Saturday, April 24, 2010

Da Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na BATMAN

I know this will shock a lot of people, but I like Batman. A lot. Batman is my favorite superhero, and is pretty darn awesome.

But most people don't understand Batman. I'm not talking about in context of the comics/movies/whatever, I'm talking about real people don't understand what's so great about Batman. Most people see Batman and see a superhero in a bat suit beating guys faces in. But believe it or not, the character of Batman is rather deep, and some interesting parallels are raised by his enemies, Joker, Riddler, Bane, Scarecrow, even lesser known ones.

Of course everyone knows the story of Batman. There's quite a few different tellings of exactly what happened, but the basic story is always the same:

A young Bruce Wayne is at the theater with his parents. As they leave, a man mugs them, and his parents are killed. Sure, we can get caught up in semantics here, in some versions Bruce made them leave the theater early, Bruce was angry at his parents, the man who shot them turned out to be The Joker later on, but really, that's the basics of it.

After his parents are killed he is raised by his butler, Alfred (former spy). Eventually, when he was grown, he used his parents fortune to build gadgets and gizmos, and physically trained himself to become Batman. It's a simple enough story... Right?

Well, no. There's actually a lot more to it than that. You see, Batman isn't like a lot of superheros. Let's use Spider-Man as an example:

Peter Parker puts on his mask and is Spider-Man. Spider-Man is Peter Parker, and Peter Parker is Spider-Man. All Spider-Man is, is Peter Parker with a mask on. Same person, in disguise.

Batman and Bruce Wayne aren't the same person though. You see, Batman has multiple personalities disorder. In fact, like many of his villains, he's not exactly mentally stable. Bruce Wayne is a millionaire playboy. But when he puts on his mask he become someone else entirely, he becomes Batman. He's crazy, but his craziness saves lives, and protects Gotham. Which is why they put up with Batman.

And then you have The Joker. Now, The Joker is the polar opposite of this. The Joker is crazy, but also evil. The Joker's origins change around depending on the version, in some he fell into a vat of chemicals, in some he wears makeup. One thing is for sure: He finds murder really funny. He's a clown. A psychopathic clown. Now, I'm going to use Mark Hamil's interpretation of The Joker in B:AA and B:TAS more than Heath Ledgers in TDK for the purposes of comparisons here. In my opinion, Heath Ledgers and Mark Hamil's versions are equally awesome, just different.

Joker may be crazy, but he's not stupid. Let me use Batman: Arkham Asylum as an example here: In that game, The Joker has a plan, which, by enacting it, generates a backup plan, and he's also got a third, fake, cover up plan. I'm not going to spoil it, since that's really one of the best games of all time, and everyone should play it, but The Joker is not stupid. He's insane, but not stupid. There's a moment in Batman: Arkham Asylum where Batman has a clear shot at Joker, and could end things once and for all. Joker looks at him, and tells him to end it once and for all... But he knows Batman can't. Batman won't kill. That's all that separates him from his enemies.

And who can forget Joker's and Batman's exchange at the end of The Dark Knight?


"This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren't you? You won't kill me, out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness... And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever."
"You'll be in a padded cell forever."
"Maybe we can share one?"

The Joker and Batman are two sides of the same coin. They're both crazy, one is just crazy for justice, the other for chaos.

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