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Who is Batman?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Batman is a comic book superhero character created in 1939 by the writer/illustrator team of Bill Finger and Bob Kane. He is a DC Comics character, first appearing in the Detective Comics #27. He has many features that differ from other comic book superheroes, including an extremely dark personality that tends to show little remorse when he exacts vigilante justice on various villains. Also, so many people have “recreated” Batman over the years that there are significant inconsistencies in the way the character behaves, is perceived, and looks, and there are also many different takes on the degree or lack thereof of participation that Batman’s sometimes sidekick Robin is involved in his story.

There are a few aspects of Batman that remain consistent. He is the secret identity of the wealthy Bruce Wayne, (usually now called a billionaire because of inflation). He has a butler, Alfred, who knows his identity and who took part in raising Bruce after the murder of his father and mother. Batman has no superpowers, but he’s intellectually gifted and makes use of gadgets, science and well-honed fighting skills and physical strength to defeat his enemies.

All Batman origin stories tend to agree that the character was deeply wounded by witnessing the death of his parents at an early age. In many renditions the murderer was simply a mugger. Tim Burton’s film Batman differs in this respect to suggest it was the Joker who killed Batman’s parents. The loss of Bruce’s parents and the corrupt nature of Gotham City where Bruce lives, makes him seek a way of dispatching villains. Gotham City is often depicted as intensely corrupt in almost every aspect of its society. Not even the police force can be trusted, since many of them are on the take.

Batman’s origin story is the departure point for many different renditions of the character. In initial versions, he’s the inscrutable almost anti-hero, and in others, such as the 1960s television series, he’s a much more levelheaded guy living in a much less corrupt city. The 1960s series leaned heavily on camp, and prompted some to think of killing off the character forever. However, interest in this superhero revived in the 1980s, first with famous graphic novelist Frank Miller’s limited comic book series The Dark Knight Returns and then with the 1989 Tim Burton film. Both Miller and Burton were resolved on dispatching the image of the law-abiding television series superhero to return to his much darker beginnings, though Burton did so with considerable humor.

A series of films followed Burton’s first, most of them lessening in quality. Interest in the character revived and led to several television animated series too. Once again, though, interest in Batman appeared to die off, particularly with the lessening success of the films. However, interest again surged with the 2005 film, Batman Begins, an attempt to restart the series and cast it in possibly its darkest tone as of yet. It focuses much more on Bruce Wayne’s athletic training, search for redemption of his corrupt city, but also on a character that is more morally sound than the Burton films, in some ways echoing the television character of the 60s, minus the camp. For fans of the character, this recreation has been very satisfying, and fans eagerly awaited the sequel to Nolan’s first film, The Dark Knight which premiered in the summer of 2008.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Euroxati — On May 19, 2014

Batman is one of my favorite characters. While I did enjoy the 1989 movie, the quality certainly dropped after that, especially with the horrible Batman and Robin. However, I was very impressed with the Christopher Nolan reboots, especially Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger was fantastic as the Joker.

By Hazali — On May 18, 2014

@Krunchyman - You do have a very good point. Also, add on the fact that Batman lost both of his parents at a very young age, and it affected him greatly. Parent or not, I'm sure that there are a lot of people who have lost someone very close to them, and that makes them able to relate to Bruce Wayne's tragedy. Going off of what you said about Superman, has he ever lost someone that was close to him? No, I don't think so.

By Krunchyman — On May 18, 2014

In my opinion, one thing that makes Batman so easy to relate to is the fact that he's human, and he doesn't have any powers. He gains the victory over most his adversaries through tactics and smarts. On the other hand, compare this to Superman. While he does have flaws, he's a lot less easy to relate to because he's nearly invulnerable, and only has one true weakness.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor,...
Learn more
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