Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eternal Arguments: Batman Vs Superman

There are a couple of eternal arguments going on in my life. These arguments are everlasting battles of will against any who stand opposed to my beliefs in the particular subject matter. These get so involved that most people who get into these arguments with me get to the point where we just agree to disagree on the topic and leave it at that, with a possible re-visiting of the topic at some future point in time when either of us are bored.

One of these arguments is who is the better character: Batman or Superman? Before I get started let me be perfectly clear: I'm not going to be going over the history of these characters. They are both so ingrained in American mythology that practically everyone knows some version of their history. If you don't know, look it up. There's some good story lines there!

In DC comics, there are three flagship characters. These three are the core of the DC universe, both in the comics and in the company itself. They are, in order: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman. You might wonder why the Amazonian princess isn't in contention here. The simple answer is comic books were/are/will be created mostly for boys. Girls have much more important things to do than read comics and argue about the relative strengths of the lead characters in those comics. Since Wonder Woman was created to appeal to girls, she has the privilege of being an undeniably awesome character and enjoys the presence of no real rival, whereas the rivalry between Superman & Batman has existed since Batman first came on the scene.

Let's start with the Man of Steel. To be fair, my position isn't that Superman is a bad character. There are a great many compelling story lines in his saga. I've enjoyed reading his comics, watching SOME of his shows, and some of his movies. Not to mention that Superman represents the unconscious fantasies of most American males. I will give all that to Supes. But the man is still an idiot. Superman grew up in a world that could never touch him. Granted, it took time for most of his flashy powers(like heat vision or flight) to develop, but he was invulnerable & super strong pretty much from childhood. This colors his perceptions now as an adult super-hero. Since nothing can ever hurt him, he always favors frontal assault style tactics. Bullets start flying, he gets in front of them. Lasers start flying, there he goes jumping in front. A bad guy shows up, Supes flies in through a wall and just starts breaking stuff. For someone who is loaded with so much supposedly advanced knowledge (all his training and learning from Krypton), Superman's thinking is remarkably limited. He's like a sledgehammer. There is rarely a time where he actually stops to think about what would be the most effective use of his powers in a given situation.

His greatest villain, Lex Luthor, has survived against the most powerful man on Earth for years simply by outsmarting him at every level. For all his power and personal charisma, Superman's greatest vulnerability (aside from the skittles rainbow of Kryptonite available) is his mind. The worse part is, he does NOTHING to improve himself, or expand his mind. In his mind, his strength comes from his abilities and so his abilities are the answer to everything. Superman isn't a bad character, he's just an idiotic one.

Then there's the Dark Knight. In essence, my position is that Batman is just better than Superman. I've always found it amazing, funny and exceptionally cool that the hero ranked second in the DC pantheon and biggest rival to Superman is a man who is a "super hero" (I debate that classification, but I'll use the term for ease of reference.) with no super-human abilities of any kind. Where Superman represents the ultimate fantasy of American males (some would argue males in general), Batman represents the height of human capability. No one could ever BE Superman, but with proper training, and enough money, a person can actually BE Batman. And that's a major key to the character. He represents the current pinnacle of what humanity can ACTUALLY achieve, should we CHOOSE to do it. Batman is a super hero because he DECIDED to be one. When he made that decision, he knew he would do whatever it took, make every necessary sacrifice, all to reach his goal. That decision colors everything in Batman's world.

Batman looks at every situation from a cold, pragmatic standpoint, picking and choosing his options with precision and doing exactly what is necessary to get the job done. Even DURING encounters, he's evaluating, assessing, adapting. Where Superman is a sledgehammer, Batman is a sword. Focused, subtle, yet powerful. A lot of people ridicule Bats because of all the gadgets he uses. But, look at it this way, every encounter Batman has, he learns from and makes himself better for his next encounter. He gathers information, and whatever he couldn't accomplish on his own, he designs & builds a tool to HELP him get the job done. It is my belief that the best way to beat Batman is to kill him during the first encounter. After that, he'll adapt and be able to overcome in the next encounter. It's also telling, that with all the knowledge that Superman possesses, he still goes to Batman for advice (and assistance). Ironically, Batman's greatest weakness is the very thing that defines him: he is only human. Mind-to-mind, Batman is virtually unbeatable.

At the end of the day, that cold focused determination, the determination to face the darkness of the world with the darkness inside him, the willingness to conceive of things other people, even other HEROES, don't want to see... those things are what makes Batman so appealing to me. Superman will never compare to that in a million years. Even to step on that playing field, Supes would have to become darker than he would ever allow. At heart, Superman will always be the Big Blue Boyscout and Batman will always be The Dark Knight.


