Tim Burton’s ‘Batman‘ released June 1989, grossed a whopping $411 million at the worldwide box office, while its associated merchandise generated over a billion USD. After a childhood memory leads to a Google search for Batman slime, Australian filmmaker Michael Wayne (not related to Bruce Wayne aka The Dark Knight himself, FYI) visits a Batman-merchandise collector’s simple website, which takes him to the quiet suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, where he’ll find “Dags”. Interesting fact: the settlement that became the city of Melbourne was founded by explorer John Batman in 1835.
Darren “Dags” Maxwell, former collector of first edition Star Wars-posters, Dune-merchandise and movie soundtrack LPs, started his unstoppable obsession for Batman-merchandise as soon as he walked out of the ’89 premiere of the classic film. Collecting items from Batman jellybeans to Batman band-aids, Batman cufflinks and even ice cream kept in a freezer for the last 30 years – “Dags” has it all. Living a very normal life with his partner Lynn, his large collection is hidden in a separate room, with a Batman-logo on the door giving away it’s secrets. Overwhelming to anyone who enters, even his partner Lynn still discovers new items every time she walks in to make sure these collector items aren’t collecting any dust.
Batman and Me explores the start and end of Darren’s habits as the curator of his own little museum, and how it became a thing of the past. “Image is everything to a collector,” as “Dags” says himself. But there’s a bigger story behind his mindless collecting as Wayne starts to question the rehearsed and hollow story, “as if it’s a script to keep his identity together“.
Interviews, and inventive arts-and-craftsy stop motion toy figure animation are used to reenact important life events, which switch back and forth to tell “Dags” story behind his obsession. At times it definitely feels like it just keeps going, without really exploring much more than just the stories behind every item he once acquired. In a way definitely reminiscent of an episode of Netflix’s ‘The Toys That Made Us‘, ‘Batman and Me‘ is made more personal by Darren Maxwell and the director’s sobering look at the highs and lows of obsessive collecting in an increasingly pop culture-centric world, and the price of admission to fandom. Fandoms are alive and kicking, with no end in sight.
‘Batman and Me’ will screen as part of Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.
Tickets available HERE
Melbourne Documentary Film Festival Review – ‘Batman and Me’
Reviewed online (also screening as part of Melbourne Documentary Film Festival), June 20, 2020. Rating: G. Running time: 86 min.
PRODUCTION: A King Alien production.
CREW: Director: Michael Wayne. Written by: Michael Wayne, Andrew Martyn, Rebecca Richardson. Camera: Andrew Martyn. Editors: Andrew Martyn, Michael Wayne. Music: Scott Moseley.
STARRING: Darren “Dags” Maxwell, Lynne Brack, Peter “MPS” Sims, Chloe Strawn, Aiden Robinson, Dave Durbin, Christian Haberley, Scott Boyes, John Sellers, Mick Pylak.