Batkid Begins

Movie review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
Batkid Begins Movie Poster Image
Tremendously heartwarming, positive docu for all ages.
  • PG
  • 2015
  • 87 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Introduces kids to the Make-A-Wish foundation; makes it clear how much work goes into planning complex events; teaches powerful lessons about the positive potential of social media.

Positive Messages

Compassion and teamwork are major themes. Nothing is impossible, especially if you work together for a good cause. Social media is a powerful tool that can be used positively in the right circumstances. When you're given a platform to speak from, use it for good. Make a difference, work hard to fulfill your dreams, and keep fighting no matter what. Family and friends are always there for you. No matter how daunting an idea might seem, if you have the right team, you can make it happen.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Miles, aka Batkid, is a sweet, optimistic kid who overcomes tremendous odds and takes his awesome day in stride. His parents do their best to keep him grounded amid all of the attention he receives. EJ Johnston, who plays Batman and has an enormous role in planning the day, is thoughtful, empathetic, creative, and imaginative and always puts Miles' needs first. Patricia Wilson of Make-A-Wish is extremely passionate and determined; she doesn't take no for an answer in her quest to fulfill Miles' wish. The people of San Francisco (and beyond) are portrayed as helpful, kind, caring, and enthusiastic.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of discussion about Miles' leukemia diagnosis (which came at the age of 18 months) and subsequent treatment; the talk of illness and his parents' concern could make some kids worried/sad. Some tense situations are staged for Batkid's adventures (woman tied to cable car tracks, kidnapping of a local sports mascot, fights with villains), but most viewers will recognize them as pretend. Images of the animated Joker on TV in background of early scenes.

Sexy Stuff
Language

One use of "dear God."

Consumerism

Brief clips of Batman cartoon on TV; lots of San Francisco landmarks/locations/businesses (SF Giants, AT&T Park, Burger Bar, Cheesecake Factory, Lucasfilm, Uber, Clever Girls Collective, SF Opera, etc.); Make-A-Wish and social media brands mentioned frequently (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). All is in context of the story, though, and not product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A party photo shows adults with wine glasses in hand.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Batkid Begins is an unabashedly emotional, uplifting documentary about the day in 2013 that the city of San Francisco transformed itself into Gotham to help a young boy's Make-A-Wish dream come true. Packed with excellent messages and role models, the film makes a strong case for the positive power of social media when it's used for a good cause (Twitter and Facebook helped make the event a global phenomenon) and shows how people really can make a difference. Discussion of young Miles' illness (leukemia) and treatment could worry some sensitive kids, and there are a few tense scenes staged for Batkid's big day (a woman tied to cable car tracks, fights with villains, etc.), but overall this is a wonderfully heartwarming story for viewers of all ages, with basically zero iffy content. (It's also a love letter to San Francisco; many local landmarks and businesses are featured, and you may find yourself wanting to book a trip there after the credits roll.)

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7 year old Written byemilyc77 November 16, 2018
Teen, 17 years old Written byVic09pet June 15, 2015

Great movie for. Kids

Amazing movie but a little sad
Teen, 14 years old Written byJimmy Brew July 31, 2015

What's the story?

On November 15, 2013, much of San Francisco became Gotham City -- complete with the Riddler, the Penguin, and a Batmobile -- to help fulfill the Make-A-Wish dream of 5-year-old leukemia survivor Miles Scott in BATKID BEGINS. The young superhero fan from small-town Tulelake, California, told his parents he wanted to be Batkid, so San Francisco Make-A-Wish Executive Director Patricia Wilson made some plans and eventually sent out an email asking for a few hundred volunteers to help out. Word quickly spread through social media, and soon Wilson and her staff were flooded with more offers of assistance than they'd ever expected; ultimately, tens of thousands of people keen on helping Miles' dream come true flooded the city, cheering on the young Caped Crusader as he rescued a damsel in distress, fought villains, and received a key to the city from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee -- not to mention well wishes from the likes of Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, and even President Barack Obama.

Is it any good?

If you find yourself on the verge of tears throughout much of this tremendously heartwarming documentary, don't worry: You're not alone. Like the massively popular 2012 short film Caine's Arcade, Batkid Begins is, above all else, about doing something nice for a child -- and since Miles is a sweet, innocent young boy who seems to take his whole adventure completely in stride, you can't help getting caught up in the emotion of it all. Much of the credit for that is due to the tireless Wilson and her partner in crime/creativity, Eric "EJ" Johnston, the inventor/actor/acrobat/former game developer who plays Batman to Miles' Batkid and consistently puts his young sidekick's needs above everything else. One of the film's most poignant moments is when EJ talks about initially dismissing the need for his own Batman costume to be particularly convincing, since he knows that everyone will be looking at Miles. But then someone reminds EJ that Miles will be looking at him -- his hero -- and it kind of takes his breath away, reminding him of just how important his role is in the day. Pass the tissues!

It's also great to see an example of social media -- so often ranted about and railed against -- being used in such a positive way. At some point in the film, someone refers to Miles' time as Batkid as "the day the Internet was nice," and it really strikes a chord. Seeing so many people come together, both in person and virtually, to support something fun and creative, is enough to restore your faith in, if not humanity as a whole, at least humanity's ability to occasionally rise above its own selfish concerns and think about someone else. Thanks, Batkid -- you really did save us.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role that social media plays in Batkid Begins. Can you think of other examples of people using tools like Twitter and Facebook for a worthy cause?

  • What do you think made so many people want to participate in Miles' day? What was it about this event that captured the public's attention?

  • Kids: How do you think you might have reacted if you were in Miles' place? Did his day look exciting or overwhelming to you? How did the adults involved make things easier for him? Do you have any grown-ups in your life who fill that role for you?

  • Some people criticized all of the work and money that went into fulfilling Miles' wish, arguing that the resources could have been used to help many people instead of just one. Do you think that point is valid? Are there longer-term benefits that might not be obvious?

  • How does Batkid Begins promote teamwork and compassion? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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