You know him.
You love him.
You've seen his parents die a million times.
He is vengeance.
He is the night.
He....should be eternally grateful to one man that gets zero credit for any of his success.
Not Bill Finger.
Not Jack Nicholson.
Not Tim Burton.
Not Commissioner Gordon.
His name is Christopher Fairbank.
Christopher Fairbank is one of the goons in the opening scene of Batman (1989). You know the one that says that Johnny Gobs got ripped and took a walk off a roof? You don't remember that?
"What are you?!"
Yeah, he's the guy that says "What are you?!"
The delivery of that specific line not only set up the iconic "I'm Batman" from one Michael "You wanna get nuts?!" Keaton, but also set the world's forgotten love of the Dark Knight on fire in anticipation for the film back in 89.
"What are you?!"
The way Christopher Fairbank says it is so high pitched. So afraid. So...strange. You instantly have it burned into your brain and you instantly take Batman seriously. After that trailer premiered you suddenly had a bat addiction and started buying everything Batman and The Joker for a movie you hadn't seen yet. Granted you had to be born back then and old enough to know what was going on or have access to a time machine of some sort, but I derail.
There is no "I'm Batman" without Fairbank's delivery of "What are you?!?!"
Bill Finger recently got some respect for basically doing all of the heavy lifting in co-creating Batman and the majority of the character's world, so when is Christopher Fairbank going to get his due?
Fairbank is/was mostly a character actor.
He has numerous credits over the years.
Alien 3 - who was Fairbanks. He wasn't Sigourney and he wasn't Charles S. "Roc" Dutton. He was just one of the dudes with a shaved head.
The Fifth Element - Fairbanks wasn't Bruce Willis. I feel like that's the way it is on most Bruce Willis films. It you're not B Dubs, you're no one.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Fairbank's IMDB page says he was in this movie, but if you want to start a gofundme page to get me to watch this movie again to figure out exactly where he is in the film, feel free.
Guardians of the Galaxy - Fairbanks plays the Broker that Starlord is dealing with towards the beginning of the film. A small but decent part. It's no "What are you?!" followed by "I'm Starlord" but there could have been that. There could have been.
These are probably the most well known Fairbank roles (to me that is), not that you recognized him because...
Christopher Fairbank doesn't get the credit that he deserves for launching Batman into the stratosphere!!! Or shall I say, batosphere?! No, please no. (But if people can say Batinson though....eh?)
There would be no Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman.
No Batman Begins.
No Heath Ledger as The Joker.
There would be no Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker.
There would be no Bat-Nipples.
Okay, forget that last one. (Seriously though, were they really that bad? Yeah, probably.)
Look, all I'm saying is that the Bat Signal wouldn't shine as bright if it wasn't for Christopher Fairbank and his amazing over the top delivery of one line. I just think it's time there's some respect shown to his small but huge part in the overall success of Batman in the modern era.
"What are you?!"
I'm...saying thanks, dude.
And if it wasn't for Christopher Fairbank we may not have had these items in our lives:
Check out the Batman 1989 Comic Adaptation....seriously, this book is awesome. This book is so awesome it was a Special Feature on the Blu-Ray and then even on the iTunes digital release...I'm such a nerd. I love it!
This is a pricey piece. Click the link for the NECA 1989 Batman Michael Keaton Action Figure (1/4 Scale)...It will make your significant other question if you should be trusted with credit cards, but I feel like Wayne Campbell because I look at that and just say, "It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine."
Another pricey piece, but the NECA Batman Returns Mayoral Penguin DeVito Action Figure (1/4 Scale) may just be worth being single for the rest of your life...sure, it's from the sequel, but we may have not gotten a sequel without Fairbank...and this thing is just cool and who needs companionship?
Would there have been The Lego Batman Movie without Faibank's character telling all his friends about Batman? Would there have been Lego Batman toys?
And I didn't even get to Batman Beyond.
Let's get Tim Burton and Keaton together again for a Batman Beyond movie and let the opening scene be with Christopher Fairbank. Let Fairbank just say something like "I told all my friends about you!" then the new Batman can go "I'm not him." then, get this, Fairbank says, in the same original delivery, "What are you?!"...then Batman Beyond says, "I'm Batman." He's just as confused as in 1989....and it's just as awesome.
Finally, if you have a museum or are starting a museum...here's a few Bat inspired pieces of art I slapped on to a canvas:
Holy use of a palette knife, Batman. Get a better look by clicking here.
This painting is huge. Get a better look for your batcave by clicking here.
It it wasn't clear...I'm a nerd.