The story follows the viral phenomenon known as Batkid, AKA cancer survivor Miles Scott. His origin story is a simple, but powerful one. After a lifelong battle with lymphoblastic leukemia, he was able defeat his nemesis and put him in remission. His deed and service was a great one, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation knew this to be true. For his efforts and childhood spent in taking down this criminal cancer, they decided to grant his wish to be a superhero to others, alongside his favorite hero of all time, Batman (played by Eric Johnston).
It was to be a fairly intimate event until the outpouring of strangers volunteering their time and money made the small event grow into a citywide takeover. San Francisco was to become Gotham City, and Batman and Batkid traveled the city to take down villains like The Penguin (Mike Jutan) and the Riddler (Philip Watt), and save a damsel in distress (Sue Graham Johnston). What started off as something special for a little boy, soon became a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
It’s hard to find fault in something so genuinely virtuous. That would be like a person complaining that the street he takes to work is closed because some cancer survivor kid wants to play Batman. You just don’t, because that means you’ve missed the message entirely. This documentary focuses on the limitless depths of human compassion. It stands as a friendly reminder of how united we can be as humans under a selfless cause. Now if only it could be applied to greater issues like world peace or global charity, we’d be in a much better state, but the fact that the capacity for that unity does exist is a great step in the right direction.
The documentary is infectiously sugar-coated. I found it near impossible not to have what I can only describe as a Joker-esque grin the entire time I watched it. You can’t help but feel the same level of amazement and excitement that all the people on screen are displaying. Even though all the events have passed, and we may have vaguely known about them as they were going on, Batkid Begins puts you in the moment as if you are on a roller coaster for the first time, unsure of what is coming next. You are part of the crowd, not only cheering on this little kid–who has spent most of his life in the hospital undergoing treatments that most adults can’t endure–but also cheering on humanity as a whole.
Like most sugar-coated treats, this film lacks nutritional value. In this case, it would be an introspective look at the events as a whole, or some attempt to make sense of this phenomenon. Were the people attracted to Miles’ brave tale? Did the idea of Batman truly motivate people? Did the city just openly accept any excuse to get together with friends and drink in public? The simplest reason, and the one I chose to believe, is that people genuinely care about other people, especially children in pain. Something about his struggle brings out our latent parental instincts that make us want to do whatever we can to make the child feel better. In this case, it turned out to be essentially shutting down a city so that a cancer survivor could live his dream. If you’re looking for anymore substance than that, this won’t be the film for you. Batkid Begins uses its unforced sentiment and real emotional depth to (at least temporarily) slay any misanthropic feelings or cynical thoughts.
RATING: ★★★★★★★ (7/10 stars)