Beyond Heroes and Villains

Investigating the nature of good guys and bad guys in fiction and real life

Legends of the Knight Documentary Explores Power of Stories

Documentary examines how a fictional superhero can inspire living human beings
Travis Langley, Ph.D.
This post is a response to "Legends of the Knight" Video Chat on Batman and Psychology by Travis Langley, Ph.D.

In the documentary Legends of the Knight, filmmaker Brett Culp explores the inspirational power of stories as exemplified by the way Batman resonates in people throughout the world. The film "weaves together the stirring true stories of individuals who have overcome devastating obstacles, unselfishly given to the community, and embraced their inner superhero because of their love of Batman. Through the deeply personal tales of Batman fans, writers, and filmmakers, this feature-length documentary explores the power of heroic stories and encourages viewers to find their own path to heroism." 

The stories covered in the film include Dr. Patrick O'Connor's use of comic books as a way to get youngsters to open up and talk in therapy. The website he created, Comicspedia, is an online database summarizing hundreds of individual comic book stories, tagging each with psychological themes. Also featured is Dr. Travis Langley (yes, me), who uses the filter of fiction to teach some very real psychology. While reports of real crime victims might make forensic psychology students turn away, thereby making it harder for them to learn the material, students studying fictional characters can immerse themselves in some of the roughest topics in the world.

Throughout the film, though, each story touches on very real psychological issues and concerns, not just the segments on the psychologists. A young woman growing up with muscular dystrophy, when old enough to know she will never wake up with superpowers, reassures herself that Batman has no superpowers and he "does it just fine." Other people recount more than a dozen stories on how Batman has inspired them to overcome challenges, with commentary from various experts and the comic book writer and editor who has probably worked on more Batman stories except, possibly, Batman's uncredited co-creator Bill Finger himself.  

This renowned film is going around the country right now in a series of special screenings, each raising funds for local non-profit organizations. Learn more: http://www.wearebatman.com/theater/

The Legends:

Michael Uslan

Because of his love for Batman, Michael spent more than a decade convincing Hollywood executives that a serious Dark Knight would connect with audiences.  He has served as Executive Producer of every Batman film since 1989.

Denny O’Neil

As a comic book writer & editor, Denny redefined Batman for contemporary audiences. He is one of the most important & prolific Batman storytellers of the 20th century.

Lenny B. Robinson

Famous for being pulled over by police in his Batmobile wearing a full costume, Lenny visits children’s hospitals around the country spreading inspiration & hope.

Jill Pantozzi

As a superhero fan & journalist, Jill has found inspiration for her real-life challenges with Muscular Dystrophy in the characters of Batman stories.

Kye Sapp

At age 5, Kye was diagnosed with leukemia.  Throughout treatment, he gained strength by identifying himself with Batman.  With initial treatment complete, his hometown of Arlington granted him a magical Batman wish.

Petaluma Batman

Full-time student, part-time community servant.  Petaluma Batman raises money & does good deeds in his hometown in California.  His identity remains a mystery…

Rabbi Cary Friedman

The stories of Batman have profoundly impacted Cary since childhood.  This motivated him to write the book Wisdom from the Batcave, which expresses the life lessons & moral teachings in Batman tales.

Dr. Travis Langley

Combining his expertise in psychology with his passion for Batman, Professor Langley has taught a Batman course & written a book (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) that illuminates the field of psychology through the characters & stories of Batman.

Gotham Chopra

Driven to explore the connection between ancient & modern storytelling, Gotham co-authored the book “Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes” with his father, Deepak Chopra.

Brian Elliott

Working as a missionary in Thailand, Brian raises funds for humanitarian projects around the globe by running marathons in a Batman outfit.

Patrick O’Connor

Patrick uses Batman comic books as a tool for therapy, allowing him to explore challenging topics with his clients in a familiar, relaxed context.

Daniel Scott

While facing real-life physical challenges, Daniel uses Batman as a symbol to overcome & stretch his limits.

 

"It was that he was human, that he had no superpowers. Every kid identified with him."
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com

"These children are fighting to get better, they're fighting for independence physically...they can see some of that in Batman."
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com

"He lifted me up."
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com

"Going through this (Batman psych) class, it's given me a big point of self-reflection on who I am and who I'm going to be."
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com

"Growing up with muscular dystrophy, I would dream that I would wake up with superpowers one day...."
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com

Dr. Patrick O'Connor uses comic books as a therapeutic aid to help youngsters open up and talk.
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com
 

Young Kye Sapp, fighting leukemia, gets to make a wish and fight crime as Batman for a day.
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com

"The lesson of the Batman to me as a kid was, 'You know what? You haven't even begun."
Original screen capture. weAREbatman.com
 

Travis Langley, Ph.D. is the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight.

more...

Subscribe to Beyond Heroes and Villains

Current Issue

Just Say It

When and how should we open up to loved ones?