Documentary – Batman and Me

Steve Taylor-Bryant watched Michael Wayne's documentary about "the highs and lows of obsessive collecting in an increasingly pop culture-centric world," Batman and Me...

There are two ways to view Michael Wayne’s film about Batman collector Darren “Dags” Maxwell. The first way is from the viewpoint of a Batman fan, as his collection is astonishing. The second is from the point of view of an addict, a genuine problem I am all too familiar with, and whilst there are probably many people in the world with serious collections of memorabilia, I haven’t seen a film before that shows the darker side of the hobby. 

Starting with the release of Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989 Maxwell went, well, nuts if I’m honest, and collected everything, even stuff he didn’t particularly like. This obsession went on until the very late 1990s before he stopped and it wasn’t because Maxwell had some kind of eye opening experience about his addiction, he didn’t even realise he had a problem until much later. No, he only stopped because he was so offended by the quality of Batman & Robin! 

Whilst Maxwell’s collection is indeed great, there is most definitely a problem there. There is the obsessive element of "must have everything," the addiction of keeping everything hidden away so it doesn’t get damaged, even foodstuff that is now twenty odd years out of date, and the enabling of those around him who encouraged the behaviour and forgave the issues that came with monetary outlay.

Whilst Maxwell in the film doesn’t shy away from the fact he had issues, he confronts them with the comfort that comes with recovery and brain retraining, the film and Maxwell’s obsession is also an object lesson in consumerism. Merchandising will always be made, and this film serves as a massive warning of the damage that those toy manufacturers and other companies can do to those who are susceptible to addiction. Yes, using the word "addiction" about Batman toys may come across to some as overkill because "those toys aren’t as bad as drugs," but they actually are. Addicts chase the high, addicts lose their money chasing that high, addicts harm themselves and those around them regardless of what substance it is that their addiction is about.

Michael Wayne’s film, therefore, is a great lesson about consumerism and addiction and is also full of beautiful imagery and memories about Batman. I applaud Darren Maxwell for being so open about his past, his failures, his addiction, his mentality, his losses and Batman and Me is a fantastic film with a lesson to be learned if you want the education; it's also a good look at Batman toys if you don’t.

Follow Steve on Twitter @STBwrites

Batman and Me is released by Freestyle Digital Media on 8th March

Images - King Alien Productions
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