Why we want Batman to beat Superman

Superman: The Movie was released nearly 37 years ago with the tagline “You will believe a man can fly”. Oft repeated, this phrase has since become more than a simple marketing gimmick. It now verbalizes everything Superman represents: Hope, belief in the impossible, and the potential greatness of humankind.

37 years later, we no longer believe a man can fly.

Warner Bros. has just released the first trailer for their upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And if you’ve been following my articles at all, you know I’ve been dreading this movie, mostly due to my displeasure with Man of Steel and DC Comics’ projects in general lately. This new trailer has done nothing to make me more optimistic. In fact, I’m more convinced than ever that Batman v. Superman is going to be the culmination of everything I dislike about superhero movies.

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Batman v. Superman, whatever else it ends up being, is the end result of decades of heated fan debate: Who Would Win in a Fight? It’s a question comic readers have fought about time and time again, despite the comics being uninterested in answering it until relatively recently. The Caped Crusader and the Last Son of Krypton have butted heads once or twice over the years, but traditionally, DC Comics is much more about heroes teaming up than fighting. Pitting characters against each other for shits and giggles is much more Marvel’s thing. The notion that Batman and Superman should ever be enemies instead of friends didn’t really catch on until Frank Miller’s radical re-envisioning of the duo in The Dark Knight Returns.

Why we want Batman to beat Superman

But it all strikes me as a silly debate, even by comic book standards. By any reasonable argument, Batman vs. Superman would be about as much of a “fight” as Bambi Meets Godzilla. The only way to even pretend Batman stands a snowball’s chance in hell is to stack the odds in his favor with ridiculous deus ex machinas. “Oh, Batman would win because he’d have a bat-kryptonite ring or something!” Arguments like these are meaningless, because by that logic, anyone could beat Superman, especially if they happen to have kryptonite handy. It’s like saying Howard the Duck would win in a fight with Galactus because he’d just happen to have the Ultimate Nullifier on him.

And the reason why Batman is the frequent favorite in this fight has absolutely nothing to do with the actual capabilities of either hero. It stems entirely from popularity. Batman is generally the more beloved of the two, so when they do battle, writers use any excuse they can think of to have Batman emerge the victor. The insane popularity of Batman in the last few decades is a cultural phenomenon that I’ve devoted a lot of thought to, and to be honest, it kind of disturbs me. I don’t like what it says about the mindset of our culture and what we value.

Before I explain, let me say that while I may often give off the opposite impression, I actually really like Batman a lot. Even the Christopher Nolan version. I just get sick of the fandom’s laser focus on this one particular iteration of the character. I liked The Dark Knight as a film, but frankly, it’s among my least favorite versions of the Batman mythos. He’s one of the most adaptive and versatile characters in all of fiction, and with so many interesting and diverse visions of Batman out there, to be obsessed with just this one seems incredibly dull to me.

And the fact that Nolan’s take on Batman has become such a dominating cultural force worries me, because Nolan’s Batman has some really troubling themes going on when you really look at those films. Batman, at his core, has always had a somewhat fascist undercurrent to him. Certainly, that can be said of most superheroes, since the very concept of being a vigilante crimefighter implies an individual deciding his judgment is superior and forcing it upon others. But with Batman, these qualities have always seemed a little more pronounced. He’s an absurdly wealthy private citizen devoting his resources to assaulting and imprisoning people usually far less powerful and well-off than he is. At the very least, Batman can’t help but feel a tad elitist, regardless of how much his enemies are deserving of his wrath.

But in the Nolan movies, these troubling fascist themes are no longer just an interesting curio in the background. They’re magnified and put front and center. Christian Bale’s Batman is an explicit fascist. Brutal, manipulative, and largely uncaring about the collateral damage of his mission, he violates the civil rights and privacy of those citizens he professes to be protecting, and by The Dark Knight Rises, he and his allies have turned Gotham into a virtual police state.

