I Love Batman because…
I have on many occasions expressed my love for Batman. (Those that know me well know that he’s actually tied for first place with Captain Marvel.) With the sad news of the passing of Adam West, I felt that it was time to express exactly why this character is so beloved by me.
He has a Clear Vision
The thing about Bruce Wayne is that he has a single vision. There may be many forms, methods, tools, and strategic modifications of it as he goes along, but. His vision is singular and clear:
He would become a terror to that which terrorized him.
He had all sense taken from his life as a child. Many people would’ve shut their eyes in pain, never to open them again, spending thousands in lifelong therapy. Not Bruce. An event that ended his innocence and childhood became the catalyst to allow him to truly see.
When his parents died, Bruce took a vow. There has not been one live action movie version of Batman that showcases that vow. That annoys me to no end. That was his pivotal moment. That’s when he dedicated his life to his clear vision. And the thing about it was, he was still a child. He was galvanized mentally at the age of eight. That has always inspired me since I was a child myself. It taught me that you can take your feelings seriously at that age. I was always cajoled for doing so. Batman never let that stop him. So it hasn’t stopped me either.
He Embraces every Part of Himself
If you think about it, there’s nothing about Bruce Wayne that doesn’t fuel Batman. His genius-level intelligence. His rage. His will. His resources. Most people spend their lives beating themselves up over who they are. Not Bruce. He spends his life beating others up over the wrong that they do.
One could only do that through total self-acceptance. People have always remarked that Batman is crazy. No. Batman studied Criminal Psychology. He wants you to think he’s crazy. It’s how he psyches you out before you ever meet him. It’s the same technique that Muhammed Ali used against his opponents. He messed with their heads so deeply until they were already nervous when they got in the ring with him. Mastery of that kind of psychological technique takes total self-acceptance. Superman has survivor’s guilt, and stresses over always “doing the right thing.” J’onn J’onzz has crushing loneliness as well as his survivor’s guilt. Not Bruce. He embraces that angry little boy, and learned how to let the loneliness make him better.
He has Wonderful Toys
Let’s face it. You can’t apply real world physics to a comic book world. It’s laughable if you do so. There’s no way that Bruce, who has to weigh about 200 lbs on his own, could wear 100 lbs of armor and gadgets and move like he does. That is part of the magic of Batman that we just accept as the audience. But no one, and I mean no one, makes it look as unimaginably cool as he does.
See that? Also, no one has voiced him more memorably than Kevin Conroy. He is Batman to many of us.
Most heroes have a motif. Animal-human hybrid superheroes have more than motifs, they have totems. They identify themselves with a particular creature to showcase the nature of their powers and/or thought processes. Batman, Spider-Man, Catman, Man-Bat, Killer Croc, The Penguin, The Wasp, Ant-Man, Yellowjacket, The Green Hornet, The Falcon, etc. Everything about Bruce’s designs convey his bat motif in such a unified way until his presence is unmistakable.
He’s a Soldier
Labels are really funny things. People believe that you are whatever they call you, as if they were The Almighty. Bruce is often labelled with the pejorative term of “vigilante.” It’s what they called the TV version of Oliver Queen when he first appeared on the scene in Arrow.
What Bruce actually is? Is a soldier. His war on crime is not new by any means. War isn’t new. Crime isn’t new. Bruce knows that. But he believes that one man can make a difference if he prepares himself, and never stops fighting. His goal is not to protect the innocent. Civilians are never his focus. His goal is to let criminals know that there is something in the night that they need to be afraid of. As they visit their fear and brutality on those that can’t fight back, there emerges a thing from the shadows that visits that same fear upon them. As long as there are humans that perspective will never not be needed. Wayne knows that.
He’s a Father
We all know that Frank Miller took the character too far in All-Star Batman. But what we also gained from that series is how Bruce Wayne changed Dick Grayson’s life. It speaks to Grayson’s resilience that he didn’t become bitter and dark like his mentor. (See a guest Nightwing piece and my Nightwing pilot.) Bruce found a young man who had an almost identical experience and taught him how to fight back. Now, I acknowledge that Robin exists to lighten Batman up, because out here in the real world, Middle America was clutching their pearls at Batman’s early appearances. Robin’s introduction was a reaction to Batman’s darkness, and he became the greatest sidekick of all time. Wayne and Grayson have almost always butted heads from the beginning, but one thing is always clear: Wayne loves the man like a son. He always has.
Since Grayson, there have been an almost never-ending stream of proteges. That’s your proof that Batman is a great father. No one EVER purposely imitates a dad that they don’t admire. Ever.
He doesn’t Give a Crap about What you Think
No one can dissuade Bruce from his mission. No one. Not even Superman. Because Batman doesn’t care what you think about him. Only the clearest of minds, with the strongest of resolves, could do that. He can’t be talked out of it, cried out, lied out, hurt out, loved out, turned out, burned out. Because his motivation is internal. There have always been accusations against his mission and his methods. How he puts children in danger, which is true. He does. He counters with the very clear truth that children have always been in danger. That’s what his dead parents taught him. That’s why he exists.
There is so much more I could say, and maybe I will at a later time. What I’ve spoken here though are the core elements that draw me to the character. He’s dark, he’s dangerous, he’s smarter than you. Because he has to be. He’s ten steps ahead of you. Because he has to be. And he’ll never give up. He has arisen to show ordinary citizens that one man can make a world of difference.
He is vengeance.
He is the night.
He is Batman.
And long may he fight.