The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

Why The World Needs Batman

Photo from DC Comics.
Photo from DC Comics.

Recently, Batman celebrated his 85th anniversary since he first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. Since then, Batman has become a cultural icon that has left a significant impact on pop culture and media. He is one of the most recognizable and famous superheroes or fictional characters to ever exist.

With that being said, a lot of people don’t quite hit the mark on why he is such an engaging and important character. Many argue that him not having superpowers makes him special since it sets him apart from other heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman. Some say that his being flawed and more morally grey is what makes him interesting because he doesn’t operate in a world of blacks and whites.

I’d argue both sides are wrong. Yes, Batman’s lack of superpowers is important to the character, and his notably darker tone and demeanor make his stories compelling and engaging, but those are not what makes the character great; they are not what defines the character.

There are plenty of heroes without superpowers who stand out within both Marvel and DC, such as Iron Man, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, and Black Widow. Batman having no powers is not what really makes him special, nor is his dark, morally grey tone. Daredevil, The Punisher, Wolverine, and Swamp Thing all have dark undertones that call into question the characters’ morality and do that more so than Batman stories.

A lot of people think Batman is an angry misanthropic symbol of fear and vengeance, and on the surface, he is. He’s an antisocial reclusive man who dresses up in a dark bat costume to strike fear in the hearts of the cowardly and superstitious lot that took his parents away from him.

These aspects, while adding to the character’s mythos, are not what make Batman so enduring. Instead, what makes him so special is that he is the ultimate embodiment of what it means to be a hero.

Yes, Superman is basically the ultimate evolution of heroes like Hercules and Sampson, but Batman embodies a much different kind of hero, one that nearly everyone can relate to. Batman, as a character, is fundamentally built around the idea of turning pain and tragedy into something good. 

While he may be dark and brooding, Batman is one of, if not the most altruistic hero out there. He is an everlasting symbol that our pain doesn’t have to define us and that we can use that pain for something good. That is why he refuses to kill, because he believes each and every life is special and every person has the ability to live past their trauma. 

That is something that nearly anyone can relate to. While most people may not be rich kids with issues, lots of issues, everyone knows what it means to struggle and endure the tragedies that life throws our way, and that is exactly why Batman works as a character. Sure, the costume, aesthetics, cool gadgets, and a killer car (seriously, chicks dig the car) are all neat, but they are superficial as to why Batman is such a universally beloved icon across the world.

Batman very much speaks a message of empathy and redemption because he himself very much struggled to overcome his own demons. It’s easy to say that Batman is a symbol of vengeance, but that is not true because he has a genuine care for his enemies, even his worst ones. The Joker has tormented and tortured Batman for 85 years. He is the antithesis of everything Batman believes in, the very embodiment of nihilism and apathy, and yet, Batman refuses to kill him. 

At every turn, Batman tries to show the man who has tormented him for so long some sort of empathy. In The Killing Joke, Batman pleads with Joker to end their destructive conflict before they end up killing each other. In the game Batman Arkham City, he tells Joker while he’s gasping his final breaths that he still would have saved him.

While there is definitely a debate to be had on whether killing Joker would be beneficial to Gotham, doing so would inherently go against the character’s entire philosophy. In the mind of Bruce Wayne, the people he fights are not his enemies; instead, they are victims of a corrupt system that forced them into desperate and unfortunate circumstances.

That is why he encourages Harley’s growth in the animated series from the 90’s where he says: “I know what it’s like to rebuild a life. I had a bad day too, once.” That is why he holds a scared girl’s hand as she is dying in Justice League Unlimited.

More than any other character, Batman understands the pain and the struggle that everyone goes through. He may have amazing gadgets and an indomitable intellect, but his greatest strength is his empathy and care for others.

We all go through pain and hardships in life, but if Batman tells us anything, it’s that we may just make the world a better place by extending that helping hand, one person at a time. 

“A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat on a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.”- Batman

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