Legends of the Knight

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Legends of the Knight Movie Poster Image
Stirring docu sees superhero as powerful motivator for good.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 76 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Superheroes inspire us to be better and bring hope to the powerless. Having no actual superpowers, Batman, particularly, is a source of inspiration to many. One person can make a difference. Anyone can be a hero. The ideal of Batman can help people reach their potential. Superhero stories enable us to talk about some of life's most tragic events. The stories of Batman offer a path toward self-awareness. Fictional heroes give strength and power to those who are different. Identification with Batman helps to affirm life and encourage good works. Additional themes include compassion and integrity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Profiling people (mostly male, due to subject matter) who face adversity with courage, wisdom, and perseverance is at the heart of this film. Powerful traits exhibited throughout: giving to others, choosing the right path, community participation, pursing one's passion, enabling powerful changes. Ethnic diversity. 

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

The movie is about and promotes all things Batman.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Legends of the Knight is a documentary about some of the men, women, and kids whose lives have been positively affected by both the concept and the persona of Batman. A powerful source of change, both in the comics, movies, books, and media at large, Batman is shown to inspire and motivate a wide assortment of people with challenges of their own. The film, filled with heartening messages and living examples of those messages, includes a variety of ethnicities and economic classes. The common bond is each individual's unique ability to see Batman as more than a comic book hero, identify with his unique outlook and goals, and ultimately insert Batman's essence into the smaller stage of their own lives. The only caution for kids is that some of the stories are about people with physical challenges and illnesses.       

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What's the story?

Brett Culp, a first-time moviemaker who used Kickstarter as a fund-raising tool, brings more than a dozen inspirational stories to LEGENDS OF THE KNIGHT, including: the mother of a small boy with leukemia, a producer with an unquenchable passion to make movies, a law enforcement officer dealing with gangs, an accomplished man missing a leg and three fingers, a college student who walks the streets of his community doing good works as "Petaluma Batman," and a philanthropist who has turned himself into a Batman of unlimited resources. Mr. Culp effectively (and cinematically) studies his subjects as they reveal the ways in which Batman intersects their daily lives and assists with their challenges. Interspersed with the impressive array of personal tales are interviews with authors, educators, and psychologists, all of whom vouch for the effectiveness of Batman and other superheroes as instructional tools, motivators, and role models. 

Is it any good?

Well structured, well shot, and well edited, this film provides a substantive way of seeing a passion for Batman as a means of empowerment in a world of powerlessness. Some of the stories are funny, some heartwarming, some awe-inspiring. Some are tales of children (including die-hard kids in adult bodies who refuse to give up their childhood devotion); others are adults whose fond memories constantly remind them of the impact Batman had upon their lives. Particularly touching are Tina and Kye, mother and son dealing with the boy's leukemia; Cary, a chaplain with an easy manner and wonderful way of expressing his kinship with the superhero; and Jill, a woman with muscular dystrophy who has exceeded all expectations for her. The viewer can't help but respond to the spirited Petaluma Batman and the ever-committed Lenny, who is spending his considerable fortune on making a difference in as many lives as he can.   

For folks already steeped in the psychological and sociological implications of superheroes, Legends of the Knight may seem to be a thin study, given its desire to cover so much ground. But for the uninitiated, it's an eye-opener -- a terrific documentary, well worth sharing as a family. It should promote thoughtful discussion and may even inspire a few Batman lovers to clean up their worlds. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about your awareness of the role of superheroes in today's culture. Did Legends of the Knight change your opinion of Batman as simply a comic book hero? Do you agree or disagree with the premise that Batman may inspire both kids and grown-ups to "be better than you are."

  •  If Batman came to your city or your school, what would you want him to change? How could you be of help to him?  

  • Create (draw and/or write about) a superhero who has meaning for you. Does he or she have superpowers? If so, why those powers? If not, how does he or she change the world?

  • How does Legends of the Knight promote compassion and courage? What about integrity and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

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