John Odum writes for Bleeding Cool,
At age 77, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is the senior member of the United States Senate, having served since 1975. He is also a lifelong Batman fan, as chronicled in his recent biography from Vermont scribe Philip Baruth (making the point, in a 2016 interview for Roll Call, Leahy commented on the Republican Presidential candidate field, saying “I look at those who escaped from Arkham Asylum and I think sometimes it’s hard to distinguish them from some of the people running”). As a fanboy with a Senator’s rolodex, he has managed to secure cameos in multiple Batman iterations, from the Schumacher-helmed Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, Nolan’s The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and even a 1995 episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
But in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Leahy appeared opposite another DC superhero – Superman. That film, of course, was the cornerstone of the DC shared universe, also featuring Wonder Woman and offering cameos of other JLA regulars. Given that Leahy’s DC cameos have piled up over more than two decades and have spread beyond merely the Caped Crusader’s appearances, he has become the de facto Stan Lee cinematic equivalent for the DC universe?
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 teased confirmation of the popular fan theory that Stan Lee, by virtue of his multiple cameos (across multiple cinematic universes, no less) is actually the Hollywood version of Uatu the Watcher. Given that revelation (or whatever it was), one wonders – if Lee is to be Uatu, who does that make Leahy? Ganthet, perhaps?
In between bouts against the Trump agenda in his role on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy was kind enough to squeeze in the answers to a couple questions in this regard.
JO: Do you have a cameo in the upcoming Justice League movie?
(JO pauses for a disappointed sigh)
JO: Given your numerous cameos, and the fact that they have now spread out from exclusively Batman films into the DC Cinematic Universe, that sort of makes you into the DC Cinematic Universe equivalent of Stan Lee in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… so, how do you feel about that honor?
Leahy: Nobody holds a candle (or a laser battle-wand) to the great Stan Lee. I was delighted to see and to look forward to his cameos every time there’s a movie based on one of his characters.
JO: If there’s ever a DC vs Marvel cinematic crossover (as has happened in the comics several times), could you take Stan in a battle?
JO: OK, more seriously… given the rough political times we are in, can superhero fiction still be a source of inspiration, or are they only escapism? What can we learn from Batman and others?
Leahy: There’s a lot to be said for occasional doses of escapism in our lives and our culture. But superheroes also are a source of inspiration. I know that from my own experience. As a four-year-old kid in Montpelier, born blind from birth in one eye, I could still read, enjoy and take inspiration from Batman. I found myself trying to anticipate where the stories were going long before I finished reading them. The heroes I read about opened my imagination to possibilities. It was energizing.
One thing I admire about Batman is that he has no superhuman powers. He solves every problem through intellect, preparation and sheer will. I took from his example that we all have it within ourselves to rise above challenges.
As a four-year-old – when I got my first library card at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier – early on I discovered Batman. I quickly developed an insatiable hunger for reading everything I could find on the shelves. That was a gateway to forming a lifelong habit of reading widely, and a hunger for learning, and even for studying, and for learning something new every day. I’m so grateful for that formative experience. And it’s why I have always donated every penny of royalties from the Batman cameos to the Children’s Wing of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. So, sparking my early interest in Batman has probably been as good for the Library as it’s been fun for me.
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