The summer of 1997 was ablaze with boy bands, the Spice Girls, The Rachel, horrifying disco revival pants, body glitter, glow-in-the-dark everything, the Smashing Pumpkins, and Batman and Robin. It also spawned one of the most epic music videos ever at the end of an era when MTV actually played music.
The End is the Beginning is the End is the dark, edgy theme overshadowing Gotham City in Batman Returns (and was later reanimated in the Watchmen trailer). You don’t see many music videos that start with Batman’s mask. Make that in Batman’s mask. Those neon explosions in the eye holes are actually the band revving up their guitars in an anti-gravity dome backed by a panoramic video view of Gotham as if there is a surveillance camera projecting every move of its heroes and villains in real time. Billy Corgan’s signature swaying and undulating makes it even more creepy.
The dark atmospheric vibe of this video is like a portal to the shadows of Gotham where a vigilante in a bat suit leaps from rooftop to rooftop, relentlessly pursued by the ice-blasting guns of nemesis Mr. Freeze. Speaking of which, the guitars are heavily inspired by the Freeze Gun. This had me fangirling hard even before I could do basic algebra.
Corgan is the taunting voice of Mr. Freeze slinking catlike through the air in a black bodysuit, or else he wouldn’t be spewing words like I am crystal chrome/I am shatter dome/I am Kremlin king of angels avenged. It crawls like frost up your naked spine. This isn’t the first Batman song from the POV of a villain, either—Coheed and Cambria’s exclusive theme for the 2011 Arkham City video game, Deranged, is sung through the warped lens of the Joker in a dystopian paradise.
He also has a mesmerizing gaze that just holds you captive as if you have been freeze-blasted by the villain himself. That iconic sound which first echoed in my dreams and nightmares from the albums Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is even more raw and unrelenting in the TV radiation that lights up the stage and the city.
Even more breathtaking is that moment Corgan levitates to one of the eye holes and spreads his arms like some mad magician. The view plunges straight into the Gotham night from hundreds of feet in the air, past a monolithic bronze hero and a marble testament to Mr. Freeze dripping with icicles.
Now you understand, next to Gargoyles, why the ‘90s are so sacred to me.