We have all heard the hype surrounding Batman. Batman is the best tactician in the world and he is smarter than all the other superheroes and villains combined. Batman is the best superhero ever. And, though he has no special powers, he could still defeat all the superheroes in the Justice League. He has compiled a contingency plan for each superhero in the Justice League just in case one or all of them go rogue because he is smarter and more prepared than everyone. Well, all the stories that we have heard about the Dark Knight are a lie, he is extremely overrated as a superhero, and there is no way that brains and a gadget belt beat genuine superhuman abilities. The story of Bruce Wayne is only beloved because people love the narrative of the underdog who wins despite being less talented than his opponents. A billionaire genius who secretly fights crime with an arsenal of high-tech gadgets and superior strategic and tactical advantages would make a terrible hero in real life. And, even in the land of fiction the Dark Knight falls short of the mark. The idea of Batman is even more fantastical than say the story of an “super” man who possesses mid-blowing abilities disguising himself as a dorky reporter. The narrative of Batman says that an average human being with a lot of money could defeat the aforementioned super-powered alien simply by being smarter, and that narrative rings hyperbolically unbelievable. Batman is completely over-matched physically against almost everyone that he faces, his story is ridiculous, and – here is a surprise – he is completely ineffective as a hero. To put it quite simply, Batman sucks.
Batman’s lack of any real power would be his downfall if comic books read anything close to reality. There is no way that a guy with no superhero powers could compete with villains that are faster, stronger, and in some cases just as intelligent as he is. Superior intellect can be an advantage, and superior tools help close the gap between the naturally gifted and the average guys, however there is no substitute for brute strength, raw speed, and agility in a physical competition. No one hires a team of intellects and philosophers to move lumber at a construction site. And, there is a reason that weight classes exist in professional and amateur fights. Big strong guys who are trained to inflict punishment on others usually beat up smaller guys regardless of their intellect or training. Batman would be no exception. Though he is larger than the average human and well trained in an infinite number of martial arts and combat disciplines, Batman is limited by his humanity. Here is a list of Superman’s abilities. He can move faster than the speed of light, his body is impervious to any known material except kryptonite, his physical power can only be compared to the strongest “beings” in the universe (other super heroes), he can fly, he shoots lasers from his eyes, and his breath can freeze objects. Batman is on the other end of that spectrum and only has a lot of money and a lot of gadgets. Batman would get destroyed if he ever faced Superman in a fight outside the comic book world, and his lack of real super powers would have gotten Batman killed while facing Gotham’s worst villains.
Batman could not have survived in the real world against insane criminals, and if he was not killed by an actual villain in his adult life, the tragedies of his childhood would have stopped him from becoming the most beloved “superhero” of this generation. His childhood mirrors the depressing upbringing that leads people to lives of crime. When a nine year old witnesses the murder of his parents, there are only a few outcomes that could feasibly come from that situation. Bruce Wayne eventually would have hung himself and left his body for his butler to find after years of self-loathing, stress eating, and several anxiety medications if he watched his parents die as a child. And, if there was no suicide, then he would never mature past the age of nine mentally and emotionally and spend his time banging strippers and snorting cocaine until his fortune ran out or he overdosed. And, even if Wayne got past these inevitable obstacles and became a vigilante crime fighter, he would either be killed by real villains or spend years in prison after being arrested for multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon. No person with his profile could function as a vigilante for years without being caught or killed.
But, none of those shortcomings in the narrative of Batman come close to his largest deficiency as a superhero. His biggest failure as a hero has nothing to do with his lack of real super powers. Batman’s most extensive failure as a superhero is the fact that he has never really stopped crime despite spending a lifetime fighting against it. He is essentially a criminal working as an unlicensed officer who puts other criminals behind bars. And appropriately, like the real police force he is powerless to keep them there. The Dark Knight astutely solves mysteries that no other hero could solve because of his superior intellect, and with his superior technology, he defeated villains that had numerous physical advantages over him. But, literally every villain that Batman arrests ends up back on the streets committing the same crimes that they did before he arrested them. How many times can you fight the Joker, the Riddler, Cat Woman, and the Penguin before the story gets old? How many people have died as a result of Batman’s inability to stop the villains of Gotham City? The same code that does not allow him to kill criminals (even as a “criminal” vigilante) cripples his ability to propagate any real change, and that is the largest failing of his character.
Batman is not a real hero or a champion fighting against crime. He is a mild deterrent to villainy at best, and his story is completely unbelievable. Batman is fundamentally the story of a kid who watches his parents’ murder and instead of spiraling out of control, becomes the symbol of hope for a city and more powerful than literal super humans. It is the tale of a man with an excess of wealth who has a dream for a better world and changes things for the better through a personal crusade fighting crime with nonlethal weapons. A billionaire would be more worried with continuing to build his empire than arresting criminals. If Bruce Wayne could be Batman, then so could Donald Trump. Batman is wildly overrated.