Of all the top ten posts I’ve written so far, this may end up being the most controversial. Everyone loves Batman. There are so many people (maybe even you as you read this) who say that Batman is by far their favorite super hero. For me though, he’s not my number 1. He’s not even my number 2. As you can see, Batman falls into the number 3 slot as my favorite super hero. Keep in mind that I’m not saying Batman should be number 3 on everyone’s list, that’s just where he falls on mine. Batman is almost as iconic if not as iconic as Superman. Thanks to multiple television series, cartoon series, and movies, he is one of the few super heroes who is readily recognizable to the general public.
Batman is an appealing super hero for several different reasons. For many, the first thing they jump to is that Batman has no super powers. That’s never been a selling point for me when it comes to super heroes. While it makes for an interesting character, it kind of takes the super out of super hero. So what makes Batman a super hero? Not his lack of super powers, but the fact that he has honed his mind and body to the limits of human perfection and beyond. The key there is the “beyond.” Bruce Wayne has pushed himself to be the world’s greatest fighter and the world’s greatest thinker. That is pretty super. Sure, bullets don’t bounce off his chest, and he can’t shoot lasers out of his eyes, but compared to even the best fighters and detectives out there, he’s super.
What I like most about Batman is a combination of things that go beyond what he can or cannot do. Batman has a sincere respect for life, he has a no nonsense attitude, and he’s got some pretty cool gadgets and machinery at his disposal.
Starting with the Batmobile, Batman – thanks to the riches at Bruce Wayne’s disposal – has some of the coolest toys a super hero could ask for. Helicopter, personal jet thingie, motorcycles, submersible, a belt full of cool stuff. Add to that a belt full of gadgets and gizmos ranging from batarangs and suspension lines to a lead lined pouch where Bats may or may not be keeping a kryptonite ring entrusted to him by Superman and you have yourself the man who has everything. Back in the fifties television show (and to some extent the Superfriends cartoons) Batman had anything and everything he could ever imagine strapped to his waste or at least near at hand. (Bat-Shark Repellent anyone?). In the comics though, the gadgets and tech take on a much more practical feel for the urban warrior. Night vision, listening devices, lock picks, everything a detective and vigilante needs to fight crime and bring down the baddies.
Even though Batman having everything he needs for every possible occasion makes for an easy humor target, he takes his work and his mission VERY seriously. I really tend to like and appreciate people who (as I say) just don’t give a dook. Batman tells it like it is to those around him. He’ll match wits with a mystic like Dr. Fate and put gods in their place all with his sharp wit and willingness to say whatever he feels needs to be said to get his point across and motivate others to action. One of my favorite examples of this is in the first issue of DC’s big crossover event of a couple of years back Infinite Crisis. As he, Superman, and Wonder Woman stand in the midst of the ruins of the JLA watchtower, he calls on Superman to get to Earth and lead people and heroes alike to rise up and stand firm. Superman, not wanting to take on that role tells Batman that he’s not a dictator, he’s not even a leader, it’s not what he does. At that, Batman explains to Superman that he inspires people. Then he adds, “And frankly, ‘Superman’, you haven’t inspired anyone since you died.” OH SNAP!!!! But you know what Superman did? He got to work.
Finally, the thing that makes Batman my number 3 is exactly what he stands for.While Batman’s mission is birthed out of the death of his parents at the hands of a mugger, his quest is not one of vengeance, but justice. Yeah, he skirts the line between sanity and insanity. Sure, he’s obsessed more than just about any other hero in comicdom. Yes, he uses fear and intimidation as his favorite weapons, but at te end of the day, he wants justice. His shares with Superman (the hero to whom he is most often compared to or chosen over) a profound respect for life. He will not cross that line. While other vigilantes that are comparible to Batman (Punisher) would waste guys like the Joker and Two Face, Batman prefers to trust the system that he so effectively works outside of…even after repeatedly facing these criminals again and again. That’s a big deal, because it says that at his core, Batman not only trusts the law he seeks to uphold, but he trusts life as well. Kind of inspiring for one of the darker heroes out there.
So, while I know that Batman tends to test better in geek circles than the Big Blue Boyscout, that’s not quite the case with me. However, his iconography, his neverending battle for life and what’s right, his refusal to beat around the bush, and all of those cool gadgets work together to put Batman near the top of my top ten favorites.