Next up: Chase Meridian
What is there to say about Chase Meridian, a character invented for the franchise film of the 90s, Batman Forever. Out of the entire Franchise, she lasted a single film. From today's standards (behind which the movie, made in 1995, should be judged, let's not dispute that point) Chase is a vapid nympho bubble. She spends the film Vacillating between being in love with Batman (who is, lets face it, a fairly disagreeable man in a rubber suit with silly nipples on it) and Bruce Wayne (a Billionaire who tries to take her on nice dates... to the circus?). Funny story, they're really the same person, and Bruce spends the love plot getting dumped because Chase decides she wants his other persona. Twice. She dumps Bruce Wayne for Batman, and then at the end Batman for Bruce Wayne. CHASE, THEY'RE THE SAME DAMN PERSON. I can't really say her character wasn't believable; I know of many vapid young women who hide behind the guise of sex appeal to forgo actually being an interesting person, and Nicole Kidman played one of these to a T. Her acting was actually quite good, considering the quality of the film, and her only issue stemmed from her playing a character as complicated as the plot of Fifty Shades of Grey (hint, there is no plot in Fifty shades- Like Chase Meridian, it only pretends to be complicated by putting on a sexual front). However, I did believe, as I watched it, that a person like Chase could exist.
Being unable to decide between a man and his alter ego, despite one being dressed entirely in rubber with little nipp- ok I think I've finally killed that joke. Batman and Robin wear rubber nipples. We get it. Other flaws... lack of centrality to the plot? Lack of personality? Lack of character growth? Personally my favorite questionable moment of hers occurs when she the Bat first meet. Bruce tells her, much to her excitement, that he has read her work and found her to be naive. Instead of being offended, this further impresses the airhead, because she is too busy ogling him in the shadow of a thousand moving lights to notices she has just been insulted. What's horrifying is that Bruce ends up ogling her as well, not minutes after disavowing her ability as a psychologist.
Stealing the Bat-Signal for her private use (something they barely ever comment on, despite that signal being an emergency beacon, not a toy). Wearing short revealing clothes, and attempting seduction in the lamest possible manners for a film this expressionistic. Pointing out the obvious-- no, seriously. To cover for her lame seduction attempt using the Bat-Signal, Chase tells Bruce the huge and shocking revelation that Two-Face's Achilles heel is his coin. In addition it turns out that she is something of a Batman stalker, collecting tons of files and pictures of him, none of which Bruce finds the least bit concerning. It would be like if one of those boys from New Direction (Andrew, Master of All Knowledge has pointed out to me that the band is in fact called One Direction. He has said leaving it as is makes me sound like an 80 year old with three hip replacements and varicose veins (his words, not mine) trying to up my status with the local youngins and get with the times. For the Record, I am in my twenties. He also mentions that New Directions is the name of that Glee club on that aptly named Glee Club show, Glee. To him I say, neither one is really any good at music, so does it really matter which fan-base I offend? To which I say this:) started dating a fan and was ok with finding her bedroom plastered with posters of him, the mouths of which are all slightly warped from sad preteen kissing practice. No one wants that...
To be fair, I can see what they were trying to do in regards to her personality. Batman, as a concept, was constructed during the era of film noir. As the film genre got popular, certain tropes were formed, and as women in the 30s and 50s were being told to stay at the home, the characters reflected that. However, this iteration of Batman seems to be trying to use more of a style of 1940s Film Noir, when women in the work force showed promise. World War II was upon us, and the films of that generation often placed women in working situations. For example, Chase's occupation as a psychologist, would be an example of an educated woman outside the normal family model. The 40s were some of the most liberating for the women of noir, and the basic femme fatale of Double Indemnity was replaced with the working woman of Laura. At best, what the writers of the film were trying to do was combine the liberated working woman of 40s noir with the sexy femme fatale of an earlier noir era. The only problem, of course, being that the two tropes combined have a tendency to counteract one another, especially when you are trying to go all out with both options at the same time. The women of 40s noir, if not desexualized, were certainly masculine in dress, and often had more difficulty choosing between her work and her mothering nature than is seen in Chase, who's entire career is added as an afterthought to appease an audience that would not except a "weak female". They show the character practicing self defense, and use snappy sexualized language to try and make her strong, while at the same time ignoring any sort of character arc for her to go through to give her depth. She becomes neither the Redeeming woman nor Femme Fatale of the 30s and 50s, but nor does she become the working beauty of the 50s. She is left as a vapid reference to all, muddled and useless.
