Wednesday April 1, 2015
Who doesn’t love a good mashup? Especially when the two supers being mashed up are two of the most epic anti heroes ever: Darth Vader, and Batman. Who would win if the two were forced to duke it out? The ultimate villain, versus the ultimate anti-hero…so awesome.
First things first, if you haven’t seen “Batman vs. Darth Vader,” stop everything and watch it right here, right now. And, if you have seen it, let’s be honest – it’s time for a rewatch here.
What is it that makes mashups so satisfying? The idea of mashups goes all the way back to a medieval tradition of recycling beloved characters and stories. Unlike the modern world, where copyright infringement is considered a sin, in medieval times, borrowing from well-respected, established tales was considered the height of literary sophistication.
A good example is the tale of King Arthur, which has been told and retold so many times it would be futile to attempt to count. Different authors reinterpreted the story, often mixing characters from other mythologies (including the Green Knight in the famous tale “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” who is probably based on an ancient Celtic folktale).
In some ways, mashups are the ultimate form of fan art. Just take two things that you think are awesome, and mix them together into something totally different, but excellent. Typically a highly creative medium, the mashup brings new perspective into the mythos of each of the separate parts that it comprises, creating a new level of meaning.
The most epic line in “Batman vs. Darth Vader” is a great example of this: “I’ll take my science over your magic any day,” Batman growls. Anyone else get chills?
This line isn’t just the most epic thing he could possibly say, though – it reveals the really interesting nature of the conflict between the two opposing parties. Darth Vader has access to magical powers – enough to totally wreck any mere human dumb enough to get in his way. It’s proven over and over again in Star Wars – if you don’t have the Force, Vader’s gonna crush your throat.
Batman is a mere mortal – one of the few “superheroes” that really isn’t super at all. He’s a gadget hero, relying on science, psychology, and (let’s be honest) money to defeat villains.
Interesting complication to the mythos – Batman’s ability to wield a lightsaber. He’s the one of very few non-Force-endowed beings to wield one (except Han Solo, and, if you think Attack of the Clones actually counts as canon, General Grievous). This puts the lightsaber in the camp of science and technology, rather than magic. Interesting.
Between his unexpected lightsaber prowess and his array of glowing, exploding gadgets, he gives Vader a pretty good fight…until Vader takes over his ship and makes it explode. I was pretty disappointed by this ending, I’m not gonna lie, but I’m a little biased towards Batman.
But wait, there’s more!
Have you seen the alternate ending? If not, check it out.
Bringing a third element into the mashup, Superman represents a different kind of power than either Vader or Batman…and it clearly wins. Though he definitely had the element of surprise on his side.
Some critics are skeptical that Superman would have powers out in space, as he derives power from Earth’s sun and Star Wars is presumably set “in a galaxy far, far away.” It’s probably true. But it was still awesome to see him punch-fly his way out of the Death Star.
And that’s what mashups are really about – the awesome.
We’ll have to see if the upcoming movie Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice is an awesome mashup (I mean, it’s only sort of a mashup, as they’re in the same DC mythos), and if it’s worthy of the legacy of Batman Returns, the ultimate Batman/Superman showdown.
What’s your favorite mashup? Let us know in the comments!