COMICS vs. THE REAL WORLD: A fanboy strives to become the real life Batman. No... Seriously.
I happened across this article earlier researching something else. I had always wondered if indeed it could be done, and it seems this chap is eager to try it out.
Is it possible to actually become the Dark Knight? A fan finds out.
Geoffrey Brett Williams. Could this be the face of the real life Dark Knight Detective?
"Blogger Wants To Become Batman, You Can Help!
A Kickstarter account for a project called This Batman Life hit was launched this week that will give blogger Geoffrey Brett Williams an experience that many Batman fans like myself have wanted to do for quite some time. Becoming Batman.
Williams plans to use donated money from the Kickstarter service to pay his way to study various martial arts fighting styles, private investigation, and the free-running martial art of parkour to train like Bruce Wayne before he became The Bat. In his journey to become The Dark Knight, Williams will be traveling between Chicago, New York City, DC, and Nashville to train and volunteer with various charitable organizations to experience the philanthropic side of the man behind the mask.
The Kickstarter project offers several different rewards for donation amounts including project-related prints from Jason McDonald, Ming Doyle, and the team behind Let’s Be Friends Again, Curt Franklin and Chris Haley that are rewarded to donors pledging between $10 and $50. As for pledgers of $100 or more, the reward is to experience portions of the journey alongside the hero in training.
Williams is asking for a total of $5,000 to help him along the way to becoming Batman. You can follow his journey through his website, and see the rest of the details on the project here."
The video for This Batman Life can be seen below.
From the blog:
"This Batman Life was conceived on my back porch over a cup of coffee and a healthy desire to be anywhere other than where I was. I'm a lifelong Tennesseean and at nearly thirty-one years old, I decided it was time to do something bold and exciting before I really felt like I was too old to do so. I'd always been keen on the idea of taking a road trip across the country, but I didn't want this project to be your typical road book. So I started thinking about the thing that inspires me the most, and that thing is certainly Batman. For years I've wanted to explore things like meditation, martial arts, survival training, all while getting myself healthier both mentally and physically. I figured there was no better prism through which to do it than Batman. So armed with a healthy love of all things Wayne and a Sal Paradise-sized desire to wander, I launched this project.
This Batman Life is at it's heart a blog, but I intend to make it a lot more interesting than words on a page. The site will be a truly interactive multimedia experience, with blog updates, photographs from the road and video of my various experiences. A documentary for the weblog crowd, a journey through America in the heart of the cloud.
So where will I be traveling?
Chicago for training in the ancient arts of combat and meditation.
Philadelphia for community service and advocacy.
Nashville for the down and dirty business of being a private detective.
California for training in the art of wilderness survival.
As well as detours all across the nation!
The project kicks off in Chicago, where I'll be studying the traditions of Eastern philosophy and meditation from various sources in the vibrant Asian community there. I'll also use this time to study various martial arts (as the Dark Knight is the master of them all), including Aikido (http://www.shinjinkai.org/), Wushu (http://www.chicagowushu.com/) and English Pugilism (http://chicagoboxingclub.com/). The hope is to diversify not only the skills I'm learning but also my experience among the community. Batman is nothing if not a hero of the people and this aspect of the character is integral to my project. I won't just be learning these skills from these people as another face in the crowd, but instead engaging them and learning as much as I can about what drives them to serve their community in this way. Every gym at which I train, every temple at which I learn will be thoroughly documented through photographs, video and interviews with the proprietors and the people with whom I train. A truly immersive experience not only for myself, but for the reader as well.
I mentioned above about making myself available to the community and I intend to do that. To honor Batman's desire to protect and give back to his city and to honor the philanthropy credited to his parents Thomas and Martha Wayne, I'll be engaging in many volunteer activities around the city. Not limiting myself to just volunteering for various charities, I intend to also take classes to become an accredited volunteer able to help in organizations that advocate on behalf of people who have been victims of crime (http://www.avpphila.org/). I harbor no illusions about the legality or practicality of donning a suit of light kevlar and a mask and going into the streets to fight crime. So when it comes to "fighting crime" I want to do as much as I can to support and give back to the communities in which I am staying.
Let's not discount the value of detective work to a young Bruce Wayne, either. The Batman originally began his war against crime in Detective Comics and is a character that shares as much similarity with Sherlock Holmes as The Shadow. To ignore this aspect of the character would belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the character, and therefore I intend to shadow a private detective while they work in an effort to learn the basic components to solving crime. For this portion of the project I'll return home to Tennessee, where I will ride along with a private detective on a few cases and document the experience as we go along.
The last key aspect of the Batman is his ability to survive in every environment, his ability to always be prepared regardless of the situation. To illustrate this aspect of the character I'll be learning the French martial art of Parkour, often referred to as "freestyle running," from a gym in DC (http://primal-fitness.com/) in an effort to learn to utilize and adapt to an urban environment. But Batman doesn't always stay home in Gotham, so to ensure that I'm also able to tackle any problems that might arise while in the field, I'll be doing field survival training from the most well respected survival training school in America, the Survival Training School of California. (http://www.californiasurvivaltraining.com/)
A project this long and this arduous deserves a good party, and that's exactly what I intend to give people at the end. For anyone that donates, there will be an invitation issued to a gala event to be held in my hometown of Nashville, TN, a true black tie party worthy of Bruce Wayne. And in Bruce Wayne fashion, yours truly will host the event in full tuxedo and my best smarmy smile.
