One cinema writer I really enjoy is FilmCritHulk, who recently challenged readers evaluate and assess their personal reasons behind their devoted affinity for Bruce Wayne (who is in actuality also the wanted sci-tech vigilante known as (the) Batman).  Hulk further questions us about the fantasy of indulgence in BATMAN. Having thought about it a great …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - How Batman is morally worthy

How Batman is morally worthy

One cinema writer I really enjoy is FilmCritHulk, who recently challenged readers evaluate and assess their personal reasons behind their devoted affinity for Bruce Wayne (who is in actuality also the wanted sci-tech vigilante known as (the) Batman).  Hulk further questions us about the fantasy of indulgence in BATMAN.

Having thought about it a great deal in life, I already know my answer, and I think Batman is morally worthy as a character.

WHY I LOVE BATMAN, or, They Call Him Bruce

One day when I was a kid, I was at my grandma and grandpa’s when I found a couple of softcover books, the size of Harlequin Romance or Archie, containing black and white reprints of different old Batman comics.  These detailed the adventures of a criminal detective dressed as a bat who traveled between skyscrapers a la Tarzan and Jacques Villeneuve.  It’s actually probably an incredibly ‘stupid’ concept, but clearly one we ‘believe’.  (Is it being introduced as an inexperienced consciousness, when one’s thinking is less demanding, critically?)  It’s CRAZY to imagine that it’s remotely plausible, yet our consciousnesses today, for whatever reason, believe that Bruce Wayne is Batman — and will generally accept that he fights a spree-killer clown and just happens to have a batcave under his billionaire mansion and whatever the heck else (boy ward, hound dog, robot double) they want to throw in.

I once worked with the nicest guy in the world who claimed that his hometown of Charleston was the nicest place in the world and that everyone in Charleston was just exactly like him.  He loves Batman and this was before blogs existed, and he said very clearly to a midnite buffet of onlookers that Batman was the best character because, due to his focus, “Batman transcends humanity”.  Those were his exact, off-the-cuff words.  Batman made that Charlestonite think he could have more out of life through focus.  Bruce Wayne made a similar impression on me:  I read a scene in black and white, of Bruce weeping by his bed after the terrible tragedy, vowing (to god or the universe or destiny) to devote himself to something bigger to himself, and that moment, that panel, imprinted onto my memory an image and idea of a life of purpose.

He’s rich; different writers handle this differently.  (*My favorite Occupy Wall Street moment was someone’s re-doing of a comic panel of Batman writing a letter feverishly by candlelight which read, “Instead of supporting a corrupt system with taxes I choose to use my wealth on science and gadgets to fight crime.  I am Bruce Wayne and I am part of the 1%, Batman”.  I laughed and it made my day.)

I once had a week-long argument with my roommate after he returned from Batman 5 (Begins), outraged over its capitalist message to the sheeple masses that the wealthy rich people are here to help us and rescue us and do good things for us as a means of distracting people from the reality of the class-based global system of injustice and unequal distribution.  I’m skeptical that Kane made Bruce Wayne a millionaire for any sinister reason of propaganda.  I imagine he re-invented Sherlock Holmes, but one who can’t invoice or collect fees (er, an outlaw vigilante).  The easiest (laziest?) way is to make him rich (“I know how we’ll make it believable!”, one can hear Bob Kane crying aloud).  Sherlock Holmes himself leads a life of idle ease enough; I can easily think of him as an aloof, queer visitor whom young girls lose their heads over in a Jane Austen novel.  Bruce Wayne’s a millionaire so that he can dress up as a bat to entertain the living daylights out of you in monthly (even weekly!!) (even DAILY ON T.V.!!) out there on the dramatic streets of modern city living.

However, even without the money, Bruce Wayne is an interesting and inspirational character.

Batman would still be interesting if Bruce Wayne was left $250K and, as an adult, set up shop as a for-hire private detective with all his usual inventions and kung fu and chemistry and forensics and physics and karate.  Put him in Daniel Craig or Sean Connery’s suit, nicknamed The Batman a la The Saint: a world-class detective and inventor (with a trademark logo of a bat (because criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot)).  What makes this modern Renaissance man tick?  At a tender age he witnessed the most intimate and brutal of crimes and developed a Clarice Starling-like obsession with stopping trauma and suffering.  Yes, it’s a rather quixotic task, but he doesn’t know that, and he puts the 250 grand and the next 14 years into private tutors, the best education, studying science and criminal deduction and Olympic physical training and he now he averages a tidy 67K annually on detective fees from the city police department, invoicing Commissioner Gordon.

