I will admit I have a mild obsession with Batman. My computer desktop wallpaper – at work and at home – is Batman. My screensaver on my mobile phone is Batman. My ring tone is the theme from the 1989 movie version of Batman. And when I get a text message, my phone actually says to me, “You’ve got Bat-mail.”
People often wonder about my fascination with the Dark Knight. I don’t like comic books, I am not a fan of other superhero movies, and I generally don’t even like science fiction. All in all, my Batman fandom is an anomaly.
Why I am I such a fan of the Worlds Greatest Detective? It is simple: Batman is my favorite superhero because he isn’t very super.
The Caped Crusader doesn’t have any superpowers, unless you count being a billionaire a superpower. The earth’s yellow sun doesn’t give him the ability to fly. He wasn’t given a ring offering great control over the physical world. He didn’t drink a government serum to fight Nazis. He didn’t get hit with cosmic radiation which allows him stretch his body into any shape. He wasn’t caught in a gamma blast of radiation. He wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider. He doesn’t have nigh invincibility. He wasn’t given the Lasso of Truth from the Olympian Gods, and nothing happens when he says, “Shazam!”
For a moment suspend judgment of Batman’s overdeveloped sense of vigilantism and penchant for wearing tights and a cape, and instead reflect on what drives the character.
Bruce Wayne is damaged. He witnessed a terrible crime against his own mother and father and he is spending is life trying to make right what can never be corrected. We too walk around everyday with our own baggage. Perhaps it is in the form of a parent who wasn’t kind, love unreturned, a spouse who didn’t treat us right, the bully in the school yard, the teacher that punished us unfairly, or thoughtless criticism from a bad boss.
Whatever our baggage, we don’t to overcome it by implementing the outcome of freak scientific accident. Like Batman, we are only able to use the tools we choose to develop.
Hand-to-hand combat is an essential element of Batman’s job description. He conditions muscles and trains in martial arts. Fighting crime in Gotham requires our hero to outsmart his opponents. He invests his fortune into tools that let him access information, research technology and tirelessly assimilate new knowledge to give him a competitive edge. His utility belt represents of preparation. Whether he needs to be hoisted to the top of a bridge, camouflaged with a smoke screen, or needs an antidote to a poisonous gas, a means for confronting contingencies wrap around his waist.
His battles, while drawn more vibrantly, are similar to our own. While never rising to the level of Batman’s fictional tales involving fighting crime, heading off mass destruction, or occasionally saving earth from imminent peril we have our own battles to overcome each day. Instead of battling the Joker, we battle bureaucracy. Rather than fighting the Penguin we fight complacency. We don’t feud with the Catwoman, instead we must find in ourselves the elusive ability of leadership.