Comic Book Narrative on Batman – the Plutocrat

I’m a huge comic book nerd at heart. I fucking love X-Men. Period. Give me Batman, Superman, The Flash, Wonderwoman, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl and put them all together. BAM, Superfriends

Awesome shows aside, I’ve never really considered the implications of one of the integral players in the Superfriends – Batman. I read an article on Neatorama today that put the Batman saga in a new light. Check it:

By their nature as vigilantes, acting outside or above the law, most superheroes have a troubling undercurrent of aristocratic, undemocratic, authoritarian values. Only the hero, not the police, judges, lawmakers, and average citizen, can effectively protect and improve the city they patrol, and god help anyone who gets in their way.

No one exemplifies these tendencies more than Batman, the ultimate aristocratic hero.

Batman acts with an enormous sense of entitlement. Batman just assumes he’s right in every situation. It’s his city. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll make you leave. If Batman thinks you’re guilty of a crime, he’ll put on his pointed black mask and beat the crap out of you. Laws? Civil rights? Due process? Those are for other people. Yes, the people may have elected a mayor, and may pay taxes to employ the police. Batman could work with them, but they’re all corrupt, weak, and not as good as him. (Except Gordon. Batman has generously determined that Gordon is worthy to be contacted, though he always disappears before Gordon’s done talking, just to remind Gordon who’s the bitch in this relationship.)

Batman isn’t just “the man,” Bruce Wayne is also The Man. He’s a rich, white, handsome man who comes from an old money family and is the main employer in Gotham. He owns half the property in the city. In a very real sense, Gotham belongs to him, and he inherited all of it.

True, it’s a very American version of aristocracy, based on wealth rather than divine right, but in practice it’s basically the same. The myth of aristocracy is that class is genetic, that some people are just born good enough to rule, and that this inherent goodness can be passed down from generation to generation. It’s long been established, and Grant Morrison’s recent “Return of Bruce Wayne” miniseries reaffirmed, that there has always been a Wayne in Gotham City, and that the state of the city reflects the status of the Waynes at the time. The implied message of Batman: Year One, and Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight Returns, Batman Beyond, and so on is… if the Waynes are absent from Gotham, the entire city falls apart.

This gives Batman’s origin an Arthurian “king-in-exile” element. “Banished” from Gotham by the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne returns to reclaim his throne and redeem his land. But instead of reclaiming it from usurping uncle or foreign invader, Batman must take Gotham back from a rising underclass.

The article goes on and if you feel like reading through it click through here.

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About twogirlsonestone

I'm a graduate of Saint Lawrence University where I got my degree in Global Studies major with a focus on European and Islamic Studies. I'm particularly interested in Muslim immigration in Europe. I use this blog when I'm bored or if I find a lot something interesting. I spend an inordinate amount of time online and thought it's time to post a collection of my favorites for friends to view.
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One Response to Comic Book Narrative on Batman – the Plutocrat

  1. TheShah says:

    Huh, This actually was a very revealing analysis of the tone of the character of Batman. I agree with a lot said in that excerpt.

    However, The first paragraph about Batman seems a little misguided and almost coming from someone who knows little about him. Batman isn’t Judge Dredd, he rarely acts without suspicion against the criminal element, and even then only with hard facts and evidence does he ‘apprehend’ said criminals so that the legal system has enough to legitimately hold them accountable for their crimes.

    This is shown even in the Nolan film franchise where we see Batman co-ordinating with lawyers and the police to secure the convictions of criminals he runs down. That is what separates Batman from other Super Heroes, as he doesn’t use powers, brawn to single handedly stop ‘bad guys’, he uses his intellect and political resources to aid him in his fight, when needed.

    That first paragraph makes it seems like Batman is nothing more than a neighbourhood thug.

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