On the periphery of society, cataloged amongst the people nobody notices are the collectors, the folks who specialize in collecting a facet of geek culture. For some, it’s Star Wars paraphernalia. For other collectors, it’s Star Trek. For Darren Maxwell, his principal focus is Batman. Batman and Me, directed by Michael Wayne, is his story.
A loner looking for a community to belong to, Maxwell fell in with collectors of movie memorabilia. While he possesses smaller collections devoted to Dune and other science fiction properties, he realized in 1989 that no one he knew was collecting items from Tim Burton’s Batman, and that became his niche. Over the course of 10 years, Maxwell collected all manner of kitsch in support of all the Batman movies ending with 1997’s Batman and Robin. In this deeply personal and introspective documentary, he walks us through his vast array of toys, comics, and knick-knacks.
“…Maxwell collected all manner of kitsch in support of all the Batman movies…”
Since 2001, Maxwell has moved on from collecting Batman memorabilia to making Star Wars fan films. His collaborator in financing these shorts is Peter Sims, who is also a Batman collector. There is a sequence where Wayne visually compares and contrasts both men’s acquisitions. Sims is intent on seeing everything he has collected clearly. Every item has been removed from its box and placed in a display case. For Maxwell, collecting an item requires that it retains its pristine condition. The collectible must be in its Aristotelian purest form. Therefore, Maxwell never opens an item he has collected. To do so is to convert it from being a collectible to a “toy.” Interestingly, we learn that if he did not enjoy a film, he does not support it by acquiring its memorabilia.
There are some fascinating anecdotes along that trend spread throughout Batman and Me. One of Maxwell’s former girlfriends’ bought him a package of Batman cookies a week prior to dumping him. After she broke up with him, he opened the package out of spite and ate the cookies. Being a collector, he then replaced the cookies with a pristine, unopened package. In a moment of weakness, Maxwell opened the Batman Forever board game. To this day, he wants to replace it with a copy still contained within its mylar packaging. A particular item has a tear in it. This gnaws at Maxwell’s psyche. While he has hidden the tear from view, it still exists. This is a nightmare scenario for any collector.
While he is featured in a further documentary concerning Star Wars and its fans, The Phandom Menace, Maxwell and his room entirely devoted to Batman memorabilia is his claim to immortality. In the Melbourne collector community, he is truly known as the Batman collector. Batman and Me is a wonderful deep dive into one man’s obsession. I highly recommend it.
"…I highly recommend it."