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Old July 30 2012, 06:03 PM   #78
Lapis Exilis
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Re: Your favourite Batman...

stj wrote: View Post
....acknowledges the supreme force of will of the character....In contrast he notes that the Batman of today's comics can command the attention of superpowered beings and "send a chill down every spine there - despite having no powers of his own - by his mere presence and force of personality."

Anders is most definitely talking about charisma. And if "supreme force of will" was supposed to just means the will to continue, it is a remarkably misleading way of putting it. The sensible reading is that "force of will" means the ability of the will to actually change things. And "supreme" would mean supreme.
Ah, sorry - I see where you got the idea now. I was pulling quotes from several paragraphs under that main point. You are correct that in the quote I put up about Batman of the comics now, Anders is referencing a kind of charisma, which is way overplayed by a lot of writers these days, and comes off as pretty ridiculous. However, before he gets into that he speaks more of the kind of will I and Christopher described. Personally, I find that a more compelling part of a heroic character, because, as you say, the kind of charisma referenced doesn't actually exist and only serves to create a cartoon.

Part of the appeal of Batman is that a hero would take on thugs on their own turf and beat them and save those of us who couldn't. Street criminals stand for anyone who would use violence or threats of violence against us, something we all know of from the playground. I think nowadays some people have a resistance to admitting to feeling weak and powerless and daydreaming of being saved. Cosmic conquest is more rewarding I suppose.
The two are not mutually exclusive by any means. Batman, or most any superhero, works as a wish fulfillment fantasy of someone to save us and/ or of being the one who saves people - but, like Ahab, can also be read in a grand symbolical manner if the material is there. It may be why Batman has a flexibility and resonance lacking in some other superheroes. With a deeply personal, all-consuming mission at the core of the story, you can alter a lot of details and keep the essence of the character. In contrast, Superman works on the same wish fulfillment level, but he saves people because he can, not because he is driven to. He's not engaged in anything that could be read as trying to prove something to himself, anyone else, or the cosmos.

You may not care for the symbolic reading of Batman or Moby Dick - that's the nice thing about stories, you can pay attention to what resonates for you and ignore the rest.
Because I have found I can tolerate being judged far better than I can being of no consequence. - Spock, World Enough and Time, Star Trek: New Voyages
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