ravings, rantings and ramblings
It was while watching the two iconic super-hero films in succession that triggered this thought triggered. On one end you have a human-looking alien who inhabited earth and brought to the table and the world, incredible superpowers. And on the other, you have normal person, in great financial health, who became a super-hero not by choice but by circumstances. Obviously, there is no scale of comparison here. But the normal human mind, does, end up comparing. More so, when the two concerned individuals are extremely popular, globally and have always captured the minds and fantasies across generations.
The comparisons would be unfair, at all levels. Imagine the immunity to death, for instance; and so on so forth. I guess, one would have to understand both characters, closely. One must delve deeper than the choice of tights they don, deeper than their alter-egos and deeper than what seems obvious, especially in comic books and numerous films.
I must outline, that I am not attempting to do what millions of fans have done on You Tube and that is compare the two or engage them in a fight to the death. This is just a conclusion, a derivative on the two, as individuals.
Superman first came into the scene in 1938 when he was created in blue and red tights. He was given incredible super-powers like super speed, super hearing, super heat vision, x-ray vision, super mental powers, super immunity and most of all, the power to fly. Of course, the powers and degree of strength depended on the time and era of writers and how well they could handle Kal-El. In totality, Superman was the super excuse of a man’s fantasy to be able to do all that man has always wanted to do. Fly, leap, crush, bend, save the world, smile at cameras and sport flashy blue and red with flair. Maybe creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel gave flight to what even DaVinci envisioned. And Superman, sure was very well lapped by all. Not just did he stand for justice and welfare, he also gave emotional succour to every man’s dream to fly free and be as strong as steel.
Batman entered the scene a year later in 1939, through the imagination of Bob Kane (and writer Bill Finger, who co created him). It is tragic that Batman made an entry as a Superman wannabe, if I dare say that. He had red tights, had black wings and swung from ropes. Eventually it all got smoothed to wearing black and dark grey to strike that ominous cord. He also had a mask or a cowl that hid his face. He, however had no reserve of super strengths, like Superman. He had to work out to get those muscles, trained hard to learn the art of combat. Thankfully the creators made him into a super sleuth, a knowledgeable detective, more like a Sherlock Holmes meets Samson, only with a Cape and Cowl.
And this is where, it makes you think.
Batman probably is more super than Superman. His limitations are human. His strengths are human. He has to work ten times as hard as Superman, for neither can he hear 10 miles away from him , nor can he get to the scene of crime at the speed of sound (or light, if you please). Neither can he catch flying airplanes and put them down like a toy, nor can he wallop a meteor in space. The Batman is a marriage of brain, brawn and technology.
The Batman is dark. He is gloomy. He doesn’t smile. Never felt the need to. The Batman is a beast. It is that inner beast that helps him overcome his fears and frailties. Batman isn’t the one who gets global citizenship, neither does he feel the need to wave to people. In one comic meeting, the Batman said (to Superman) that he hates wearing flashy colours as that would make him sitting target. The man’s got a point here. But, could he have said it out of jealousy? I don’t think so. Superman’s exploits are centred around the idea of American justice. Sure, he does save the world et al, but Supes often tore his Clark Kent shirt to save Lois (and Metropolis in the deal). The Batman has no such issues in his life. His life is run on vengeance (memories of his parents brutal murder) and hence the desire to rid the community of crime. There were some comics that tried to soften the Bat by adding a Catwoman and Vicky Vale. Fortunately, they couldn’t add much to him.
Bruce Wayne made Batman combat crime in his home-city of Gotham. But so powerful was the Batman, that Bruce actually gets mired in the personality trap! Is he the Batman or is he Bruce Wayne? The super-hero is supposed to be the alter-ego. But in Batman’s case, the alter-ego becomes him! In Superman’s case, it is the mathematical opposite. Superman needed a guise that came as Clark Kent. Kent was a cloak to Superman.
Bruce Wayne’s past and his inner fire constantly make him the Batman, sometimes without his suit on as well. What you see when you see Bruce is not the real self. He is always trying to hide the true Bruce. And he gets the best refuge when he dons his cape and cowl and becomes the Dark Knight.
This comparison and ‘fight’ of Superman vs Batman is not new. In fact, it is rumoured that Hollywood plans to make a movie on the two clashing. Comic books have already done that chapter. Honestly, I would see it for the visual effects, not for story plot. I feel that clash would be pretty pointless.
I dare say that Batman can take on Superman, without his super-powers in hand-to-hand combat and emerge victorious. The Batman is like a difficult person and hence needs more time to be understood. I totally adore the Batman. The anti-hero, vigilante pleases my sensibilities. But I also want you to know that I am a die-hard fan of Superman. When in a plane and going through an air-pocket or weather turbulences, I look out hoping to see the blur of red and blue. I believe in Superman. Probably because of the same pangs of imagination that my ancestors and their ancestors suffered from. After all, who doesn’t want to fly!