You got a face under that mask, a name behind that symbol, and if you’re smart— you’ll get a life, too.
Cass is totally checking him out and thinking, not perfect, but doable.
Tim demonstrates how to- oh sod it “You go Batgirl!” is so adorable ;_;
You can give the people safety; you can show them they’re not alone. That’s how you make the world make sense. And if you can do that, you can stop the world from making people like us. And no one will have to be scared anymore.
As Effy unfortunately found out tonight, I have a lot of very intense opinions about fighting and fight choreography in film, video games, and really any visual medium. So I’m going to share my completely unsolicited and disturbingly specific headcanon about how the bat kids fight.
Dick is pretty straight forward and I feel like Arkham City got him mostly right, but I don’t like him throwing so many punches. In my mind, and I feel like this is at least somewhat supported by canon, is primarily a kickboxer if not specifically muay thai. Dick ought to essentially look almost exactly like Tony Jaa in hand to hand combat. A lot of acrobatic showboating and shit like cartwheel kicks, but his serious striking is elbows and knees. He’s probably at his most dangerous in the (thai) clinch.
I don’t like approaching Jason from his canon to sort out his identity as a fighter because it doesn’t really follow for me. As a Robin in the pre crisis days he was very much a flips and shit type I suppose, but if you look at the details of his origins and personality, I can’t possibly see the adult Jason fighting- or wanting to fight- anything like Dick. The Batcave is like an MMA gym. You’re going to be trained in multiple disciplines and come out proficient to the basic standards of the sport in let’s say for argument’s sake, striking, grappling, level changing, and submissions, but whatever your basic approach or interest isn’t going to change. Jason’s a hotheaded street kid. He’s a brawler. You can teach him al kinds of things, but at the end of the day he’s more like as not to fall back on dirty boxing and wrestling as his core aptitudes. Considering he was the second Robin, Bruce probably square peg round holed him and Jason probably never really came into his own as a fighter until his “adult” years as Red Hood. Sure he got that magical League of Assassins training too, but I don’t really see him fighting in that kind of formal, orthodox style after having taken up such an oppositional identity as the Red Hood who, you know, carries guns. Randy Couture, who they call Captain America probably because among other things he really typifies the American approach to MMA, came out in one of his final matches to “Chokehold” against I think maybe Keith Jardine and Joe Rogan was all fired up because he took it to mean that Couture, who is known as a dirty boxer and a wrestler, was implying he was going to finish the fight via submission, which is well outside his comfort zone as a fighter. Which he did. So the take home message there is that just because you don’t see a fighter use a certain discipline, it doesn’t mean they can’t, and of course just because they can use a given technique, it doesn’t mean they will.
Without necessarily meaning to, where Jason and Dick come together, where they overlap in a fight and will probably look to take it, is striking and more specifically the clinch. It makes for bad tv that your average UFC viewer boos at, but it’s a grueling and physically taxing way to fight. Those two coming at each other fresh would have an incredibly ugly knock down, drag out fight. Models for how I expect Jason to fight would be Randy Couture or Forrest Griffin. I wouldn’t put it past him to have a very special fondness for the drunken fist discipline of wushu because of the dichotomy of the actual amount of precise control needed to look off balance and inebriated.
Steph is the really interesting, compelling one. I’ve spent dozens of hours thinking through a racebent version of Steph and how she would put together the skills to become the Spoiler without significant means or support and most of it applies to the vanilla version as well. Steph’s a woman, and a small one from the most violent part of Gotham. She’s known from an early age that she’s at an exceedingly high risk of violence and rape, that she will always have to know how to fight off a bigger attacker than her. I figure that one of her first real opportunities, because she was never intending to be a striker, would be a youth center or public school wrestling team making her earliest discipline greco-roman wrestling which started teaching her the basics of grappling and how to leverage an opponent’s body against them. The next step probably came when she came home to her father passed out drunk watching a UFC event and one of the announcers mentioned how (Brazillian) Jiu Jutsu fighters are “the most dangerous on their backs.” That’s going to resonate with a girl like Steph in a very immediate and visceral way. She gets that, and she gets why she’d need that. So of course Steph being Steph, she digs through the yellow pages or google to find where the BJJ gyms in Gotham are. My personal, irrelevant, way of dealing with the logistics of paying for it is that a lot like Tad Ryerstad or Jason as Red Hood, Steph’s done her share of rip n’ runs. A tiny, nimble Omar.
