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Old July 29 2012, 10:12 PM   #53
Lapis Exilis
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Re: Your favourite Batman...

Christopher wrote: View Post

Really, Batman is a liminal figure. By his very nature he exists on the border between categories. Between pulp vigilante and four-color superhero; between intellectual crimesolver and physical brawler; between defender of the law and extralegal vigilante; between privileged rich boy and deprived outsider; between orphaned loner and perennial team-builder; you name it. He's a figure of contradictions, straddling opposing possibilities, and that's why he can be -- and has been -- taken in so many different directions.
Excellent point - and probably the source of my affection for the character. Got a thing for those liminal characters...

If anything, I think this tends to be overdone in the comics these days.
Certainly the "send a chill up everyone's spine" bit is WAY overdone in the comics these days (I almost remarked on it in the original post, but it was lengthy as it was), but then superhero comics have long been going the way of supersteroidal - from the physical bodies depicted to the exaggeration of character traits. It's a lot of why I don't much care for them anymore. Drama exists in limitations.

And I'm not sure Nolan's Batman really measures up by this standard, since he was so willing to give up being Batman. He did show supreme willpower on a number of occasions, notably in escaping from Bane's prison, but it was intermittent.
I argued with someone else about how Nolan's Batman was always looking to retire, but then I rewatched Begins and TDK - and while he was saying he wanted to retire, the stories did seem to be pushing him toward not being able to realize that dream, which would have felt more like a Batman story to me, because, what Anders leaves out is that Batman's story is ultimately tragic (how strongly that is emphasized is up to a particular author), and I mean in a way more fundmental than the core tragedy that forms him. Superman comes from a tragic beginning as well - but his story isn't ultimately tragic. There's a futilty in Batman that is part of that liminality - he crosses the border between hope and despair as well. I was rather encouraged when that theme showed up in TDKR, and then disappointed that it went nowhere.

I think it's more about proving something to himself. He was helpless to save his parents from Joe Chill, so he resolved never to let himself be helpless to stop crime ever again.
I imagine that's how the character himself thinks about it, but I think Anders is on to something from a dramatic poitn of view. Lots of people are out to prove something to themselves - what makes a mythic hero is wanting to prove soemthing to the cosmos. It sets a somewhat higher bar, you know?

Nolan's Batman in TDK is impressive here because he has a bigger strategy for battling crime than just beating up muggers and flamboyant supercriminals. He's engaged in a larger project of social engineering to clean up Gotham, and recognizes that his own methods are limited and he needs to foster a successor who can pick up where his ability ends and help build a city that doesn't need him anymore.

Of course, that kind of falls apart in TDKR, and I have my problems with its ending, since in the wake of all that happened, all of Gotham's progress is pretty much gone and the city will need a Batman more than ever.
Tell me about it - that's a lot of why the ending, while superficially satisfying, ends up not making much sense in the scheme of the overall story.
Don't try to win over the haters; you're not the jackass whisperer. - Scott Straten
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