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Author Topic: Could Batman eventually surpass Superman?  (Read 23872 times)
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Criadoman
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« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2006, 10:34:00 PM »

Regarding the actual point to this thread, ultimately it is simply a matter of one's viewpoint or parameters.

Superman and Batman have the unique credit of being rather iconic and proto-typical heros to the comics medium, 2 sides of the same coin IMO.  A super-natural, super-science or demi-god-ish figure in Superman and the apex of human development in Bats.  Another way to view it would be what a human might hope to aspire to if the external circumstances are correct (or modifiable), or what one can do with nothing more than what one has.  I guess another can be "hyper-being" or "human being", and on and on.

For me - if Bats and Supes could be considered to be 2 extreme sides of the same spectrum, then all other heros pretty much fall somewhere in between.

I found it rather interesting in Les Daniels Marvel Universe book, where a point was made to mention Superman as the progenitor of super-heros, and interestingly, Batman was also mentioned as another hero breakthrough.

If the last 70 years is any indication, it appears that one hero might be considered "more popular" - but both being the proto-typical heros they are, each will always benefit the other in media events, a sort of see-saw effect and neither will fade off to obscurity to be overshadowed by the other.  However, because Superman has the grand distinction of being the 1st super-hero, the balance will always come to rest in his direction.

Anyway, that's the way I see it.
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« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2006, 01:10:48 AM »

The "who could beat who" discussions never bugged me much---seems like harmless fan debate to me (plus the subject of a few stories, such as who's faster, Superman or the Flash). Though I agree that Batman's no match for Superman physically (and I also find the "Bat-God" thing of the 90's/2000's rather stupid/obnoxious).
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TELLE
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« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2006, 04:00:02 AM »

re: Who's Stronger arguments

I enjoy the occasional speculation or scrap.  The Marvel formula was quite early transposed to DC --a good late-Bronze Age example is the Vixen origin story by ex-Marvelite Gerry Conway. Batnan vs Superman is just silly (although I enjoy the Silver Age versions of that conflict).  Julian is right --it is part of fandom (and arguably pro-wrestling ans other sports promotions stole something from comics).  As long as we are here posting on faniverse message boards, I say the subject is fair game and nigh-near tradition.  Doesn't mean we all have to indulge... Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2006, 04:20:54 AM »

Quote
... Duh. Of course he could. Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman is a real guy.


 Cool
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« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2006, 05:02:53 PM »

Pro wrestling goes back farther than "what hero can beat up what other hero" by quite a bit...
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nightwing
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« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2006, 04:02:23 PM »

Criadoman writes:

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Superman and Batman have the unique credit of being rather iconic and proto-typical heros to the comics medium, 2 sides of the same coin IMO. A super-natural, super-science or demi-god-ish figure in Superman and the apex of human development in Bats. Another way to view it would be what a human might hope to aspire to if the external circumstances are correct (or modifiable), or what one can do with nothing more than what one has. I guess another can be "hyper-being" or "human being", and on and on.


But is Batman still the sort of figure anyone aspires to be?  It seems to me one reason Batman does better in today's market is that it's possible to make him a completely unpleasant person and still be "cool."  Superman, when written as super-powerful and super-intelligent, was determined to be "too perfect," and thus rejected by fans.  Batman, on the other hand, can be almost supernaturally intelligent and physically perfect to an absurd degree, but as long as he's a hateful jerk (and possibly mentally disturbed) fans let him get away with it.

It's my opinion that modern America doesn't much appreciate intelligence.  Smart people are looked on with suspicion and resentment pretty much from grade school on.  So how to account for all the fan support for Batman because he's "smart enough to beat anyone"?  I'd argue it's because modern age Batman uses his brains in an "acceptable" fashion...he uses it towards his own petty ends to hurt the other guy as much as possible.  Yes, he's a genius, but he's also a psychological wreck and a nasty piece of work, so he's a "cool" genius.  

I guarantee you if Batman was written as a guy who came up with non-violent solutions to problems, cures to diseases or other altruistic achievements, he'd be rejected by fans as completely as "boy scout Superman."  Intelligent and well-adjusted = dork.  Intelligent with zero social skills and a mean streak = cool.


