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Misc General General Archive Cleveland IS Gotham City
Written by Jonathan Knight

Jonathan Knight

Gotham CityThe Avengers was good and fine, Pixar cranked out another animated gem, and we endured the highly unnecessary MTV-reboot of Spider-Man.

Now that the warm-up acts have cleared the stage, it’s time for what we got the sitter for.

At this point, telling you that the latest installment in the ridiculously successful Batman film series comes out on Friday is like cluing you in that there’s going to be a presidential election this fall. The Dark Knight Rises - the conclusion of this Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale trilogy that came out of nowhere seven years ago to change the way Hollywood justifies not developing any new ideas - is not just the most highly anticipated movie of the year, but one of the most eagerly awaited films of all time.

And while Cleveland sat up and paid a little extra attention when The Avengers hit the cineplexes because they ripped up East Ninth Street and cocked up downtown traffic for weeks last summer to film a big battle scene, there’s actually much more of a connection between the cinematic world of Batman than the sunshiny Candy Land we see in The Avengers.

On Friday we will revisit a dark, hardened city hopelessly cast in shadows and desperately seeking a hero. Any hero. At one point in the original movie, it’s described as “a breeding ground for suffering and injustice.” Later it’s revealed that a shadowy group set out to destroy the city by obliterating its economy.

All of these ideas may sound highly fictional and/or unrealistic to anyone who hasn’t set foot in Cuyahoga County over the past decade. 

In reality, all we need is Bernie Kosar with a cape and a cowl standing on top of the Terminal Tower and we’ve got ourselves a movie.

And perhaps not ironically, in this new Dark Knight film a key scene takes place during a pro football game in which the players vanish into a giant hole in the ground - something we’ve seen the Browns do every Sunday for more than 10 years now.

So in that spirit, with all the dorky ongoing Batman debates this week, it only seems appropriate that we take the Gotham City/Cleveland connection a bit further.

Therefore, in syllogistic reasoning based on sports terms, if Gotham City is Cleveland, then...


The Movies

batman 1966 posterThe 1966 Batman TV show-based movie = the Miracle of Richfield CavsMiracle of Richfield

Colorful and fun, both Adam West and the 1975-76 Cavs rose to prominence with a wry sense of humor, unmistakable entertainment value, and silly uniforms.


batman 1989 movie posterThe 1989 Batman feature film = the Kardiac KidsKardiac kids poster

While flawed, both took something that we’d begun to take for granted and, with a black cape/orange pants, turned it into a massive success. Albeit with an unsatisfying ending.









batman returns posterBatman Returns = any team coached by Butch Davisbutch-davis-300x200

Vaguely watchable, but ultimately weird and more than a bit icky, to the point that you felt like you needed a shower afterward. Throughout the experience, you couldn’t help but wonder what sort of drugs were being consumed by whoever green-lit this project.








batman forever_posterBatman Forever = the LeBron-era Cavscavs lebron era

All sparkly and neon, it was easy to be fooled into thinking this was an enjoyable, well-put-together addition to the series. But when you look back on it now, you can see it for what it was: all sizzle and no steak.








batman and robin posterBatman & Robin = any Browns team of the last two decadescleveland-browns-lose

There is literally nothing good that can be said about the movie that found a way to kill a once-popular franchise. Ditto for this string of humiliating Browns’ teams that did the same thing.








batman begins posterBatman Begins =  the 1995 Indians1995 indians

After the original series crashed and burned, it was relaunched with an entirely new tone and focus that made you forget the silliness of everything that came before.








dark knight posterThe Dark Knight = the 1954 Indians1954 indians

Almost certainly the greatest superhero movie ever made, it ends on the haunting note of Batman sacrificing himself for the good of the city and voluntarily becoming an outcast. This is not unlike the ’54 Tribe, which was probably the most dominant sports team in Cleveland history and intentionally allowed itself to be swept in the World Series for the greater good of baseball. (Baseball historians may dispute that last part, but deep down Clevelanders know it’s true.)