Why we want Batman to beat Superman

It’d be interesting if Nolan’s trilogy was meant to be satirical, deconstructing the inherently fascist aspects of superheroes by exaggerating them, a favorite trick of Alan Moore’s. But the tone of Nolan’s Batman films is weirdly unironic, as though we’re meant to see Batman as completely justified in all his actions, and that Gotham City is actually better off sacrificing their freedoms for his protection.

I’m not saying that’s necessarily the wrong way to look at those films; I’m saying they don’t exactly leave much open for debate when it comes to some pretty complicated questions, and instead offer up the moral certainty that Batman is in the right. Bale’s Batman is one of the least heroic versions of the character I’ve seen, and may be even borderline sociopathic. So the fact that this is the version people have most latched onto is deeply troubling to me.

And really, why do people like Batman so much? I mean, I know why I like him. I dig the ninja/gothic/film-noir mystery mash-up aesthetic, and I like the sort of dark Peter Pan-esque story of a broken man who’s still a little boy trying to reclaim his lost childhood inside, and of course he has one of the greatest rogues galleries ever. But why do the people who don’t really like comics, who hate the Adam West show, who like to pretend Robin never existed, who shun all the colorful or weird parts of character, why do they like Batman? Why is Batman the one superhero who seems to particularly appeal to those who don’t even seem to really like superheroes?

Part of it may be that Batman, more than any other A-list superhero, most easily adapts to the “real world”, or at least as close as movies get. At the very bare bones of the Batman concept, there are no sci-fi or fantasy elements. He’s not an alien or a mutant, he didn’t fall into a vat of chemicals, and he’s not a mythological god. He’s just a guy in a costume who fights gangsters. So if you’re looking to make a toned down, “realistic” superhero movie for people turned off by more outlandish fare, Batman is probably your best bet. He’s the only hero with both the name recognition to draw a crowd and the flexibility to go the ever popular grim-and-gritty route.

Why we want Batman to beat Superman

But I think a bigger part of it is that Batman offers people a certain kind of wish fulfillment that other heroes don’t. Fans will tell you they prefer Batman because he’s “more relatable”, due to his lack of superpowers, but that has nothing to do with it. Surely, the socially-awkward middle class Clark Kent would be far more relatable to the average Joe than billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

Batman’s appeal is in his empowerment fantasy. Yes, Superman also offers the fantasy of being powerful, and we can identify with the shy, unnoticed Clark pining over the pretty girl in the office, and we can fantasize about secretly being the all-powerful he-man that can save the day and sweep her off her feet. But the fantasy of being Superman comes with restrictions. Superman is a role model, and therefore bound by a pretty strict moral code. Having all the power can seem a less appealing fantasy when you’re not allowed to let your aggression out, or to unleash your id and go nuts. No one wants to be a smiling boy scout all the time.

But Batman is a little more flexible. Of course, he’s also bound by certain rules: He must never kill, and he must never use a gun. But Batman can get angry. Batman is allowed to intimidate and sometimes even torture people. And since Batman isn’t an alien Hercules who might decapitate someone if he gets rough, he gets to play hard. He can beat his enemies bloody. Batman offers the fantasy of being obscenely wealthy, sexually unattached, desired by women and feared by men, and able to take out your anger every night on anyone who looks suspicious.

Let’s face it, Batman appeals a lot to angry, antisocial misanthrope types. They don’t want to be a happy, monogamous goody two-shoes like Superman. They want to be rich enough to have anything they want. They want to plow model-attractive super-villainesses without the responsibility of a relationship. They want to sneak around and blow off steam by beating up anyone they think deserves it. They want to be feared and respected.

So truthfully, the reason why a lot of people like Batman is obvious. But why the fascination with seeing him fight Superman? Many of Batman’s fans don’t just seem to prefer him to Superman, they seem actively hostile to Superman. There’s something almost fetishistic about the way people would love to see the Dark Knight take the Man of Steel down a peg or two.

Why we want Batman to beat Superman

At first, it may seem like a simple case of people rooting for the underdog. Batman, a mere mortal, is obviously at a disadvantage going up against the godlike Superman, and people love to see the little guy triumph over impossible odds.

