Sunday, October 24, 2010

Because he's Batman

This is a few months old, but have people read this Aaron Diaz article about Batman?

The basic argument is that Batman has actually become the LEAST realistic/believable hero in comics by virtue of the insane amounts of skills attributed to him and the cognitive dissonance of  spending more money than most national defense budgets in order to combat street-crime in the least efficient manner humanly possible. It's a clever read.

For people who mainly know the movies or TV shows: In order to make his "usefulness" when sharing a world with Superman etc. make sense, the comic Batman is generally written as the World's Greatest Human - a master of all martial-arts, a human-computer level intellect, possessed of essentially-unlimited cash resources and the ability to spend them on entire space-stations without attracting attention.

20 comments:

Arturo said...

I want THAT Batman in a movie

dkh said...

For me, what I like about Batman is his inhumanity. Not necessarily an unbelievability, but a coldness that makes him a bit less than human. Relationships with him just can't quite work, family is a broken concept in youth and in adulthood, and so forth.

I bring this up to point out that the article shouldn't be about Batman. It SHOULD be about Black Panther.

Okay, already the BP comic sucks because of the overt racism, but past that, you have a character who's a good man, a good leader of men, a good family man, as good at hand-to-hand combat as the best, at least somewhat super-powered, super-computer level intellect, and more wise than the best around (Illuminati, anyone?)

You want to talk unrealistic? Have Batman, make him superpowered, and then take away his flaws. THAT'S unrealistic.

Christopher said...

Okay reality and comics have a huge disconnect; but you know what? That's what makes them so fun. The comics can focus on something more interesting as the speculation of the human condition rather than the science behind everything.

I know you tend to favor true science fiction Bob over science fantasy (I say this because of your Star Trek Reboot review), but sometimes I find the emotions faced by characters to be more fascinating. That's one of the reasons why I love films like District 9 and Inception so damn much.

Popcorn Dave said...

Um, Christopher, Bob is the last person in the world to give a shit about realism. Anyway, it's a good article. It's not really a critique of Batman, it's just a clever response to the common idea that he's somehow a "realistic" superhero.

The Karligarchy said...

Yeah I buy this. It is completely accurate. Perhaps facing this reality could be a them for Batman 3. Using his economic weight to buy out criminals, also would allow an interesting use of the Penguin as a villain. A possible theme of the third movie could be Batman/Bruce Wayne fighting separate battles against crime. Bruce Wayne vs Penguin. Batman vs. whoever else. Since they kind of picked up on the Terrorism them in DK perhaps in the third movie Batman/Bruce Wayne tries to grapple with the "blowback" of him being batman. Random idea, but, they are going to have to come up with something unique to top DK. Using the Riddler, twoface or robin int he third movie will just stink of Batman forever. How did I get on this?

Popcorn Dave said...

Well, Karligraphy, they already hinted at this idea in TDK; after all, the reason Batman is thinking about quitting is that Dent's political campaign is doing far more good than Batman's pointless theatrics. I don't know if the next film will follow through on that now that Dent is gone, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if this idea comes up again. It's kind of hard to avoid when you really think about it, especially when the new films are trying so hard to be realistic.

dkh said...

One thing I liked about the new Batman movies is an emphasis on Batman's goal not to fight thugs and pick-pockets (something found much more in the comics) but about disrupting the operations of the crime lords who keep it all together. By throwing wrenches in the system people like Dent can afford to act.

It's a great idea that I think the new movies did very well. A symbol endures, a man is little. Batman really can't do much in the end, but he can be a galvanizing force.

Clayton said...

speaking of which, Tom Hardy is going to be in the next Batman movie. No one is sure who he's playing though.

tyra menendez said...

Super heroes are modern mythology. Most mythological heroes are demigods, but Batman is Odysseus.
Odysseus was the ideal Greek man, and Batman is an ideal American, in many ways.

Arty O said...

Tyra I'm not sure where why exactly you are comparing Odysseus to Batman.
Odysseus wasn't really an ideal man. Just like all classic heroes, Odysseus has one huge glaring flaw: he thought he was better than the gods. Because of his flaw, he spent the course of the Odyssey getting the shit kicked out of him because he couldn't show some humility. The driving force of the entire narrative was the character's flaw. Batman on the other hand, is the guy who has beat up Superman and outsmarted Darksied. Unlike Odysseus, Batman is pretty much better then the gods.

