By Sara Lehn
Last year an unforgettable group of my twelfth grade students became fascinated with the connections they saw between Batman and Hamlet. At first I was skeptical, but the more they defended their beliefs, the more I came around to their way of thinking.
Consider: an angry, morose member of the wealthy elite who has lost his parents and has very few people to whom he can turn, disgusted with the disgraceful state of his beloved city and obsessed with a need to seek justice for his lost loved ones.
It does sound kind of familiar, doesn’t it?
My students used this parallel as the basis for their final video project on Hamlet, performing the famous “closet scene” between Gertrude and Hamlet in full Batman regalia, drawing parallels to the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker in the film The Dark Knight. They called it The Adventures of Batlet Hamman and played it to an enthusiastic response at our school’s Shakespeare Festival in April.
Since then, I have been intrigued by connections between Shakespeare’s classic works and current pop culture. Teachers frequently use modern updates of the plays in class, but many of us don’t consider the films and television shows out there that share similar themes and characters but may not have been intentionally conceived with Shakespeare in mind.