On July 17th, Girl Meets World aired an episode called “Girl Meets the New Teacher.” The themes were literature, comics, and good versus evil. None of that would have been remarkable if they hadn’t used The Dark Knight Returns as the centerpiece. On a Disney Channel show.
In burst of double-timeliness, “Girl Meets the New Teacher” uses both The Dark Knight Returns and To Kill a Mockingbird, two works getting a lot of attention right now. In the context of Girl Meets World, Frank Miller’s comic is used as a lesson plan of a new teacher, Harper Burgess. She uses comics to discuss the grey nature of good versus evil — the show casts her as Batman and the principal as Superman. The idea was that, like heroes, both the teacher and the principal have the same aim (saving the world/teaching children), but wildly different approaches. Hence two people on the side of “good” fighting each other.
Note: Please don’t debate me on The Dark Knight Returns, this is the lesson the show used.
For fans of Boy Meets World, the episode was meant to mimic that show’s episode “Back 2 School,” which had new teacher Mr. Turner using the X-Men as his lesson plan. So, in some ways, I guess this is parity: the old show did Marvel, this one did DC.
It’s still amazing to me that a show on the Disney Channel, when Disney owns Marvel, put so much focus on a DC book. And one that’s infamously dark, which isn’t revolutionary for the creators of Boy and Girl Meets World, but is a little more out of step with the Disney Channel.
And then, there’s the complete mindscrew that is a Disney show not only using a dark DC comic as the structure of an episode, but that they used a comic that is also the basis for Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder’s upcoming epic Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Yeah. A Disney show just gave their interpretation of Dark Knight Returns before the giant movie comes out.
Either the makers of Girl Meets World have a lot of creative freedom — excellent! — or Disney is so secure in Marvel as a brand that they just shrug at giving other superhero movies any press.
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