May 2, 2012


The Batman.
The Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, the World's Greatest Detective! My first memory of Batman was at my 2nd birthday party. My parents always tell me it was a grand event - a long guest list, giant cake, balloons, and food galore. But I don't remember a single detail from the day...except for the BATMAN COSTUME I got. Come to think of it, I don't even know who it was that gave it to me...

This month marks the 73rd anniversary of Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27. Unless you've been living under a rock (and just somehow stumbled upon this blog), you know the legend of his origin, so I'll spare the repetitive back story.

The Caped Crusader has grown into a worldwide cultural icon, and is no doubt one of the most popular and recognizable figures today. It's arguable that Batman isn't just one of the best superheroes ever, but one of the greatest fictional characters ever. But what is it that makes Batman still so popular?

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His drive and perseverance

That night Bruce Wayne's
life was forever changed.
Other than his utility belt, Batman's greatest asset is his perseverance. The night his parents were murdered Bruce Wayne swore to them and himself that a similar tragedy would never happen to anyone ever again. In doing so, he incidentally began a life-long war against crime. Bruce knew what he had to do - he traveled the world, studying and training himself to be the best and most capable he could be in almost every way both physically and mentally. It's debatable that the night his parents died Bruce died just as well. He gave up a normal life and devoted all his resources to an insatiable quest, a battle he may never even win but fights nonetheless. In summary, Bruce looked at tragedy square in the eyes, spat in it's face, and then became Batman. Batman is in essence a symbol that anyone can overcome anything and still become a better person because of it.

His unbreakable moral code

Tim Drake and Bruce discuss
Batman's choice of weaponry
The Batman follows distinct rules in his quest for justice, and is probably his most unique trait. Anybody can put on a cape, take on some bad guys and declare war on crime, but Batman isn't willing to do just about anything to get it done. Certain lines must be drawn, because otherwise what separates you from the scum you're trying to take down? Prime example - Batman HATES guns. More importantly, Batman DOESN'T KILL. (Are you listening, Tim Burton?) Although he operates outside the law, he is by no means above it and never takes judgement into his own hands. As crazy as some of the sickos he deals with are, it's obvious throughout his 73 year history he's been pushed to his limits. But Batman is essentially the proverbial immovable object, and will never cross the line.

"Victory lies in the preparation."

Biff! Pow! Crunch! Ouch!
It's a pretty cliche quote that everyone should follow, but one that Batman lives by. The quote itself appears several times in Grant Morrison's stellar run on Batman, and is very true to the character. Aside from being the World's Greatest Detective, Batman is also a master strategist and takes every possibility into account. He's basically a hardened realist that has already thought of everything and anything. Evil-turned Justice League? No problem. Sharks with laser beams attached to their heads? Bring it. The reason Batman always comes out victorious when the smoke clears is his ability (or common sense, really) to know and study his enemies as well as his allies, and being that cliched one step ahead. Aside from contingency plans, that bright yellow belt around his waist isn't just for decoration, and holds literally hundreds of different gadgets and survival tools. Next time the debate over who'd win if Batman ever took on that caped Kryptonian from Metropolis, realize that Batman has already mapped out the entire brawl a dozen times over, and is always prepared for it when it eventually does happen. To put it bluntly, no matter who you are or what you do, if you're trying to take on Batman then you've actually already lost.


The Dark Knight. Human after all.
Despite everything he's capable of and all he's accomplished, Batman is still only just a "normal" human like everyone else. He isn't a mutant, he's not an alien, and he was never given any cosmic powers or even weapons. I know, right? As perfect as Batman has trained himself to be, his humanity is his greatest flaw and simultaneously his greatest trait. One could say it brings his whole situation to a much closer and grounded perspective. If you were in his shoes, what would YOU do? How far would you go? It's a little silly to admit, but what really makes Batman so popular is that he could in fact actually exist, and anyone could be him if they really wanted to. Aside from your parents being murdered in cold blood, all anyone wants is to be the best at anything and everything, and still look cool doing it. Granted it wouldn't be easy, but being Batman is the closest any of us mere mortals can get to becoming a superhero.

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