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Counterpoint: Batman’s humanity is key

Jay Fitzpatrick | Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Batman is an everyman.

My esteemed colleague Marcela Berrios would have you believe that his immense wealth (estimated at $6.5 billion by Forbes magazine in 2005) would make him above the common man. But Batman uses this wealth only for good. His business, Wayne Enterprises, fights to improve the lives of even the lowliest Gothamites in conjunction with the charitable Wayne Foundation.

Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent takes on the role of journalist – a noble profession, to be sure, but one that does not come close to matching the level of humanity and decency that Batman shows both in and out of the mask.

Also, Batman should not be discounted for his use of gadgetry in fighting crime. Because Batman was born with the unfortunate circumstance of being human, Batman needs something to give him an edge against the forces of evil. With his wide array of Batarangs, Bat-Computers and, of course, the Batmobile, he is able to defeat all those who threaten the safety and sanctity of Gotham City.

Ms. Berrios also provides the argument that Batman’s relationship with Robin was something more than just a “Dynamic Duo.” I believe her statements – which I will not repeat because I feel they are offensive – propagate the false stereotypes she mentions. True fans of the Dark Knight understand that Dick Grayson, the original Boy Wonder, was Bruce Wayne’s ward. In effect, Grayson was his adopted son who Wayne took in after the boy was orphaned at eight years old when a gangster murdered his parents.

Batman’s humanity makes him great. He understands that he has a certain responsibility to his fellow man.

Batman is also forced to combat a much more difficult class of super-villain than the Man of Steel. The Dark Knight has brought to justice a plethora of maniacal fiends, including the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin. This trio, and all of Batman’s other villains, are clinically insane and willing to destroy anything in their way.

Who does Superman bring to justice in his career?

Lex Luthor. An old, bald mad-scientist-turned-businessman. This is the greatest challenge of Superman’s career? With the powers granted him by the Earth’s yellow sun, Superman should be able to solve the world’s energy crisis, find peace in the Middle East and cure cancer – all before dinner.

In another attempt to discredit the Caped Crusader, Berrios references the 1997 film “Batman and Robin.” Admittedly, this is not Batman’s best showcase, but Superman is not free from this fault either.

Berrios seems to forget that Superman has made his own forgettable flop: “Superman III.” Whereas Batman fights legitimate super-villains in every movie rendition, Superman’s nemeses fall short. In “Superman III,” the Man of Steel is confronted with a disgruntled computer programmer played by comedian Richard Pryor. Not the most formidable of foes by any standard.

Batman is flawed. He suffers from the same neuroses that make us all human. Well, all of us except Superman.

These human flaws are what make Batman so great. He fuses them with his ideals of justice to make his city a greater place to live.