The Batmans

adam westAdam West = Sam Rutiglianosam-rutigliano-coach

Adored but still somewhat unappreciated to this day, each took something that had become inherently redundant and made it enjoyable with a wry sense of humor. And a utility belt with killer shark repellant.









michael-keaton-batman-1989Michael Keaton = Bill Belichickbill belichick_browns_copy

Too much talent not to succeed. Just not here and not now.


valkilmner batmanVal Kilmer = Eric Manginieric mangini browns

Dedicated and smart, but difficult to work with and clearly not your first choice. Kilmer lasted one movie, Mangini lasted two seasons.








george clooney_batmanGeorge Clooney = Roger Maris, Len Dawson, Manny Ramirez, Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia, Brandon Phillips, etc.cliff lee

Got him cheap early in his career only to watch him go on to much bigger and better things elsewhere.








Batman Christian BaleChristian Bale = Jim Brownjim brown

A talented, dedicated hard-ass you clearly do not fuck with.








The Arch-Villains

jack nicholson jokerJack Nicholson’s Joker = John ElwayJohn-Elway-9286984-1-402

This big-toothed, slick character has always caused major problems. Nicholson was dropped into acid, and we’ve always wished Elway would be.








penguinDanny DeVito’s Penguin = the Pittsburgh Steelerssteelers copy

Deformed, bloated, and disgusting, with black sludge oozing out of every orifice. And DeVito was pretty nasty, too.




catwomanlebron-james-miami-heatMichelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman = LeBron James

In the movie, Michelle Pfeiffer falls out a window, hits her head, and forgets who she is, then suddenly puts on a black suit and sets out on an unfocused mission to destroy the entire city. Thankfully, though, we haven’t had to see LeBron in skin-tight leather. Yet.





cesar romero jokerCesar Romero’s Joker = the Cincinnati Bengalscincinnati bengals

With one look, you know this is more laughable and completely preposterous than a genuine threat, but it still manages to be an occasional pain in the ass. Particularly since losing to a clown like that is embarrassing as hell.





jim carrey riddlerJim Carrey’s Riddler = Ted StepienTedStepien

An over-the-top showboat in way over his head who managed to obliterate everything around him and set the franchise back for years to come.









Mr FreezeArnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze = George SteinbrennerGeorge Steinbrenner 22

He sucked at what he did and everybody knew it. But he incomprehensibly made dump-truck loads of money that allowed the insanity to continue. 





heath-ledgers-joker-wins-oscar-5Heath Ledger’s Joker = Fausto Carmonafausto-carmona copy

We have no idea who he really is, what made him the way he is, or what he wants. One died a premature death and the other wound up in a Dominican prison. You make the call which is worse.





baneTom Hardy’s Bane = Peyton Hillispeyton hillis

The baddie in the new Batman movie is a ’roided-out beefcake who has biceps 26 inches in circumference and wears a facemask that looks amazingly like Hillis’.









tommy lee jones two faceTommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face = Mike Holmgrenmike holmgren

Once a brilliant strategist, he’s been scaled by acid (in this case, the corrosive domain of the Browns’ front office) and makes every decision based on the outcome of a coin flip.





The Supporting Cast

robin 01Robin = Matt Underwoodmatt underwood

No clever reason why. He just looks like a good Robin, doesn’t he?









batcaveThe Batcave = Cleveland Stadiumcleveland stadium

Dark, dingy, filled with weird rodents, and mostly empty.





gordonCommissioner Gordon = Manny Actamanny acta

A good guy thrust into an impossible situation. Plus, the red Bat-Phone on his desk has been disconnected and the Bat-Signal on the roof needs a new bulb.








alfredAlfred the Butler = Terry Plutoterrypluto

He knows all the secrets and deals with the insanity around him by calmly trying to keep everything clean and dignified.









Come what may for Gotham City in the new movie, here’s hoping the Dark Knight can make Cleveland his next stop.


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