Ah, internet parody musicals. Truly a burgeoning art form, always good for a laugh, and I don’t hesitate for a second to crown Starkid Productions as the obvious champions of creating staged, lyrical tributes to culturally relevant phenomena.
I discovered Starkid before they won over any kind of a following, when A Very Potter Musical had about eight thousand views on Youtube and wasn’t yet titled A Very Potter Musical. It took maybe until Darren Criss sang the line “No way this year anyone’s gonna die” that I was completely sold, and since then I’ve followed the activities of the University of Michigan-originated group with great enthusiasm.
A couple of months ago I was ecstatic to learn that their next show would be Holy Musical Batman!; no doubt it would offer a brilliant take on the caped crusader and his world. It premiered online April 13th, and I’d say I was was…pleased if not blown away.
What stuck out the most was the streamlined nature of the production. Batman! runs for around two hours, a reasonable time to expect someone to invest that vastly cuts down on last year’s Starship and especially A Very Potter Musical and its sequel, both of which are sprawling, wide-eyed epics that lack any sense of restraint. I sort of loved that about them, and making the story more straightforward while only really fleshing out some of the characters diminishes the fun of what Starkid can achieve.
I also got the impression that they simply had less to say about Batman and the DC Universe than they did about the world of Harry Potter…or maybe I’ve just thought about Batman enough that nothing they could go for would feel all that original.
But those points aside, I still adored the show. Joe Walker is phenomenal as the emotionally idiotic Dark Knight, the guy doing Alfred deeply upsets me simply by virtue of how not terrible his Michael Caine impression is (why can’t I do that, dammit?), and Brian Holden is a pretty fine Superman.
The songs are adequate. Alfred’s lament in part 3 and then the song between Superman and Batman were the only ones I found especially wonderful. Darren Criss did all the music for AVPS and Starship; clearly he’s the most talented in the songwriting department, so his absence here hurts a bit.
Ultimately, everyone owes it to themselves to watch every Starkid musical. They’re just phenomenally well done. If I sound reserved it’s only because I was hoping to swing from the rafters with praise for Batman!, but it turns out it’s just really good. So check it out, just don’t expect the best thing a group of fans have ever done for the franchise (which is what I’d call A Very Potter Musical).
And apparently sometime this year they will indeed put on a third and final Harry Potter-centric show. My most anticipated entertainment release for the rest of 2012? Well that would be absurd…