Tag Archives: Batman

Political Superheroes

I saw this on a forum, someone was trying to argue that the difference between Superman and Batman was the same as the difference between conservatism and liberalism, with Superman being conservative and Batman being liberal.  Now while I can kind of see what he’s trying to get at, I really don’t think you can make those distinctions, especially since I disagree with a lot of what he’s said so I’m going to go through his list and see what makes sense and what doesn’t.

We’ll do this one at a time and by all means, if you have other opinions, let me know below in the comments.


Was orphaned as a child but rich
Believes in helping the poor and underprivileged of Gotham
Is unlike many of the rich people in the city not a snob
Will not kill people sometimes since its against his ethics(Against death penalty)
Sends all criminals to the insane Asylum instead of jail
(Even though its been proven some of them are not criminally insane)
Is a bit of a player

Okay, being orphaned has nothing to do with your political ideology, it isn’t exactly something that you have any control over and there are plenty of people on both the left and the right who have been orphaned.  Likewise, while being rich is more often thought of as a conservative trait, it’s important to realize that Bruce Wayne is not a self-made millionaire, he was left Wayne Enterprises and all of his millions. so I can see that as a possible liberal trait.  However, where he says that Batman believes in helping the poor and underprivileged, that depends on the writer.  It certainly hasn’t been true in all cases, in fact, I’d argue that most of the time, catering to the poor is just part of his business strategy, he never loses money on any of these ventures and he’s shown living a life of excess pretty consistently.  Big cars, huge mansions, flashy suits, Bruce Wayne is the Tony Stark of the DC universe.  That doesn’t strike me as someone really giving his money to the poor.  He’s also a snob plenty of times, the Nolan Batman movies portray him as a reclusive rich guy that doesn’t want to bother with the little people (or any people).  And being a “player” doesn’t make him liberal, he’s only done those things when he’s been single, when Bruce Wayne has been in a relationship, he’s been very monogamous.  Not seeing the case to be made here, sorry.

Further, his code against killing comes from the death of his parents, but it really makes no sense whatsoever. See, there is a fundamental difference between Batman and Superman that I want to explore here. Superman is essentially indestructible and so are his family.  Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog and all the rest of the menagerie, they are impervious to harm. None of his human friends, Lois, Lana, Jimmy Olson, Perry White, they have been kidnapped plenty of times, but they have never been seriously injured by villains.  Superman’s parents, again depending on what writer you’re reading, are still alive.  So Superman really has no reason whatsoever to kill anyone, yet he has killed.   Batman on the other hand, his parents were killed by a criminal. Batgirl was shot and crippled by the Joker, who also murdered one version of Robin.  Yet Batman continues to fight and arrest the same group of villains, put them in Arkham Asylum, where he knows they will repeatedly escape and murder members of the public as well as going after his own family and friends, yet he still never kills.  He has a reason.  He just refuses.  That makes Batman crazy, which I guess is the same as liberal in a lot of situations.


Country boy born in Kansas
Very reserved and actually kind of shy
Has very traditional upbringing
Believes in sometimes killing people who are a danger to the world(Believes in the death penalty)
Gets a job in an office and probably doesn’t make very great pay
Is this very wholesome image
Trys to be the good guy, and not confident enough to ask out a girl without his superman persona(Similar to Peter Parker in that)

On the other side, there’s Superman.  While he was raised in Kansas, he certainly wasn’t born there, I can’t really take anyone who doesn’t know that seriously.  He is reserved and shy, at least in his Clark Kent persona, but not so much as Superman because he really doesn’t have to be.  His upbringing certainly was traditional, but so to are most people’s, so that really doesn’t say anything about his political ideology.  He has killed to protect others, although let’s be honest, this is a comic book and nobody ever stays dead so I’m not sure how much that means.  He is wholesome and does work for a living, as opposed to Batman, who just lives off his inheritance.  The one thing I disagree with is that he’s not confident enough to ask out a girl, I’m assuming he means Lois Lane here.  The problem is, Lois only had eyes for Superman, but couldn’t see Clark if he was standing right in front of her.  The real point wasn’t that he couldn’t ask her out, it was how to separate the two halves of himself, one of which she loved and the other that she didn’t.  What is important to remember here is that when Lois and Clark eventually did get married, she knew both sides of him and loved both sides of him, unlike with Batman, where he keeps the bat-side of himself a completely separate entity, rarely coming clean with whoever he is with and being honest about who he really is.  The same is really true of Peter Parker, when he and Mary Jane got married, it wasn’t Spider-Man she was interested in, it was Peter, although she knew about both and accepted both.  So if the point is that Superman is more honest than Batman, I’ll agree with that.  Is dishonesty something that marks liberals?  You tell me.

What any of this means, I don’t know.  You can make a case for things like personal responsibility for both characters, both of them give up their own comfort and happiness because they are convinced the world needs them.  They are both selfless individuals.  They are both hard-working.  Neither of them are on the public dole.  All of those seem to be conservative characteristics to me.  Take it as you will, I guess, but let me know what you think below.  Can you make a case that these, or any other comic book superheroes, display the conservative or liberal political ideology?  I’d like to know.