  1. I can't believe you're making me go against you in a public, allbeit private, forum. You know where I stand on this. I have absolutely nothing against Batman. Actually, too quote one of the best movies of all time, "Ah Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help me with my curveball." (Substitute Jesus for Batman, hehe) That's my point with Batman, he is only human. Batman is a lie. He isn't something we can aspire to be. No human, not even me, can go through what he went through and turn out like him. (Not in one lifetime anyway) That's what's impossible about him. I understand that you think we can, but you need to understand the dynamics behind it. Superman understands the dynamics behind it, but humans CAN'T! It's easy to say Bruce Wayne went through these things and this is how the Dark Knight came to be, but no, it isn't. They are putting Bruce Wayne together with a Robot that Bruce Wayne can turn off and on. Humans can't turn anything off and on inside them like that. Now, there is one guy that was Batman before Bruce Wayne, that was a more accurate depiction of what WE HUMANS can aspire to become. His name was Sherlock Holmes, the first Batman. He had vises and all. That's what being human is. Not someone that only has one dark thing happen to them and they have that to strengthen their existense to become this great super hero. You want to talk shit about superman, but you need to understand that Batman, the way they have him protrayed, isn't human. Not that he's something we can aspire to be, NO, he's not human. You can talk all you want about all his intelligence and the way he learned how to deal with bad guys and his ideas about the yellow batman symbol on his chest, but at the end of the day, he's supposed to be human... And since I've now gave my opinion on how Batman, the way he's portrayed, isn't human, and Superman isn't human, then Superman is clearly the best character because neither of them are human, yet Superman is, for lack of a better word, Super!!!! I didn't even give you any of my Superman is better because "with great power comes great responsibility and with great responsibility comes great comprehension" speech. That alone, in my opinion, is why Superman is better than Batman. Instead, I gave you a different, allbeit truer, view of a man that becomes a superhero because his parents were killed in a mugging when he was a kid. A spoiled kid nontheless. Yeah, Gimme a fucking break, I may have undeserved hope for humanity, but for a person who claims to be a cynic, you have unbelievable, God like hope, for humanity. I knew you cared!!

  2. ok, aside from the fact that i already knew you were ridiculously biased, you're also a broken record... but that isn't the problem i have with your writing this time...

    i actually wasn't going to read this at all, until i heard about your little "girls are too good for comics" comment... have you not sneaked enough looks at my boobs? or did you simply forget that i'm a girl??

    last i checked, i AM female, i have read and still read plenty of comics, i love a lot of characters and i've had more than my share of debates with both you and Rafael. (of course, more with him, cuz face it.... most of the characters you love just plain suck.)

    personally, though... Batsy and Lex's Bitch are pretty much the same. they're both spoiled little kids wanting to be big men. with loud costumes and OBVIOUSLY gay undertones...

    the only things interesting about their stories are the Joker and Harley (both comics and cartoons), and Lex, Mercy, Lois and Chloe (only Smallville was interesting enough for me). everything else? boring and unchanging.

    by the way..... NOT anonymous.

    - Ellie

  3. As I said, ETERNAL arguments, people. This particular argument is more telling of the people arguing than of the actual subject matter itself. Eat your hearts out, psychologists!

    Alan, I'm not making you do anything. You made the choice to respond on your own. That's your decision. The only thing separating Bats from a regular human (aside from the money) is that it's fairly clear Bruce Wayne is at the very least obsessive and at the most completely psychotic. If it weren't for his parent's death, I fully believe Bruce Wayne would have turned into a serial killer along the lines of Se7en's John Doe. I do agree, Sherlock Holmes was the first incarnation of Batman. Even there, Watson comments in one of the books how it's amazing that Holmes didn't know stuff that was common knowledge like the order of the planets in the solar system. Bruce is just MORE psychotic than Sherlock.

    You yourself have told me time & time again, that you are NOT like most other girls. While I would never forget you're female, I do not place you in the same gaggle of girls who spend their time accessorizing, reading poetry, or other such feminine pursuits. And in reading comics and arguing about it, you are proving your point. 95% of the women in this country regard reading comics as something relegated to the realm of geeks, MALE geeks to be exact. And you've had more debates with him, because apparently you like the white noise of hearing me speak and consequently rarely respond.

    You are right, Harley is an interesting character, especially considering the fact that she's the only character EVER adopted to Batman comics FROM the cartoon. I find that VERY awesome!

    And about the broken record thing: the point of this post was to populate my blog with more stuff. Four blog posts a month seems a little weak to me. So I decided to put up an old issue that's all. Read back to the Goal blog I wrote, and you'll understand.

    BTW, I never realized you were such a fan of Joshua Jackson. Cool!

    One last note: Thank you for reading!!