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Batman and Me
Director Michael Wayne
Review by Travis Johnson
If you spend any time in nerdy circles you get exposed to plenty of obsessive collectors. I know guys who have sunk unholy amounts of money into Lego, or NECA action figures, or Warhammer models, or comics, or… well, you name it, really. But even for a geek of my vintage, the obsession that led Melbourne guy Darren “Dags” Maxwell to assemble, at no small personal cost, a simply collection of Batman memorabilia.
Not every iteration of the Dark Knight, though: Dags’ beat is the 1989 movie directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, plus its three sequels. He has no truck with the comics or the animated series or even the old ’66 TV show – it’s just those four flicks. Dags doesn’t love Batman, he loves that specific version of Batman.
Except he kind of doesn’t. What gradually becomes clear over the course of director Michael Wayne’s documentary is that Dags was an addict in search of something to be addicted to. For a while it was soundtrack vinyl, and at another point it was movie posters, but Batman toys and merch is the one that really clicked. It’s clear, however, as the camera pores over his mostly mint-in-box cornucopia of cruft, that it doesn’t in and of itself bring him much joy. It’s the act of collecting, not the collection itself, that’s the juice.
While Batman and Me is almost always as charitable as possible to its subject, there’s an underlying melancholy to the whole affair, and Dags is fully aware that his obsession, which he has now kicked, was deeply unhealthy. And yet a quick glance at the current state of pop culture indicates that he’s not exactly an isolated case. If you’ve ever shouldered through the crowds at a pop culture convention, this one will resonate in a most uncomfortable way.