Score: 4/10 for effort
Well, we can't call Chase entirely insane. Her only apparent fear in the film was being dangled in an air tube over a pit of metal spikes (Two face calls it a 'watery grave' which, until you see a small amount of water near the base of the spikes, makes absolutely no sense... Of all the puns he could have made, he went with watery? How about a pun with piercing? swords? Hell, she tries to be sexy often enough- we could have thrown a nice innuendo in there about Batman's penis. But no. "Watery"...). That cold metal death trap would scare pretty much anyone. And other than that, this woman shows no fear-- not because she's a strong female character, but because she is too bland to have a phobia...
Position of Power within the Story:
She doesn't even equate to the level of power chick within the five man band set up. She is, through and through, the love interest. And not even a very interesting one at that. However, she does have a small purpose in the plot (although her part could easily have been filled by a lamp), and Batman is 'forced to choose' between Chase and Robin. Not really much of a choice as he is easily able to save both, despite using the bat hooks that should, in theory, pull his limbs out of his sockets.
Maybe more: "Two Face, how dare you ruin a perfectly
good Lamp like that!"
Who does she love? Batman? Bruce Wayne? Clinging rubber latex? She's about as deep as her hair color.
Oh good, we have reached her entire purpose in the movie, being a love plot that creates her own problems by being unable to decide between Bruce Wayne and Bruce Wayne. Despite 'love interest' being her whole job description in the film, she just isn't very moving. She has no character of her own, spends the film trying, pretty much in vain, to be sexy. Nicole Kidman, although not my favorite actress, has proven that she can play complex characters and although this film is fairly early in her career, they give her almost nothing to work with. She even lacks a death that would at least put her character to rest-- She clearly does not appear in the sequel, Batman and Robin, (now starring George Clooney as Batman), it is clear she was not a successful character. So why wasn't she bumped off? As stated above, she exists solely to create this 'tough choice' for Batman at the end of the film, where he must choose between Robin and
Female Power and Subversion
The one thing we can say for Chase Meridian is that they tried to make her a subversion to the Noir Heroine despite failing immensely. They show her practicing martial arts, let her retain a female sexuality- even in the 90s, rare for a mainstream film- and give her a job that requires a higher college and graduate school education. However instead of being a new Buffy Summers, Chase Meridian never uses any of her skills- not her degree in psychology, not her self defense-- except for her interest in Batman sex, to help further the plot. The ending tacks on a small moment where she visits Edward (The Riddler) to determine his psychosis, but the entire scene is entirely unnecessary. The writers have taken a character that could have been interesting and flawed if they had chose to make her so. Instead, they ran with a character who's sole purpose is to titillate the prepubescent boys that would describe the film as "the best movie ever" as opposed to those who see it as a cult classic akin to King Kong, The Devil's Carnival and the original comics, all in one. They have given Chase's character the requisite background to be interesting, but failed in the execution -- most disappointing considering she does not exist within the comic's cannon universe, and therefore cannot even claim to be a shout-out with a known back-story like other under utilized feminine characters in other superhero films (such as Gwen Stacey in Tobey McGuire's Spiderman. Also let's not get into a Marvel vs DC fight here. Those Spiderman Films had their own flaws, Gwen Stacey is just not one of them, I would argue).
I've said it before and I'll say it again; Chase had a lot of potential as a character, but frankly was limited by the nature of this film. The film is campy, and fast paced, and time for character development was not taken into account for any of the characters; even Batman and Robin's bonding and the deaths of their families were only barely talked over. Given this nature, Chase had no chance of becoming more interesting than she was. This film is not intended as a dramatic master-piece, and frankly, developing these characters would have turned a hilariously bad film into just a bad film. When considering just her character, however, Chase is horribly under-utilized, under-developed and needs more interesting underwear (considering how flamboyant everything else is, her skivvies are drastically boring...). Within the context of the film, she plays a stereotype expected of the film genre. The fan-base itself seems to think of her similarly to how I do. The occasional person loves her character, describing Nicole Kidman's acting with multiple exclamation points while most of the population has said she was a character with potential, being performed by a talented actress, which fell flat on the screen due to vapid dialogue and a lack of any on screen character development. It's ok, Nicole, it really isn't your fault.
Final Score: 2.6
My cut off for a Mary Sue is a 3.0, and Chase Meridian fits this score. She is not over powered, not over indulgent and not even particularly annoying. In fact, as she is acted, she seems fairly normal-- too normal for the messed up world of Gotham. She is one of those Mary-Sues who is a badly designed character because she is simply bland, uninteresting, and a stand in character for any female watching. She lacks a distinctive personality, and it is her lack of characteristics and flaws which make her uninteresting. She is a pair of tits and an ass to be used as a plot device, nothing more.
Stay tuned later today for Two Face, and tomorrow, to finish out this week's film, The Riddler. Tomorrow next week's film will be revealed- Those interested can refresh themselves on the film or watch the movie for the first time.
Over and Out!