Here at Revenge of The Fans, we pride ourselves on giving fans around the world a sounding board for their opinions. In recent weeks, we’ve posted Vlogs and Columns submitted by readers, listeners, or- as we like to call them- Revengers.
If you’re a fan of the site, and you make yourself part of the community by commenting, liking, sharing, and especially if you’re a Patreon Patron, then YOU, my friend, are a Revenger.
This week, we’re delighted to share a column by Carlos “Tavo” Borrego. He’s a longtime follower of the El Fanboy Podcast, and a staunch RTF supporter. He’s got something to say about the perils of being a slave to canon.
Why Geeks Should Rethink Everything About The C-Word
by Carlos “Tavo” Borrego (@TavoPR)
Before I go into my small rant, I want to tell you a little bit about myself. As you may already know, I am a geek, and an old one at that. And the main reason I became a geek was simple, I had a learning disability. You may ask, but how can you be a geek with a learning disability, wouldn’t it be hard for you to read? The answer is yes, during my childhood, reading was a very difficult thing for me. But that let me to other things, specifically movies and television which was a very exciting way to meet a lot of characters for the first time.
The first time I saw superheroes saving the world was not in a comic book, it was watching the Superfriends animated show, as well as watching reruns of the Batman show from the 60’s. Television also let me see so many other characters that I fell in love with, such as Doctor Who, Wonder Woman, Bionic Man and Bionic Woman, Man from Atlantis, as well as Spider-Man, Mazinger Z, Robotech, Voltron, GI Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, and MASK among others. As you can see, my viewing experience was varied and, even though some of those shows dealt with issues such as War and the loss of a loved one, for the most part, my viewing experience during my childhood told me that superheroes were supposed to be fun, silly, and able to save the World within 30 minutes to an hour.
As I grew older and started to overcome my disability, I started to get into reading novels and comic books. I also got into researching all the things that I loved, specially Batman. When I started my journey into the world of the Caped Crusader I realized how different my early experience was with the character. As a kid, I thought that Batman was a blue costumed, silly, and fun superhero who walked around with shark repellent just because punching a shark wasn’t going to get the job done! But as a young adult, I started to see the tragedy, as well as the obsession, behind the character and his reason for putting the cowl and having rules to live by, specially the no kill rule. I was hooked by this new character that I thought was only meant to be fun and silly. In a matter of weeks, Batman changed from a silly superhero into a brooding, extremely intelligent, kickass, damaged man trying to find redemption because he felt so powerless to save his parents. I was obsessed with this new character that I discovered and I wanted more. And fortunately, I did get more. By the late 80’s and early 90’s, Tim Burton’s Batman was released in the theatres which was awesome. But, in the 90’s, all the way to the new millennium, we got something very special, we got Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League: Unlimited.
I, along with many other geeks, was in geek Heaven. I could not believe that Batman was being featured in different platforms the way I wanted to see him, smart, brooding, a man with a chip on his shoulder, a total badass, and a man who would never quit, no matter the odds against him. During this time, I could not have asked for anything more as a Batman fan, except for Batman and Robin (well, nothing’s perfect!)
Years passed, and in 2005, another big event happened, Batman Begins premiered in theatres. So, like any geek would do, I bought my ticket, went to the see the movie aaaaaand, was completely blown away with what I saw!!!! Sure, this Batman was not a complete vision of what I had in mind, specifically, they never fully deal with how smart he truly is, but, everything else was perfection. He was a brooding, chip on his shoulder, total badass superhero, that would not kill, and would never give up, no matter what. This was my Dark Knight, or so I thought.
As Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy was coming to an end, I was excited about the last movie, the Dark Knight Rises, but at the same time, I was a little worried. As I started listening to all the news and rumors surrounding the movie, I suddenly realized that this Batman was the vision of Christopher Nolan and that he would finish it the way he saw fit. And through all that time, I was trying to figure out what that meant. Does he not know who Batman is, after making two wonderful movies? Is he going to change the character in some way? Would we see any drastic changes in the character that I have known for so many years?
