Batman's Improv: 5 World-Shattering Pop-Culture Realizations (You Can't Unsee)

While we’re thrilled for anyone who actually managed to write their King Lear over the past 13 months while wearing non-sweat-based pants, some of us instead spent our recent indoor time obsessing over the finer points of pop culture. We’ve even made odd realizations while basking in the glow of an endless stream of movies and television, like how … 

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5
Batman Definitely Took Improv Classes At Some Point

Bruce Wayne sure put in a lot of work to become the Dark Knight, most of which involved extensive martial arts training and somehow conning Gotham’s child welfare office into letting him bring a newly-orphaned circus boy home to his cavernous mansion of sadness. But Batman is also surprisingly adept in the art of character work.; occasionally, Bruce’s crime-fighting requires not just dressing up in a cape and tights but also donning actual disguises to penetrate the criminal underworld. 

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The most famous of Batman’s faux crooks is Matches Malone, a Gotham city lowlife who requires Bruce to don sunglasses and a fake mustache. He also commits to some exaggerated character traits, not just the voice, but Matches always has a match hanging out of his mouth, displaying the kind of actorly attention to detail of, say, a young Ryan Gosling.

DC Comics

How is he able to pull this off? Not only convincingly portraying another person, but being able to adapt to ever-changing scenarios? The only explanation is that Batman totally took some improv classes while training to become the Caped Crusader. In the comics, Matches Malone was a real-life criminal who died and whose personality was adopted by Bruce. In one version of the story, Matches is a suicide victim who Batman buries in an unmarked grave so he can steal his identity. Which is A) bat-shit bonkers, and B) the ultimate “Yes, and …” And it’s not just Matches; Bruce has faked being everyone from a skull-faced villain to an elderly British Knight.

DC Comics

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This theatrical dedication and range can’t be taught by the League of Shadows; Batman for sure checked out the Gotham City chapter of the Groundlings and UCB.

4
Sitcom Houses Make Zero Goddamn Sense

We know that sitcoms aren’t real (hence why ALF never returned any of our fan letters), but further crushing our belief in the fantasy world of TV, it turns out that a lot of those homes we grew up with are full of reality-shattering aberrations. We recently discussed how Jerry’s apartment in Seinfeld makes about as much spatial sense as the Overlook Hotel. 

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Other shows boasting houses seemingly designed by M.C. Escher include Full House; apart from the fact that Danny’s murdered wife is buried in the basement, the freakiest part of the Victorian San Francisco abode is the fact that it has two staircases leading upstairs; one in the living room, and one in the kitchen -- and both seem to lead to the same place. Fans have been trying to make sense of this for decades, even imagining an elaborate series of sub-hallways that would explain this anomaly.

full-house.org/Alex Darkland

Even crazier is Monica’s apartment on Friends. Putting aside the fact that the apartment number mysteriously changed mid-way through the series, most unnerving is the view from Monica’s kitchen window, which sometimes faces another apartment with a balcony, and … sometimes doesn’t. And even The Simpsons house isn’t without its oddities; there’s a “secret” rumpus room that is bizarrely never used and only appears on the show a total of five times.

20th Century Television

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As far as we know, this hidden room wasn’t included in the real-life Simpsons house that was built and immediately ruined.

3
Everyone in Superhero Universes Has Some Kind of Body Image Issue

In so many comic book universes, it’s not just the superheroes who are mind-bogglingly muscular; it’s regular, everyday folks as well. So many non-powered randos are unnecessarily jacked, like in Spider-Man, for example; before becoming Venom, Eddie Brock is a struggling journalist who … looks like a Mr. Universe contestant for some reason. And in some comics Mary Jane Watson has the exact proportions of She-Hulk, despite not having been injected with Gamma irradiated blood.

Marvel

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And pretty much every dude in the Batman and Superman animated series look like a professional wrestler having an allergic reaction.

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Maybe this is because living in a world filled with real-life superheroes has created more body issues and image disorders -- everyone looks like a pro-athlete because they’re all on weird diets and extreme workout routines in response to being surrounded by super-bodies 24/7. This would also explain why any random person can throw on tights to become a supervillain or superhero at the drop of a hat without, say, the six months of intensive personal training it takes for normies in the real world to simply act in a Marvel movie.

2
Danny Ocean is a Real Crappy Brother

Danny Ocean from Ocean’s Eleven through Thirteen is a lot of things; smart, handsome, not a fan of masks. He’s also a terrible brother, apparently. We learn in the recent spin-off Ocean’s 8 that Danny has a sister, played by Sandra Bullock, who he’s somehow never mentioned even once. Even worse, he apparently never sent his sister a dime. Despite Danny stealing literal millions from Andy Garcia in 2008, Debbie Ocean is stuck working the Bingo Hall hustle circuit to pay the bills.

Warner Bros.

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We also find out that Danny has died, presumably because the filmmakers reasoned that it’s easier to shoot a quick scene in a mausoleum than hire George Clooney and install several Nespresso machines in his trailer.

Warner Bros.

So either Danny kicked the bucket and still didn’t find a way to funnel his riches to his surviving family members, or, like some have suspected, he faked his death. But Debbie is seemingly mourning him for real, so it’s likely that he simply didn’t tell her that he’s secretly alive because, again, he’s an asshole. 

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1
The Impossible Mission Force Was Created By a Theater Nerd

After multiple TV series and six feature films, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the top-secret government agency/Scientology allegory known as the IMF, or Impossible Mission Force. In a lot of ways, it seems like the worst possible spy gig imaginable since its agents are constantly going rogue and murdering their co-workers, not to mention they’ve been disavowed by the U.S. government more times than you can shake a black hoodie at. 

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Where did this mysterious espionage organization come from? Whoever created the IMF must have been some sort of theater nerd who abandoned the dramatic arts for the spy business. Think about it; each IMF operation begins with a top agent performing what is, essentially, a recorded version of a dramatic monologue.

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Agents are often called upon to do quick costume changes, and really how else do you explain the IMF’s reliance on rubber masks and elaborate make-up effects? One mission literally involved Simon Pegg’s character dressing up like Wolf Blitzer. And before they had CNN anchor-impersonating microchips, agents had to do accents, like when Ethan went undercover as an unconvincing old man all while doing his best Foghorn Leghorn impression.

And maybe creating an ethically questionable, international law-breaking covert ops unit is one of the few things one can actually do with a degree in theater.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Paramount Pictures