Beginners Guide: Batman

Episode one of the superheroes for dummies podcast focused on Batman. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you can find it here. There was a lot to learn and we only really scratched the surface. Below is a quick Superhero Recap of just some of what we discussed.

Origin

Batman is Bruce Wayne, a wealthy businessman who suffered tragedy at an early age when he witnessed the murder of his parents at the hands of a mugger called Joe Chill. That very night Bruce vowed to fight crime so that others will not experience the same pain as him.

Initially, Bruce tried to follow the path of law and order, first training as a police officer and then a criminal psychologist with the goal of joining the FBI. This path became increasingly difficult for him for two reasons; Firstly, he refused to carry a gun. Secondly, he didn’t agree with the way the law worked, too quick to condemn young people to prison rather than giving them the chance of rehabilitation.

Eventually, he decided he would take matters into his own hands. Realising that the Gotham City police department is corrupt and incapable of controlling crime, he would have to take care of things himself. Not only fighting criminals but bringing corrupt officials to account, he became Batman, immersing himself in the character so much that Bruce became the alter ego. This led him on multiple occasions to consider making the ‘Bruce Wayne’ persona disappear forever. He, however, realised Bruce had his uses, particularly for his charity work in the public eye, meaning Batman could stay in the darkness. For years Batman remained mostly unseen, leaving criminals incapacitated for the police to find.
Jim Gordon would often play to this, denying that Batman existed, he would insist that the ‘bat signal’ was just a way to scare criminals. This ruse continued until a city-wide gang war broke out and Batman was seen by many fighting the criminals and supporting the police.

Multiple Personalities

Batman, of course, did not fight crime alone, his main partner has long been Robin, who, despite the singular name has so far been five different people, all young men in whom Batman sees great potential. However, the origin of one stands out against the others.
Bruce fell in love with Talia, daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul, leader of the league of assassins. During this time, Ra’s Al Ghul trained Batman with the intention he would take over the leadership role, but Batman was not interested as he didn’t want to deal in death. Ra’s Al Ghul then plotted for the birth of Damian, genetically created of Batman and Talia, so that he may be the heir to the throne. However Damian became unruly, so much so they decided to leave him with Batman to try and disrupt his work. This plan backfired when Damian became disciplined, joining his father as the fourth Robin.

Robin is not the only one to have been portrayed by multiple people. For an entire year, Bruce disappeared and was presumed dead. During this time Dick Grayson became Batman, being widely liked by law enforcement as he would joke and laugh with them. Conversely, in another incident when Bane broke Bruce’s back, Jean-Paul Valley became Batman. He acted as a Batman who did kill and was widely disliked, forcing Bruce to return and take over again.

Relationships

Batman, like most superheroes, is defined by his relationships with many people.
Catwoman has long been a love interest of his, at one point engaged to be married. This was called off at the very last minute when Catwoman did not show up, realising it may change who he is.

Of Course, his other long-standing relationship is with Jim Gordon. Jim first encountered Batman not long after arriving at Gotham. He suspected Bruce as being the face behind the mask but could not prove it. Jim was torn, batman was helping get rid of corrupt people in authority but doing it outside of the law, he was brought round however when his wife and baby were kidnapped. The baby fell from a bridge but was saved by Batman. This cemented their relationship and Jims willingness to keep Batman’s identity a secret. They work to help each other, whilst also protecting each other by not openly acknowledging the relationship.

There is so much more that could be covered, after all, Batman has a rich 80-year history. Much of this will be covered in future episodes as we talk about other characters and storylines, so be sure to keep listening.

We are always accepting nominations for who we should talk about so tweet or comment who you would like to hear about next.

Reading List

  • Batman Year One
  • The Long Halloween
  • Dark Victory
  • Robin Year One
  • Batgirl Year One

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