Man, you should have SEEN it. I had this entire blog post ready and raring to go. I was going to discuss how I had run across something the other day that I had never seen before; namely that the whole “Could Batman beat Superman in a fight?” question had spawned its own internet memes, entire boards of arguments, counter-arguments, and is still going, even now. I was going to bring in how the question made no sense because it was, out of necessity, too conditional, and had an entire discussion on the subject ready to go. It would have been something.
Then, however, something changed. I realized that when you scraped away all those things, that wasn’t really what bugged me about that whole discussion and situation. As I was paring the post down, I ran across this quote on a discussion board, made by a poster whose title was “Manwhohaseverything,” and to whom I give a very grateful tip of the hat. He said, simply, this: (the italics and bold print are mine)
“What makes Batman a great character? I think it’s partly because he’s NOT invincible, not super-anything (except maybe intelligent, and I would say he’s just “very smart”, not “super-smart.) it’s because he has weaknesses, both physical and mental, that he must over-come. Like us!! (Well, not exactly like us, but you get the spirit of what I’m saying.) Now, if we take THAT character and suddenly say he can beat: Demi-god beings (Superman, Wonder Woman.) Or beat folks like Green Lantern and Flash with powers beyond human comprehension, than what’s the point of the character? if he can do those things, we may as well make him a god or super-powered alien. If he can beat folks like that, than for all practical purposes, he IS a demi-god or a cosmic being. No thank you. I want my Batman to be human. A very skilled human, far better than anyone of us could hope to become, but a human nevertheless. I think those insisting he could beat Superman (with prep or whatever) actually take away from, not add to, the character Batman is intended to be.”
That comment said what I was feeling, far better than I could have said it, myself. It cut through all the tiresome hyperbole, intellectual arguments and other assorted things and got to the nub of what was wrong, to me. I miss Batman. I miss the Batman of old; the one who was part of The World’s Finest. The one who was the World’s Greatest Detective, and who, despite not having world shaking powers, kept stride with the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the rest. I missed the Batman who strove to do good, instead of being more of the “Dirty Harry” type Batman, i.e., the only difference between he and the villains was that he brought the villains in. I miss the Batman who wasn’t sick, wasn’t paranoid and wasn’t able to do pretty much anything because, ‘well, Batman.’
Maybe I’m old fashioned, or maybe the world moved on and I refused to move with it – but I’ll still take those days over what Batman has become; namely a person who, in his own right, is every bit as “super powered” as the rest because his multi-billions and godlike intellect allow him to, literally, sneak into pretty much anywhere he wants, come up with ways to defeat each and every one of the JLA and overcome beings who are magnitudes of degrees beyond his ability.
And he’s still considered to be “un-powered” and “only” a mortal man..? Really?
Could Batman beat Superman? No. It’s neither a fair question, nor one that can be answered without a lot of conditions being set, and without the writer giving him a LOT of advantages. The real strength of Batman is, to me, that he doesn’t have to. There’s no contest here, and nothing to prove. The Batman I knew had a genuine respect and admiration for the Man of Steel, and the feeling was mutual. Batman was Batman. Superman was Superman. They weren’t equal, but despite that, they also weren’t rivals – they were friends. As one writer put it, Batman and Superman being “edgy” with one another is too much like Tonto turning on The Lone Ranger.
That’s the Batman I grew up with. That’s the Batman I remember. That’s the Batman I like and prefer. Anything else is, to me, a disservice to the character, his history and his legacy.
More’s the pity, I say.
God bless, my friend.