Batman and Superman; Symbols of Peace, Hope and Change

Despite my best intentions to not draw a dividing line between the so-called audience and myself, I feel that I cannot withhold my opinion on who the better superhero is between Batman and Superman. I can imagine that any reader right now is experiencing an almost unprecedented surge of emotion and an even greater urge to furiously type out a message defending their preference, and to those people I say: wait. Wait for me to finish and then write back in the comments section.

I joke, of course, because the Batman-Superman debate is not only DC’s longest standing argument, but also one of the most pointless. Though, it’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything truly pointless, and I feel that it’s about time.

Suffice it to say, my choice between the two is Batman, but not for the general reasons; the money, the gadgets, the butler, and the physical limitations he pushes as a human were not the decisive factors, but the fact that Batman is a symbol of hope and change, while Superman is a symbol of peace. I can understand the confusion because, for those who don’t keep up with the DC continuity (or those who simply don’t care), Batman and Superman are nothing more than comic book characters created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, respectively. More importantly, to anyone who doesn’t have an interest in the world of comic books, DC, or animation, they might not understand that Batman and Superman are no longer the mascots of DC but are, instead, symbols of two very opposite forces of good.

While Batman skulks and wanders the rooftops of Gotham City at night, Superman patrols the streets of Metropolis all day long. Superman is an allegory for Jesus, being sent from the heavens by a supernatural force to help mankind, while Batman is significantly less of an allegory for Christ and is more so an example of the power of a single individual. Suffice it to say, Batman and Superman represent two differing ideals within the minds of humanity and it’s due to this reason that Superman is not the better hero between the two of them. Notice, for a moment, that I used the term “better hero” and not “stronger hero.” Superman is the stronger hero and, given any battle, would emerge victorious from almost any fight with Batman within moments; disregarding Batman’s Kryptonite supply, of course; because in the hypothetical island where Batman and Superman are forced to fight without any help from gadgetry or sidekicks, Batman would nothing more than a scared child in a bat suit while Superman would still be Kal-El, son of Jor-El and Lara, and the Last Son of Krypton.

Therein lies my first point regarding Batman’s supremacy: while Superman is the all around Uber-Mench, capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound, outrunning speeding bullets, and overpowering steaming locomotives, Batman cannot. The character of Batman is nothing more than a tortured boy, merely trying his best to adapt to a harsh world that killed his parents and forced itself upon him at an early age. Superman, comparatively is not a devastated representation of our inner child; he is an alien who was sent to Earth with his powers fully developed and intact (barring retcons, of course) with the sole purpose of being Earth’s saviour. Superman is the representation of our desires to be the intelligent jock in a universe that treats as like the weak and defenseless nerd. Granted, his father’s expectations were a bit high, but compared to the more relatable background of Batman (a scared child trying to adapt), it is far more difficult to relate to Superman than it is Batman.

Interestingly enough, the ability to relate to the character of Batman is very important when analyzing his superiority over Superman. The desire to want to be like Batman (excluding the horrific childhood) is not just an out of continuity desire; it’s not just the comic book nerds who want to be like Batman, but also the people of Gotham. Batman is a symbol of hope; he is the one constant against crime that can make a difference; the caped crusaders is the one member of an otherwise powerless organism and he is the only one capable of doing absolutely anything about his surroundings. Simply put, when it comes to a choice between standing up and making a change, Batman is the character people look up to, for the sole reason that he is capable of living out the fantasy of every human being in existence; Batman can do something about the evil, scum, and injustice around him.

Superman, however, is also capable of making a difference and the truth is that, when compared to the fact that all of Batman’s enemies exist only because of the Dark Knight, Superman is better at solving the problems he sees. Though, therein lies the one fault of Superman; he doesn’t inspire hope, quite the contrary because he inspires helplessness in those around him. Whenever something bad happens in a Superman story, the people of Metropolis immediately rise up, take a stand, make their voices heard and scream for help from Superman. The people of Metropolis are incapable of doing anything without their beloved hero much the same way that a person making a peanut butter and jam sandwich is capable of completing the trifecta without a third topping; it’s good to get the first two steps right, but it’s the third option that makes the greatest difference.

I must make it abundantly clear that I’m not saying that the people of Metropolis do not want to be like Superman and I am also not condoning the people of Gotham for taking a form of vigilante justice (because the truth is that Batman is nothing more than a vigilante). What I am saying, however, is that Batman inspires people to stand up and do something about the evil and villainy, while Superman allows them to do nothing more than stand up and scream for help. Batman, even in the most basic of forms, inspires social change; even if the people of Gotham just write letters to the mayor, or rally for a less corrupt form of government, they are still ultimately more proactive than the people of Metropolis, who’s only rally cry begins with a “Help” and concludes with an “Us Superman.”

This is my ultimate, and most basic point, Batman is a symbol of hope and social change, while Superman is a symbol of peace. Peace is good, but it is a fleeting concept; hope and social change, however, are eternal symbols and while Batman might be the Dark Knight of Gotham, he is still ultimately a better hero than Superman. On a side note, that’s what Gordon meant in The Dark Knight when he said that “Batman is not the hero Gotham wants, but the one it needs right now.” Gotham needed (and will always need) a symbol of hope, something they can use as a rallying point to stand up and force social change. Interestingly enough, the people of Gotham are metaphors for every society, in that every society needs a symbol of hope and change to cling to because otherwise we look to our ineffectual heroes and cry every single time a school yard bully ruins our economy and spends our hard earned money trying to fight with another, equally cruel bully from another school district.

The world doesn’t need a man to dress up as a giant bat to fight mob bosses as a way to therapy his mother and father issues. What it needs is the symbol of that bat-costume-wearing-man trying to do something about the mob bosses. The world doesn’t need people like Superman, to lean on and cry for help to; the world needs people like Batman, to force social change and to provide hope, even when all seems lost. That is why Batman is the better hero, not because he’s stronger, or faster, or because he can fly, but because, when it comes down to it, Batman is the only hero that’s actually able to make other people do something. Batman, unlike other heroes, will only be Batman, until the people of Gotham don’t need him to be.

As always, this has been TheBytePost of your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

  1. RRS subscribed, was a pretty good read actually tho I, personally, have a different view on the matter (well, kind of).

    • Thanks for the subscription, though I would love to hear your thoughts and your opinions.

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  1. October 21st, 2011
    Trackback from : Celebrity Blog
  2. April 28th, 2013

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