Feb 8 2011 9:40am

Superman is Good for America; Batman, Not So Much

On the heels of the recent Bat-week here at tor.com, I felt compelled to offer a dissenting opinion about Batman’s best friend/greatest enemy, Superman, the Man of Steel. Of course, the Superman v. Batman debate has been going on for centuries (or so) and there are many facets to this important social issue. I will present several of those facets, although not necessarily the most important or coherent.

First of all, I admit that I AM A SUPERMAN GUY. Leading scientists have long recognized that there are two fundamental species of humans: Superman people and Batman people. I don’t say they cannot coexist; they can. In fact, Susan, my wife and co-author, is a Batman person. That’s why she’s not co-authoring this blog, because this blog isn’t a debate. It’s here to lay out facts (as I see them) as to why Superman is super awesome, and Batman isn’t. If Susan wants to argue, she knows where to find me.

So, again, I am a Superman guy. That’s not to say I don’t like Batman; I do. I’ve read his comics. I’ve watched his movies and cartoons. They’re good. In fact, I’d go so far as to say there is more good Batman stuff out there than good Superman stuff. Much more. I don’t intend to make the argument that EVERY incarnation of Superman is better than EVERY incarnation of Batman. That’s ludicrous. And wrong. I’m not talking about comics or movies or television shows or pajamas or toys or anything like that.

What I’m saying is that at their core, at the heart of the character, at the center of their identity, at the point where they touch the zeitgeist, Superman is better. And, what’s more, Superman is better for you. I will now give you several examples where Superman is the superior role model and the better example of positive social interaction.

EXAMPLE 1: Well-adjusted orphan v. Self-destructive orphan. Supes and Bats are both orphans. Superman lost his birth parents at the tender age of baby, and then the lovely Kents raised him with homespun wisdom and warm-hearted nurturing. And then he lost the lovely Kents as a young man (at least that’s how it happened in the classic mythos; now the Kents are still hanging around so Superman can be an adult child, but that’s another story).

Batman lost his parents as a young boy and grew up in a cold, lonely mansion with nothing but his own thoughts and apparently books about bats for company (in the modern myth Alfred serves as a pseudo-father, but that’s not part of the core legend). There may also have been an Aunt Harriet around, but that’s neither here nor there. And don’t even talk about the little boy dressed as an acrobat he keeps in a cave under the mansion. That whole weird thing is really just distracting rather than illuminating to my point.

Orphan Superman became a well-adjusted, pleasant, industrious member of society, overcoming his inherent loneliness (he’s not even human, people!) to exhibit the positive character traits bestowed on him by his foster parents. Orphan Batman became a reclusive psychopath who, for pretty flimsy reasons, deals with the tragedy of his youth by dressing like a bat and pummeling criminals and freaks in a nightly orgy of maladjusted self-loathing. Superman pays tribute to his parents by living an upright life. Batman pays tribute to his by spending all their money to isolate himself in a brutal fantasy world.

EXAMPLE 2: Working Stiff v. Trust Fund Baby.Let’s face it, Superman doesn’t need to work for a living. He could take a few minutes out of his busy schedule every week to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond and – voila – rent money. But he doesn’t do that. He gets up every day, shaves his super whiskers, and puts on a laborious disguise (glasses and necktie, and hat when it was fashionable) and goes into his thankless job at a great metropolitan newspaper. He pulls a paycheck like the rest of us, even though he could easily get by on his ability to fly and shoot laser beams out of his eyes and throw asteroids into the sun (not to mention living rent free in the Fortress of Solitude rather than keeping an expensive midtown Metropolis apartment). But he enjoys it!

On the other hand, Batman gets by as a cowled parasite, living off his father’s hard-earned fortune. He stays in a mansion. He goes to society parties. He drives fast cars. He has never worked an honest day in his life. And he never will! Two words: elitist snob jerk. Well, three words.













EXAMPLE 3: Optimist v. Pessimist.Superman likes to smile. He’s always smiling. He stands around with his balled fists on his hips, smiling away. He believes in the inherent good nature of people, and he’s here to protect us.










Batman never smiles. He believes everyone is bad, but they don’t all have the guts to act badly. Therefore, he’s here to punish us.