He’s still cool.

Even if he was poor, he’d still be Batman because Bruce Wayne is a boy who gets things done.  He’d be a different Batman*, and maybe less successful, possibly fighting against a lower scale of conflict, and maybe he’d even be dead… but luckily for his fans, his world is even more messed-up than ours, and this God and this Fate chose to make this child of determination a part of the 1%.  (“You’re welcome,” intoned God.  “We love you!,” the fans cheered loudly!!)

Remove the Batman fantasy, and Bruce Wayne is STILL cooler than Han Solo and Sam Spade.  He has focus and commitment, and THAT is Bruce Wayne.

The moment that 11 year old Bruce Wayne makes a resolve that he will use all that he has been given, including the agony and suffering which he accepts (without denial or anger or the other normal steps) to make a difference in the world and to commit to a life of purpose instead of escape through personal indulgence is the moment that makes Bruce Wayne one of the best characters.  He’s ELEVEN YEARS OLD!  Rich or poor, he has a VISION, the kind you get from a dream quest (and ultimately, a totem animal spirit, as well), and he commits to his decision like an adult.  Batman is the adult projection of a very unusual and special spirit, evident and incarnate even in childhood.  Bruce Wane has Pollyanna Whittier’s moral determination; Jean Valjean’s ability to scale any wall, any night; Clarice Starling’s deep psychological need to save and protect; Captain Nemo’s penchant for tinkering; Don Diego’s melodramatic flair, plus the commitment and will of Gandhi or Marie Curie or wealthy playboy and lifestyle eccentric Alexander the Great.  Bruce Wayne is a romantic hero in every sense that Robert Louis Stevenson or Ayn Rand or Jules Verne or Victor Hugo or Ian Fleming would all wish they had invented for an epic novel of adventure.

In THE REPUBLIC, Plato (Archimedes?  I get them all mixed up :S) suggests that all art for children should be of a morally worthy message, and inspiring, to make them into the best citizens and individuals.  In our more modern world, the Comics Code people seemed to have agreed with Archimedes (Zeus?).  Bruce Wayne was one of my influences to value knowledge and fitness; Scouts was invented to have the exact effect on children that Bruce Wayne had on me.  Bruce Wayne helped make me a reader who enjoys learning.  I generally overall feel that pop culture taught me good things about caring and sharing and doing and being, and Bruce Wayne was a positive, affirming, rosy hue in my dawning arrival.

It is an indulgent fantasy, FilmCritHulk is right, and people should be aware of that when they’re Bruce’s fans.

As well, Hulk is also right about the anger and animosity that fans can sometimes, occasionally bring to the table.

We all like the same thing.  I know we “worship” our favorite characters, but we ought not get all centuries-of-Jew-Christian-Muslim-rival-fandoms-of-the-exact-same-superhero here; even those guys have started to accept each other’s views as a kaleidoscopic reflection of their own.  So can we, gang.  😉

If we threaten or intimidate or bully or even hurt the feelings of another person who disagrees with us about our personal feelings about Batman, we are totally betraying every ideal that the 10-year old man named Bruce vows to devote his life to.  I have to accept that even those who loved the Schumacher-Jones-Batchler-Goldsman-Batman-Forever Harvey Dent like him for a zany outrageous reason, and that’s okay.  It’s not “me”, but that’s cool.

It’s fun to talk about Bruce Wayne!  He is AWESOME!  If we fight and bicker and shove each other around, we’re more like the Sons of Batman thugs that he has to eventually teach a lesson to and straighten the hell out.

Dude.  Do NOT mess with the bat!

I heard he got Johnny Gobbs last week (gulp!)!

(I’m a day late learning about the movie premiere shooting in Denver.  That murderer could have learned a prime lesson from Bruce Wayne: Don’t kill people.  It’s bad and hurts more people than you even realize.)