I have to be honest with you. I really do hate The Batman. Out of all of the superheroes out there, there is quite possibly only one that I think less of. . . the dreaded Spiderman. Sure, I watch the movies, own several of the comic books, play the video games, and, of course, I do even, from time to time, find myself wearing a Batman shirt. However, my interest in these two characters really stops at the villains. The Joker, The Green Goblin, Bane, Venom (well, truly, Carnage is better), and the whole lot of them, they’re much deeper, much more interesting characters than stinky old Batman and Spiderman.
A few months ago, whilst shopping for clothes for my children (with my children), I came across a rack of superhero shirts, complete with capes! I pulled the Superman shirt off the rack, showed it to my son, who immediately looked away in disinterest. A few seconds later, his eyes returned to the rack I had found great joy in observing and they lit up with joy. I eagerly pulled the Superman shirt off the rack and handed it to him, to which he simply responded with “NO!” and pointed repeatedly at the Batman shirt which sat next to my favorite red S.
I was heartbroken. However, in my attempt to be a good father, I held back from ripping my 1-year old son a new one in the middle of the children’s department of Target and decided that I would allow him to make his own choices for favorite superhero. . . for now.
Some of you may ask why I would dislike a character that many consider the best that DC comics has to offer. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that many of you would ask that question. I mean, hell, this guy is everywhere. He’s got 7 live action films to his name from within my lifetime alone, not to mention long-running cartoon series (also spawning their own feature length adaptations), an arsenal of action figures that would shame the Star Wars merchandising department, and, well, an increasingly rabid fan base.
And I’ll admit. . . it is rather difficult for me to publicly state my distaste for such a publicly revered character in comic-book-dom, considering how little my personal favorite seems to get real attention anymore.
And, honestly, if Tim Burton had never gotten his hands on the Bat, I’d probably still be pretty okay with him. But Batman has become this cranky old man who seems to hate just about everybody. I say seems, but he’s generally pretty darn open with his hatred of mankind. Sure, perhaps he’s had a difficult life (as a playboy millionaire who took most of his younger years off to train with the masters in every single field of combat) and some of that could be attributed to his completely anti-social behavior, but, we all know why he’s so cranky. He’s still pissed about his parents being killed off when he was a kid. Yes, I get it, it’s incredibly traumatizing to watch you parents be murdered in front of you, in fact, most children who have that occur would probably find themselves in a situation where they completely block the memory out. But that’s the problem I have with him. Batman has an almost complete lack of personality all based on the fact that he had a front row seat to his parent’s death.
Hell, Green Arrow has an almost exactly (although not really anywhere near exactly) similar background story and still manages to have some character there. Superman was ejected from his home planet as every single other Kryptonian died in a fiery planet death(well, you know, except for all the ones that weren’t). The Martian Manhunter’s entire race was destroyed in a Holocaust which included the death of his wife and daughter, and he still manages to show some interest in other people!
Batman wasn’t always this way though, and I think that’s where my true issue lies. No, Batman used to be much more of a person, having many more romantic interests than the pure lusty relationships that sometimes crop up between him and Catwoman. In fact, in the early stories, Bruce Wayne had a different woman on his arms almost every week. He was engaged on more than one occasion. He actually liked people, even before they brought in Robin to allow him to have some sort of weird father/son relationship going on (which did result in one of the Robins’ death, which I could see allowing for the depression of the Bat, as well as the seclusion).
Instead, Batman seems to loathe almost everyone he comes into contact with, mimicking characters like Spawn and The Punisher (both of which actually did have people they loved and fought for) that cropped up in the 90’s as the whole idea of the anti-hero began. Batman has become, these past few decades, something that he never would have been before. He’s on the verge of being a killing machine that he has always been against (most notably when DC broke Batman’s back and they brought in Azrael to be the new Batman, who immediately started killing folks, causing Batman to be miraculously healed so he could take the mantle back).
I dislike Batman because I see no real redeeming qualities in him. Heck, a few years back he built a machine called Brother Eye which was developed to keep track of the actions of every single person with superpowers as well as gathering every piece of data on them he could (quite importantly so they could be taken down if necessary). If you remember. . . this is what the bad guys did in X-men, in case you’re not realizing how crazed The Bat really is.
Overall, he’s just a jerk, and not even a likeable jerk, just one of those “I hate everyone” jerks. . . you know, like me. And I don’t want to read about someone like me dressing up like a bat in order to avenge the deaths of my parents (which was done years ago. . . a few times).
That being said. . . The Joker is quite simply the best villain in comic book history, if not all fictional history. And that’s why I will continue to read/watch/play Batman, unfortunately.