Why was I always drawn more to Batman?
Well, frankly, because under the right circumstances I could have been Batman. But that is true not just for me; you could have been Batman. We all could have been Batman! (The same can’t be said for Superman or the Flash sadly.)
All we just need is a heck of a lot of money and a devastating experience in one’s childhood and we are in that dark cape… Sadly, for me, my parents are perfectly healthy and I am not rich.
Of course, this is the logic of a kid discovering a comic book at the age of eight, it is not the logic of a sane adult. I mean, we adults, when considering becoming a masked vigilante, would think about the police, fingerprints, what if we get shot, what kind of training, how do we buy supplies, how do we get medical attention…. The list goes on and on when an adult tries to consider this employment opportunity. In the long run, it does not feel like the best option or more people would be doing it, besides the random “unique” individuals we see on television roaming our streets.
Because he is a teenager and there is a progression there that fits the problem-solving skills of a teenager, even one smart enough to make his own webbing.
You get super powers and you are a teenager what do you want to do?
- Well, first you want to show off at school in front of your friends. Show how better you are then them.
- Then you want to use it to make money and get famous (maybe try wrestling?).
- Finally, you decide that you can use it to save the world.
It even makes sense that Spider-Man’s outfit is bright blue and red, as compared to something less in your face. Yes, it makes sense… for a teenager.
Bruce Wayne on the other hand is an adult and a billionaire. He could, literally do anything in the world he wants to do.
You want to save Gotham City, Bruce, and help people to avoid experiencing what you did outside the theater showing The Mask of Zorro?
How about paying for the college education of all of the children in the city? (And before someone comments that that is ridiculous there are places around the country where people of means do this all the time.) That would boost job opportunity, help some to avoid going down a shady path in life (like becoming someone who sticks up parents and kids for jewelry in back alleys), and improve the overall economy of the city from the local colleges to the hiring businesses. The present and the future of your city will benefit from that financial gesture, which would probably be pennies for someone wealthy like Bruce.
Or if you want to stir the economy immediately and bring more job opportunities to your community now, how about helping to pay off the burden many in the middle class have with student loan debt? Citizens would have hundreds of dollars more a month to spend, again improving the living condition and economy in Gotham City.
Or how about running for political office and using your money while there to help fix the financial issues in the city? (Thanks to Tim Burton’s Batman we know the city is in debt… oh, and what does that Bruce Wayne do? Instead of just paying for the festival to celebrate Gotham’s legacy, he has a fundraiser so others can do it. Nice.) No one really needs that much money, and in a political position you can support the causes you believe in, like increasing the number of good cops, improving the lighting in dark alleys, etc.
And unless there is something shady on Bruce’s tax returns he doesn’t want the public to see (like using every tax loophole in the book, paying a lower tax rate than the common citizen, or having questionable bank accounts or shadow companies oversea to avoid paying taxes) or he is running against a once-in-a-lifetime candidate or he is actively supporting a religion that up until the late seventies was racist and today spends millions to campaign against gay rights, well, he might have a chance at any office he wants.
In the long run examples like that would help everyone in Gotham more (and don’t they sound a lot easier) than putting on a cape and getting some of the anger out… Because, really, let’s be honest, this is where all of this is coming from- anger.
Bruce is angry at the world for the death of his parents and that makes sense, but Alfred (yes, I am calling you out now, Mr. Pennyworth), why did you not get him some help when he was a kid? He could have learned to deal with the pain in the right way with the right help. In many ways Alfred is just as much to blame as Bruce is for this radical, out-of-the-blue lifestyle decision.
At least in Batman Begins you see the anger and animalistic aggression Bruce feels after his parents’ death (Most books and shows make it seem a logical progression to becoming a caped hero). He goes to very muddy jails to fight criminals; I mean we all agree that is bonkers, right? His voice when he is Batman even sounds like an animal with a dark growl. The Dark Knight film trilogy at least says something the other films and stories avoid that here is a man who is a little messed up psychologically.
Oh, and then in Batman Begins he is drawn into a cult that promises him they can help him and help the world. This all makes sense (desperate people turning to cults) and I’m even sure it happens every day (probably not to billionaires unless we are talking about Scientology) and we can thank Christopher Nolan for that missing insight into the Bat’s psyche.
The fact is, Batman is the world’s greatest detective and he’s immensely wealthy. It is all such a missed opportunity! Why didn’t Alfred or someone sit down and explain that to him before he bought his first Batarang?
Growing up, my mom loved to tell me the story of the folk artist Harry Chapin. He was one of her favorite songwriters, but what she really respected him for is that he didn’t want to be rich, he gave most of his earnings away (Most of his concert earnings went to charity, for example), happy to live as middle class, not needing to be super wealthy. Chapin realized what good his money could do for the world and his community; as compared to sitting in one’s bank account or getting an expensively groomed horse in the Olympics or buying a car elevator for a garage or buying a whole bunch of cool gadgets so a person could go terrorize a part of the desperate poor population as a giant bat (Because seriously, that is a lot of who Batman is fighting against; people don’t choose that hoodlum lifestyle out of a set of options, it is a last resort).
Yes, I am going to go see The Dark Knight Rises (I plan to write a review by Monday) and I am super excited to see it. Heck, I’ll probably buy it on Blu-ray later; I have the other two films already.
Yes, I will continue to dig the occasional superhero audiobook I listen to on my iPod (You can read my review of four of GraphicAudio’s superb audio collection here).
Yes, I will buy and play for hours any new Arkham City or Arkham Asylum or whatever video games they make in the future (Because they are awesome fun).
And, finally, yes, I will continue to play with superhero toys with my 4-year old son (praying silently that he is not hoping something happens to me so he can become a dark knight). But in my heart I am glad it is a story. If it was real, and Bruce was really out there, it would just have been a sad choice.
Not just for him, but for all of us.
…Oh who am I kidding?
I would have worn the cape… damn.
If you liked reading my article, why not check out some of my books? I had two novels published in the last few years, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here. Thanks for reading!