Why I Like Batman Better Than Superman

Posted on April 21, 2017

During the month of October my job, that is my old job, kicks into overdrive and I lose a lot of my free time. Things stay exceedingly busy until January. While that is going on I get further and further behind on my reading. I normally end up with a short box worth of comics in backlog. It can take me quite a while to catch up.

I have been very fortunate in my job change to end up with almost the entire month of April on vacation. I have been reading a lot of comics. Sadly until today I haven’t been making a big dent in my backlog because I have also been buying an aboslute ton of comics. I have added a dozen new titles to my reading list.

I felt rather bad about all those backlogged issues being further neglected. Today I simply couldn’t wait any longer to dig in. I have accomplished very little, but I managed to read from Batman issue 7 to issue 21. I really couldn’t wait to read “the Button”. I didn’t want to skip ahead to do so.

I do not enjoy Tom King’s Batman run as much as I enjoyed Snyder’s run in the New 52. I struggle with Batman being so resigned to suicide and his own death. This is a change, in my opinion anyway, to the psychology of the character. At very least it contrasts heavily to the Batman who took an Iron man—erm Iron Bat—or rather Hellbat suit to Apokolips. It is a very different Batman than the one who can so easily dismantle the Justice League.

Different is not always bad. Twenty-one issues into the run I do not in any way hate King’s Batman. Batman has been my primary love in the DCU for a number of years. The character is just more appealing to my psychology than the rest of the Justice League. For the first time in years I understand why I like Batman better than the big blue boyscout.

Superman is the ultimate greater power. In many ways he represents God. Superman is this great all powerful being that is never truly beaten. At the same time the appeal of Superman is that he is a greater power that sees the world through the eyes of a farm boy from Kansas. Superman is a relatable God figure that thinks and feels like a simple mortal man. Most of all he is just a good person.

Batman is a man. He has no powers. He IS smart. He is educated. He is practiced and trained. At the end of the day though Batman is just a guy. He isn’t even necessarily a nice guy. More and more I have seen him written as driven, angry, and almost abusive to the Bat family.

In the 90s anti heroes grew to extreme popularity. Captain America and Superman took a back seat to Batman, Wolverine, Lobo and the Punisher. Deadpool was born in this era. Clearly, I am not the only one who liked the grim and gritty hero better than the wholesome as milk characters that exist only to save the day. I think my feelings run slightly deeper than this.

Superman is a force of nature. You need Godlike enemies to face down a God. Supes puts his strength to the test on occasion, but it is normally his good heart that wins him the day. Superman always overcomes. It is an understood part of the character.

Batman on the other hand loses. Jason Todd gets beaten with a crow bar and blown up by the Joker. Bane breaks his back. Barbara Gordon gets paralyzed until she one day mysteriously isn’t. Batman frequently loses, is defeated, and has a standing problem he has to overcome. That is just like the rest of us. The bigger and the more Godlike Batman’s opponent is the less likely Batman is to be able to overcome. For that reason Batman has friends… including Superman.

Even with my objections to a more mortal Batman I recognize the value of what King is doing to humanize the character. It is nothing for one Godlike being to overcome another. When Batman takes out a mind controlled Superman though we are all impressed. Batman serves as inspiration even though we know his exploits are fictional. Because he has no super powers Batman is much more of a Super Hero.


2 Replies to “Why I Like Batman Better Than Superman”

  1. Azrael says:

    Batman is a much more relatable and human character to superman. He suffers for what he does. as we have seen with the batman beyond story, he ages. while apparently all superman has to do to maintain his youthful appearance is fly into the sun. I do agree david with enough time and practice many could do the things batman does.

  2. He is so very human. And many of his villians are too. I love the ingenuity that Batverse villains use. So many are/were scientists, doctors, and the like that only become villians because their projects are rejected, or because they get a God-complex while trying to make a “better world” as they perceive it. I often has sympathy for the villains in Batman over Superman because they are humans that experience dreams and failures just as often as we do in real life.

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