But that’s not really what this feels like. For one thing, it’s impossible for me to look at a conflict between a poor, well-meaning farm boy who fights for truth and transparency as a journalist and a manipulative, secretive billionaire on a violent, vengeful rampage and see the latter as the underdog, regardless of who has superpowers.

Whenever I ask people why they hate Superman, the response I get is always along the lines of “he’s stuck-up” or “he’s a wimp”. There’s this perception of Superman as being out of touch, a stuffed shirt, a coward. But any fair reading of almost any of his movies or comics doesn’t really support this, regardless of what you may have gathered from Superdickery. Superman has always been compassionate, brave, and heroic. So what exactly makes people see him as otherwise?

It feels like people want to see Superman punished. Punished for what, exactly? Well, what’s the principal difference between Superman and Batman? Yes, I know it’s hard to narrow down, since the two are night and day, but the one I’m focusing on here is optimism. Batman and Superman have views on the world that could only be more different if one of them was an outright villain.

Superman assumes the best in people. Batman assumes the worst. Superman is more about protecting the innocent, while Batman’s focus is on punishing the guilty. Superman lives in bright, clean Metropolis, and Batman lives in dark, crime-ridden Gotham. Superman lives in a world of hope, Batman lives in a world of fear.

People say they relate to Batman because of his lack of superpowers, but what they truly relate to is his anger. Unlike Superman, Batman lives in our world, or at least our world as we too often choose to see it. We’re pessimistic by nature, because it’s easy. It’s easy to see the bad in things. It’s easy to let all the horror in the world get us down. We dwell on it until it’s all we can see anymore. Mostly, it’s easy because it requires no effort. The world has always been shit and will always be shit, so why waste time trying to make it a better place? Gotham is the real world as viewed through the lens of a bitter person who’s given up.

But Superman is different. He may be a flamboyant fantasy, but the world he lives in is every bit as much the real world as Gotham. It’s just seen through the lens of an optimist. Superman is about hope, and Metropolis is the world as seen by a hopeful person. Superman challenges us to see the good in life, and dares us to actually make an effort to improve things. He tries to show us that life is worth living and that the world is worth saving.

Why we want Batman to beat Superman

But it’s hard to hope, and easy to despair. People turn away from Superman and towards Batman because he offers the easier path. Superman says, “Yes, life can be hard. Tragedies happen. Your home may blow up. Your father may die. The woman you love won’t even notice you. But you can overcome it. You can save the world. Because inside you’re strong. Inside you’re a Superman.” Batman says, “The world is misery and pain so don’t bother trying to fix it. You’re living in a madhouse. People are maniacs, and the only way to deal with it is to either lock yourself up in your house and shun everyone, or beat the maniacs bloody and lock them away where you never have to think about them.*”

[*Granted, that’s not a very accurate summation of the real message of Batman, but it’s what I think a lot of people take away from him.]

A big part of the plot of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice seems to be the world becoming mistrustful of Superman. The trailer shows protesters yelling at him to “go home”. A statue of Superman bears graffiti reading “false god”. Voiceover narration talks about him as though he’s some aloof deity who everyone fears and mistrusts simply for being so powerful. As sad as this makes me, it may be the most accurate reflection of the current public perception of Superman.

Why we want Batman to beat Superman

The fantasy of Superman has always been that a man with that much power but also the strength of character to use it only for good could actually exist. That basic human decency could prevail over the corrupting influence of power. But maybe in a post-9/11 world, we’re just too mistrusting to believe in that anymore. The world just seems too confusing and violent for us to indulge in a happy fantasy like Superman.

So those who root for Batman to beat up Superman aren’t doing it because he’s the underdog, but because they hate Superman. They hate him for wanting to save the world and make a better tomorrow. Because they’ve given up on tomorrow. They want nothing more than to wallow in misery, and lash out at anyone who asks them to do otherwise. The strange thing is, I bet when a lot of these people were kids, they looked up to Superman as a hero. Now they only see him as a coward.