These are the high points, but throughout the project I'll also be taking side trips to experience some of the simpler and more fun aspects of learning to be a superhero. These trips will include things like a zip line course in Tennessee, costuming in NYC and even volunteering at a bat sanctuary.
Clearly one cannot attempt to be Batman without financial backing. Sure, I'd love to have a billion dollars, but this is the real world so I'll settle for $5,000.00 While I should be able to hold down some part time work, the fact of the matter is this project will take up a large amount of my time. I will be able to stay for free in most of the cities I'm visiting, but all of the classes, all of the travel and all of the equipment will be up to me. I'm therefore asking for an amount I believe will help me cover the cost of travel between cities, introductory classes and any tech I might need on my journey. Hopefully I'll be able to buttress your support with the kindness of strangers on the road. I know it won't be easy, but aspiring to be more like comics' most enduring icon shouldn't be."
It isn't the first time someone has taken the intiative to don cape and cowl:
Mark Wayne Williams actual photo.
A 31-year-old man known as Mark Wayne Williams - so close yet so far from Bruce Wayne - was arrested on Wednesday, after Petoskey police found him hanging off the side of a building whilst carrying concealed weapons (a baton and a can of chemical irritant spray).
The police in Petoskey - a small town in northwest Michigan - received a call (no, not the Bat-Signal) reporting that a man dressed up as Batman had been seen on the roof of a building in the centre of the 6,000-populous town. Upon arriving on the scene, the officers found Williams hanging off the western wall of the building. After pulling him back onto the roof, they found the baton and chemical spray, along with a pair of lead-lined gloves.
Williams has been charged with several counts of carrying concealed weapons, one count of carrying a gas-ejecting weapon, one count of creating a disturbance, and one unofficial count of taking comic books far too seriously. Apparently, this isn't the first time Williams has shown up in public dressed as a comic book hero. A few years ago, police were drawn into a Williams' escapade, as the latter decided to publically dress up as the Crow. Let's just hope that in the future, the comic-book-loving 31-year-old has enough sense not to use his "outer Spidey senses" - i.e. "web-shooters".
An article from Scientific American does indeed believe it's possible and had this say:
"Batman is the most down-to-earth of all the superheroes. He has no special powers from being born on a distant world or bitten by a radioactive spider. All that protects him from the Joker and other Gotham City villains are his wits and a physique shaped by years of training—combined with the vast fortune to reach his maximum potential and augment himself with Batmobiles, Batcables and other Bat-goodies, of course. In the 2005 blockbuster Batman Begins, vengeful Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) hones his killer instincts in the streets for seven years before landing himself in a Bhutanese prison, where he falls in with the mysterious League of Shadows, who teach him the way of the ninja. The Dark Knight, the next movie in the Batman franchise, opens in theaters Friday. To investigate whether someone like Bruce Wayne could physically transform himself into a one-man wrecking crew, ScientificAmerican.com turned to E. Paul Zehr, associate professor of kinesiology and neuroscience at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and a 26-year practitioner of Chito-Ryu karate-do. Zehr's book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero (The Johns Hopkins University Press), due out in October, tackles our very question. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
What have comic books and movies told us about Batman's physical abilities?
There's a quote from Neal Adams, the great Batman illustrator, who said Batman would win, place or show in every event in the Olympics. Probably if I were Batman's handler, I'd put him in the decathlon. Although Batman is shown in the comics as being the fastest and the strongest and all these other things, in reality you can't actually be all of that at once. To be Batman properly, what you really need to do is be exceptionally good at many different things. It's when you take all the pieces and put them together that you get the Batman.
What's most plausible about portrayals of Batman's skills?
You could train somebody to be a tremendous athlete and to have a significant martial arts background, and also to use some of the gear that he has, which requires a lot of physical prowess. Most of what you see there is feasible to the extent that somebody could be trained to that extreme. We're seeing that kind of thing in less than a month in the Olympics.
What's less realistic?
A great example is in the movies where Batman is fighting multiple opponents and all of a sudden he's taking on 10 people. If you just estimate how fast somebody could punch and kick, and how many times you could hit one person in a second, you wind up with numbers like five or six. This doesn't mean you could fight four or five people. But it's also hard for four or five people to simultaneously attack somebody, because they get in each other's way. More realistic is a couple of attackers.
How long would Bruce Wayne have to train to become Batman?
In some of the timelines you see in the comics, the backstory is he goes away for five years—some it's three to five years, or eight years, or 12 years. In terms of the physical changes (strength and conditioning), that's happening fairly quickly. We're talking three to five years. In terms of the physical skills to be able to defend himself against all these opponents all the time, I would benchmark that at 10 to 12 years. Probably the most reality-based representation of Batman and his training was in Batman Begins.
What do you guys think? Nutjob or oppurtunist? Can it be done?
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