Tuesday 22 November 2016

Batman is not a tormented loner

I have never understood this view of Batman. To me, Batman is a character who copes with the trauma of losing his family through building a new family. An enormous family, at that:

Alfred and Julia Pennyworth, Jim and Barbara Gordon, Dick, Jason, Tim, Damian, Kate, Steph and Cass and all the characters who orbit around each of those. He's created a family out of the lost and in turn those lost souls follow his example and create families of their own: Dick and the Titans, then the Outsiders; Jason and the Outlaws; Tim and Young Justice; Babs and the Birds of Prey; and now Damian's forming his own Titans.

And Batman isn't blind to it. Back when Geoff Johns was relaunching the Teen Titans and Tim resisted joining because them because he didn't need more training its Bruce who insists "No, but you do need to see your friends" as Tim has been beating himself up trying to process Omen's death on his own. During the Bruce Wayne: Murderer storyline what breaks Bruce is when Dick and the other kids doubt his innocence. These really are his kids for whom he has actual human emotions, albeit often poorly expressed ones.

But that wouldn't be as horrifically nihilistic and hopeless so that isn't the Batman that turns up when an audience of millions sees him on the big screen and that is genuinely sad. It genuinely seems that the larger the audience Batman has, the worse he is at dealing with his trauma. For years in the comics, basically since Damian was introduced, he's basically come to terms with his parents' murder: motivated by it but not constantly tormented. That's for an audience of hundreds of thousands.

For an audience of millions, his torment never ends or, if it does, its the last minute of the last movie in that particular continuity. Not that they haven't tried: Joel Schumacher tried to get Bruce to evolve as a character in his two movies but it didn't take and the DC-Warner rebooted the series under Christopher Nolan. There seems to be a feeling that Batman can't exist for a general audience without being constantly defined by his pain.

And, I won't lie, that makes me sad. 

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