37 years ago, we believed a man could fly. Now all we want is to see that man dragged down into the dirt with us.

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  • RockyDmoney

    I agree 100%. This is what happens when the main comic reading demographic shifts from children under 12 to depressed socially awkward middle aged men.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Ouch.

      • RockyDmoney

        the truth does hurt. Seriously what child would find any enjoyment or comprehend anything going on in modern superhero comics.. Its sad really

        • Bouncy X

          since children today barely know what reading is, outside of texts and tweets….maybe the comics are aiming towards the right people.

          • RockyDmoney

            the all kids are dumb argument that has been said since the 40s. Bravo!

  • Alexa

    I don’t get people who say Superman is a dick, I mean I love Bats but he can be a total asshole sometimes…And really I also like Bats because he’s this weird noir-ish/ninja/super detective type character, not because I can relate to him. I mean that’s part of the reason why I disliked the Nolan version of him, he was too grounded. I wanted an over the top weird universe where Bats fights evil clowns and mutant crocodiles. Not some boring parable on terrorism. As for Supes, I can get if people are sick of the guy (he has been around for nearly 70 years and people are bound to get sick of him). But I still don’t get the animosity, and the need to make him darker. It makes no sense, and is boring, and last time I checked the point of superheroes is to save people (which was the main thing Superman Returns did right and why with all its faults is a better Superman movie IMO). People need to start believing there is good in the world again. I’m not saying be happy 24/7 but remember there are good things and good people, and that was the whole point of Superman, is to remind us of this. That a guy with all that power can use it for good…

    • Skylar Zenas Mullins

      I grew up on the 90’s batman animated series with, the one with Kevin Conroy, and looking back now I have to say that version ruined me for all other versions of batman. I keep hearing things like “batman is a manchild going on a vengence fueled rampage,” or “batman is an asshole.” well he wasn’t like that in the animated version. he was actually very well rounded with a sense of humor and while his parents deaths are still a part of his motivation and character the reason he fights is not for revenge but because he believes he has an obligation to use his abilities to help people and make Gotham a better place.
      Even despite their rivalry when it appeared that superman had died batman admitted that he always thought of sup’s as a friend and admired him as a true hero. plus batman was the only one who refused to believe that superman had actually died and worked tirelessly on some way to get him back though to no avail. heck when superman was fighting darkseid in an asteroid that was about to explode it was batman who had to save his life by talking him down from continuing to beat-up on the already downed darkseid so that they could escape before the whole place went boom. yes that’s right, batman had to convince superman to be less aggressive. see what I mean about the DC animated universe of the 90’s being more well rounded.

      I personally never understood why people who are sad would dislike happy characters. I mean when I am sad that’s when I most want to watch something happy and uplifting. I guess some people choose to cope with sadness by converting it into anger and bitterness to form a kind of emotional callus but that method just has way to many unhealthy side effects.

      • Thomas Stockel

        I agree 100%. Conroy’s Batman is the most balanced, well realized version of the character. I even like bitter old Bruce from Batman Beyond.

      • Nessus

        I think it has to do with a person’s mental approach to giving up, and how they perceive their own role in that.

        When people are depressed and beat-down, it can be very easy to give up hope on morality/happiness as viable. Easy to shrug off one’s own dickishnessess as “it’s just part of human nature, you can’t change it, everyone else is like that”. Or even the venerable old “I did what I had to do, the right thing wasn’t the same as the correct thing, and wouldn’t have worked anyway”.

        It’s an escape valve that lest them give up without feeling even worse about themselves for doing so. Seeing some one who is consistently good and/or nice and sucessfull at it (fictional or real) threatens their beliefs that being happy and/or good is impossible/impractical (in the
        given circumstances). The corollary being an
        indictment: “you are not nearly as justified as you want to
        think, and the desire to think you are is in itself a character flaw”.

        So they want to see such characters/people fail, because failure would let them say “HAH! See, I was totally right: you would’ve won if you’d just let yourself be a dick! Which means I’m still right to let myself be a dick! Suck it for making me feel worse about myself, loser!”.

