BAll in all, The Batman is going to be a dark, gritty film. Taking its visual cues from Seven and showing a protagonist having a breakdown and finding himself lured into a dogged ethical grumbling by the suffocating power of revenge, all indications are that the film will be three hours of grot and depression and anxiety will be.
But wait, have you tried the new The Batman Oreos yet? They are absolutely bat-yummy!
You’ve probably noticed by now, but The Batman is now suffering from one of the strangest marketing campaigns in recent memory. Here’s a film that clearly describes itself as a profound work of art, steeped in mature themes of violence and alienation. Since Christopher Nolan took the reins nearly 20 years ago, Batman has become an almost mythical part of our culture, and The Batman has designs to be the clearest expression of that yet. And here, too, there is credible artistic precedent. Increasingly, if you make a film based on the world of Batman, you can expect to win an Oscar. This film is going to be a serious piece of cinema.
And yet, for some reason, it treats its marketing campaign like Sonic the Hedgehog. Right now there isn’t a product in the world that The Batman wouldn’t hook up to for a quick buck. The latest of these, according to a press release I received this morning, is the Ring Video Doorbell. In partnership with Warner Bros., Ring users can now download special Batman Answers. This means should a stranger visit your home while you’re out, they’ll be greeted with a blast of Michael Giacchino’s doomy The Batman theme, accompanied by a cheery voice that exclaims: ! Please leave a message! “
And that’s just for starters. A few Saturdays ago, I took my kids to this Sing 2, which was preceded by five separate ads for a new Batman-inspired Nissan Juke. And what’s actually Batman-y about this particular Nissan Juke? It has a bit of yellow under the headlights. Apparently that’s enough.
Then there’s all the food. The Oreos we covered; They have an image of Batman’s face on them because we all know that nothing is more delicious than devouring an effigy of agonizing mental torment. Papa John’s is also there. Its pizzas currently come in commemorative Batman boxes (because who doesn’t love to use used food containers as keepsakes?) and there’s also a new side – Black Ghost Chili Chicken Wings – that also seems to have something Batman related. Meanwhile, in the US, Little Caesars has made a “calzony” (a type of folded pizza) shaped like the Batman logo, allowing customers to grab a piece of sticky, unresolved trauma.
Caffè Nero subverted the pattern a bit by focusing on the Riddler. It has launched a new hot chocolate with a mysterious new flavor. If you can guess the flavor – that is, if you can spend your money on a product designed by a BDSM nightmarish goblin for the purpose of disquieting disbelief – you could win a trip to a theme park.
Again, I hardly touch the pages. Carhartt made The Batman coats. Lanvin has designed an entire line of The Batman clothing, as well as Venus Williams’ Puma and EleVen. Several brands make The Batman wristwatches. There are The Batman candles, lipsticks, perfumes, nail polishes and soaps. It’s endless.
In fact, the last time I remember seeing anything like this barrage of ad ties was with the release of the film Sex and the City in 2008. Back then, the tsunami of official brand partnerships was so high that the film’s own studio labeled it Movie “The Super Bowl for Women”. But that kind of made sense. At its core, Sex and the City was a story about material consumption. The campaign had an element of form and function. However, The Batman is a long, dark film – inspired in part by Kurt Cobain’s suicide – about inevitable spiritual corruption. Nothing about it makes you want to go out and waste your wages on cookies.
If you squint hard enough, you can understand why this ad rush is happening. Post Covid there are no more blockbusters now. Movie after movie has failed in recent months as audiences chose to stay away and wait for a home release. Smearing Batman’s image across every conceivable product is a sensible way to ensure people know the film exists. But at the same time, if Nissan Jukes sales don’t absolutely surge over the next few weeks, it might all be a bit too much.