Opinion: Why Does Batman Keep Going?
I often think to myself, and I’m sure it goes across everyone’s mind at some point or another while reading a comic, ‘Why does he bother?’ The Joker always breaks out of Arkham, Lex Luthor always beats the system, and even death itself is not enough to keep evil at bay. With Forever Evil on it’s on way, I have to really reflect on the idea that Bruce Wayne’s war on crime might actually be a futile effort. I don’t mean that in the sense that if Bruce managed to succeed we’d have no conflict and therefore no story, but in the sense that can his goal ever be achieved ever in a logical sense. Batman is one of the smartest people on Earth, and with the events of Pandora’s box hinting at the fact that Evil has and will continue to exist because of Pandora’s box, among other supernatural entities, why does he continue to fight in face of that? Is it because he refuses to give up his goal? Does it matter if it can be achieved? When Batman’s Mother and Father died in that alleyway, he made an oath to himself, that he would eliminate crime, that he would make sure no punk with a gun ever shot down a 9 year old’s parents in front of him ever again. I think that’s in part the reason I think what drives him. Bruce Wayne isn’t taking his anger out on criminals so much as he is trying to make sure that no one else ever feels that way again. Bruce is angry at the unfairness of it all. He’s angry at the fact, that evil can triumph no matter how good you are. Batman is the great equalizer to that. Batman has no limits, and Batman is what makes evil fear what goes bump in the night. So to that I say, “Why continue in the face of unrelenting Evil?”
Batman keeps going not so much because of the anger he feels over his parents death. A lot of Batman media, the films, the cartoons, the comics, speculate or hint at that the anger from his parents death several years ago is not enough to drive his crusade for so long. The pain is definitely a key factor yes, but ultimately, I believe Bruce Wayne continues to be Batman because he can not stand the idea of a world where what happened to him, happens to someone else. It’s the anger at that hypothetical event that drives him to be the brooding crusader and what reminds him every day of his own parent’s death. That he lives in a world where you can lose your parents in the worst way possible, and it’s why he feels such empathy to those with similar origins. He knows the world is completely unfair, and that it can not be fixed by just locking away the Joker. Even if super villain’s die, more just pop up in their place. Ultimately, what Batman hopes to accomplish is that in the time he can do something, that he can give his all, that he can inspire people to go on to do great things. He can create a world, or at least his city, where the innocent don’t need to be afraid of the night. That they can all be Batman, in some way or some form. A hero. A hero that can literally stand toe to toe with the horrors and evils of the cities and say “No, I won’t let this happen.” In a lot of ways, Batman is like Superman. He inspires people to be better than who they are, but not exactly the same way Superman does. Superman inspires us with his benevolence and the humanity he has, that we can be as good as he is one day. Batman shows us that the human spirit is completely unbreakable, and that we have no limits beyond what we put on ourselves. That evil exists because we all individually choose to ignore it or not do anything. I think, the story of Batman is ultimately not the story of Bruce Wayne, but the story of the concept of Justice and Symbols.
Bruce Wayne isn’t going to stop crime, and he’s not going rid the world of all murderers and evil. He can’t, because he’s just one man. However, Batman is capable of doing that, maybe not today, or tomorrow, but some day. Even in the 853th century, Evil isn’t gone. It’s not even close to being gone. But Batman has endured as a figure, a symbol. That’s what’s more important then Bruce Wayne’s current fight on crime. It’s not about the “now”. It’s not about how many people he can lock away for now, it’s about how many criminals he can put the fear into to never work against him or the people he protects, it’s about the innocents that can be saved and who are inspired by his work to continue to make Gotham a better place, as well as the world. Batman’s mission is more than just actively saving people in trouble. That’s not fixing the problem if Batman just plays nanny to Gotham’s various crooks and themed super villains. He’s trying to get people to to not be afraid of what lurks in the heart of men, and that they can be more than what they are. Ultimately, Batman is just a man, a mortal man, and he can be killed like anyone else. Yet he is respected, feared, and essentially a boogie man to criminals so much more powerful and insanely dangerous then he is. The idea that a normal man can become that is inspiring enough for anyone to finally take a stand against evil. He is the ultimate counter point to Lex Luthor’s argument that Superman invalidates our existence and he makes us weak and unable to fend for ourselves because we will never reach his level as he continues to fix everything for us. Batman drives himself to be on the level of all the greatest Metahuman super heroes, to the point Superman and Batman consider themselves equals. All of us have that potential, and it’s perhaps why Batman and Superman do work so well as a team, and compliment the other.
The Joker always breaks out because of a story that has to be told to sell books, but I do think, in the grander schemes, that is kind of the point. You can’t lock up pure evil forever. It comes back. Good has to be vigilant and bale to fight it back, drive it away. That’s why Batman won’t quit, because he knows that he is the last bastion of Gotham’s humanity, and safety. That without him, it would be driven back into the darkest pits. In his time as Batman he’s inspired the whole Bat-Family and worked along other similarly minded heroes. Even if he falls now, he leaves Gotham behind in good hands, bu t the fact is, he can do more Good the longer he fights. Every person he saves, every Joker crime spree he stops, every Lex Luthor he matches wits against, is a win for good, and a point that Evil will not triumph so long as Men are willing to do good. Batman isn’t Bruce Wayne’s way of venting his own darkness out of his heart, it’s a role he gives himself and will eventually have to pass on to make sure no one ever endures his own pain and suffering.
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