Why “Paw Patrol” is the Darkest Batman Prequel Out There.
While both the Fox TV network and your one facebook friend of middling taste have been working really, really hard to get you invested in “Gotham,” Nickelodeon’s animated kids show, “Paw Patrol,” has been quietly amassing a far larger army of devoted followers, many of whom poop in latex satchels velcroed around their waists, but who still count nonetheless. And while “Gotham” twists at your emotional nipples with more prequel darkness than a thousand “Rogue One”s, “Paw Patrol” out-emos “Gotham” and every other Batman prequel out there if we allow (accept, really) that “Paw Patrol” is in fact the true story of the young Dark Knight. The evidence is compelling:
- Obscene Theatricality
Paw Patrol is the story of a 10 year old boy who lives alone in a lighthouse with 6 dogs in a town called Adventure Bay. Using future-tech and an uncanny knack for combining hair-gel and sweet ATVs, Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day for anyone who needs their help. Do they have sweet uniforms? Yes. Colour-co-ordinated identity tags? Yes. Themed costumes for each dog like some sort of canine village people? Yes they do. Is any of this really, truly necessary? Exactly as necessary as nipples on a batsuit breastplate, which is to say, no, just no. This kid, like Batman before him, has the kind of theatrical eye (or “drama boner”) that can make for a lucrative career in fashion or industrial design, but that reads as obsessive and weird and over-the-top within the broader field of civic duty.
It’s not that Batman could have been like this as a child, it’s that Batman could only ever have been like this as a child.
- A Dark Enough Origin
Do you remember how Batman got so dark and round-house-kicky? Zach Snyder remembers. Zach Snyder won’t ever let you forget. His parents are dead, man. They’re dead and that’s the kind of thing that consumes a person forever and ever…except that’s not really enough to explain Batman. If dead parents were enough to push everyone to chiroptera-themed vigilantism, then every animated Disney movie would be a Batman sequel. No. To go that far, you’d need something sadder. Something to pierce the soul of the most detached, cynical millenial right in their one true weakness, as verified by a thousand internet sites: it takes more than murder to make a Batman. It takes puppies. So how did Ryder go from happy-go-lucky crime fighting team leader at the age of 10 to borderline sociopath by his 30s? Alone.
Canis-familiaris average lifespan = 10-13 years.
Like Arwen before him, Ryder was cursed with time and thus made to watch as, one by one, his comrades took the long, long roll-over. Lots and lots and lots of dead puppies will make anyone in a lighthouse start to think long and hard about moving to a cave and about never opening their heart to the world again, lest they be impaled by the pain of loving something so ephemeral.
- Justifiable Disdain for Authority
As some of the great Batman comics of the 80s explore, there is sometimes a conflict between personal and communal motivations for the dark knight. There’s the stuff he has to do for the good of society, and there’s the stuff he likes to do, you know, ’cause it’s fun. So, sure, sad angry guy likes to dress up in a cape and commit battery, but it’s OK if it’s for the good of society. What type of society, however, would benefit from this type of behaviour? We have cops and courts and prisons. Why not just let them do their job? For Nolan’s Batman, that’s the goal, but while those institutions are faltering and failing, Batman becomes a necessary intermediate step. For Ryder, however, that step is a great deal larger due to the monstrous incompetence of every government agency somehow tasked with overseeing Adventure Bay. These people literally cannot paint easter-eggs without calling in assistance from a high tech gang of talking pups. How do you think Batman would feel if every time the bat signal came on it wasn’t a serial killer or bank robber to defeat, but, as this IMDB plot summary describes it: “Mayor Goodway accidentally takes off in a hot air balloon.” This same mayor, by the way, routinely calls in the Paw Patrol to help rescue her pet chicken, an honest-to-goodness chicken that she carries in a purse. In this, and many other things, Ryder was made to see the true visage of American civil institutions. No wonder Batman feels the need to take matters into his own gauntletted hands.
- Lavish & Misguided Shows of Wealth
The extent of the Wayne fortune has been well-documented throughout our culture. To briefly summarize, Bruce Wayne’s net worth rests comfortably somewhere between an imperial fuck-ton and a metric fuck-tonne, and he does like to throw that wealth around both as Bruce (reckless playboy) and as Batman (really expensive hall monitor), but where did he develop the penchant for gross abuses of his wealth and privilege? Well, you know what costs a lot of money? Lighthouses, ATVs, Jestkis, Hovercraft, Robot Dog Chauffeurs, and custom vehicle interfaces that allow creatures without opposable thumbs to safely operate motor vehicles. Batman has always been a hard lesson on the need for capital in order to affect genuine change in a society, and Ryder very much reflects that same obscene show of “wealth=awesomeness.”
Now you know. Paw Patrol is just Batman before he becomes Batman. You’re welcome.