Batman: What My Least Favorite Superhero Has Taught Me About Writing

Hey, Flobo here!

I know you are all ready to stuff your face for the holiday season. But before you do, spend some time with little ‘ol me while I talk about inspirations and all that jazz.

I’m sure by now you know about my almost unconditional love for my favorite superhero, but let me talk to you about my LEAST FAVORITE superhero in Gotham City’s Batman.

Oh, just look at him! Pompous jerk.

Batman has one of the most vocal fan-bases in all of comics. He’s considered one of the smartest minds in the DC Universe (his comic publisher’s home) and people will discuss the time(s) ol’ Bats smacked around (and defeated) Superman  in battle ad nauseam. Not bad for the billionaire who keeps kryptonite in his utility belt.

But you see, Batman (and his mild-mannered alter-ego Bruce Wayne) doesn’t really have any super powers so the term “superhero” is a misnomer. Fans would argue he has “genius level intellect”, but that hasn’t been confirmed in the pages of the comics. (For my geeky opinion, I consider Lex Luthor, a pre-relaunch Oracle, and Mr. Terrific all smarter than the Caped Crusader but that’s another post for another time. I do peg him as the best detective, even though I have a soft spot for Elongated Man….and Detective Chimp.)

My hate for the character doesn’t end there. I’m sure you’ve heard of the origin story: When Bruce Wayne was a kid he witnessed his parents being murdered right in front of his eyes. Taking that, he vows to rid the Gotham City of crime as The Batman, a symbol of fear. There’s a lot of things wrong with this. Besides the fact the character was inspired by/taken from Zorro, and that multi-billionaire corporate big wigs have no right (or time) to be vigilantes, to this writer it seems tragic that Bruce Wayne is pining for vengeance thirty or forty years after the original horrific event. That doesn’t seem like somebody who’s healed from the traumatic stress at all, and it definitely doesn’t seem like someone who should be given free reign to “protect” a city. Many writers from the comics know this, so they try to keep putting him through the wringer so the Batman character can be justified. (Jason Todd, anyone?)

Okay, so I bashed the guy enough. What could I possibly learn from a character I personally do not care for. Well, the writing of course!

 

You see, there’s no denying that some of the brightest minds in comics, television, and film gave our friend Bats some of the greatest stories in modern history. Sure, if I sat you down on the corner and talked about a guy who walked around town in a overgrown Bat-suit doing  things only the police should be involved with, you would laugh at me. However, everyone “believed” in the character in the film “The Dark Knight”. The  90s “Batman: The Animated Series” cartoon was one of the greatest of all time, and I’m sure that the “Knightfall” comic book story arc would be taught as literature in some English class of the future.

What I learned most from Batman is this: Sometimes if the story is good enough, the audience would look past the inherent flaws in that character. This is not to say to create weak characters from the start, but if the audience is sympathetic to the character’s plight–well, as sympathetic an audience can be to a multi-billionaire that employs underage children to be his crime-fighting partner(s)–and if the story is strong, they will most likely ride with you. People don’t cling to the fact a man in his 30s more or less lives in solitude save for a couple of people, they grasp on the notion that a young kid decided to fight back against the blight of his neighborhood.

What if a roach crawled in his house first?

“The Dark Knight” made a BILLION dollars at the box office, and Batman is one of DC’s most popular characters overall alongside Superman and Wonder Woman so of course this is just one man’s opinion. I will say, that I learned something from my least favorite comic book hero: It isn’t the beginnings that make you a hero, as much as it is your journey.

Now if you’re asking who’s my favorite billionaire smart guy who fights crime? Iron Man. Easy.

 

–Flobo

 

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