Dana Nachman's Batkid Begins marches in with the mini-movie you've already seen. (Unless, as Bruce Wayne suffered in The Dark Knight Rises, you've spent months in a hole.) On a November weekday in San Francisco -- a/k/a Gotham-by-the-Bay -- five-year-old cancer survivor Miles Scott rode shotgun in a Lamborghini Batmobile, bested the Riddler and the Penguin, and strutted up, arms akimbo, to Mayor Ed Lee to receive the key to the city. Held during prime Twitter hours, the celebration of Scott's clean bill of health was perfect for the internet: Cute kid plus sad story plus billion-dollar superhero plus civic uplift. All it lacked was a Grumpy Cat cameo as Catwoman.
Recap accomplished, what's left for Nachman to say that hasn't been captured in GIF? She scores her film's opening to an orchestral cover of David Bowie's "Heroes," a flourish of extra-sugary frosting, then rewinds further still to explain just how Batkid's $105,000 big day was pulled off. Explains coordinator Eric Johnson, who played Miles's full-grown Batman sidekick, "It's like we're doing a stage production where the lead character doesn't know he's in it, he's never been to rehearsal, and he's five."
The work of realizing Miles's wish expands a two-minute viral video into a feature-length dry procedural of city permits, bitty bat costumes, street closures, and savvy social promotion. That sounds as riveting as watching Bruce Wayne and his architect design the Batcave. There's a reason comic-book writers prefer narrow rescues to logistical meetings. But as Make-A-Wish local executive director Patricia Wilson assembles her team of super-friends, the mundanity becomes inspirational. Superheroes get the headlines. But a real city's strength is its civilians