Dear Batman Fanboys: You Don’t Know What Real Love Is

The Dark Knight Rises Imax poster

On Monday a shockwave rippled through the delicate ecosystem that is the internet, the place where fans, critics, commenters, bloggers, and lurkers live and breathe (and mouth-breathe), over the first reviews of The Dark Knight Rises. The Bat- and Christopher Nolan-faithful rose in arms against the first critics who dared break the news that the comic book movie threequel was maybe not the best movie of all time. Threats were made. Nasty comments were flung. Entire websites were overrun and taken out in retribution. So I ask you, Bat-fans: What Would Batman Do?

The fanboy (for lack of a better word) frenzy felt more akin to Bane’s terrorist assault on Gotham City in TDKR than any heroic pursuit of justice Batman himself would exact. Either due to blind faith (like that of Bane’s fanatical, extremist followers), or the outrage of the disadvantaged 99% (i.e. fans who have to wait until Thursday night at midnight to see TDKR for themselves), the worst of the irate fandom lashed out, ill-informed and vicious, at the mere suggestion that what they love wasn’t good.

But, wait. Most TDKR fans haven’t even seen TDKR yet! How do they know the movie even deserves their love, or the self-debasement of their own humanity that comes with issuing hateful vitriol at strangers? Realistically, I’m guessing it will fall into the mid-70s-to-low-80s on Rotten Tomatoes – and yes, I’ve actually seen the film. And when fans finally see it for themselves, let’s be real, they’re not all going to be thrilled.

That’s not to say I don’t sympathize with the downer that is hearing that the thing you’ve been looking forward to since The Dark Knight in 2008 isn’t as great as it looks (and those snippets and glimpses of TDKR we’ve seen pre-release were pretty fantastic). I get it. I’ve been a Christian Bale fan for longer than most Batman followers knew who he was. Unless you’ve accepted Newsies into your life, Bat-fans, you don’t know what real love is. Sometimes real love, real fandom, is embracing a thing that you connect to in spite of its flaws. If you still love it warts and all, then doesn’t that mean all the more?

But let’s look at why so many folks embraced the Nolan Batman series, whether or not they’d self-identify as Batman fanboys (or Nolanazis, if you will), or are plain old laypersons who just enjoy the hell out of the movies: Because Nolan & Co. translated these comic book superhero tales into compelling storytelling for grown-ups. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight already well legitimized comic book stories in the film art world and, certainly, the marketplace; we now get nothing but superheroes every summer blockbuster season. At this point, validity as a film genre has already been established, albeit with mixed results (though that’s more the fault of studio filmmaking than the source material). So why wouldn’t fans demand better films be made from the properties they love?

Perhaps after Friday, fans will turn to the messages in TDKR to guide them. In the wake of the first wave of negative reviews and mixed-positive reactions, the Bat-faithful looked a lot like the 99% in TDKR – and in TDKR, said 99% is not exactly celebrated as a righteous movement of disenfranchised people, but that’s a conversation for another day. In the film, the villainous Bane preys on the hopes and feelings of injustice among Gotham’s underprivileged class, rousing them into misguided unrest and mindless mob violence. Amidst the chaos, Batman espouses a message of individual heroism, quietly leading by example while minimizing the carnage. He insists that anyone can become Batman, anyone can become a hero. So use your words, Bat-fans – but make sure you’re using the right ones, and for the right reasons.

Follow Jen Yamato on Twitter.
Follow Movieline on Twitter.


  • hailey says:

    fuck you...

  • Anonymous says:

    fake and gay!

  • Ali Miller says:

    "Sometimes real love, real fandom, is embracing a thing that you connect to in spite of its flaws. If you still love it warts and all, then doesn’t that mean all the more?"

    I agree with this statement so much.

  • "!" Anonymous mouth-breathed the words as he slowly typed them out with his index fingers. "Anonymous!!" his mother hollered from downstairs. "Who are you talking to?" "Just a minute, ma!" he whined. "Your chicken fingers and creamed corn are getting cold!" she yelled. "Hurry up." "Typing takes time, ma!" he said. "It's because of the masturbation injury, isn't it?" his mother asked. "Ma!" Anonymous whined. "I was not masturbating! I was fixing my zipper."

    He caught his own reflection in the computer screen and began to weep.

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      Ohhhh, I needed this. Thanks, Matt.

    • Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston says:

      And so it begins, as well -- last time round critics indulged in dropping briefly into comment sections to humiliate and ridicule the anonymous (but visibly distressed), to their gleeful and enormous self-pleasure. Batman hordes want to kill the counter view, but this delight over other people's dismay has got to go. It's not just cruel, but probably getting near the point of being dangerous -- Nolan, mostly hating people, mostly wanting you to suffer, and to simply dispose of the fey and feminine, is in tune with the spirit of the age: not much longer will it be safe to display characteristics of the coquettish courtier, simply because for awhile it was true that we were all encouraged to dribble down at the rabble and watch and guffaw at this great beast being frustratingly powerless to retaliate in the least littlest way. I bet you'll find other critics, once in agreement with you, once completely in tune with you, wondering what societal service, exactly, you're providing.

      I expect this film to be great, as Dark Knight was. In misanthropic times, misanthropic films get the lift up.

