In 1938, when Superman was first invented by two Jews in New York it was an instant hit. Nerdy kids and childish nerds alike wanted to be the tight wearing superhuman. He quickly became an American icon and still is today. Even with that being said, he seems to have fallen out of the good graces of a lot of comic fans (link to batman is better than superman article). The current popular opnion is that Batman is a better Superman and a shit load of people agree in a shit load of places. This blogpost is inspired by someone who shares this opinion over at Cracked.com called 7 Ways Batman is Objectively Superman. Why are so many people plagued by this shared delusion. How did this happen? How did a lunatic with bat ears get beat by a space lunatic in with a spit curl?
To be honest, I have no idea why good old nipple-suit is continuously more popular than the blue boyscout but I have a few ideas. Before I get into them though remember that I’m talking about the characters not their media. I don’t care if the Superman N64 game was awful, or that Superman IV Quest for Peace was an unintentionally hilarious slapstick mess. Superman is a comic character, and that is how his story is best told.
6.) His stories are more interesting
Don’t forget madness.
Each of the stories above are considered among the best Batman stories out there, and they all have very similar story arcs. The basic idea is that Batman is faced with a new challenge the likes of which he had not previously seen, and is forced to face it. When all seems lost, and hope is in short supply Batman rises up and conquers the new threat. Usually he seems right on the brink of death, madness, etc. and somehow finds the extra reserve of energy and beats that madness or death as well as the new enemy. Usually, Batman is able to do this after losing sleep, refusing food, and getting the shit kicked out of him. How does he do it?
He’s fictional, that’s how. And at no point is this more apparent than when he gets up and says something like “I’m not done yet” wipes the blood from the corner of his mouth and then fucks the day up of whoever happens to be standing in his way.
Outside of the Death of Superman (see below) this formula can’t, and won’t apply to Superman. Because he is so strong he isn’t so obsessed with the threat of death. He was raised so well by Ma and Pa Kent, he can keep his shit together and not go insane.
well, more insane.
Superman’s best conflicts, instead involve a conflict in his traditional values, events that change major parts of his character, A threat to his friends or family, or all of the above. Superman’s powers make him a more compelling character. His humanity and strength of morals matter more to us because he is an alien and he’s more human than we are. Even though he’s from another planet his stories make him seem human because he has relatable problems and feels human emotions, Batman just doesn’t.
5.)Superman is a better Symbol
Like it or not, superheroes are for kids. Kids look up to them, kids want to be them. So which qualities would you want your kid to embody, “Truth, Justice, and The American Way” or “vengance?”
Superman represents the best in all of us. His personality is the gold standard of humanity. His superpowers are the reason Lex Luthor needs that fake Iron Man suit. Every person inside and outside of the DC universe considers Superman to be the gold standard for human potential, whether it’s his personality or his power.
You could ask Jimmy Olsen, but he would have to take Superman’s dick out of his mouth.
He isn’t just some rage monster trying to vicariously right a wrong a stranger committed against him. He does what he does because he believes it’s right. There’s no personal connection between Clark and his Super Hero-ness in his mind. And this is what we should teach kids. Batman is only Batman because he is personally invested in eliminating crime in Gotham. As if locking away enough bad-guys will rais is self-esteem or something. Sure what he does is pretty great, and we should all aspire to help those in need. But why we do it is important too. Both Batman’s and Superman’s acts are essential selfless, but Batman does them for revenge and Superman does them because he can. And a hero is a man who does what he can.
In the early 90’s Superman finally met his match in a stronger more vicious hate monster called Doomsday. A lot of other nerds think that the Death of Superman storyline serves as obvious proof that Superman is irrelevant. I’ve heard a lot of people recite the same old mantra which boils down to “his death was only a stunt to make him more interesting” usually between crying jags about their mother that still dresses them.
What people forget when they whine like little bitches about comics is that the same thing happened to Batman a few short months later. In 1993 the earth shattering comic news was Superman dying. It was such a popluar talking point it was even turned into a Saturday Night Live skit.
Only the most important cultural entities are bestowed the honor of being on SNL.
The Batman story arc, Knightfall was a close second for popular stories in comics of the early 90’s. Knightfall surrounded the rise of a new villain who donned a Mexican wrestler’s mask and could grow to the size of the average weiner mobile by injecting a chemical called Venom. Bane was highly motivated, very strong, and ruthlessly cunning. He put all of his energey into defeating Batman and eventually did.
Of course, Batman was able to get over the paralysis eventually, come back and beat Bane. So how is this different from Superman coming back to life after dying? It doesn’t. Batman proved how totally unrelatable, and inhuman he is by going from paraplegic to Parkour/Karate expert in about a year. Superman’s death and return are more realistic because he isn’t a human being and can do stuff like fly and walk out of his own tomb. Batman, being human shouldn’t beable to do stuff like that. But he does, all the fucking time.