EXAMPLE 4: Democrat v. Fascist.It has become fashionable in the last few decades to portray Superman as a big dumb tool of the military-industrial complex, while Batman is some kind of wild hippie rebel, sticking it to The Man. I blame Frank Miller for that. Miller structured The Dark Knight Returnsthat way because Batman was the star of the book. If the book at been called Kal-El Returns, Batman would’ve been the government enforcer and Supes would’ve been some Kryptonian freedom fighter. Therefore, on the issue of Superman as a fascist, I say That’s Crap!

If either of our World’s Finest duo is a fascist, I think we all know who it is. Batman is willing to do anything to stop a criminal. He is a true vigilante. Law is meaningless to him; it’s order that counts. To the contrary, Superman believes in both Law and Order (™ Dick Wolf ). Is there any doubt by any rational human that Superman could smash every criminal in Metropolis and beyond if he set his blue-haired head to it? Or that Big Blue could overthrow every dictator from every nation in an afternoon with a few puffs of his super breath? Or that the Man of Tomorrow could usher in the enlightened and peaceful Rule of the Superman on Earth if he wished it. So why doesn’t he do any of that stuff?















He’s not about telling you what to do. Laws, as flawed as they may be, are important because they are what separate us from chaos. Supes believes people have freewill to choose their own path. However that also means they must accept the consequences of their actions like sometimes getting socked in the face or having their machine gun barrels bent upward.

But, come on. You know that if Batman had the power to impose his will on the world, he would do it in a Gotham minute. And why? Because like all vigilantes, he hates messiness. He sees the world as good and bad, and he’s the one who knows the difference. Lucky for us, he isn’t powerful enough to do it, because Batman hates us. And that’s bad.

But Superman loves us.

And that’s good.


All images copyright DC Comics, used for illustrative purposes.


Clay and Susan Griffith are the authors ofThe Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1 (Pyr Books). The second book in the Vampire Empire trilogy will be published September 2011. They are a married couple who have written and published together for more than a decade. Their credits not only include several books, but also numerous short stories published in many anthologies, some featuring noted genre characters like Kolchak the Night Stalker and The Phantom. They've also written for television and published graphic novels featuring characters such as The Tick and Allan Quatermain.

1. dank3
Superman has always been lame in my eyes because he was better than the all the bad guys - any drama had to be so contrived.
2. rogerothornhill
I heartily concur and am glad someone else agrees. Absolute power with self-imposed restraint is a great, great myth. Lashing out in vengeance and solipsistic certainty has never really done it for me. In the first months of this site, somebody wrote a very good column on what various superheroes' politics are, and Batman more and more strikes me as a well-armed libertarian.
john mullen
3. johntheirishmongol
I admit I prefer Superman to Batman, and I think for some of the same reasons. It's pretty hard to argue against a guy who stands for Truth, Justice and The American Way.
4. illmunkeys
The truth is, Superman is a better role-model. But that's what makes him boring. A flawed man struggling to overcome super-humans is much more interesting than a perfect mega-super-space-being flicking bad guys left and right.

Batman however doesn't fall completely into facism. He does believe that people are inherently good and can be saved - otherwise, he would have killed every villian or, at the very least, lobotomized them. I don't think Batman sees people as good or evil, but as people who can do good or evil things.
Binyamin Weinreich
5. Imitorar
Amen. I like Batman a lot, but I love Superman. It always pains me that people write him off in favor of Batman without really understanding him. I blame Frank Miller and the fact that Superman is much harder to write well than Batman, which is why Batman gets written well so much more often.
6. drosdelnoch
Hmmm, Im in the Batcave to be honest. Supes spent too much time on selfish saves (Lois Lane). Plus Bat's has much more interesting villains.
7. RanchoUnicorno
@2 -

Saving folks the effort of searching, here is the link to the original blog post:


It was a bit of coverage of a Newsday post on superhero politics. Newsday had Batman pegged as a Democrat and Superman as a Reagan Repblican. The latter makes sense, the former seems to make a sweeping generalization on a couple of key platform points. The Tor author has Superman as too diverse throughout his history to nail down and Batman as a Bloombergian.
8. Vorkon
One problem with this article: Of COURSE Superman is the better role model. I think even the most ardent bat-fan and supes-hater would agree to that. The question isn't about whether or not Superman is a better role model, but about who is the more interesting character.

Now, I suppose it could be argued that being a better role model makes someone a better character, but that's not the focus of the article. The focus is in proving that Superman is, in fact, the better role model, and the only real response to that is, "well, duh."

