I just realized something about the way I've always seen Batman.
The very first time I ever saw Batman – in any format – I was a little girl, maybe six, sitting in a dentist’s waiting room. Batman: The Animated Series was playing on the tiny tv up on a shelf in the corner, and I would steal glances at it as I waited, not sure if I was allowed to watch something so violent.
It was the episode Appointment in Crime Alley, which I only learned today because I looked up the list of episodes. I wasn’t sure what was happening in the story, wasn’t even sure who anyone was besides having a general idea that there was a guy named Batman who was Superman’s friend and helped the police stop bad guys.
I thought he looked scary. I wasn’t sure he was the good guy at all, actually.
But then there was a scene that stuck so vividly in my mind that I never forgot it: Batman is driving the Batmobile at high speed towards…somewhere (Crime Alley, I learned today), and a little black girl comes running towards him in tears. Immediately Batman pulls over and gets down on her level to make sure she’s alright.
And in my little first grader brain, something clicked. Oh, I thought, Batman helps kids. He’s not scary at all, is he? He’s actually nice, isn’t he?
It stuck there in my brain for almost two decades as the first thing I knew about Batman, and the first thing I decided was worth remembering about Batman:
Batman cares about kids.
And from then on, that was the context I viewed Batman from. The test I ran, so to speak, to see whether I would consider an adaptation a “real” Batman or not. So every time I glance over at what’s happening in the comics and notice a new kid added to the Extended Wayne Family, I’m like “…yeah, sounds about right.”
I never did find out how that episode ended, but the next time I was in that office I was introduced to Bizzarro. I liked him but I thought he was a bit odd. Probably a reasonable assessment for a first grader.