Either way, she gets to this gym cash in hand and she finds out what everyone does, that there’s two kinds of Jiu Jutsu training; with or without a gi. Obviously MMA fighters concentrate on the latter, but Steph’s proficiency in the former is one of the things that will serve her the most as Spoiler, Robin, and Batgirl. When you train BJJ wearing a gi, you learn how attack and defend using yours and your opponent’s clothing. It’s practical, real world stuff, and it’s something that Steph goes on to ruthlessly exploit fighting untrained opponents. In a city full of costumed thugs, she’s choked half of them out using their own outfits. I like to think that once she earned her black belt in BJJ, she set up her own by donation workshops in women’s self defense out of a community center.
By the time Steph entered the Batcave, Bruce had a much better idea of how to cross train a fighter as well as how to recognize what will and will not work for a given student. He certainly worked her hard in striking, which will never be a priority for her, but the Batcave is probably where Steph was first exposed to Judo and Jeet Kune Do. By the time Steph became Batgirl, she was probably an olympic level Judo competitor and more than likely competed on either that or the wrestling team at Gotham State and performed brilliantly at meets despite an incredibly poor attendance record in training. A pretty accurate picture of what Steph looks like in a fight is Gina Carano in Haywire. She can strike, and she does, but it’s primarily to advance her position towards a submission. Steph’s the kind of fighter who builds her plan of attack around expecting to be lifted up or taken down. Always searching for leverage and how to use her opponent’s body against them. If you see her wall walk, it isn’t to do a stylish maneuver like Dick, it’s to escape a choke or improve her position. She also idolizes Georges St. Pierre.
Tim isn’t about style or technique in anything. He’s all about what’s efficient and effective, so there’s a pragmatic edge to his fighting like Steph, but unlike Steph, Tim is almost exclusively a striker. His primary concentration is in non orthodox, so-called real world combat oriented disciplines like Jeet Kune Do and Krav Maga which puts him at a major disadvantage to his predecessors who can outpace and fatigue him. The deeper into a fight, the more trouble Tim is in.
Cassandra is extremely technical. As horrifying as it is, my viewpoint on David Cain is that he wasn’t really trying to make the world’s most efficient killer so much as he was turning her into his life’s work, so her primary aptitude is probably wushu, which is probably the foundation for the entire League of Assassins. I don’t think he would have sacrificed the potential elegance and formalism of wushu for more militarized martial arts, out of vanity if nothing else. The entire Batfamily has some background in it, probably most evident in Bruce, Cassandra, Damian, and ironically Tim who favours a modified version of the three section staff. Early, like stitched up cowl, Cassandra would have fought a lot like Jet Li did in Unleashed which is probably the ugliest, dirtiest version of wushu put to film. Film wise, in the west we tend to think of wushu in terms of the more balletic Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon so it was pretty jarring I think for a lot of people to see that level of violence and vicious intent in Unleashed but that sort of dichotomy is another reason I favour wushu for Cassandra. She learned it devoid of that elegance and the more cerebral, spiritual aspects of martial arts which is why- while I don’t think her long absence from print was warranted- I stand by her move to China and eventual adoption of the Black Bat persona. It gave her the opportunity to work through what her parents forced on her and return to it to learn that entirely other aspect of wushu, and of course life in general, held back from her. I’d like to think that while seeing her fight for most of her Batgirl days would have been horrifying, there’s an elegance and flow to her now as Blackbat that may not be as shamelessly acrobatic as Dick, but reflects the results of the fundamental and painful changes she’s undergone over the years. For my money, the most potentially explosive fight between any of the batkids would be Cassandra and Dick.