That being said, I'd just like to point out that the difference between Batman People and Superman People seems to correlate rather strongly with the difference between Cat People and Dog People. Food for thought.
james loyd
9. gaijin
Let's not overlook that Superman has way more (and stronger) powers than any single character should ever have while Batman has money and self-discipline...period. The fact that Superman has ever been in any kind of danger at all is a testament to contrivance.

Also, while Supes is a boy scout even he knows that nobody is fully inherently good. That's why he keeps a stash of kryponite to guard against himself going rogue. And just WHO did he entrust with said failsafe? Who does he allow to judge his danger to humanity? Batman, that's who.
James Goetsch
10. Jedikalos
Superman is not a man (he is a god). I remember watching a Superman movie with one of my kiddos, and he said: I wish God were more like Superman, actually helping us out.
12. boquaz
Hmm, blind trust in populism? Granted, Batman is a terrible role model, but I wouldn't call Superman a good role model either. I really like the alternate histories where he grew up in pre-Nazi Germany. It is very believable that Supes would simply pick up the local "recieved" morality of whatever region he grew up in.
14. Thomas Vinson
Well, Superman is definitely my favorite, but I think I love the stories where they have to interact. Many stories potray Batman as a bit psychopathic, but others potray him as someone who is remarkably well adjusted, responding to a society that isn't. In this regards I see a great parellel to Elisabeth Salendar (The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo). It is not that Batman is crazy, it is that the entire city has fostered criminal behavior. And remember, if you think he is hateful, watch the recent Red Hood....he won't kill, and he even hopes (as in Moores story) that some day the Joker will be redeemed. I am really tired of the thought that there is something wrong with Wayne and Grayson's relationship. It is a kind of Leon, brotherhood they have, and Batman is a mentor and brother to all the Robins, and many other heroes.

As for incantations, campy Batman is MUCH funnier than campy Superman. Sorry Bizzaro, but you are no Adam West.

And Superman is not without his weaknesses. The recent movie Apolcolypse shows how his loyalty could lead to ruin for others around him. Miller pegged it when he showed how Superman could be manipulated by his feeling s of truth justice and the "AMERICAN" way.

I love the Superman Batman early issues where you can hear their thoughts, and they are just in awe of each other. They will come to each other in need without hesitation. They can call each other on their weaknesses in a way no other beings can. They are brothers.

So at the core, I love Superman, for all the reasons you say. In fact, I would go so far as to say (no matter waht David Carradine thinks) that he IS Clark more than Superman, and that is what makes him great!

But go easy on the Bat. If you don't, I hope your wife sends you to the couch until you reform you get a dose of Bat-Respect.
Mouldy Squid
15. Mouldy_Squid
Invincible, omnipotent heroes are boring.

Superman is a product of his times. With the United States in the throes of the Great Depression, the character of Superman was a huge hit because he was a symbol of American greatness, hope and prosperity. He was the hero that was needed in those dark times.

History has moved on. The character of Batman is inherently more flexible and so can adapt to the changes in society. Superman cannot. He remains nothing more than a juvenile wish-fulfillment fantasy, complete with magic powers, furthering an obsolete social narrative.
James Hogan
16. Sonofthunder
Superman is awesome.

He was always my favorite superhero growing up..but then, I had a lot more exposure to him than I did Batman. I don't think either of my parents were really a fan of Batman!! I appreciate Batman now...but Superman will always be my favorite. Also, I like Kent much more than Wayne. I would simply *love* to see a Superman movie on par with the past two Batman ones...*sigh* Maybe someday.
17. Dr. Thanatos
Here's my problem. Which is more disturbing:

Keeping a teenage boy dressed in spandex in a cave?


Preferring cross-species "romance" when there's a whole city full of kryptonian women in a glass jar in your den? After all, from an extra-terrestrial's standpoint there's little biological difference between Lois Lane and a goat...

Tough call...
18. Gladstanley
@illmunkeys & gaijin - both great statements that I concur with. Especially the second paragraph of gaijin's post,
19. Bluejay
@4: "The truth is, Superman is a better role-model. But that's what makes him boring."

