Smiles to Tears: From Kratos to Batman
Indeed, He is the One who makes to laugh and cry
- Holy Qur'an (53:43)
We are not simply any of our given emotions. We are not merely a smile or tear. We are both and, more importantly, the transition in-between. It is these movements between contentions that relieve our tensions and allow us to unfold. We are stories being told. We are not written, as much as writing coming to know itself.
A few weeks ago, I finished playing Sony Santa Monica Studios' masterpiece God of War: Ragnarok, the next installment in the epic saga following Kratos, the greek God of War as he - tries - to guide his son, Atreus (Loki), through the rites of ritual towards manhood in the land of Norse mythology. There, other gods like Oden and Thor must also come face to face with their own children as mirrors that breathe in those empty spaces between the ink of a parent's past actions and faults.
What caught my attention in the story, unlike the previous God of War, is the comedic ambiance of the narrative that ushered the journey of Kratos and Atreus. Kratos, a war general and god-killer whose emotions are buried behind countless deaths and blood, is coaxed out of his shell by the dwarf Sindri who helps Atreus escape across the nine realms behind Kratos' back.
As Sindri invites Kratos and Atreus into his home, he can tell that Kratos knows the truth and tries to relieve the tension:
Sindri: "Anybody need a snack? Kratos? Snack?"
Kratos: "I do not need a snack!"
In a parallel universe, Dick Grayson, aka Robin, comes face to face with the blood and death imprinted in his consciousness. In season 2 episode 7 of DC's Titans, Grayson must confront an old enemy: Deathstroke, for whose son Jericho's death Grayson feels personally responsible.
But Grayson is afraid of the shadows that secrets cast and how they might overwhelm the light he and the Titans are trying to spread in the world as heroes who fight the darkness. In comes Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, Grayson's spiritual father who took care of him after the death of his parents.
Wayne appears as an apparition, haunting Grayson with comedy that the directors and writers of the show brilliantly interweaved into the drama of Slade Wilson's (Deathstroke) looming presence. As Grayson is trying hard to bury the secret of Deathstroke's son's death, the ghost of Wayne does everything from dancing to cracking jokes, in hopes of cracking his 'son