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By Doug Brunell | June 3, 2004

Fans of Batman know that Denny O’Neil was one of the best writers of the Dark Knight Detective. He wrote dark and emotional tales that often raised interesting moral points. Writer/director Donald Lawrence Flaherty’s fan film, “The Death of Batman,” captures that same spirit, and the moral question it raises is: How responsible is Batman (Christopher Stapleton) for the damage he causes? What happens when his vigilante actions create a criminal? What cross does he have to bear? A common thief (Trip Hope) thinks he has the answers.

When Batman confronts the thief, the thief actually gets the upper hand and then tortures the hero with beatings and, as an added bit of nasty, hooks him on heroin. When the reason behind all of this is finally learned, Batman does the morally right thing, and it’s not out of character, either.

As a Batman fan, I had few complaints with this film. As I mentioned, it feels like a Denny O’Neil story, and if you are going to be influenced by any Batman scribe, it’s him or Frank Miller. That also makes this film better than any of the major studio releases. Yes, it is that good.Flaherty seems to really understand the essence of Batman, and his version is the truest to appear on screen so far. His film also has a definite comic book style to it (panels within panels, illustrated backgrounds, etc.). In other words: This is a Batman film made by a fan for the fans. Flaherty should be proud, and I’m sure Batman creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane would be pleased, too. Now someone in Hollywood needs to give Flaherty the chance to try this on a larger scale in a fully-licensed film. The results would be stunning.

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