Not necessarily. The story of how one struggles to become that role-model can be an interesting one to tell; in the hands of a good writer, Superman's story is no less compelling than Batman's. In my opinion, Tom DeHaven did a marvelous job of it in his novel "It's Superman!":

20. Bluejay
@4: "The truth is, Superman is a better role-model. But that's what makes him boring."

Not necessarily. The story of how one struggles to become that role-model can be an interesting one to tell; in the hands of a good writer, Superman's story is no less compelling than Batman's. In my opinion, Tom DeHaven did a marvelous job of it in his novel "It's Superman!":

Chuk Goodin
21. Chuk
@9 gaijin; I don't think Superman gave Batman the green K because he's letting Batman judge him. I think it's because he knows Batman would be one of the few people with both the balls and the competence necessary to actually use it to take him down.
Sean Vivier
22. SeanVivier
False dilemma. Give me Superman's attitude with Batman's human limitations.
Kent Aron Vabø
23. sotgnomen
Rule of thumb: The best heroes don't look good in front of a flag. (Now guess which side of the fence I'm on)
24. illmunkeys

But overall, Superman is too perfect and too perfectly boring.

My two favorite stories and the only two that come even close to Frank Miller's Batman is Red Son and Kingdom Come. And even in both these stories, Supes could have been victorious. In Kingdom Come, Superman could have won - he just allowed someone else to choose because he feared (rightly) godhood. Lex Luthor's final blow to Superman in Red Son was fantastic, and the story also showed that Supes wouldn't just fall in line to the morality of who he's raised by (ie: he wouldn't ever have become a Nazi as someone else tries to argue - Supes will always be a savior - in Red Son he just "helps" too much).
25. pWade
Superman is a dick.

26. Maac
I say this in a sincere and true spirit of fun:

I think there is some selective memory going on here.

Plus, everyone knows that Supes and Bats get along just fine, and we should support them in this.
27. Maac
Aw man, not only did I screw up the HTML, pWade beat me to the punch.


"Plus, everyone knows that Supes and Bats get along just fine, and we should support them in this."
Lee VanDyke
28. Cloric
Hmm... I think it becomes obvious that my favorite superhero isn't here when the first thing I decide to comment on is that last photo:

Superman - "Come to Fire Island for the 4th of July! SUPERfabulous!"

(no disrespect to the Man of Steel... wait...)
No really, as two of the core members of the JLA, I love them both equally.

This did make me wonder about Smallville's current VRA storyline... It does sound like they could take the opportunity to introduce Bruce Wayne as a financial backer for the program.

Those of you who kept up with the comics, did the DC Universe have something similar to Marvel's Mutant Registration Act and the conflict and fallout that followed? And would Batman be in the same position as Captain America? just curious.
29. Driceman
Superman, all the way. I think the main reason people make so many sweeping generalizations about him is that there's more Batman content around to learn from. Knowing that Superman is impossibly powerful and the best superhero role model there is doesn't mean you "get" Superman.

Acting perfect is a role he plays whenever he puts on the cape and tights. He has to deal with feelings of loneliness and loss all the time. I mean, it's hard not to as the last Kryptonian alive (well, almost the last). When you never knew your real parents and, in the original mythos (as mentioned above) also lost your foster parents, it's a tough life. But Superman puts on a smile anyway to inspire people to keep looking up, to keep hoping. There's the difference: he inspires me, he doesn't make me want to go brood.
rob mcCathy
30. roblewmac
I DO like Batman a litte better but think the whole snarling "I don't like you but I repect you, Kent" is WAY overplayed.
the post 1986 writers read Darkight minds were blown and steps were taken to make the Bat/supe relationship what it was in Darkkight.
Logic wise it does not work. Darkkight is years in the future they are not friends anymore. Very well. But if they NEVER liked each other how come Batman's not in prison picking his teeth out of his ear?
james loyd
31. gaijin
Chuk @ 21: "I think it's because he knows Batman would be one of the few people with both the balls and the competence necessary to actually use it to take him down."

Exactly. The one guy Superman thinks might be capable of taking him down is the guy with no powers.

Superman didn't have to work for his powers, so he overcompensates by thinking too highly of humanity while protecting us like sheep. Batman knows what humans are capable of becoming; he's living proof. Of course he's angry and disdainful of people who throw away that kind of potential on drugs, extortion, etc.
Matthew B
32. MatthewB
I don't really like either one of them, but despite the fact that one of the reasons i don't like Superman is that he's too powerful, i think Batman would clean his clock in a fight. Batman has abillion and one gadgets on his belt and also has an extensive intelligence-gathering operation.

