Anyone who spent any time online perusing social media in November 2013 no doubt stumbled across the feel-good story of the year. A 5-year-old boy named Miles Scott wanted to be Batman for a day. But this wasn’t just any kid’s wish. Miles was being treated for leukemia, so the Make A Wish Foundation was tasked with the challenge of making this kid’s wish come true. Why not turn San Francisco into Gotham City, and have Miles be Batkid for a day?
Batkid Begins follows this media-darling of a story, interviewing Miles and his down-home parents from small-town Oregon, to the folks behind the scenes at Make A Wish who pulled it all together, to fans and new friends of Batkid. The event turned from a sketch of an event featuring maybe a couple hundred people (usually the maximum number of people involved in these wishes), to literally a cast of thousands. The idea of a little kid dressed as Batman going around the city to fight crime, because it was the thing he wanted most in the world, was really irresistible. As the plans spread like wildfire across the internet, EVERYONE wanted to be a part of Batkid’s day saving Gotham.
Honestly, I kept thinking that this kid was too young. He won’t really remember much about this day, he might get moody or pouty, and shoot, he has been sick… maybe he won’t even be up for it. There is a point at lunchtime, after a big production of catching the Joker robbing a bank, that Miles pretty much said he was ready for a nap. You could sense a moment of panic from the adults, knowing that even though thousands of people were waving at the restaurant, a tired Batkid meant the day was over. But the Kid got a second wind, and the planned adventures continued on schedule.
I think the success of such a feel-good event says less about folks feeling generous, but rather it reflects how desperate people are to be part of something simply positive, so they, too, can carry the feeling with them. I’d like to think that those 10,000+ people went out and volunteered or donated their time or went out to save the world themselves afterwards. But I kind of doubt it. At least I do know that Miles’ wish rubbed off on millions of people, both bystanders and internet fans, and gave everyone a feel-good story to smile about. In that way, Batkid did kind of save Gotham from itself, even if just for a day.