        Right now we’ve got a lot of shows, movies, etc that romanticize this sort of outlook. See: Game of Thrones, et al. A bit disturbing IMO, as I’ve seen this start to be applied more and more in real life decisions and debates: people giving up early and “doing what they have to do” (or advocating such) when they don’t actually have to, because they’ve romanticized the idea of “hard choices”.

        • Skylar Zenas Mullins

          it sounds like you are describing the personality traits of a bully, the kind of individual who enjoys hurting people and tries to use “being tough” as an excuse for their actions. in that case it’s not that they hate the heroes simply because they are altruistic but rather that those characters stir their conscience and they are terrified of facing their own quilt. so instead they misdirect their anger outward to the thing that confronted them with their conscience.

          I say all that because I have dealt with feelings of depression, not chronic depression in the medical disorder sense just traditional feelings of sorrow brought on by situation. I have always lamented the state of the world but things like superman, the justice league, Hajime Ichinose, and even magical girl shows like lyrical nanoha, these types of optimistic shows about genuine heroes have always made me feel better, like there is still some hope in the world an that I could be a better person. for me it is far easier to accept moral and hopeful characters because it alleviates my mental stresses. I figure that there must be other factors besides depression at work, otherwise I would hate superman too.

          • Nessus

            I’m not trying to describe a bully mentality. I think it’s more low-key than that. It’s like how people with unsatisfying love lives are the ones most likely to gripe about public displays of affection, or to ridicule romance in entertainment.

            It’s not a full-on depressive thing, just a little lingering bitterness on the tip of the subconscious in an otherwise perfectly normal & functional person. People will try to frame it as a rational thing by talking about how moral actions can be self sabotaging and suchlike, but they reveal that it’s really an emotional thing when they start doing stuff like calling characters names.

  • Huh. Fans who like Batman, for those reasons, in that way, aren’t too far off from being fans of…Luthor. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the Timmverse shows end up emphasizing the character of Luthor—a rich genius without inherent superpowers—almost as much as Batman.

  • Fantasy Mission Force

    I agree with you on most points, but I don’t know if you can count Dawn of Justice out just yet.
    Maybe it will be the culmination you imagine, but there is still a chance that things like the issues you’ve expressed in this article will be brought up, in Superman’s favor, or as a way to bring the two of them to some common ground. The whole idea of people hating and mistrusting him in the movie might just be a lampshade that isn’t exactly condoning the attitude.

  • MichaelANovelli

    The odd thing is, all this need to drag down Superman to make Batman look better: this is the sort of thing Ayn Rand used to warn people about.

    Huh, the Objectivists got one thing right, at least…

  • JustMe

    “Who would win in a fight?”

    Hmmm… A guy in a batsuit with lots of tech vs a guy that can fly into orbit and fire laser beams from his eyes. Bats is toast in less than a second.

  • Thank you for this insightful article, Joshua. You’ve helped me understand my disquiet with people who dismiss Superman as “boring” or who gush over The Dark Knight Returns, a graphic novel that I’ve always felt was spoiled by needlessly involving (a caricature of) Superman.

  • mamba

    To me, Batman overcomes his limitations to solve his problems, being mortal and all, while Superman has to HAVE an outside limitation to even give him a challenge.

    We see Batman strive through real peril and see our own weaknesses in him (you punch Batman in the nose and it bleeds just like us all…he’ll just flatten you afterwards). But Superman is so perfect and has so many powers that you really wonder why he can’t just solve EVERYTHING on his own. It comes down to seeing a character achieve through skill and guile (batman), or another character almost guaranteed to succeed unless he holds HIMSELF back (superman).

    Given that, it’s hard to relate to superman complaining about anything, and just seeing him reminded that he’s NOT perfection incarnate is glorious. Batman taking the piss out of him is frankly cathartic, like watching a braggart get humiliated, or a rich douche bag lose everything.

