Batman, Beyond The Mask

Batman is perhaps one of the most complex superheroes that we can find. . It is true that if we think of other characters like Spiderman, we realize that they share more than just the status of heroes and that these often have a dark past. A past that will lead them to become the characters we all know and that will make them “choose the path of good.”

In addition to the characteristic bat costume, one of the hallmarks of the Batman universe is the darkness that surrounds both the character and the world itself. The city of Gotham, whose buildings are inspired by New York, is a dark, dark place where chaos reigns and crime. A clear opposition to Metropolis, the city of Superman, which we easily identify with light, color … Curiously, both cities are inspired by New York and it has been said that Metropolis would represent the day while Gotham would be the night. Following this simile, we can find that both Batman and Superman greatly resemble their respective cities.

Countless Batman stories have been told, movies have been made (the best known are those of Tim Burton and, recently, those of Christopher Nolan), animated series, etc. Batman is an easily recognizable character by the general public and so are the villains who star in his stories, especially the Joker.

The origin of Batman dates back to 1939, when Bob Kane and Bill Finger published under the Detective Comics  label what would be the beginning of an era. That first Batman is far from the present, evolutions, changes, new characters … Batman’s footprint is undoubtedly very extensive, but we are not going to address it in this article, but we will try to “unmask” this dark superhero.

Batman, the origin

All the heroes of the comic book world have a turning point, a tragic past that will make their lives change forever, that will mark them and lead them to choose the path of justice. In Batman’s case, it will be the death of his parents. Bruce Wayne is the true identity of Batman, in his childhood, he grew up in the city of Gotham with his parents, surrounded by luxury for belonging to a wealthy family.

However, as the saying goes “money is not everything” and young Wayne’s life was cut short when, after leaving the theater with his parents, an assailant murdered them before the eyes of little Wayne who was then 8 years old.. This fact caused Batman to inherit the entire fortune and to be in charge of the butler Alfred Pennyworth, who would become his father figure. Pennyworth is a man of British origin, with impeccable manners who, in addition to maintaining the refuge of Batman, will be a kind of spiritual advisor.

The death of his parents will be the trigger for Bruce to decide to end evil, to fight alone against injustice and evil so that nothing like it ever happens again. Perhaps, we should call Batman just a hero, because unlike traditional superheroes, he lacks supernatural or superhuman abilities. Bruce Wayne is an extremely intelligent man who, in order to carry out his purpose, decides to study at the best universities in the world in order to create strange weapons and gadgets that will help him in his fight; Furthermore, he trains hard in martial arts to achieve perfect physical condition.

Upon his return to Gotham, he builds what will be his character, his new identity: Batman. The most significant thing about this character is undoubtedly his characteristic bat outfit, but why a bat? The answer may seem obvious if we think about the darkness that surrounds Gotham City, bats come out at night, are associated with evil and are feared by much of the population. However, Batman did not choose this animal just because of the darkness it evokes, it is a way to become his own fear and face it.

Why be light to fight darkness? Batman fights against evil from the shadows, from his cave, remaining anonymous: Wayne feared bats, just as he feared criminals, but by becoming his own fear he achieved that “power” that he lacked. There is nothing to fear, there is nothing more to face, fear was the main barrier that could face and, by becoming the personification of it, it disappears. Thus, Batman not only fights against evil, but against his own fears.

One of the points most questioned by experts in psychology and by critics has been the duality of the personality of this superhero, showing that, perhaps, the fictional character is Bruce Wayne and Batman the true personality, then, to avoid suspicion, Bruce Wayne He is shown as a rich and carefree man, quite a womanizer, although he collaborates in charitable works; while Batman is the most serious, dark and lonely, this being the true character personality. In this way, it shows a new contrast to the classic Superman, where the hero is nothing more than a disguise of the true personality.

Batman as hero

The word hero comes from ancient Greek and is a concept that we currently know thanks to literature, mythology, cinema … The idea of ​​the hero raises the existence of a man with characteristics close to divinity, characteristics that will lead him to fight evil and that will help you obtain personal benefit and for others. According to some philosophers such as Plato, the hero would be a species that is straddling the gods and men.

The idea of ​​the hero has changed over time. In ancient times, mythology was the one that was drawing the characteristics of them and, thus, we have examples like Achilles. Immortality was sometimes linked to the hero and, therefore, was very close to divinity. In tragedies, his characteristics were superior to man, but not to nature; and in the Middle Ages, we talked about heroes of wars who starred in deed songs like El Cid and chivalric books like Amadís de Gaula .

In the world of comics, we associate it with superhuman characteristics similar to the most classic conception. One of the common points of heroes is the journey, in all universal literature, we observe journeys where the hero creates himself, wins battles, overcomes adversity and acquires honor.

In the case of Batman, we are witnessing an atypical hero for the world of comics due to his totally human characteristics, but we are witnessing that journey, that creation of the hero and the acquisition of honor and symbols that identify him.

Villains

Behind a superhero, there must be a villain, a character with similar characteristics who tries to disarm his plans. The construction of the villain is usually similar to that of the hero, but taking a new path. In the case of Batman, it should be noted that it is he who creates his villains, albeit indirectly.

In the same way that Bruce Wayne decides to fight evil, characters who are not satisfied with Batman’s fight emerge and will become enemies. Throughout the comics, we have met countless characters who decide to stand up to Batman, it should be noted that many are also women like Catwoman or Poison Ivy, although the most recognized is the Joker, whose relationship with Batman is deeper than what it seems and is questioned in The Killing Jokes , a highly complex work worth enjoying.

Batman is an easily recognizable, but complex character. A dark character, wrapped in a gloomy and hypnotic atmosphere that still fascinates us.

“Misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields that have their heroes.”

-Víctor Hugo-

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