80 Years of Batman: The Legacy of the Dark Knight
Last year we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Man of Steel, and this year it’s time for the Dark Knight to get his celebration.
Batman has had a large impact in our media culture and lives. In some way or another, everyone has had contact with some form of the Dark Knight – whether through the animated show, in live-action, in video games, or even thanks to a reference a show has made in its run.
Due to Batman’s large influence in pop culture, there are some misconceptions about his character and in this piece celebrating his 80th birthday, I’d like to clear the air on some of them, hoping to bring you a richer character than some people have been lead to believe Batman is.
Having said that, let’s take a look:
- Batman is not a loner, he has one of the largest families and networks a superhero’s ever had.
Many people seem to have this idea that Batman works alone, even though Alfred is right there and without him, Bruce probably would’ve died on his first night out as Batman. But the truth is, Batman is part of numerous teams (not even taking into account the Justice League), and all the children he’s adopted over the years (and the ones he has sired as well), have grown up to become vigilantes on their own, constantly aiding him and going to him to seek help.
Heck, even his “villains” aid him from time to time, with the beautiful inclusion of Selina Kyle, whose spotlight as Bruce’s main love interest shall not be erased, no matter what’s currently going on in the comics.
Bruce is never alone, but he’s portrayed as so, which leads me to my next point:
- He’s more than the tragedy the writers have forced him to be.
Every single comic I read of Batman, every movie I see – starts with the tragic death of his parents at the tender age of eight. Tragedy plagues his story starting with that fateful night, passing through the murder of one of his sons at the hands of the Joker, and a change in the timeline that erased some important plot points in his family dynamic, just to name a few. However, Bruce is capable of so much more.
We’ve yet to see a live-action representation of Batman as his most beloved form of BatDad, training his Robins for them to be better than him, to not turn out like him. We see a glimpse of this in Young Justice; a Batman that nurtures and loves his sons, much like what has happened in the comics. You have no idea how it angers me that Jason Todd is treated as “the Robin who died”, when in reality he too is much more than that. As Bruce’s second son, his death is something that Bruce blames himself for, and sees as one of his greatest mistakes.
Perhaps this is something we could have had with the DCEU, but alas, it never came to fruition.
Bruce is a dad at heart – just see how many sons and daughters he’s adopted through his 80 years, which in turn leads me to my next entry:
- Without a Robin, there’s no Batman.
Back in 1940, a year after Batman appeared in Detective Comics, Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin was first introduced as Batman’s sidekick, renovating the character’s image and saving him from cancellation and oblivion.
It is because of Robin that the Dark Knight was saved in the first place all those years ago, but to some it is like he’s not even important to the character’s psyche and, like I said in my last entry, that is far from the truth.
Bruce is a dad at heart, adopting orphans at every chance he has to save them from the same fate of loneliness he suffered with, and it all started when a young boy lost his parents right in front of his eyes, much like what happened in his own childhood.
Robin then grew up to be more than his sidekick, he became a partner, an equal in Bruce’s eyes. The truth is that Bruce does sees Dick as his equal, and when he left, he still needed a partner to balance out the darkness inside of him. Without Robin, Bruce is just a sad and angry man with mommy and daddy issues, but with his proteges, he’s a character capable of nurture and love; a parent like the ones he lost so long ago.
But even in that quest, he’s not alone, which in turn leads me to my next point:
- He considers Clark Kent the best man he’s ever met and his best friend.
There’s no arguing that it’s interesting to see Superman and Batman fight, no point denying that. However, the relationship between these two characters is more deep and meaningful than just the two leaders of the JL fighting and butting heads.
As I wrote in an article many moons ago, Bruce and Clark’s friendship (dubbed as “The World’s Finest“), has influenced many lives in the DC Universe – mainly Batman’s many Robins. Bruce’s sons look up to Superman as a second father figure, Dick even taking the name “Nightwing” in honour of a story Clark told him after her and Bruce had a fight about Dick’s independence.
It is Clark who the former Robins rely on when Bruce isn’t there. But that’s not all Clark means to Bruce.
Many times throughout the years, Bruce has said that Clark is the man he respects the most, and being a guy who keeps his true feelings to himself, that’s truly high praise.
Bruce really values Clark’s friendship, even hurting when they’re both on opposing teams (a.k.a. Injustice), or when Clark is seemingly dead. As much as I disliked Justice League, the way that Bruce feels about Clark is the one thing they got right. Oh, and of course that final scene where Bruce buys the bank just because he can.
Of course, we cannot talk about Batman without speaking about the villains that make his life crazier:
- His main goal is to help the people in Gotham, even the villains, who (with the exception of the Joker), Batman doesn’t see as villains per se.
Bruce’s main goal is to help Gotham in every way he can, and he sees the villains of Gotham (like Harley, Ivy, Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow) not as factors to why the city is the way it is, but direct results of how Gotham’s corruption, crime, and violence.
In some ways, Bruce blames himself for the way the city is, and every time he can, he tries to help the city and the people within it. When Harley tries to be better, Bruce tried to help her in the process. By no means is Bruce perfect, but he tries and people should take notice of that, not his brooding and dark side. He empathizes with children and tries to comfort them when they’re scared, even if they’ve caused mayhem and chaos.
Sure, it’s alluring to see a broken and damaged character kept like that, but it’s so much more refreshing to see them thrive and be better; to grow despite their circumstances.
This is what what I see when I look at Batman and it also represents what he means to me.
What does Batman represent to you? Let us know in the comment section down below and be sure to celebrate Batman’s anniversary in the best way that you can!