    Batman can only go up, while Superman can only go down. So seeing Batman be the one to bring him down is glorious to me. even if it’s artificial and sure Superman will have restrictions and the like, but really now, psychologically Batman is superior, and knowing he’s up against a superior foe he has to level the playing field.

    A mere mortal (with some cool gadgets) against a walking deus-ex machina…and winning anyway? MMmmmmm…..warms my heart anytime just thinking about it. :)

    • Sgs006

      Thank you. You said everything I feel watching Batman.

    • Chris Hedrick

      Oh, absolutely. I mean, despite all Superman’s powers, he still can’t save everyone. He’s just a country boy whom people worship as a god, and the only thing he wants to do is the right thing. So why not kick him when he’s down? He CLEARLY deserves every piece of mud slung his way.

      This was sarcasm, by the way.

    • Did you even read the article? Everything you are saying is spelled out as being the angry, angst, cynic way of looking at stuff.

      • mamba

        Yes it is. Did I ever say it wasn’t? I’m just defending it.

    • Nessus

      That doesn’t make sense.

      Oh, the parts about why you admire Batman as a hero more than Superman, that makes perfect sense.

      What doesn’t make sense is why you’d be hungry to see Superman beaten up for it. Regardless of what enables him to be a good guy, he’s still a good guy. He’s still on your side, and on Batman’s too, for that matter.

      That’s what’s weird and a red flag. You don’t just what to see him fail, you want to sadistically enjoy it. Not because he did anything wrong or bad, but just because he happens to have a natural advantage at being a hero? That utter bastard! The unmitigated gall!

      And to get beaten up by Batman… you do know that Batman beating up Superman for that would actually make Batman less of a hero, right? That’s what you want to see? Batman throwing away that hard work you admire him so much for?

      Oh wait, no: you don’t want Batman to beat him up for that. You want there to be an argument or misunderstanding contrived so Batman and Superman can have a morally legit reason to think they have to fight… so you can unheroicly enjoy it for that. So much for admiring Batman’s hard work, I guess?

      Isn’t this pretty much exactly Lex Luther’s schtick?

      • mamba

        In a word…yes, I agree completely. But I can explain it…

        It’s a sheer arrogance thing. I despise arrogant braggarts, and superman is the ultimate in that regard by being so damn condescending. Yes we know that he’s almost too perfect and really is “super’, but the attitude he carries is really annoying. He’s not a team player and being a virtual god amongst us, he carries the part of “Ok heros, band AROUND ME to attack” and almost ignores the strengths of those around him in the process.

        Knocking him down a peg reminds him instantly of this fact.

        I have the same beef with Captain America for the same reason…sure he’s really good and yes he’s important, but he’s so self-riotous that you just want to punch him in the face to remind him that he’s just ONE hero among others, not THE hero that the others are supporting. You think anyone really LIKED general Patton in WW2, but he did a good job for a good reason.

        For counterpoint, look at the Sentry in Marvel comics…he’s CLEARLY overpowered compared to everyone around him )possibly the planet) and yet at no point is he arrogant like superman, and the other characters work well with him. He respects those around him, and is constantly acknowledging his flaws and asking his TEAM to help him, as a TEAM is.

        Note I don’t want him to cripple or kill superman, just knock him down enough to remind him that he CAN be knocked down and that he might want to start working WITH teammates and acknowledge that that have a lot to offer. Humility is good for a god to have.

        So yeah, I like seeing blowhards gets what they need, even if they are good in the end. And Luthor has the right idea so I agree, Luthor just has other more personal angles but really, Luthor wants humanity to rise up beyond the “metas” and be their best (which he sees as himself of course), which is why I support Luthor’s ideas, but think that HE needs to be punched to remind him that he’s not above us all…same reasons as above!

        • Wizkamridr
          • mamba

            From a man who’s basically given up on humanity in general, it almost fits. :)

            Of course I could counter with Superman being equally dickish to almost anyone else, and he’s SUPPOSED to like us.

