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Kelly Hagen [Photo: Kelly Hagen]
Kelly Hagen [Photo: Kelly Hagen]

NDistinct Chatter: The Batmen Face Off in March Madness

Kelly Hagen
 March 18, 2022
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It’s March Madness, and offices across the country are pooling money, building their brackets and watching in disbelief as their brackets fall apart and money flies away. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is 64 teams going head-to-head, and with 63 games played, the odds of guessing the outcome of each matchup are … not great.

Looked it up online, and the odds of constructing the perfect bracket, based on a 50-50 shot of each game, are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.

So, you’re saying there’s a chance?

I don’t follow college basketball to make good decisions on a bracket, and guessing makes my head hurt. So, good luck to all involved. I’ve put together a bracket of Batman depictions.

No. 1 seed Christian Bale Batman from the Dark Knight trilogy takes on the kid who played young Bruce Wayne in the Gotham TV series from a few years back. I’d love to tell you that a true Cinderella story happens here with the young upstart taking out what most people say is the defining Bat-formance. Alas, I’m not even really sure that there was a kid who played a young Bruce Wayne on “Gotham.” I’d have to look it up, and I don’t want to. Bale wins in a landslide, but mercifully since it is a contest between an imaginary child and fully grown man character.

No. 4 Michael Keaton Batman from the first two movies then locks bat horns with No. 5-ranked Ben Affleck, a.k.a. Bat Affleck, from the “Justice League” movie and the one where he fights Superman. While we all appreciate nostalgia, Benman wins by a nose here, just because he’s taller and looks more like the Batman of comics lore, physically. Also, “Mallrats” is an underrated movie in which Affleck plays a jerk, and Batman is kind of a jerk when you really think about it.

Next is No. 3 Adam West Batman from the 1960s TV show up against No. 6 Val Kilmer from whichever Batman movie he was in. I think it was the one where “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal was a big song and Jim Carrey played the Riddler as Ace Ventura in tights. No one wins in this pairing, but I’ll guess Adam West takes it. Never bet against the original recipe.

The final showdown in our first round is No. 2-ranked Robert Pattinson from the newest Batfilm, “The Batman,” which is currently in theaters and highly recommended if you have three hours to dedicate to sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of strangers who may or may not be infected with COVID-19, and No. 7 George Clooney Batman. Clooney’s Batman costume had nipples; Pattinson played a vampire in “Twilight.” Bad decisions were made, and Pattinson wins in a walk.

My picks for the semi-finals: Christian Baleman destroys Batt-fleck, and Battinson beats … Ad-Bat Westman? I don’t know. I’m out of BatDad jokes for these guys’ names.

It’s a collision of Batmen titans in our finale as Bale’s Dark Knight faces off with The “I’m Vengeance” Batman played by a brooding teenager. I didn’t think anybody could ever top the Batman of Christopher Nolan-directed trilogy of Batmovies, considering the realistic treatment of the character, deep and involved storytelling of how he came to become the hero of Gotham City, then a villain and finally a martyr in the third movie.

But … man. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Batman” (now in theaters; go see it) to a level I didn’t expect. I’m not certain that I liked the movie itself any more than the “The Dark Knight,” which remains my favorite film of that series. But I do prefer the depiction of Batman as a reclusive billionaire, glowering and scowling in the dark. Bale’s Bruce Wayne is always a step ahead of

everyone and just a little too perfect. He plays the part of a playboy, disinterested in world events to throw Batman’s enemies off the scent of his true identity. Pattinson’s Batman (spoiler alert) is found out by the Riddler in only his second year of fighting crime. He tries his best to save Gotham City, and he largely succeeds. But the movie ends with the city underwater and menacing forces lining up against the people.

Pattinson’s The Batman is the most relatable version of the character that I’ve seen, too. Because Batman doesn’t have superpowers, it’s often easier to get behind the guy when he’s fighting a space alien from Krypton who has all the superpowers and a goofy weakness to a made-up element. But he’s also a billionaire with access to resources us regular folk don’t have. Plus he reacts to his parents being murdered by dressing like a bat and becoming a vigilante. That’s a little nuts.

Pattinson plays the role in an uncontrolled, unsure fashion you’d expect someone to do in that scenario. He doesn’t make it look easy, because it wouldn’t be. Plus, he based his performance on Kurt Cobain, so he wins all the contests. Give him all the money, which is exactly what is happening currently at theaters all across the world.

Thus concludes my Batman bracket. It’s probably not perfect, but nothing ever is. As Heath Ledger’s Joker once (kind of) said, “As you know, (March) Madness is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.”

kelly.hagen@stage.mydakotan.com

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