Batman and Scousers: A Very Short History
There’s an old joke that says, “what do Batman and scousers have in common?”. Answer: neither can go out without Robin/robbing. Whilst this stereotype, of Liverpudlians as thieves, is potentially stigmatizing, most that it may affect laugh it off. My Grandad was from Liverpool. He told me that joke himself. He laughed. Apologies in advance for any genuine offence caused. It’s not the intention. Besides, once you’ve read this you might change your tune. It’s not everyday Batman himself visits Liverpool . . .
This week, Batman was in the great city, doubling as Gotham. He did go out without Robin or robbing. Turns out he’s not just there to save the good folks of Merseyside from the dreaded tier 3 local lockdown restrictions. On a more serious note, if ever the world needed a superhero, or even just news a new superhero movie’s coming, it’s now. The worldwide health pandemic is causing chaos for cinemas, with seemingly endless delyas. Fortunately, production of the new movie, The Batman, could proceed as planned. Recently, it was put on hold, as main star, Robert Pattison, contracted Covid 19. Most importantly, he recovered – being alone has never troubled Batman! Following his recovery and mandatory self-isolation, this meant filming could commence. With the film industry ravaged by the virus, this was great news. So, why film in Liverpool?
Liverpool as Gotham
The Liver Birds and Building
Whether it’s Pattison, or a stunt double up there, we don’t know. Either way, it’s seriously cool. Batman always looks awesome when scaling tall buildings. The famous waterfront of Liverpool, housed on the banks of the Mersey, is perfect for outdoor filming. The image of Batman, high up, is iconic. In this case it’s the Royal Liver Building. Also, there’s the Port of Liverpool building, in close proximity. That may be used. A little further, across from the Pier Head, is the Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas’.
This time of year, if it’s cloudy, there’s absolutely Gotham vibes going on. At night, well, wow! However, one thing Gotham hasn’t got is a Liver bird. A mythical creature (not just invented to go on the crest of Liverpool F.C.). These huge stone birds are commonly represented as cormorants. There are actually many others, all around the city (including one “baby bird” in the vicinity of the aforementioned church). But, it’s the two famous ones on the building Batman’s on that are most renowned, locally.
A local myth says that if either, or both of the birds were to fly off, Liverpool would simply sink. These icons proudly embody so much of Liverpool’s reputation as a great city. Grit, determination and survival against political adversity (sound familiar to Gotham?). In truth, this may be a metaphor for the building being of such financial importance. It’s home to the Royal Liver Assurance group. If the business left, there’d be huge consequences. This is especially true historically, as Liverpool was arguably the world’s most important port. The assets of the great dock were vast, and the group provided essential safeguards, should accidents occur.
Another local tale states that there is one male and one female bird. They are married (there are two birds, one looking out to the Irish sea and one looking over the city). The male bird is supposed to be looking to see when the pubs open. He’ll have a hard time right now, as many of the pubs have sadly had to close. His wife, the female bird, is supposed to be seeing where he’s got to! This idea doesn’t date too well, as it deals in tropes of traditional gender roles, which don’t really stand up today. Still, it’s amusing to hear and typical scouse humour.
Finally, one more supposed myth about the birds. My Granddad told me that if an honest person, or a virgin, should ever walk past the outward facing “male” bird, it would flap its wings in astonishment. Apparently, that’s never happened, yet. More typical scouse humour. My Granddad was proud of the city he was from. He’d be proud too, that Batman came and visited. Especially without robbing/Robin. Should Batman stays long enough, perhaps he’ll finally lighten up, and even crack a smile. It’s unlikely Batman will ever do for that for any extended period. Or even at all. Though, if anywhere could make it happen it’s Liverpool. Either way, he should be at home there. There’s many a joker there!