I guarantee he knows about Superman's allergy to green kryptonite and his adverse reaction to red kryptonite. Put those two things together and you have Batman toting around a capsule full of green kryptonite at all times...just in case.

Hell, in some incarnations, i'd expect Batman to be proactive about the whole thing and just off Superman before the red kryptonite ticking time-bomb has a chance to go off.

But like i said, i'm not a follower of either one of them, so maybe all this has already been hashed out in the comics.
Matthew B
33. MatthewB
I guess i should have read all the comments before posting, but i'm glad to see i was right! ;)
Emmet O'Brien
34. EmmetAOBrien
illmunkeys@24: I read the end of Red Son pretty much diametrically the other way around. I don't believe that Lex Luthor's final question is a "blow" in the slightest, it's an excuse for Superman to do what he does next, and clearly something they cooked up between them ("Well played, old friend.") to each get the subsequent events they both wanted. (Hope that's sufficiently spoiler-free.) I think the take-home point of that story is that if you have your Eliot-S!- Maggin-type Superman with genuinely superhuman intelligence, integrity and compassion, brought up with a set of principles that permit it, he will genuinely fix the world in ways the regular version can't (both based on his philosophy and because Utopia is dull and does not make for ongoing thrilling adventures.)

I like both characters, but Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman portrayal noses Superman ahead for me. That said, I'm not up-to-date with Morrison's recent Batman work and my favourite take on Batman by far is in the 1990s Morrison JLA run, so I may change my mind on that with more exposure.

Also, where is that dancing Clark Kent panel from ?
zaphod beetlebrox
35. platypus rising
The better role-model ?
Obviously Wonder Woman. When written correctly, she has all the positive qualities of both and none of their most annoying traits.
36. Dr. Thanatos

I dunno. Does a disturbing tendency to always get tied up with your own lasso rate along with teen-in-cave and cross-species-dating?
zaphod beetlebrox
37. platypus rising
Unlike Superman and Batman, she has long got over her Silver Age embarassing moments.
38. Shadow's Son
Mark me down as a Superman fan. I respect Batman, but he can't hold a candle to the Man of Steel. Now, if Hollywood could just find a decent foe for Supes besides trotting out Lex Luthor every decade or so...
39. SuperSpecs
LOL I'm pretty sure you just explained why I like Batman more than Superman.

Oh well, I never claimed to be well-adjusted.
40. JustinS
That is why I like the new Superboy. He knows he has the potential to live up to the role model of superman, at the same time, is not finding it to be as easy as it looks.
Paul Andinach
41. anobium
I have no comment on the post, which is so gloriously and unashamedly biased that attempting to engage with its arguments would seem to be beside the point.

I just want to mention: That picture of Batman hitting Robin and shouting about how his parents are DEAD! ... in the story that picture comes from, that's not the real Batman. Just for the record.
42. TimeLord06
Hate to start controversy, but I think Batman is actually a better role model. Superman may be extremely moral (however, in real world, I think he'd be just a pushover) but keep in mind, he was born with his powers. Everyone on Krypton was. And, personally, I think that if Krypton wasn't destroyed, then Kal El wouldn't give a damn about Earth. It's sort of how we think of animals of lower intelligence, like fish-we just kind of pass over them, not really caring. That's the same way Kryptonians would be. Humans are a lesser life form then Kryptonians, so they would be ignored. It was only circumstance that Kal El came to Earth.
Let me say this-all superheroes and villians are victims of circumstance, for good or bad. Someone doesn't just one day decide to become a vigilante for no reason, something, however small the action, puts it into motion. For Batman, that action was the death of his parents. Let's go back to the "if Krypton didn't get destroyed" scenerio. If Bruce Wayne's parents hadn't been killed, he'd still be working to help Gotham, though being a doctor, giving away to charity, or simply making new things with Wayne Enterprises that would aid Gotham.
Also, Bruce Wayne had to work for his strengths. He had go all over the world, learning different things (ninjistu, steath, the art of escaping, etc.,) and forcing his body to become stronger. He also devoted himself to learning and becoming the "World's Greatest Detective." I think that this is a better thing to strive for then moral perfection and innate talents. I think that you're a better person if you work for what you have, and develop your own sense of what's right and what's wrong then just black-and-white ethics.
Last, the villians in the Batman universe are just better, and actually pose a threat to Batman, all while being realistic. Superman's villians are ridiculously over-powered (except for Lex Luthor, which I'll get to soon) and are evil just for the sake of being evil. With Batman's villans, you can figure out why they're evil. For the Joker, it was just one bad day involved toxic chemicals. For Mr. Freeze, it was his dying wife Nora. For the Riddler, it was his father calling him a cheater. I could go on, but there's one thing that all of Batman's villans share, and it's that they're freaking crazy. They just kill people, just like that. Whatever a villan is up to, you can be sure someone is hurt or dead. With Superman, even though an entire city block is destroyed (which the tax-payers of Metropolis are paying for...) you're sure everything's OK, because he's Superman. With Batman, you're actually afraid of what the villans will do.
I've heard people use the "Batman's arch-nemesis is powerless" argument, but let me remind you: so is Superman's. Lex Luthor is powerless, except for intelligence. The Joker is powerless too, except for pure insanity.
Which are you more afraid of? A bald guy in a suit or a crazy guy in a clown costume laughing while he floods the room with laughing gas that'll kill you?
I feel genuinely afraid for Batman, but never Superman. You want to know why? Because it takes guts to go and fight someone who could kill you easily, with one knife or a gun, or even some poison. Because you have to be a special kind of person to go out on the streets, in the dark, and fight people who are just as vulnerable as you. That's why I don't care about Superman; if he dies, he just comes back. But I don't know about Batman. He could die, and that will just be the end.
Batman's a role model. Superman's an idea.
43. JM26
Superman is a better hero say what you will "Batman trained for his

