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Theatre / Batman Live

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Bruce Wayne: I am Batman.
Dick Grayson: What?
Bruce Wayne: I... am... Batman.

Batman Live is a 2011 arena show written by Stan Berkowitz and Alan Burnett. The play tells the story of Bruce Wayne meeting and teaming up with Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin, for the first time. It's an elaborate and highly detailed stage production, featuring circus acts, hand-drawn animation and Wire Fu. And some serious horror.

When Bruce Wayne spends an evening at the Haly Circus with commissioner Gordon, they're introduced to The Flying Graysons, who turn out to be the victims of a protection racket by Tony Zucco. When the Graysons are murdered during their trapeze act, their son Dick ignores commissioner Gordon's orders to hide in Wayne Manor, and goes after Zucco with the intent of murdering the gangster. As it turns out, Zucco is working for the Joker — but by the time Batman figures that out (from the twisted grin on Zucco's corpse) he's set off the alarms of every supervillain in town. Knowing that they won't stand a chance against Batman alone, the Riddler proposes a supervillain team-up to kill Batman once and for all. Catwoman, Two-Face and the Penguin reluctantly agree.


Meanwhile, Harley Quinn and The Joker take over Haly Circus, murder its cast and capture Dick. When Batman comes to free his ward, the Joker flees, and Harley is shipped off to Arkham Asylum kicking and screaming. Impressed with Dick's perseverance and acrobatics, Bruce tells Dick about the murder of his own parents, the inspiration he found in the film Zorro, and how he wants to devote his life to fighting evil. He decides to let Dick in on his secret: he is the Batman, and he intends to teach Dick how to make villains pay without resorting to murder.

Meanwhile, the Joker breaks into Arkham Asylum and takes over the building. Batman decides to pursue his archenemy, and with the help of Alfred, Dick secretly tags along. Batman has to face his enemies in the centre of madness.

The play stays close to the Batman canon, and includes very detailed factoids on the franchise's gadgets and villains — as well as the sleekest Batmobile seen yet.


This play provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The play's official website gives a lot more background, including the synopsis, the characters' abilities, and detailed biographies.
  • Balloonacy: At the beginning of Act II, the Joker floats down onto the stage using a handful of helium balloons.
  • Bat Signal
  • Bedlam House: Once Batman arrives at Arkham to take down The Joker, he finds that all of the inmates have been mummified, chained and hung from the ceiling. Then Scarecrow comes to catch him...
  • Big Damn Heroes: Robin pulls off an especially epic rescue when he saves Batman from the clutches of the rogues.
  • Big Entrance: Happens quite a few times. Batman would often glide onto the stage in a few scenes (at one point, he glides right through a window), the Joker's introduction has him launching out of a giant jack-in-the-box, and during the final battle, Robin glides in to kick some ass and save Batman.
  • Circus of Fear: All over the play. At one point, the Joker comes out of a giant machine shaped like his own head, with the teeth, eyes and hair made of writhing people.
  • Cool Car: The Batmobile. Unlike traditional versions of the iconic car, this one is a full-on hovercraft.
  • Dating Catwoman
  • Deadpan Snarker: Catwoman and, of course, Alfred.
  • The Faceless: Scarecrow. He's a giant walking nightmare on stilts, made of stitched-together burlap and sticks, with long twitching claws and no visible face.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Catwoman decides to help out Batman in the final battle and kisses him in the show's finale, hinting that she's going to seriously reconsider being a criminal.
  • Internal Homage: Many. Bruce is dating Vicki Vale, Arkham's atmosphere is remarkably close to Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, and the score is one big shout-out to Danny Elfman's music.
  • Mad Love: Harley and The Joker.
  • Monster Clown: Guess who.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: During the climax, The Joker attempts to escape Gotham via hot air balloon, abandoning Harley in the process. Furious that he decided to leave her, Harley shoots down his balloon with a bazooka, ultimately preventing his escape. Of course, being Harley, she then runs after the balloon and apologizes for attacking him.
  • Official Couple: The Joker and Harley Quinn. They still try to murder each other a few times.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The first time we're introduced to Batman and Catwoman, they're battling over a series of rooftops.
  • Villain Team-Up: The Riddler hatches a plan to team up with Penguin, Two-Face, and Catwoman to take down the Batman. By the climax, the four villains plus Joker, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, and Poison Ivy join forces and bring Batman to the edge of defeat.
  • Wire Fu: The show makes good use of wires for floating effects, flying effects, etc.


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