  • jayphayes says:

    You may be may be wrong. So far, the glowing reviews get into much further detail (going so far as to cite criticms: the score overwhelming the dialogue, a sketchy and slow start, and a few underutilized needless characters) but speak to a film that ties the emotion of BB with the action of TDK, opposed to many of the bad reviews which are mainly vague and cite one or two general faults without any sort of synthesis. So, considering that three bad reviews brought the tomoto mater down from 97% to 84%- it would seem your "estimation" of 75-80% is...>WRONG. As the reviews add up, the rank steadily climbs again, now at 90% once more. Don't make bold proclomations based on the quantifiable to justify your opinion, b/c when they are wrong- your opinion (which can't be right or wrong) looks wrong, too, Jen.

    • Andrew says:

      So if her opinion can't be right or wrong, how can it look wrong?

      Also, it's at 84% now.

      If it drops below 80% will you shake your fist and howl at the sky cursing God?

    • Jen Yamato says:

      Yeah, that was a long-term prediction. We're still looking at a small field of reviews, with the majority of non LA/NY critics yet to post. And as a former Rotten Tomatoes editor I did get pretty good at predicting the Tmeter, so... let's see.

    • Morgan says:

      Jen is a former rotten tomatoes editor. What are your credentials? LOL!

      • kenny says:

        Were you actually laughing out loud when you typed this? Because it wasn't all that funny...

  • michael rodriguez says:

    fuck off . go back to reading twighliht

  • SPITS RIBEYE says:


  • Jake says:

    Looking back, if you remove Heath Ledger from this series, you have a pretty weak series. Bale is okay as Wayne, but stupid as the grumbly Batman.

    So many bad characters: Maggie gyllebblah, Aaron eckhart, Liam neesnuts. Katie Holmes. This series is not going to hold up over time.

    But I'll be there Friday to see if it's good or bad.

  • Jake's Dad says:

    Jake's Dad
    My son was hit with a brick when he was a kid. He's been spouting grumbly foolishness....and dribble for years now. I can hardly wait for him to leave on Friday.

    • Jake says:

      Sorry about my dad everyone. He must have stopped taking his meds and went on another binge smoking that new drug all the nerds are into... "NolanDong."

      Dad, if you are out of Nolan's crotch long enough to read this, go to the nearest police station or hospital and have them call me.

  • Hiro says:

    Looks like since commenting has been closed on all reviews for Dark Knight Rises at RT, some of those pent-up fanboys may have come here to post their pathetic ramblings.

  • joss says:

    The fact that you didn't like it doesn't mean that it's going to fall to the mid-70's on Rotten Tomatoes. The overwhelming majority of critics - critics more credible than you, actually - have praised the film, several even preferring it to The Dark Knight. You may disagree with them, but it doesn't follow that there is a cascade of negative reviews ready to arrive that will drop the movie's RT score by 10 points.

  • Needs more pageviews/ad revenue says:

    Only bad when batman fans do it.

    Not bad when fanboys do it for Pixar movies, The Avengers or Transformers ...

    • Lili says:

      Exactly. Honestly, I think critics have shown us that they are not better than the fanboys. Zero professionalism. I think you totally deserve each other.

    • bradslager says:

      Have there been death threats against a critic for panning a Pixar film? I need a link for that. That's not a challenge, but a request -- I NEED to see that! (Although I wanted to throttle Armond White for panning THE INCREDIBLES, yet that was a release wih a super-hero ethos, so I may have strayed over to the fan-boy side with that title, and thus my threats were justified! Or, they weren't. Dammit, now I'm confused.)

  • Paul says:

    this girl has lost her mind, I was fortunate enough to see the movie on Monday, The movie is great, I went in with the mindset that Heath Ledger was dead and that this is a different movie so there was no need for that comparison. Bane is a great villain the movie is incredible it's better than avengers and the Tmeter will be back in the 90s

  • J.Martin says:

    Good fucking grief.

    It's only a movie for christ's sake.

    Some will love it, others won't.

    In the general scheme of things, who really gives a shit?

  • Trace Murray says:

    Nolan is supposed to be a highly intellectual filmmaker, and yet his fans are some of the dumbest bozos on the planet. How is that?!

  • The knee jerk reactions of some of these Batman fans almost makes me long for the days of the Ron Paul-ites.


  • bradslager says:

    The line has been drawn, and THE AVENGERS scratched that line in the dune-dust. What we are seeing is a whip-saw reaction from those who treat the Marvel / DC fissure as a deeper rift than we experienced as a nation in the late 1800s. If anyone dares threaten the lofty numerical aspirations of TDKR and it fails to reach the 92% plateau they will react. Fortunately this group may have the passion similar to those East Coast/West Coast rapper feuds, but hey lack the punch . . . and the posse.

    I believe that stating a collective of subterranean fanatsy experts -- who rarely venture into the sunlight unless a clarion call has gone out with a suffix of "-Con" -- do not understand the concept of love is a safe bet. This is the mindset that believes lobbying Google to include Klingon into the TRANSLATOR software is a worthwhile mission. (Save for the splinter groups who balk that this would discourage many from actually learning the supernal linguistics.) The closest they'll get to real love is when an intern responds to their romantic email missives sent off to Maria Hill's account.

  • shwetadhamija says:

    nice movies, i love batman so much....