It’s not exactly unpopular to state that Batman is motherfucking awesome in 2011, yet it can never be overstated: Batman is motherfucking awesome. To embrace Batman is to embrace a part of the American experience, in ways more complete and truthful than offered by the jingoistic do-gooder Superman or that ball-buster with the high gloss lips, Wonder Woman. For one thing, Batman is a man, an orphaned billionaire known as Bruce Wayne, who witnessed his parents’ murder during a botched robbery and then dedicated his life and vast fortune to vanquishing all violent crime. On this point many nerds are clear: we like Batman more because he’s simply a really smart, regular dude. No different than us, essentially, except he is tremendously athletic and we need to grease our thighs to extract ourselves from high-armed office chairs for an hourly bladder relief and beverage refill. That Batman is an actual human being with no super powers certainly helps the reader to identify with his exploits, though it is safe to say that few, if any, regular readers of Batman comics are orphaned billionaires. Here is where the disconnect begins.
I think it safe to assume that, there being relatively few billionaire orphans on our earth, virtually none of the people reading this essay are orphaned billionaires nor do any of you know any orphaned billionaires intimately. If I am wrong, please feel free to contact me directly. Regardless, any assumed behavior by an orphaned billionaire would be a complete presumption on our part; I can’t even think of any historical figures who were orphaned billionaires upon which to base a personality profile. I can try to imagine what I might do as an orphaned billionaire, and after purchasing the New York Mets, a fleet of completely restored 1978 El Camino cars, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with hollow plastic balls, I don’t think I would dress up as a bat and kick the snot out of criminals. Frankly, I don’t think I would dedicate very much of my vast fortune to the task. Maybe a substantial contribution to the Police Athletic League every year and a Christmas party for my security staff. Not the cleaning staff, though. Those scurrilous thieves are always pilfering copier paper.
My point is that dressing up like a bat in order to snuff stick-up artists and rapists is a long shot for anyone, billionaire orphan or otherwise, so whoever decides to do such a thing must be a little touched in the head. And here’s where I think our real connection is with Batman: we believe Batman is awesome not for who he is, but because he fulfills our most bizarre and convoluted revenge fantasies. Batman’s story is not one of redemption, or of justice, but of eternally unsatisfied and twisted vengeance, not just on the person who killed his parents but on all people who remotely remind Batman of the offending murderer. This kind of resolute, insane passion is something we’ve all wished to enact at one time or another, against a cruel boss, or a spurious lover, or even an annoying person on line at the supermarket. We don’t normally act on these fantasies because we’re part of polite society, and because we can get over brief inconveniences and hurt feelings since we know that around the corner we’ll have our personal time in which to read Batman comics and zone out to sitcom reruns. We don’t want to jeopardize that. Still, part of us envies the mass murderer, the spiteful bureaucrat, the crazy guy in tights because they go where we won’t. They assume positions of power and use them to inflict suffering on people they don’t like. That, my dear readers, is the American Dream.
Anyway, I’m really into Batman and I’ll probably write a lot about the subject. So if you don’t like Batman for some reason, get fucked.