As the Dark Knight Rises got closer to its premiere, my worries just started to get worse. I really thought that Christopher Nolan understood Batman, but for some reason, I was not completely sure anymore. And then, the movie premiered, and my disappointment and loathing for this movie happened right off the bat. Christopher Nolan decided to make Batman, the hero that Gotham needed, the Dark Knight, into a cave dweller for 8 years!!! This Batman was not a badass, was not relentless, and was not the hero I knew for so many years. This Batman, for me, was a quitter and I could never forgive Christopher Nolan for making such a horrendous choice. After coming from such a high after of watching The Dark Knight, this movie brought me to a low. Not because it was a bad movie, but because I saw something that I would never expect from Batman: A man who would quit. This is not the Batman I knew. “Batman would never quit, he would always find a way to defeat his enemies,” I thought to myself. But the main reason why I did not like the movie was because this Batman did not follow CANON!!!
Yes, the famous C word we geeks love to throw around to get our point across. It’s our badge of honor, the thing we obsess about. In its simplest form, canon is information. Information that we have gathered throughout many years of reading, watching, and researching about our favorite characters and the world they inhabit just so we can talk about them to anybody that would listen and let them know how much we know and love these characters and the worlds they live in. We love to look for information in every website, blog, vlog, interviews, and even Wikis, just anything we can get our hands on, so we can grow our knowledge of the things we love with a passion.
As a geek myself, I love every minute I get to spend with these characters, worlds, galaxies, universe that so many others have brought to life. I mean, if you ask a Whovian what’s the relationship between a Police Box and the TARDIS, or a Trekkie about which Captain is the best, or a Star Wars fan about the Force, or even a Transformers fan about Optimus Prime, they will sit for hours telling you what they know about these characters and what impact have they had in each of their lives. This wealth of knowledge we have gathered from reading stories, or watching TV shows, and going to the movies is such a wonderful thing to me. But, at the same, I have also realized the C word has become a curse.
As I stated before, the Dark Knight Rises was a movie I hated because, in my eyes, it did not follow canon. Batman would never quit, he would never hide for 8 years and then resurface so he would quit yet again and name a successor who happens to be named Robin but never spend anytime training with Batman. Christopher Nolan, in my eyes, committed sacrilege that could never be forgiven. This Batman was not canon, in fact, this Batman was a complete wuss and I was pissed off about it. How could someone mess with my character this way! This was unacceptable. And I also found people who thought like me and we just went off on the movie and how it portrayed Batman in the most horrible way possible.
But here is the thing, after a couple of years passed, I re-watched the movie and actually enjoyed it more than the first time I saw it. I still wasn’t in love with the movie, but I could appreciate it more, especially how Christopher Nolan was able to pull off a respectable trilogy about a comic book character that had gone up in flames after Batman and Robin. But, why was I able to enjoy the movie on a second viewing after feeling such hatred from my first experience? After thinking about it, I came to a simple conclusion: I let canon get in the way.
Why couldn’t Batman quit after seeing the toll it took on him in the Dark Knight? Couldn’t Batman evolve from what I knew him to be? And, most importantly, do I let canon ruin my moviegoing experience? I realized that the answer to that last question was “No.”
I love watching superhero movies, but what I also love is going to a movie theater and experiencing something that feels fresh and original. In other words, I should not let canon interfere with my enjoyment of the movie. And don’t get me wrong, as I re-watched the Dark Knight Rises, I found the movie to be flawed in my opinion, but it was so much better than the pure hatred I felt the first time I saw it. And the reason, I let Nolan’s story of Batman be his story, not the story I think he should have made because of what I thought Batman was supposed to be. I did not let canon ruin my enjoyment of a movie. I would have had such a better time at the movie, but I let my own expectations get the better of me. I let canon take over instead of giving the movie the opportunity it deserved. And this is a lesson that all geeks should learn.
I am a geek and I love canon, I love knowing everything about my favorite characters and I love, love, love talking about these characters with other people. But I should not let my knowledge go against what other’s people vision or opinion of a particular character is or should be. Sure, one can criticize and have opinions about whatever it is you are watching, listening, or reading, but the point is, don’t let canon interfere with your enjoyment. Who knows, maybe you will like seeing a new and fresh interpretation of the things you love if you just give them a chance?
At the end of the day, what’s more important: A strict adherence to canon or something that spins your expectations on their head, surprises you, and invites you to look at your favorite things with a new set of eyes?