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Friday, June 26, 2015

Batkid Mania Sweeps The City Again

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge EJ Johnston as Batman and Miles Scott as Batkid in New Line Cinema's documentary "Batkid Begins", A Warner Bro. Pictures release. - PAUL SAKUMA
  • Paul Sakuma
  • EJ Johnston as Batman and Miles Scott as Batkid in New Line Cinema's documentary "Batkid Begins", A Warner Bro. Pictures release.

When word got out of Miles Scott's precious dream to become Batman through the massively popular Make-A-Wish organization via Twitter, the leukemia survivor's seemingly normal wish turned into a spectacle for the entire world. The Batkid mania included a tweet and Vine from President Obama (his first Vine video, in fact), tweets from every actor who has ever played Batman, an original composition by Hans Zimmer, and more or less the attention and support from the entire city of San Francisco, where the event took place. The whole process — from the initial planning stages by Make-A-Wish, to the insane popularity of the day — is captured in Batkid Begins. The documentary, directed by Dana Nachman and written by Kurt Kuenne and Dana Nachman, releases today, June 26.

click to enlarge EJ Johnston as Batman and Miles Scott as Batkid in New Line Cinema's documentary "Batkid Begins", A Warner Bro. Pictures release. - PAUL SAKUMA
  • Paul Sakuma
  • EJ Johnston as Batman and Miles Scott as Batkid in New Line Cinema's documentary "Batkid Begins", A Warner Bro. Pictures release.
Perhaps one of the most touching relationships in the movie is the one between Scott and Executive Director of Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, Patricia Wilson. Wilson is an incredible "no-bullshit" woman. If there is one person who can ask the mayor for a key to the city, nonchalantly turn a friend's Lamborghini into the Batmobile for a day, or request the participation of a the San Francisco Giants mascot without batting an eyelash, it's Wilson. And next to the starry-eyed Batkid, the juxtaposition is too perfect.

In fact, one of the best moments in Batkid Begins, is when Scott sees his Batman escort arrive in real life for the first time, and is given a Batman sit of his own to wear while fighting crime. Wilson (who adorably rushes around the pint sized superhero to iron his cape before heading out) knows the significance of Scott's costume.

"The costume was so hugely important to him — which I was panicked about. But literally as soon as I put that on him I looked him in the eye and said, 'Who are you?' and he — even in a different voice — says, 'I'm Batman!' I'm like, okay! We've got our wish! We've got a Batman."

And so is most of the movie carried by the touching subject matter more than the actual construction? Absolutely - which, in a way, reflects much of the hype surrounding Batkid. While of course there is nothing wrong about admiring a young cancer survivor, the amount of attention thrust on the shy family seems unfair - as if our need for an emblem outweighs the needs of a 5-year-old in remission to live a normal life. But that's what makes Wilson's demands particularly poignant. She's a hard worker whose desire for Miles to enjoy his day trumps any sort of self-satisfaction one might get from being the head of something like Batkid. At one point, a sleepy Miles begins to think that a nap sounds a whole lot better than saving an entire city. Despite the crowds of onlookers awaiting his next move, Wilson offers a completely reasonable solution; to call it a day. Set in between kitschy montages of slow motion crowds set to an overly-sweet choral version of David Bowie's "Heroes," Wilson's dedication to the child — not the spectacle his wish turned into — is refreshing to see.

"We're going to be friends forever," says Wilson of the Batkid. And after seeing the relationship between the two, we can't help but believe her completely. "His mom texted me the day after he lost his first tooth."

So like out of the most formula Hollywood script, just when the planet needed a hero, we got one. And seeing Miles' face light up when Batman recruits him for help for the first time is worth the price of admission alone. 
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Laura Jaye Cramer

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