Batman won’t take his youngest son to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
“Four years old is a little young to see this whole movie,” Ben Affleck told the Associated Press. “I don’t want him to have nightmares.”
My 4-year-old son already has a ticket to the movie. With the opening-night crowd. On the biggest movie screen in the state. In brain-exploding IMAX 3D. Go big or go back to the Batcave, I always say.
You might be thinking I’m a terrible parent and an even worse moviegoer. Maybe you think I’m the kind of narcissistic father who presumes his own little Batman fan to be cooler than Samuel Garner Affleck. I don’t think I’m any of those things. Here’s why the Champ has earned his ticket.
He sits through movies.
I took the Champ to his first movie, a matinee of Monsters University, when he was 18 months old. During the screening, I spilled a entire bag of popcorn and a bottle of water. I had to use the restroom once and stepped out of the theater again to answer what I thought was an emergency phone call. Turned out my dad was pocket-dialing me repeatedly.
Meanwhile, my buddy was flawless. I’ve taken him to about eight movies in theaters, and the worst thing he ever did was fall asleep during Star Wars: The Force Awakens and miss the Millennium Falcon reveal (“The garbage will do!”).
He watches grown-up stuff.
One day, I let him watch Batman Begins at home. He was 3. I can’t explain my decision there. Now he says it’s his favorite movie. I haven’t decided when we’re going to finish Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
We’ve watched the original Star Wars Trilogy (not the Special Editions) at least twice. The Diagona and Jabba the Hutt freaked him out, but he didn’t lose any sleep.
We even watched Man of Steel as a primer for Batman v Superman. I think the pacing turned him off, but he didn’t shy away from the violence.
We’re all-in on BvS.
Please take a moment to enjoy the illustration at the top of this post courtesy of artist Joe Bowen, my friend and colleague. It’s not an exaggeration. That’s a spot-on portrait of my house right now.
I have four Batman v Superman shirts and a baseball cap, enough apparel to rival my favorite non-college sports teams. My son has all that plus undies and clogs. He also has every BvS LEGO set, every Imaginext and every Mighty Minis blind bag.
It’s not just the merchandise. We’ve wound ourselves into the Batman v Superman marketing machine. General Mills liked one of my Instagrams so much that we got the same #SuperHeroesCereal gift box they sent to Kevin Smith and DC Comics chief Geoff Johns.
The Champ helped me make videos that have racked up tens of thousands of YouTube views. My favorite is this one, where we use action figures to parody the Batman v Superman trailers and make cereal bars. Champer nails the Batman voice:
And yes, we’ve eaten a lot of BvS cereal, along with a few Doritos, some fruit snacks and a Batman Dr. Pepper or two. This movie is a part of us now, somewhere around the midsection. Good thing the shirts are flattering.
I’ve entered every Batman v Superman contest I can find, and I’ve even won a couple. We visited Warner Bros. Studios just to see the new Batmobile. Kids under 8 aren’t allowed on the Studio Tour, but a good friend scored us a private guide for the Batman galleries.
After all this, would it be fair to tell my son he’s too little to see the movie?
Batman and I have a history.
At 7, I was probably too young to see Tim Burton’s Batman in theaters. But the soundtrack by Prince was my first-ever CD, and I was hooked on syndicated 1960s Batman. My mom took me to the movie.
At 10, I was probably still too young to see Batman Returns. But I had collected all the controversial Happy Meal toys. My dad took me, and I remember him saying at the time that all the innuendo made it super awkward.
At 13, I capped off one of the most memorable days of my childhood with the 12 a.m. premiere of Batman Forever, my first midnight movie. My son is lucky — those launch screenings start as early as 6 p.m. on a Thursday now. No, I wouldn’t take a 4-year-old at midnight.
So no matter how Batman v Superman turns out, this is something we’ll always remember. I get to build on a 27-year continuity, and the Champ gets to start his own thing with many more Justice League movies to come.
Kids can make a movie better.
When you’re a longtime media snob who majored in journalism with delusions of one day becoming a movie critic, it’s not always easy to enjoy a movie.
When I watch a movie with my kids for the first time, that inner critic gives way to my inner child. I get to experience a movie through my kids’ eyes, at least a little. I get more invested, more emotional. And this adds way more to a movie than an IMAX screen or 3D glasses.
So Ben Affleck’s 4-year-old gets the coolest superhero birthday party. Mine gets to see Batman v Superman in a theater. I’m not saying everyone should take their small kids to the latest superhero smackdown, but my Champ has the patience, the maturity and the sheer fandom to make this work.
And if it doesn’t, at least the nightmares will be badass. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Once again, huge thanks to Joe Bowen for the perfect illustration at the top of this post. Please check out more of his art on Tumblr.