We all remember the day Batkid saved Gotham City (San Francisco) from the clutches of villainy, but this burst of uncontrollable joy deserves more than one single day of recognition. We’ve become a culture of attention-deficit drones who only care about what’s “trending,” which is why Batkid Begins is the documentary we need right now.
Fair warning: you will cry all over again. Not out of sadness, but because one boy’s dream gave the world something to smile about. Civilization shut down for an entire day to watch a pint-sized, leukemia-stricken boy named Miles act out his wildest fantasy…but his request did far more for humanity than Make-A-Wish workers could have EVER imagined. Good nature is infectious, and we need daily reminders like Batkid Begins to make sure our humanitarian side isn’t overtaken by life’s obsessively negative grasp.
When asked by the Make-A-Wish organization, Miles Scott had one wish: to be Batman. He didn’t want to meet Batman, or watch someone else be Batman; Miles Scott wanted to be THE Caped Crusader. Patricia Wilson, the visionary who accepted Mile’s case without hesitation, started planning out a series of events where Miles could fight crime alongside Batman as his trusty sidekick, Batkid. The Scott family assumed Miles would be running around a small park somewhere in a Batkid costume, but as Wilson’s ideas began to snowball, the legend of Batkid became a viral phenomenon. San Francisco transformed into Gotham City with the tireless help of gracious volunteers, granting Miles the superhero opportunity of a lifetime.
Think about it. A massively populated city the size of San Francisco halted all activities for numerous hours. Those logistics alone have been talked about and beaten into the ground, but filmmaker Dana Nachman offers an up-close look at the frenzied determination it took to make Miles’ fantasy a reality. AT&T Park had an open-door policy because it was during baseball’s offseason, a garment store with an old-school vault staged a robbery, city streets were shut down as part of the act, and onlookers mobbed Mile’s entire path. A quick Google search, however, can corroborate these details, proving its cinematic take on the event to be nothing especially revelatory. Heartwarming? Most certainly. But the information is more or less regurgitated.
At its most successful, Batkid Begins is a testament to the human spirit. The kind of do-gooder that restores your faith in mankind when you need it most. Some might even consider it “happiness propaganda,” but it’s the best kind of force-fed humanitarianism. Wilson didn’t have to nervously round up participants to populate Gotham City – she found herself overwhelmed by a massive outpouring of generosity from all angles.
Eric Johnston, the stuntman/inventor who escorted Miles as Batman, spent days upon days perfecting every aspect of his role, down to a holographic wrist-projector he invented to display messages from SF Police Chief Greg Suhr. Mike Jutan, an Industrial Light & Magic/Pixar software engineer, studied Burgess Meredith’s performance as The Penguin so his kidnapping of Lou Seal would be as lifelike as possible. These seem like inconsequential details, but countless people enthusiastically answered the call by contributing their own free time to ensure absolute perfection. An opera house wardrobe team stayed hours AFTER work, stunts were created, patrol cops offered escorts without overtime – I mean, the list just goes on. These are the true superheroes of today; unspeakably generous individuals with humongous hearts who masquerade as everyday citizens, never earning any comic book fame.
With so many negatively-themed stories being shared on a daily basis, the collective love spread through Mile’s story is just too heartwarming to ignore. Not even Mr. Freeze’s icy heart could remain impervious to this epic Make-A-Wish success story because we deserve this kind of happiness more than once a year. A sick child got to fight crime for a day with his favorite superhero, which is storybook enough, but millions of adults were also granted the ability to feel like a wide-eyed child again. It’s impossible not to tear up when Miles pumps his tiny fist after an introduction by Mayor Ed Lee, which sparks a massive roar from a crowd of people who are looking for something to believe in. Miles’ strength, courage, and spirit are represented by that tiny celebration, and the reactionary shouts of joy he’s met with wash over like an overpowering wave of societal jubilation.
If you still don’t think good nature is infectious, Dana Nachman ends Batkid Begins by addressing the people who prevented political assassins from ruining our good day. Just as quickly as articles surfaced complaining about the $105,000 San Francisco spent on Miles’ big day, an incredibly generous donor picked up the ENTIRE tab, leaving absolutely nothing for nay-sayers to attack. The entire stunt ran on volunteer hours, paid-for bills, and came at no cost to Californian tax payers – like that even HAD to be addressed. But, it was taken care of, allowing Batkid Begins to end on one simple, unforgettable theme: good people doing good things makes everyone happy. Can we please stop forgetting that?
Batkid Begins is a story about good people doing better things, which makes everyone happy. Why is this something we keep forgetting?