Considering DC Superheroes

BatmanComic5I was talking today with a friend who went to see the midnight showing of Man of Steel.  Now I am not a Superman fan, in fact, I’m not a big fan of any of the major DC superheroes, I have a fundamental problem with the way that DC handles their characters.  DC, at least traditionally, is more concerned with having costumes than characters.  They always want a Superman.  They always want a Batman.  They always want a Wonder Woman.  If anything happens to their characters, say… Doomsday comes along and “kills” Superman (we know nobody ever dies in a comic book), they find someone else to get into the costume, or at the very least, someone with very similar powers to put on a very similar costume so that the fung shui of the DC universe is not damaged.

Now it’s been decades since I first made that observation and I will admit that Marvel has tended to do the same thing for it’s big properties, although at the time they didn’t.  There is only one Wolverine.  If Logan goes down, they don’t find someone else to don his duds.  I can only think of a handful of times where someone jumped into another man’s outfit in the Marvel Universe, Captain America and Winter Soldier comes to mind, it’s just not the way they do business.

Anyhow, this isn’t about costumes and it isn’t about Superman.  I told him I’m not a big DC guy and he asked if there were any recent DC superhero movies that I liked and… nope, not really.  Didn’t care for the previous Superman outing, Superman Returns.    Didn’t like Green Lantern.  Didn’t care for Watchmen, which isn’t really a DC universe movie, but still.  In fact, to get back to some DC movies I liked, you’d have to go back to the Burton Batman in 1989 or the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies.  But what about the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy?  Nope, not my thing, and in fact, my least favorite of them was The Dark Knight.  I hated Heath Ledger’s version of Joker, but then again, I hate Joker.  Worse than Joker, I hate the whole Batman menagerie of villains and how they are handled in the DC universe.

Now I understand that everything I’m about to talk about is a marketing and merchandising decision, but I don’t buy into the idea that marketing and merchandising ought to fundamentally affect the way you tell stories, even if, in the real world, they often do.  See, I think Batman should have killed Joker a long time ago.  Yes, I understand Batman’s “code against killing”, but the fact is that Batman doesn’t kill Joker because Joker is a valued licensed character (see the aforementioned marketing and merchandising).  However, in the context of the Batman storyline, it makes no sense that he, or someone else, shouldn’t have offed the majority of the Batman rogues gallery long ago.  Now depending on what version of Joker you’re going with, he may have been the guy who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents.  He’s certainly the madman who has killed thousands of innocent civilians, who crippled Batgirl (in the pre-New 52 continuity), who killed (with the help of fans) Jason Todd, and of course the whole “Death of the Family” thing, when does there come a point in time where enough is enough?  It’s not just Batman’s family that has suffered greatly from this madman, but all of Gotham (and the entire universe if you read the Emperor Joker stuff).  When does it end?

And even if it isn’t Batman that takes him out, I have a hard time believing nobody else would.  Why, in all this time, hasn’t a guard at Arkham Asylum pulled his sidearm (or any weapon for the matter), stuck it in Joker’s mouth and pulled the trigger?  But let’s talk about Arkham for a moment, it’s just a  giant revolving door for psychos.  Why is it still open with as many escapes as crazies have made from there over the years?  Batman drops someone off at the front door and it’s about 30 seconds later that they’re running out the back door.  What gives?  The whole criminal justice system of the DC universe is absurdly flawed.  It’s not just Joker that should have been offed years ago, it’s the majority of Batman baddies.  Penguin?  >BLAM!<  Clayface (any version)?  >SQUISH!<  Killer Croc?  Poison Ivy?  Mr. Freeze?  >KA-BOOM!<  Give me one rational, legitimate, comic-world reason any of them should be kept around.  It’s clear that none of them can ever be rehabilitated, it’s clear they’re going to escape from Arkham over and over again.  Why hasn’t there been a public uprising demanding the heads of these villains?  Makes no sense to me.

comic_06Now outside of the mainline DC universe, people like Frank Miller have turned Batman into the semi-badass that he should be, in fact it was Frank Miller who came up with the Dark Knight concept, but he’s still not open to really protecting society and getting things done regardless of the circumstances.  I always thought that Batman should be DC’s version of Punisher, without the insanity and without the utter bloodlust, someone who was willing to do the job that needed doing.  If Batman was introduced today, without the 70 years of history and backstory, maybe that would be possible.  Now, though, rebranding Batman as anything other than a non-killing hero is virtually impossible.

Now I know I’m railing against the Warner Brothers marketing department, nothing really bad will ever happen to any of these villains, or to any of these heroes.  As I said before, nobody ever dies in comics because they’re too busy milking their properties for money, both in comics, and now in the movies.  That’s why the Arrow TV series is such an anomaly, it doesn’t follow the “code against killing” schtick from the comics, the Hood kills a dozen bad guys an episode.  Yes, they are faceless minions, by and large, but big-name baddies always get away, but it’s a show where people die and I suspect, nobody besides Oliver Queen is really truly safe from the writer’s hatchet.  That’s the way I’d like to feel about comics and about comic movies.  The story is the thing and anyone who gets in the way of the story is expendable.

I know that’s too much to ask from Hollywood, or from the comic producers.  I guess that’s why I pay so little attention to what they produce these days.  Oh sure, I’ll buy Man of Steel when it comes out in DVD, just like I did with the Batman trilogy and Green Lantern, but I suspect it’ll get the same kind of negative reviews from me that the others did.  I don’t expect absolute realism from a comic book movie, after all, we’re talking about people flying around in spandex fighting crime, but I do expect some human reactions and some human behavior, something that we largely don’t get from these movies.  That’s why so many of them are so utterly forgettable and that’s a shame.