            Still, Batman never claimed to be the guy Gotham likes, just the one they need. :)

        • Nessus

          Late reply, sorry. But…

          I don’t see it. Granted I’m not that familiar with these characters from the comics (Cap I only know from the movies, Superman mostly from the cartoons), but I haven’t really noticed the arrogance you’re alleging. In the stuff I’ve seen they’re both just matter-of-fact about their moral stances rather than smug.

          Cap, in the movies at least, is actually self effacing most of the time, and when he does get insistent, it doesn’t have anything to do with his position in the team or his power/ability. In fact a lot of his character seems to be that he’d be upholding the same ideals regardless of either, just like he did before he became Cap. He’s very aware of how hard doing the right thing can be. The entire point of him seems to be that he just thinks the right thing isn’t made any less right by how hard it is.

          What I’ve seen read of Superman in comics/cartoons, he doesn’t seem like any less of a team player than anyone else on the JLA.

          Most stuff I’ve seen, he has strong initial conflict with Batman mostly because he has a sort of cop-like disapproval of others choosing to risk themselves when he’s around to handle things for them. Which is arrogant, but it doesn’t last very long at all. He quickly gets over it not by being beaten by Batman, but by seeing Batman’s competence for himself when they have to team up. After that, he more or less fully accepts Batman and other Heroes.

          Instead of being taken down, he comes to see others as sharing his level. As a result of having to cooperate with them. Instead of by having to fight them.

          In both Cap an Superman’s case, their role in the group is almost explicitly as the teams conscience. They’re the ones who keep their respective teams from going despot, sometimes literally. And one thing I’ve noticed in life is that adults aren’t really that much better than 3 year olds when it comes to resenting anything that stops them from doing just whaterverthehell they want. Adults are just way better at spinning and believing BS justifications. So of course ANYONE in that position is going to have to get insistent from time to time. That by itself doesn’t make them a dick or arrogant any more than it made your dad a big meanie poopyhead when he told you to stop hitting your sister.

    • Wizkamridr
  • Sgs006

    I’m sorry but this reads like a major bashing of Batman fans as bad pessimistic loners and Superman fans as optimistic lovers of the world. I think it is possible to like Batman without being a manic depressive hater of all things good. (And by the way the Boyscout in the blue suit isn’t always perfect. He isn’t Jesus for Christ’s sake)

    • Of course it’s possible. I’d like to think I’m proof of that. I did mention liking Batman, remember?

    • Chris Hedrick

      Dude, I much prefer reading Batman’s adventures over Superman’s, but there’s still a lot wrong with him. He IS an eternal pessimist, and he needs upbeat characters like Robin and the bat family to keep him from going off the slippery slope. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be a dark brooder, but he could certainly take a page from Superman’s book and see the good side of life now and again.

      And nobody who knows Superman would compare him to Jesus. Superman is the mask, while in reality he’s just a simple country boy trying to do the right thing.

      • GodsAdvised

        Actually…it’s usually Batman’s steel reserve and confidence in doing the right thing that keeps Robin from going down a slippery slope.

        • Chris Hedrick

          You mean the Robin that comfortably leads the Teen Titans, or a different one?

          • GodsAdvised

            I mean the Robin (Jason Todd) who becomes more impulsive and violent with age. Eventually posing as The Red Hood and beheading and assassinating criminals all throughout Gotham City.

  • jokmank

    I think the problem is not in the characters themselves. The problem, primarily, is in the demographic appeal. Kids (and awesome people) like Superman because he punches giant robots in the face. But comic books are mostly read by teens and 20 year olds. And most of them, by nature, find everything that Superman stands for unnappealing. Superman is not “cool”. He doesn’t have problems that teenagers have. He doesn’t have problems with girls. He’s friendly with authority figures, AND holds them to moral standards instead of just accepting that they are all liars and thieves. Superman does not give in to moral sins or vices no matter how petty or human. And most self-doubting young adults need that assurance that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes or well…being bad, i.e. everything that Superman is not. To them, Superman is like Principal Skinner, someone who thinks being good means s@#t like sitting up straight and getting a haircut. Who wants to be like that guy? Especially, when most other superheroes are defined by human flaws which Superman has over time been considered as being above.