abilities" ... blah, blah, blah .... Now let's get to why you really perfer

Batman over Superman ..... how about the unfavorable treatmeant of

Superman by Batman crazed writers who's ability to understand any

charcter who is not a trobuled, my parent's died, etc .... story this

writers are cowards who perfer the easiest charcter to write on and the

on who will sell more comics so they degarade every other hero just to

make Batman suprior. This is wrong and disturbing, acknowldge

Superman, Wonder woman and Green Lanterns ..etc own abilities and

charcters . It is one of the reasons why I have found myself at a level of

anger towards Batman who is a terrific hero who if any one knew the

true "Batman" would know that he himself would denounce all this

non- sense ..... Batman and Superman are tha same version of hero just

a bit different .... if that makes any sense . By the way Lex Luthor is the

best Villian in my humble opinion .... (FYI: Frank Miller is a bit of a joke, he is one of the most notrious "Batman rules and everyone else sucks" writer.
44. GoneButNotForgotten
Though I am willing to admit that I am a Batman person I do agree that what Superman stands for is far better, he no longer represents "the American Way". Also Batman doesn't use any means to do his job. He has a code he follows much as Superman does. Superman is more likely to abide by the law, but he also has more of a reason to do so. If Superman waivered from his code for any reason he would probably kill someone. Batman does not have to be so strict. He can be killed by a cop, so he is less likely to be even scarier if he does something that requires the cops to come after him. You also have to look at the cities they come from. Metropolis resembles a more mordern New York with some poverty and influence from crime while Gotham is filled with corrupt officals, Mob bosses that buy police departments, and awful poverty. Gotham has been described as having the highest crime rate in the DC Universe. Perhaps the heros grew to suit their cities.
45. batmanforever69
I think Batman is better because he risks his life everytime and he doesnt have "powers" to protect himself. All he has is a plate of armor on his chest. He used the money to make the suits, batarangs, etc. He doesn't see Gotham as a bad city, only for the people who make it bad. Batman doesn't want to reveil his identity either and obviously the people in Supermans city are too stupid to realize that it is Superman. Would you seriously not recognize him if all he did was curl the hair up in the front? Batman actually tries to keep his identity a secret. That's why I think Batman is better.
46. Redbird
The fact you call Bruce a "Trust Fund Baby" is where I mostly disagree with you here. Yes, Bruce inherited his family's forturne. However, he used that money to turn Wayne Enterprises into one of the strongest tech companies in the world. He also used his family's money to create the Wayne Foundation, which allows him to help many more people than he does as Batman or Clark does as a reporter of Superman. He creates affordable housing, jobs, food, mental and medical help, work release programs for the very same criminals that he previously apprehended, and assorted other things. He plays the part of a "trust fund baby" to distance Bruce Wayne from Batman, but all the while he's orchastrating the workings of his companies.

