This is the first in a new feature where I examine comic books showing up in outside media, like TV shows, sports, novels and films.
The first example is based on a suggestion by reader Lynn J., who thought that I should write something about this usage. It is about the TV show Girl Meets World and its use of the Dark Knight Returns in a lesson plan.
Girl Meets World is a show on the Disney Channel about Riley, the teenage daughter of Cory and Topanga Mattews, from the 1990s sitcom, Boy Meets World (which was about Cory’s teen years).
In a second season episode of Boy Meets World, Cory had a new motorcycle-riding English teacher, Mr. Turner, who used X-Men comics in his lesson plan.
On Girl Meets World, the kids are almost always seen in History class, as that is taught by Cory. However, in Season 2’s Girl Meets the New Teacher, we see them in English class, where their new teacher is a motorcycle-riding woman named Harper Burgess (likely a Burgess Meredith Penguin reference, but I dunno).
Harper teaches them Dark Knight Returns (and yes, it is neat to see a Disney show use a DC comic), although the show has a somewhat peculiar take on the comic (“it’s about a world that has become so tough that Batman has to fight Superman”)…
But the main theme is a fair enough one, which is that “heroes” and “villains” are sometimes hard to determine. Burgess gets fired by the principal for refusing to teach To Kill a Mockingbird instead of Dark Knight Returns (the kids note that it is like she is Batman and the principal is Superman) and the case ends up in front of the superintendent, who turns out to be…Mr. Turner.
Anyhow, in the end, the kids learn about how Dark Knight Returns speaks to a changing world where things aren’t so black and white.
And, of course, the teacher’s full name is Harper LEE Burgess, so obviously she was going to get around to teaching To Kill a Mockingbird.
That’s it for this first installment! Thanks for the suggestion, Lynn, which inspired this whole new feature! If anyone else wants to suggest a topic for this feature, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!