(Yes, I know bothBatman and Superman died a few more times. No, that does not matter here. Death of Superman is one of the best selling comic series ever, and it is constantly cited as the number one proof for the Man of Steels irrelevance so it’s the only one I bothered talking about.)
3.)Superman has friends, and family.
Batman and Superman are both orphans.
And one of them won’t let you fucking forget it.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have relationships. He’s got Alfred, Robin, Nightwing, Commisioner Gordon, Batgirl, the list goes on. But these people aren’t his loved ones, they’re his business partners.
Make fun of Jimmy Olsen as much as you want (because I know I do), but it’s not like Batman’s got any “pals.” He’s got allies who are physically strong, tactically useful, or strategically intelligent. Batman doesn’t even attempt to make friends, which would explain living in a cave.
“But what about the Fortress of Solitude? It has solitude right in the name, ass hole” you say between your sips of Mad Dog, an impatient cock-head might be raving at their screens like lunatics. What those computer screaming psychos fail to understand is that the FoS serves a totally different purpose than the Batcave.
Superman goes to the Fortress to reflect and get peace and quiet.
Ocassionally he gets some ass too.
Essentially, he goes there for the same reason you go to your bedroom. What makes this better than Batman is that his character still feels realistic. He just needs to chill. Batman regularly spends all day and night in his cave researching or thinking about his dead parents. The isolation of the Fortress of Solitude is only incedental, because Kal’El can make it to anywhere in the world in about four seconds. To him it’s not isolated. He can still hear about all of the world’s problems if he sticks his head out the front door. Going to Antarctica fills a very understandable need. The need to kick back. By nature Clark Kent is more level headed than his long time friend and billionaire human counterpart. Superman was raised to be modest, kind and helpful. He isn’t such a self obsessed serial martyr that he needs to brood in six feet of bat shit before he stops bank robberies. Not to mention that Superman can hear all the problems of the world from space, and a Chrystal palace in Antarctica can supposedly muffle all that chatter about American Horror Story and so forth.
2.) He has a weakness
By this day and age Kryptonite is a pretty tired concept. Green rock makes him instantly powerless. And, even though it comes from a planet that is of galaxies away people get their hands on that shit like all the time. Not to mention the idiotic other colors.
Even with that said Kryptonite puts the most distinct line between Supes and B-man. No matter how high and mighty Superman might seem, there is a sure-fire way to take him out.
When it comes to Batman, his humanity makes him seem invincible to a comic reader or movie-goer. If Batman can come back from the dead , and from this it’s pretty hard to think of him as a realistic and believable character. The irony being that Superman is “a strange visitor from another planet” and is still more believable in the comic universe because isn’t burdened by the limitations of humanity.
All you have to do is suspend the disbelief that he can fly and a new world of possibilities is open. We know what humans can and cannot do, and Batman does stuff in the second category pretty much everyday. Those pesky bullets don’t hold down Kal’El, and third degree burns letting him focus on being a superhero. He doesn’t make us jump through hoops of disbelief suspension the way Batman does because the fact of the matter is that a super powered alien Sun-God is way more believable in a fictional story than a human being who does even a single thing Batman has ever done.
1.)He is more relatable
Every “Batman is better than Superman” argument boils down to the phrase “Superman is too powerful to be relatable, Batman is more relatable because he’s a regular guy.” There is no sentence repeated by comic fans more often than this, and if there is one to rival it, it doesn’t contain as much bullshit as this.
Every time a good writer makes a story about superman they struggle to make the alien seem human. A successful story has shown Superman to have real emotions and face serious emotional struggle that he wins or loses against. With batman the goal is the opposite.
The best Batman stories, and movies make batman into the “symbol,” which is distinctly inhuman. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is the best example of this. Batman wants to be a symbol of fear for criminals so he goes through inhuman trials and training to achieve his goal. By the end [spoiler alert] he is able to overcome the ever-popular madness; as well injury and lack of exercise to over come the villain in the end. Forgotten, half paralyzed, and with an inadequate vertical jump, Bruce Wayne rises in extraordinary fashion escapes the nightmare dungeon and comes back to Gotham just in time overcoming all of the obstacles (again). All of this done in exactly the fashion you wouldn’t do. Anyone who could relate to Batman would too busy practicing martial arts and scaling their own private mountains to waste their time watching movies or reading comics to even think to come to Batman’s philosophical defense. Billionaire genius world-class martial artist celebrity playboy philanthropist Bruce Wayne is furthest thing from an everyman you can possibly get. Any Normal person would have hung up the forearm blades with the first dose of Scarecrow’s gas in the face. At the same time, if any one of us had Superman’s powers the best of us would strive to live up to his moral code. Because, that’s what Superman is, the best example of the best of us. While Batman, is just not.