Why Batman?

by Lynette A. J. Foliaki

The Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, the Greatest Detective, the Giant Bat! These are only some of the names (not forgetting Joker’s infamous ‘Batsy’) that cartoon, film and comic book character, Batman, is known by.

I’m not an expert on Batman and I’m not even going to pretend that what I’m going to say is anything new on the character. I just wanted to shed some light on my fascination of a fictional man (Mum, I hope you’re reading this!).
If you don’t know who Batman is, you’ve been living under a rock for the best part of a century or so.

Everyone knows the story of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire socialite of fictional Gotham City, who watched his parents’ murder when he was 8 and vowed to take on Gotham’s criminal underworld at his parents’ grave. After more than a decade of physical and mental training and conditioning, Wayne returned to Gotham and took on the cowl as his alter ego, Batman. When the Justice League was formed, he had already commanded the respect of powerhouses like Superman, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman, who deferred to him as decision maker more than once. He didn’t hit the hardest and neither was he the fastest but he had the brilliant mind and the indomitable will that made him the leader of the League as much as Superman was.

In an episode of Young Justice, Captain Marvel offers a word of advice to Aqualad after the team had taken off without orders. He reminded Aqualad that Batman was able to stop any protests from the team with a single word. Aqualad’s response to that was ‘That’s because Batman is…Batman.’ And he was right. Batman inspires awe and a little fear even in his friends and if I was a criminal and I saw him coming at me on a dark night, I’d return the lady’s purse with a heartfelt apology before running away screaming. Or rather, drop the purse and run away screaming my apologies. All in vain, no doubt, but the guy’s dressed as a giant bat, that’s a little freaky so you can’t blame me for trying to get away.

But I’m not a giggly fan girl, I know the character is flawed. He’s dangerous, obsessive and emotionally broken. He’s been the topic of discussions by psychiatrists (in real life, what’s more) who have tried to decipher the mental and emotional battlefield that is Batman. He’s driven by vengeance and the trauma of his parents’ murder (and we all know how unhealthy that is) and his crime fighting methods can be…questionable.

If Batman really did exist, the UN would be in a tizzy trying to figure out whether to give him an award or arrest him for violating numerous human rights conventions. Maybe his description as a vigilante is more fitting than of a superhero. But no one can fault that he gets the job done and that he feels for every victim he saves. Batman may use intimidation like a weapon and may be one of the most feared members of the League but no one can say that he would turn his back on a plea for help.

It’s not just about a fictional character – it’s about what that character represents. It’s about a man with the drive and determination to push himself to the limit to do what needs to be done and to sacrifice everything, including himself, for what is right.

It’s about a man who has the confidence to stand beside so many super-powered  hard hitters, without having any special powers of his own, and still stand tall. It’s about a man who, regardless of he has suffered, opts for rehabilitation over destruction. It’s about the strength of character of a man who refused to let his worst nightmare break him but instead, turned it into his greatest strength.

Batman is about living, even when your world has turned to dust around you. It’s about fighting inner demons constantly and not breaking. It’s about refusing to give up even when life sucker punches you in the stomach and then kicks you when you’re down. It’s about knowing that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes – no one is constantly deliriously happy and if they are, there’s a medical term for that. It’s about setting goals and then soaring well above them. It’s about knowing your limitations but refusing to become limited by them.

Simply put, it’s about Batman.