Also to claim Batman would impose his will on the rest of the world if he could is a false. For example in the Justice League cartoon, Bruce is transported into a world where the Justice League became dictators. He is horrified by what he became in the world because it was against everything he stood for. He even says to his corrupt counter part in a sarcastic tone "Wouldn't Mom and Dad be so PROUD?" Bruce has a moral center. He doesn't believe in killing, he doesn't believe that he or the League have any right to try and "take over". In fact he states in the Justice League Doom cartoon that if he ever became the kind of person, he knew the League would stop him and that they are his contingency for ever becoming that sort of person. He doesn't impose his will the way you say he does.
47. Fuiko
This is the worst argument and post I've ever read. You clearly doesn't know anything fundemental about Batman LOL. Your argument is bad, so feel bad.
Andrew Timm
48. csurge
Uh... yeah. This is a flawed article to say the least. I'm not really in the mood to dissect it, so I'll trust in the common sense of readers to see that.

I will say that comparing Superman (and all his DC and Marvel derivatives) and Batman is like apples to oranges. They are fundamentally different characters, both in individual purpose and the in the way they were conceived by their respective creators. Superman and his ilk were 'heroes' from the start. Batman was conceived as an anti-hero and then toned down when parents discovered that he somehow manages to be popular than all the other superheroes! The anti-hero genes have never really gone away except during the camp years/silver age.

Batman is different from his fellow superheroes mostly because of the character archetype in which he has his roots. Anti-heroes and Heroes just don't get on with each other. That's the long and short of it. Batman is a more mature superhero in the sense that he was originally meant for a more adult audience capable of discerning the shades of grey in his fictional world. For kids he is not! The only reason he has been pushed that way is Warner/DC want to make money, but he is not meant to be a role model or a 'hero' of any sort.

I hope that much is clear to any sane adult...
49. BGPhilbin
Spot on! When it comes down to it, Batman (as currently portrayed) is an egomaniacal self-destructive (and ward/child destructive) vigilante, hell-bent on making everyone pay for his parents' death.

Superman is the original super-hero and everything else is just an imitation. Including - no, make that *especially* - Batman (DC asked Bob Kane to come up with another hit like the one they had over in Action Comics). While an interesting twist and entirely human, the science fiction origins of Superman are still what he's rooted in today.

As originally written, Superman was his own housing project, domestic violence eliminator, organized crime unit, etc.

Frank Miller ruined both characters, as far as I'm concerned. But as long as DC says "Batman is insane", then one has no choice but to choose the virtuous Superman over the insane Batman.

Pax, harmonia,

51. Chuck Gannon
First off, a really well-written piece and a very enjoyable read.
Secondly, I am going to take it way too seriously, because the tone of the article swerves (artfully) from self-deprecating playfulness to serious claims. But since it makes some serious claims, well, I'll let that shape my reaction to the think-piece.
Thirdly, I am not arguing canon. Frankly, I am in no way qualified to speak to what is au courant in the world of Batman, nor all the various spin-offs and alternate universes.

However, that said, and as much as I enjoyed reading the article and analysis I have to start with this:

The analysis isn't: it's teleology gussied up with cute rhetorical glosses. Superman is physically invulernable and can pass as human. He always has an exit strategy: go elsewhere. He works not because he HAS to, but because he chooses to. On the one hand, noble. On the other, nothing could place him further from the reality of any any ANY true human condition. Real people have vulnerabilities. And those that acquire power discover it to be a fickle acquisition, and its moral complexities grow in proportion to the wealth and power amassed. Superman is a role model in the way an angel is a role model--and Crane, in his famous poem, offers the decisive limiting perspective on the use of supernal beings as role models for humans. Which boils down to this: when I have your circumstances--all of Maslow's foundational hierarchy of needs neatly wrapped up and taken care of a priori--then maybe I'll have your virtue, too.

In contrast, many of Batman's problems are hypertrophied but still very human problems. He can and has been broken. He has power and has seen it abused--by himself, as well as others. And he must agonize over the decisions he makes since his power is limited and very often he gets just One Shot at making the right choice/move. And he is not always right. Not by a long shot. And his is a universe of no "do-overs." Just like ours.
54. zinder
Frank Miller sucks... he ruin the whole Superman Batman dynamics...

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