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Author Topic: Could Batman eventually surpass Superman?  (Read 23837 times)
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Kronicpimp
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« on: September 30, 2006, 09:21:13 PM »

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I was wondering, is it possible that Batman could eventually supplant Superman as DC's most well-known character? Why or why not?

Is he close? In fact, what would it take (storywise and non-storywise) for ANY character to surpass Superman as DC's Spider-Man/main icon?

Details please.


taken from CBR

http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=142868


Wikipedia refers to Batman as one of the world's most recognized superheroes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman

Quote
Batman (originally referred to as the Bat-Man and still sometimes as the Batman) is a DC Comics fictional character and superhero who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. He has since become, along with Superman and Spider-Man, one of the world's most recognized superheroes.


What would it literally take (and how would it have to be gone about) for Batman (or any other random DC character) to take Superman's top spot as THE most recognized superhero?
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Aldous
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2006, 05:47:11 AM »

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Could Batman eventually surpass Superman?


No.
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ShinDangaioh
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2006, 02:46:33 AM »

I tend to doubt it.  

US is not the world.

Other than Batman Begins, Batman has been out of the public eye since the end of Justice League Unlimited.

Superman Returns puts Superman back in the public eye for a bit.
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Aldous
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« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2006, 06:42:57 AM »

But remember Superman & Batman are a very significant part of Western popular culture, and that is not confined to the U.S.A.

I live in what must be the most remote little outpost of Western civilisation on the planet, yet I guarantee most everyone here knows who Superman and Batman are. I grew up on American culture and happen to love it, but that's by no means a prerequisite for recognising Superman & Batman. Despite general knowledge of international affairs being at a very high level across our population (and Australia's), you'd still probably find more people, young and old, who know what Superman's secret identity is than who could name the president of the U.S.A.

I'm afraid Superman and Batman escaped the borders decades ago. They belong to everyone now, not just Americans.

That went a little off-topic, but to get back on track... Superman and Batman are the Big Two, the primal two, the templates for every single super-hero that sprang up after them. They each cover slightly different territory, and together have it all covered. Possibly you could throw Wonder Woman into the mix, so I'd better include her. Superman will always be the big daddy though... If you take out these three, and also Spider-Man, worldwide I'd say Clark Kent is more well-known than any other super-hero.

I'm talking here of long-lived, proven, and deeply ingrained popular culture; not whoever happens to have a film out this week.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2006, 05:41:51 AM »

Hasn't this happened already? Batman becoming more popular than Superman, I mean.

Despite Superman's well-deserved seniority as a character, the definite sense I get is that generally of the two, Batman is the one making more money for DC right now (Martin Pasko said as much in an interview a few months ago), and that this has been true for quite some time: the most commonly given reason for the "Death of Superman" marketing stunt" is that Superman wasn't selling that well or seen as being relevant, and this was all the way back in 1993 or so.

And if we go back even further, we see this isn't new. There was an apocryphal story (that is probably true), that in the early eighties, he was selling 800 copies of UNCANNY X-MEN a month. How many for Superman?

Ten.

Superman constantly received "fresh, new" artistic talent to make the book feel hip: at first this included Garcia-Lopez and Ross Andru, and there were rumors that DC was offering a contract to John Buscema as well. Then came the hiring of "cool" Marvel writers, some of whom were terrific (Len Wein), others not so much (Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman). Finally, this ended with the guy they were calling the Next Curt Swan, John Byrne, getting a pushover editor that let him do whatever he wants.

While I have a love of both characters, I can see where Batman would resonate more with pop culture. Batman, like James Bond, has a degree of "coolness" and "sexiness" and "rock and roll" that Superman doesn't have.
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nightwing
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2006, 01:00:33 PM »

But was the question whether Batman sells more comics and merchandise than Superman?  I thought the question was, would he ever be more universally recognized, and more identified as THE DC character in the way that Spidey is THE Marvel character?

As for the latter -- which indeed was the question -- I rather think not.  By now Superman is simply too iconic to be dethroned, and it has little to do with popularity or even the quality of his comics.  That costume, those poses, even just the "S" by itself are symbols of DC, of America, of all sorts of things to all sorts of people.  After all, Toy Story and the Incredibles are cooler and better-selling than Mickey Mouse cartoons, but it's Mickey who represents Disney.  The X-Men have been, I'd argue, bigger than Spider-Man in comics fandom for over 20 years, but it's still Spidey who represents Marvel.

Superman was first.  Say "superhero" and he's the mental image most people conjure up.  He pretty much invented the merchandising and multimedia crossover marketing that defines the genre today.  And because he had all those years to insinuate himself into popular culture while the rest of the longjohns crowd -- including Batman -- languished in the relative obscurity of kid's books, he will likely never be eclipsed.  Think of it this way -- there were better movie cowboys than John Wayne, there were (arguably) better James Bonds than Sean Connery and more people watched The Next Generation than the original Star Trek.  But when people hear "western," "007" or "Trek," they picture the Duke, Sean and Spock.  Period.

Having said all that, I do agree Batman is bigger now than Superman, and I think it's got a lot to do with the state of the world, and the strength of the characters.  In the 50s and early 60s, eras of ecomomic prosperity, national pride and a faith in authority, Superman soared while Batman came off as a superflous second banana.  In the modern era of terrorism, rampant crime and disillusionment in authority, Batman offers vicarious empowerment while Superman is a relic at best and a sell-out at worst.  And just as Batman suffered from attempts to twist him into an alien-fighting "Superman Lite" in the 50s, Superman now suffers from attempts to make him a conflicted, kick-butt "Batman Lite."  Characters tend to do well only during eras when they're allowed to be what they were designed to be.
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Aldous
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2006, 07:13:16 AM »

I read something the other day that went something like: each generation believes they are smarter than the one before, and smarter than the one coming after. Not an Earth-shattering revelation, I know.

Toy Story and The Incredibles are "cooler" and "better-selling" than Mickey Mouse? (I loved The Incredibles. And Toy Story is a neat film.) Really?

Nightwing, I think the trouble is, people (our generation) forget how big Mickey Mouse was. They forget how huge Superman was.

The Incredibles and Toy Story are very clever films. But for the next generation it will be different films, and none of them will have characters as big as Mickey Mouse or Superman. I'm not sure why there will never be another universal supergroup like The Beatles. The Incredibles will never be as big as Mickey Mouse. Not even close. He will be king when they are long forgotten. Our generation has forgotten, or never knew, how big Mickey, Superman, and John Wayne were.

Everything in your third paragraph would indicate you know what I mean... But it's more than being first.
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Permanus
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2006, 04:03:31 PM »

I think that for the general public, by which I mean people who don't read comics or buy the associated merchandise, Superman is doubtlessly the more identifiable character. I have seen his likeness in restaurants (a French restaurant chain called Hippopotamus comes to mind, which featured a cartoon hippo in a Superman costume with an H emblazoned on its chest), launderettes, courier services and all sorts of other businesses, all mere inches away from copyright infringement. A handyman in my area drives a van with the word "DIYMan" on its side, accompanied by a crude copy of what seems to be a Wayne Boring Superman drawing. Superman has entered the common psyche like few other characters before him or since, in the sense that he is recognised by people who have never read his adventures; the same can be said for only a handful of characters in fiction, among them Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan.

A Liverpudlian gentleman of some note once mentioned that he and his colleagues in a musical ensemble they had formed were "bigger than Jesus". Well, to illustrate how widely-recognised I think Superman is, here goes: bigger than the Beatles.
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