Jan 302012
Authors: Bayley Enright and Emily Kribs

Bayley Enright:

I have some earth-shattering, world-changing news. Are you ready? It’s about Batman.

You know, that guy with the nice car and a signature searchlight and serious issues. Yeah, him. Here’s your news: he’s not a superhero. Batman is not a superhero. Now please, before you confine yourself to your room with a tub of ice cream watching Batman movies whispering “I believe in you” between spoonfuls of Rocky Road, hear me out. What exactly makes a superhero?

Is it the costume? The alter ego? The secret hideout? Because if so, Batman’s got it covered. But so does Lady Gaga. And for that matter, so could I. I have a hideout. I have costumes. And I’m overwhelmed by all my identities. Those don’t make a superhero.

Moving on. Is it that they fight evil? I can see that argument. You never have a superhero who sits in their apartment playing Zelda for hours –– they’re usually out fighting crime and kicking butt. But really, anyone can do that. I know Fort Collins isn’t exactly the hub of supervillain-crime-life, but can you move to the big city, pull on a mask, do a bit of vigilante work and BAM! that makes you a superhero?

No, it doesn’t. So what does?

We’re all thinking it at this point, so I’m going to say it: superpowers. Superheroes are super because they possess some ability, some power, that the rest of us do not. Whether they come from being an alien from Krypton or from having been bitten by a radioactive bug, superpowers set superheroes apart from the general population.

And sorry guys, but Batman has no superpowers. He’s got gadgets, yes, but that’s money at work. And he’s got mad fighting skills, but if I were a bit more dedicated to my workout routine and less to my laptop, that could happen for me too.

But please! Don’t think that I’m a Batman hater just because I’ve made this stunningly effective argument against his superhero-status. I love Batman. I also love Han Solo. And Boadicea. And Shakespeare. And nobody fights for their right to be a superhero. Batman doesn’t need to be called a superhero to be awesome. But please, if you insist on referring to him as a superhero, I insist that you call me Fastastigirl. At least until I come up with a catchier name. Let me get my cape.

Emily Kribs:

bat-man: (noun) A guy who wears a bat outfit and fights crime with some sweet-ass equipment, including (but not limited to) a Batmobile and smoke pellets.

He does not, however, have superpowers.

Does this make him any less of a superhero? I know there are some (cough) who would say no. But I know for a fact that I don’t want his job, and I doubt Bayley does either. It’s high-risk for obvious reasons. It’s stressful in that everyone he has to deal with in the course of his work is either flipping out or insane. The benefits, to my knowledge, amount to “not being held accountable for property damage,” and he’s not even paid for it. (Okay, so he’s super-rich. Most people aren’t though, so money is a factor in terms of job desirability.)

So no one would challenge his hero status, except perhaps some of the taxpayers of Gotham City. But it’s the prefix “super” that’s being contested here.

I’d still let him have it. One could call a fireman a hero, or a dog that dialed 911, or even a roommate who woke you up when your alarm failed, if you’re feeling generous. Batman, however, goes above and beyond the nonexistent call of duty. No one told him he had to do this. Sure, his parents died, and some might say that’s a decent enough impetus for revenge. Which is why New York and Compton are swarming with vigilantes, right?

Let’s look at it this way: most superheroes have useful superpowers, even if those uses are weird (like Aquaman’s) and contrived (like Aquaman’s). But would you call someone a hero whose only power was X-ray vision? No, you’d call them a pervert.

And what about people like Iron Man, whose only super power is a surprisingly wield-y suit of armor? Maybe his power is the ability to defy physics, because by all rights that thing should weigh a ton. (Plus he’s pretty smart, but I think that’s within the realm of feasibility.)

Selfless motives are important in a superhero. He could give up whenever, and his public name would go untarnished for it. Very few people would know, and they sure couldn’t blame him. And he could use his awesome gadgets for selfish reasons like most people would. It’s not even wrong; it’s just human nature.

I, for one, have always wanted the ability to manipulate time. Would I do heroic things with that? Absolutely. I’d be heroically on time to everything. I’d heroically get 13 hours of sleep every day. I’d heroically graduate after one year. I’d also heroically manage to be 19 years old and look like I was 40.

I can’t imagine a nobler calling.

 Posted by at 3:21 pm

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