind of cloth rather than…well…metal.
Batman looked a little better, but the giveaway were the white trainers he was wearing.
And the fact that I felt, on balance, in the unlikely event that Batman and Father Christmas came to blows, my money would’ve been firmly on Pere Noel. And there’s no way the real Batman would lose in a fight to Santa Claus.
Still, when I really thought about it, what better two superheroes to represent Christmas than Iron Man and Batman. After all we’ve already established Iron Man’s Christmas(ish) credentials in Iron Man 3.
And Batman too, has had his own Christmas(ish) outing.
In Batman Returns.
Which is set at Christmas.
And very much the film that represents door 6 of The James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films.
Much like James Bond, everyone has their own favourite Batman. Ben Affleck made a surprisingly good one in 2016’s surprisingly awful Batman Vs Superman. Most people agree that Christian Bale was pretty awesome in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Other Batmen are available but my own favourite is Michael Keaton, who donned the cowl in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Arguably Burton and Keaton’s first Batman collaboration is the stronger film, but Batman Returns is a more than commendable follow-up.
I was probably a little on the young side when the first film came out, though I’ve grown to love it over the years, but Batman Returns landed just as I was becoming a hormonal teenager, and Michelle Pfeiffer’s ‘Catwoman’ left more than a lasting impression.
It is, in true Tim Burton style, an overstated affair. Danny Devito relishes his role as The Penguin and Christopher Walken seems to be in his element as the villainous Max Shreck (and credit must also go to the actor who plays Max’s son Chip Shreck for making the most of his very few lines by doing a laudable impersonation of Walken – presumably to establish the biological link…)
Although this is a sequel, it works entirely well as a standalone film and while it is not the best of all the Batman films out there, it is very far away from being the worst.
Score for Christmasishness
There’s snow, there’s a big Christmas Tree and scenes of seasonal shopping abound. The score, while not exactly what you’d call ‘Christmas Music’, certainly has a fairytale quality about it that feels quite festive in it’s own way.
There are certain plot points that hang a little on the Christmas setting, particularly the horrifying demise of unfortunate Ice Princess.
That said, it wouldn’t take a significant rewrite for the whole film to be set at a different time of year and still work pretty well.
On the whole, then, it’s not really a Christmas film but the yuletide links are not entirely tenuous. It’s probably more Christmasish than Iron Man 3 on balance.
So , at least that’s one cinematic triumph that DC has over Marvel…