Everyone knows the story of how Batman came to be. His parents were killed in front of him as a child, and he devotes himself to seeking vengeance and justice on those who would prey on the weak. he is a billionaire playboy who finances his ability to be a vigilante/hero.
How does Batman reflect on humanity?
Batman is human. He is just a man. Some say that his superpower is having billions of dollars at his disposal, but it is not. If he has something that makes him invaluable to the Justice League, it is is skills as a detective. His ability to observe, evaluate, and act decisively makes him an incredible asset. In fact, if you gave Superman his crime fighting skills, you would have a being who would be overpowered. In fact, that’s what they called him when he was briefly given Green Lantern’s Power Ring.
So far, I haven’t said anything new or provided any kind of new perspective on this character. But as I was thinking about this post, I thought about the kind if person Bruce Wayne may have been if he had not lost his father at a young age. I thought about the many kids I’ve worked with and talked with who have had missing dads, or unengaged dads. I thought about the path that then loss of his father sent Bruce Wayne on.
Bruce defined his life in terms of vengeance (justice) and fear. The symbol he creates to become “more than just a man” is not a beacon, or a banner whose colors we can fly proudly, or something that the good in society can rally around (much like the way Superman is a symbol). Instead, Bruce chose a symbol from the darkness, and from the shadows, and from his own fears that will create fear and chaos among criminals. The loss of Bruce’s parents as a boy, has caused him to live a life of, in, and as fear; it grew from fear, it came from fear, and it creates fear.
Bruce grew up fatherless. In response to this hole in his soul (from the loss of both parents), he became well-travelled, and well-studied. He grew to be an un-validated man. He grew to be a boy who lived with fear. He did great things as a hero, but he did it with an inability to become a complete individual. He was great as Batman, but he struggled to be Bruce; couldn’t have serious relationships with women, he was devoted to being a vessel of fear, and not a man. The more there was a Batman, the less there was a man… the less there was Bruce.
Batman is resourceful, he is intelligent, and he is persistent. Batman keeps the DC super heroes who have god-like abilities grounded to humanity. When the Justice League seems to get a bit over-confident or idealistic, it is Batman who keeps his head, because he cannot afford to be over-confident. Batman is the antithesis of the all-powerful Superman. He is a fan-favorite, and the man with a plan.
There is so much to Batman, that I know I have missed, over-looked, or passed on some things. Add your thoughts to the comments!