Alter Ego: Bruce Wayne
Nicknames/Aliases: Batman, The Batman, The Bat, The Bat of Gotham, The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader Powers: N/A
Civilian Job: CEO/Owner/Majority Shareholder/Heir of Wayne Enterprise
Home/Base of Operations: Gotham City
First Appearance: Detective Comics #27
Creator(s): Bob Kane/Bill Finger
First Film Appearence: Batman (1966)
First DCEU Appearence: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Batman has a long, storied history which is hugely impactful in American culture. Batman has transcended the typical lot of a comic book character and reached near-peak cultural saturation. The Batsign is one of the most recognizable character symbols in the world and that’s no small feat. The Batman is a character whose core traits are easy to identify despite his multitude of portrayals.
The Dark Knight has a long history in multimedia outside of comics. Batman has appeared on television, movies, and video games to meteoric success in all three arenas. This phenomenon has lead to everyone having personal favorite portrayals of Batman. Kevin Conroy, Michael Keaton, Adam West, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, And Ben Affleck are among the shortlist of people who have provided their talents to the depiction of the man under the cowl. Likewise, a plethora of directors, writers, and designers have had their say in what Batman looks and feels like. All of this is to say that it would be hard indeed to pin down one specific interpretation of the character as definitive. He has been shown to be whimsical and campy to brooding and dark. If this is the case what are the characteristics that define Batman?
There are few tenants which are core to the character of Batman but there are a few nonetheless. He is motivated by the criminal slaying of his parents that left him an orphan. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire but also a broken man. As such, Batman takes his nightly vengeance on the criminals of Gotham City and there he sets aright, in his small way, the wrongdoings of the criminal underworld and frightens them into lawful complacency. He usually has an unofficial relationship with the Gotham City Police Department through its Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, though the degree to which this relationship works has a broad range in different universes.
Another defining trait of the Batman, at least in shared universes, is his powerlessness. Not, always, in the sense of ineptitude but in his literal lack of superpowers. This lack of superpowers makes in inclusion in the Justice League a truly noteworthy one. He is counted a peer among the powerful despite his lack of superhuman augmentation. This is not to say that Batman is not superbly intelligent, resourceful, or just a great fighter. On the contrary, he is leagues (pun intended) above most of his fellow man, but is starkly unremarkable among the men and women who fly, are part inhuman, or have obviously superhuman strength.
In the DCEU, Batman has been the very same broken orphaned billionaire we know him to be. He’s operated as the Batman for 20 years and when we are introduced to him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice he has become so jaded that he has all but given up on his crusade on crime. This is mostly due to the powerless context Superman throws Bruce into. Up until Superman arrived, Batman was completely empowered and mostly in control. He had suffered losses, Jason Todd for example, but his dominance was largely unchallenged. Superman’s less than ceremonious arrival to Earth nearly breaks the last strand on Batman. However, when Batman’s conflict with Superman is ultimately thwarted by Superman’s deep humility and humanity, Batman realizes he has become exactly the sort of monster that killed his parents. The subsequent sacrifice of Superman inspires Batman to be a better man and not merely a great one. As such, Batman embarks on a quest to form a League of extraordinary individuals who can defend the Earth in Superman’s absence. This is where Batman is going into Justice League and we should all look forward to him ascending to the light and learning what a beautiful truth that is.
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