Odysseus got his entire crew killed simply because he had the nerve to kill Poseidon's son and not apologies. Is there anything that happened to badman that can compare? Has Batman ever made one huge mistake that got the rest of the Justice League killed?

Batman has no flaws. Not only does that not qualify him to be a modern analog for Odysseus, it means he isn't even a hero in the classical monomyth heroic journey structure.



Also Captain America/Superman kinda already do the "Idea American" thing.

dkh said...

Arty, dude, what Batman comic are you reading?

One of Batman's prime defining traits is his inability to leave behind the mask, to not be the Detective, to not have a plan to take out every one, be they enemy or friend. Batman looks at himself as the last stop. He's the Raistlin Majere of the comic world - an exceptional force capable of great good but but ultimately incapable of creating a /good/ world himself.

Arty O said...
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Arty O said...

Ummm dkh. I've been reading Batman comics since I was a kid. I don't think you have been reading them though dkh. You just described the problem Batman had in The Dark Night.

In that movie that was a pretty good source of drama, but wanting to quit your job isn't the same as having an inherent character flaw.

dkh said...

Well, actually I was using Tower of Babel as my source. Nice try, though.

Arty O said...
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Arty O said...

Yeah I haven't read tower of babel, I hear it's pretty good though. Still I made a good point, and proving that you have read a comic that I haven't doesn't change anything.

Wanting to quit your job isn't a character flaw. There is a big difference between having a difficult problem and being flawed.

Also if you only read about the "leave behind the mask" in one comic and saw it in one movie, why would you think it is essential to the character?

I would say leaving the mask behind is a much bigger problem for someone like Spider-man; who is constantly wondering whether he should quit, and has quit several times. Wanting to not be Spider-man is inherent in the way that character was designed.

Arty O said...

And considering this discussion probably won't lead anywhere. I don't think I'll comment on this thread anymore. I don't want this to turn into a flam war

dkh said...

I didn't say he "wanted" to leave behind the mask, I said that he had an "inability" to leave behind the mask. And that /is/ in more than one comic. Hell, one of the most famous comics of all, The Dark Knight Returns, focuses on this a great deal. It's hardly the only one.

A person wanting to leave behind his day job is common, a person who /can't/ leave it behind and who /can't/ change the negative nature of it is another thing entirely.

Sophie said...

Okay... Batman...always made sense to me... oaky..maybe in that earlier tv-show wherer he would not chase after catwoman because she went into the ladie´s changing room... not then, then it was just fun to watch while having my morning cereals...but he made sense. Yeah..he has way too much cash... but that makes up for the lack of any scientificly verified reasoning to explain spidermans and Bruce Banners mutations. That´s just his ressource..cash. Robin being a minor... well... cool kid, loveable to date in highschool. Martial-Arts-Skills..why the fuck not? Super-detective... it´s nothing you can´t learn if you have enough funding to pay for the teachers... as for the new Batman movie... I am probably not the first one to suggest this: but this idea of being the villain in everyone`s eyes and being lonely by choice... could be contrasted with another by-choice-villain, who is not just faking it because harvey dent fell pray to the Joker`s jokes... how about confronting him with Catwoman... especially since somebody NEEDS to fix that Halle-Berry-mess from the previous movie. Or if we can´t have the joker...there is always Harvey. I would oppose Penguin and Riddler. Though the Riddler could fake a good wannabe-joker. In some teenage batman movie. Bane might make a good street villain, and Anarky..could work WELL with the Terrorism theme... oh..and NO to mr. freeze... simply because Mc.Dumb would try to come up with action figures...again.

DurararaFTW said...

I agree with the guy that it's taken too far. I feel writers shouldn't have to do that to make Batman useful. Superman=farmboy that had superpowers and threw himself into the superhero business. Spiderman=collegestudent that threw himself into the superhero business.

Batman doesn't need to be the greatest human, but he is the guy that actually spends 12-16 years actually studying martial arts and crimonology that and his resources should naturally give him a skillset the other lack. Seriously, go complain about Green Arrow or something.