Single Sentence Review:
Legends of the Knight is well-made yet sometimes audio buzzy look at the people who have been inspired by the Batman character and have gone on to become inspirations themselves.
Single Sentence Review Extended Cut:
Legends of the Knight is not a documentary by Brett Culp about Batman. Sure, that’s what it looks like on the surface and it is filled with comic book images, action figures, and artwork of the character, but Batman isn’t the subject of this documentary. Legends of the Knight is the story about how a character that has become “modern folklore” inspired men and women of various ages and backgrounds to either fight their own personal turmoil or assist in their community.
The documentary interviews some folks that have had a hand in the Caped Crusader’s modern development such as comic writer Denny O’Neil and movie producer Michael Uslan. It also interviews a number of authors, psychologists, and experts on storytelling and the power of myth. However, the true subjects of the film are the people that derive their drive from Batman.
We see a one-legged, three-fingered man own the basketball court and win a Dance Dance Revolution contest as the Batman symbol dances along on his chest. We witness the Petaluma Batman, a 19-year old college student who dresses like the Dark Knight, patrol his town and serve his community by hosting charity events. We see a child and family counselor use Batman comic books as a gateway for youngsters to explore their fears, troubles, and feelings. There’s also the small boy who used Batman as a motivator to beat leukemia. There’s also the businessman who spends nearly $40,000 a year to dress as Batman and visit children’s hospitals with an legitimate Batmobile filled with toys. There are several others, I’m just touching the tip of the bat-eared cowl.
The film was incredibly well edited and produced. All of the sit down interviews and action were expertly spliced in with shots of Batman imagery in the form of comic book pages, pop artwork, posters, and little kids dressed up as Batman and Robin. There was great use of personal photos and footage to help drive each person’s narrative along. The film had a good pace and did a great job of showcasing all of these various people without any of them feeling short-changed. Culp did a great job of gathering so many experts that could discuss Batman competently, authors that could discuss the power of stories from an educated standpoint, and a variety of people who have had their lives changed by a superhero that didn’t have superpowers.
My sole nitpick (and it is nothing more than a nitpick) is that there were times when the audio was peaked and buzzed during some of the interviews. This however is due to me being a stickler and being forced to find such things, but it shouldn’t deter any regular person’s enjoyment of the film. At the same time, I hope that Batman fans don’t expect much action or Batman lore discussed since the story is more about the character’s influence rather than the character himself.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, I’ll flat out say that I endorse this film. While this may come off biased because I am a giant Batman fan, I think this film can appeal to non-comic book fans as well. As I said before, the film largely comes off as a film about people who were either dealt a poor hand and used the Batman mythos as a means to conquer their troubles or people who were inspired by the hero to go out of the way to be a hero to their community. It’s not a Batman story, it’s a human story. It just so happens that we are Batman.