  • I actually put off reading this because I assumed by the title that you would be taking the “because Superman thinks he is so perfect and needs to be brought down” stance. And as it is 5:30am I thought to get into a fight in the comments.

    My opinion of you has gone up.

    This is the sort of thing I try to explain to people who have never ostensibly read a comic when they bitch about how Superman is… whatever stupid thing they ascribe to him from the various ambient cultural stuff they pick up on.

    What is weird is how many comments seem to be taking the opposite stance from you philosophically as if they posted a comment without actually reading your article.

  • GodsAdvised

    Hmm…interesting article…but I don’t think I could disagree with it any more than I do. Still thinking over the full thing but overall it feels like your article is based on some notions about Batman that don’t ring true.

  • PotatoOni

    Interestingly the depictions of Batman and Superman seem to become skewed everytime they’re together and/or work together with other character. Both become much closer to being caricatures of themselves, with Supes being the shining happy guy and Bats being Mr. Grumpypants 24/7, all the while in their own settings they’re more rounded. Batman is basicly as optimistic as compassionate as Superman when in Gotham (tells you something about that city, huh?) and Superman is as serious and pondering as Batman when having solo adventures.

    This doesn’t happen all the time but it’s there. And it’ll definitly be in the Batman/Superman movie to some extend. And given that Frank Miller was consultant we’ll get Batman calling little boys retarted.

    Seriously, every single cartoon depiction of these two has always been superior to the movie and comic versions. Batman TAS gave us a caring Batman who even could crack a joke and Superman TAS gave us a serious Superman with genuine concerns about his role. HEY GOYER! TAKE NOTES!!

    Also, Superman would win. He’d simply x-ray for the Bat pouch that’s lined with lead and grab it already taking Batmans biggest advantage 0.3 seconds into the fight.

    I however would love this trailer and the whole “do you bleed?” thing being a fake out and that the fight will be staged in order to thwart Luthor who wants to play Supes and Bats against eachother. This would at least be something original and definitly a more unique take on the whole superfight trope. But it won’t happen because that would require the writers actually to be clever..

  • Guest

    Great article. Only two problems:
    A: You had The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises completely backwards. For The Dark Knight, remember that conversation near the beginning about the Roman Republic? About how Rome would appoint a dictator in times of crisis, but the beginning of the end for the Republic came when Caesar refused to step down after his term was up? Remember how Morgan Freeman only okayed using the sonar-wiretapping-whatever apparatus to catch the Joker on the condition that it be destroyed afterwards? I dunno about you, but I saw the parallels there the first time around. And the Dent Act ultimately made Gotham less safe, after Bane revealed the truth about what happened to Harvey Dent. Remember: “Your hands look plenty filthy to me.”

    B: I seriously doubt we’re supposed to view the hostility towards Superman in those trailers in anything but a negative light.

  • CAFR

    People who want Superman to be destroyed by Batman only really have a cursory idea of who the character IS. When they look at Superman, all they see is his powers. They don’t see Clark Kent, a three dimensional character with over FIFTY YEARS of development behind him. It’s like some of my friends over here who can’t get behind Captain America JUST because of his name and the colours of his uniform. They don’t get it, they’ll NEVER get it, it’s best just to leave them be.

  • TBTabby

    Thank you for this. We need more people defending Superman and pointing out how terrible Batman has become. Frank Miller has made Batman more evil than the criminals the fights, and people eat it up. You people want a good cynical hero? Dump Crazy Steve in the fetid garbage heap Miller pulled him out of, and go read “Guards, Guards!” by Terry Pratchett. Sam Vimes is a cynical main character without any superhuman abilities, but he doesn’t use this as an excuse to be a violent dick. And when Carrot, the closest thing the Discworld has to Superman, comes along, rather than trying to defeat the “False God,” Sam appreciates his efforts and they become close allies. It even deconstructs the cynical view of the world the Bat-fans cling to at the end.