Confused by the title? That’s really just me using a bunch of words to say “Batman’s a badass.” More appropriately, he’s a dangerous badass. In recent years, especially due to his many cartoons and animated appearances, two things have become prevalent about Batman: he doesn’t use guns AND he doesn’t kill. That’s all well and good, but this had led somewhat to what you might call “the Pussification of the Bat.” People seem to forget that there are fates worse than death, and Batman has dealt out this kind of justice time and time again. After all, why else would criminals be afraid of him? Anyway, this is just my way of saying that Chris Sims isn’t the only one devoting more thought that necessary to the legacy of Batman.
One thing that leads folks to forget about Batman’s brutality is his public persona. I’ve said it time and time again, but Batman doesn’t really work as a public character. It’s not in his best interest to be in a group like the Justice League because it not only requires him to go out in daylight, but it also makes him look like a hero. Yes, Batman works alongside the GCPD, but he shouldn’t be seen as a “hero” — at least not the same way that Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman are seen. If your primary goal is to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, you’re not going to accomplish much when you’re publicly known as Superman’s friend. Sure, criminals might be afraid of his powerful friends in that case, but they wouldn’t necessarily be afraid of him. That’s why I feel Batman works better when he’s considered an urban legend.
The comics go back and forth on this, but his most effective “mode” is when the majority of Gotham see Batman as the boogeyman. He’s not necessarily “real,” and he’s seen more as a story told to frighten. He doesn’t operate in the daylight as his 60s predecessor did, and the only ones to actually see him are frightened victims and criminals caught in the act. Sure, he fights Arkham villains, but most of his time is spent dealing with street level thugs and henchmen. He never really inflicts much damage on a Penguin or Joker, but he does all sorts of terrible things to their henchmen. This is why “The Bat” is only discussed in frightened whispers amongst that set. He may not kill, but he leaves them with more than memories.
The cartoons depict a Batman who ends things with one punch, but that’s not true of the Urban Legend Defender of Gotham. The “real” Batman operates from the shadows.He tends to leave thugs unable to walk, in traction, or worse — usually dependent upon the severity of the crime. Just look at this example:
And that’s just Comic Batman. Don’t even get me started on the movies. Cinematic Batman hasn’t even clung to the “doesn’t use guns” thing, so surely some of those thugs died — if not, they wish they were dead! Let’s go back to the very first Tim Burton movie. When Batman is fighting his way up the belltower, thugs are being knocked off and thrown down the shaft. This isn’t Spider-Man, where he quickly webs up a safety net, so they’re stuck until the police arrive. The Joker Thug body count was at least at three by the end of that movie.
And before that, he blew up the whole chemical plant — you know, the one that surely had a night crew in it, even if they weren’t all thugs.
Speaking of the Batmobile, it had guns, and there’s no confirmation they were rubber bullets. Yes, Batman gets in his car and shoots the fuck out of people! NOW do you understand why criminals are scared of him?
In Batman Begins, he made no real attempt to save Ra’s Al Ghul, AT ALL.
Finally, if you doubt Batman’s brutality, play Arkham Asylum or Arkham City for just five minutes. I worked at TRU when the first Arkham demo came out, and I almost needed a towel while playing that thing! The bones crunching beneath your fists, the noises being made. Bottom line: Batman ain’t playing around!
So, what have we learned today? Well, first off, they say Batman won’t kill you, but that’s only true if no one’s filming it. Also, even if he lets you live, he will Fuck. Your. Shit. Up. And something tells me the DC Universe doesn’t have Obamacare yet…