batinthesun is no stranger to the fan film community. Founders Aaron and Sean Shoenke have spent two decades gaining a vast audience who appreciates the wide range of Marvel and DC-themed films, both their serious entries like City of Scars and their comedic series like The Waiting Room. Based in Los Angeles, their access to the entertainment industry has given them the tools that has allowed their work to shine. The production value is top-notch. The character suits authentic. And a familiar face pops up every now and then.
Their most recent movie has millions of views in mere days on their YouTube channel and went viral on entertainment news.
“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” A variation on the last words reportedly spoken by actor Edmund Gwenn (Miracle on 34th Street) to a close friend. It’s very fitting that this quote – steeped in mysterious origins – provides a motive for the Clown Prince of Crime, and a title for Batman: Dying Is Easy.
The police force of Gotham City is frantically searching for three missing officers. In the middle of the investigation, Batman (Kevin Porter — the flesh-and-blood embodiment of Kevin Conroy’s animated standard bearer) receives an unexpected signal from Lt. Harvey Bullock (Michael Madsen) and an even more unusual request. It seems as if the Joker (Aaron Schoenke) has succumbed to skin cancer and will soon die. He’s requested a private conference with the Batman, and when the Dark Knight arrives at Arkham Asylum, the Joker gives his last request — Batman must kill him.
What follows is a philosophical chess match in which both characters provoke one another, aiming to gain the upper hand. In the end, a surprise twist throws events into a whole new light, and the Caped Crusader accepts both the fear and hope he bears in his dark mantle.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT
It’s very fitting that Tarantino regular Michael Madsen appears in this movie. Since most of the action involves the conversation of two enemies warring with words, one can feel the influence of Quentin Tarantino. And that’s not knocking the writers. They’ve done an insightful job of illuminating deep truths to these beloved icons in fresh new dialogue.
At one point, after he has listened to the Joker wax endlessly about how epic his death should be, and at which key Gotham City location it should take place, Batman has had enough. He throws down the mic with a sick burn:
“Freeze has Nora. Poison Ivy has her environmental cause. Riddler has his puzzles. But you? You have nothing. Without me, you become your worst fear, and that’s being upstaged by everyone here.”
Joker’s gonna need some batinthesun lotion for that burn!
By the way, at this point in the film, we’ve seen Freeze, Ivy, Riddler, and other Arkham inmates.
One of the standout moments is Batman’s entry into Arkham Asylum itself. The camera swishes through the dingy hallways. Porter carries a hulking presence in his costume as he weaves around guards and corners, passing by the cells of his other rogues’ gallery — and providing chances for surprise celebrity cameos. Holy American Idol, Batman — is that longtime fan Chris Daughtry playing Dr. Hugo Strange?! I mean, he already has the haircut nailed. And is that Abe Sapien himself, monster makeup mainstay Doug Jones, returning to a Batman movie to play the Riddler? (Jones previously played the Penguin’s Thin Clown henchman in Tim Burton’s 1992 Batman Returns).
When you think about it, this moment is a twisted version of the celebrity cameos in Batman ’66, when Sammy Davis Jr. or Jerry Lewis would pop out of their Gotham apartment windows and greet Batman and Robin as they climbed up the side of a building.
Why did it take so long for a filmmaker to update this trope? It’s wonderful.
The clever script reveals an ace up Batman’s sleeve that trumps the Joker’s wild card. No spoilers here. You’ll have to watch to find out more.
Author’s Note: #aaronschoenkeforhbomax. If the proposed Gotham Central TV show tie-in to Matt Reeve’s The Batman continues as planned, here’s a director/performer who can deliver in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT
Batman: Dying Is Easy is available on YouTube.