Johnny Nevada writes:

Quote
The "who could beat who" discussions never bugged me much---seems like harmless fan debate to me (plus the subject of a few stories, such as who's faster, Superman or the Flash). Though I agree that Batman's no match for Superman physically (and I also find the "Bat-God" thing of the 90's/2000's rather stupid/obnoxious).


Maybe it's just me, I don't know.  The Silver Age got tons of mileage out of Lois and Lana trying to prove Clark was Superman and I hated every minute of it.  I always thought it was a waste of time and couldn't wait for the action to start.  To me, superhero battles are the same way.  Spidey meets Daredevil, they have some misunderstanding or other and fight for 20 pages, then realize they're on the same side and must team up against the villain.  But wait, we're out of space now, readers, so tune in next month for the battle with Doc Ock.  What a waste of my time and money.  I DO NOT CARE whether Spidey or Daredevil is the better fighter because the ONLY time it matters is when they are fighting *each other*, and that shouldn't happen anyway.  Plus nine times out of ten it all ends in a draw anyway so as not to offend fans of either character.  These stories always came off to me as filler and fluff, churned out because Stan (or whoever) hadn't figured out yet how to move the real plot forward.  They were only marginally better than getting a reprint issue.

Now, I don't know that Silver Age DC fans sat around debating particle theory and alternate universes and time paradoxes just because they were featured in Julie Schwartz's SF and hero books.  But if they did, I wish I was around back then to hear the debates.  I got stuck with the kid who insisted the Hulk could beat up Superman.  And yes, I did get into the debate.  After all, the Hulk is mentally retarded, so anyone even close to his strength could out-fight him easily.  Plus, Superman wins all fights because he can take out any opponent from orbit.  Heck, from Venus.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2006, 07:24:14 PM »

Quote from: "Criadoman"
Superman and Batman have the unique credit of being rather iconic and proto-typical heros to the comics medium, 2 sides of the same coin IMO. A super-natural, super-science or demi-god-ish figure in Superman and the apex of human development in Bats.


Well, I don't know if Batman and Superman are as different as all that.

Both of the characters are very savvy, competent white males that when written well fight crime with their brains.

Both characters have a great deal of respect for established authority: Superman does not use several "bad" laws as an excuse to disobey them all, and Batman always insists on collecting proper evidence before a crime, and values his relationship with the police (which is why stories like the Len Wein DETECTIVE where Ra's al-Ghul frames Bats for murder, or the Englehart series where Boss Thorne slaps Batman with a cease and desist letter, stand out: Batman being an outlaw isn't generally how he does things. I mean, there's a big statue of him in Gotham Park!

The two are different in several key ways. Superman is very science fiction, very "over the top."

Batman on the other hand, is more espionage/detective/adventure than science fiction. During the Englehart DETECTIVE COMICS, the most over-the-top gadget he used was a suitcase with a secret compartment.

This run also featured Hugo Strange's evil monster men and attacking cobra, too, but even this makes sense, because like Indiana Jones, Batman's stories are adventure stories but with horror elements. I can totally see Batman going to India to take down the Temple of Doom.

Quote from: "Criadoman"
Another way to view it would be what a human might hope to aspire to if the external circumstances are correct (or modifiable), or what one can do with nothing more than what one has. I guess another can be "hyper-being" or "human being", and on and on.


Hmmm, interesting point. Dick Giordano once wrote that, as a kid, he thought the most interesting thing about Batman is that you could grow up to become him.

Batman's mortality does make him stand out. BATMAN BEGINS sucessfully "nailed" the character when they had him do things like struggle to save one man from a falling mountain, or when he fell and scraped himself when escaping from James Gordon.

Quote from: "Criadoman"
I found it rather interesting in Les Daniels Marvel Universe book, where a point was made to mention Superman as the progenitor of super-heros, and interestingly, Batman was also mentioned as another hero breakthrough.


Batman was a pretty great leap of the imagination to be sure, because...while a character that's the pinnacle of human development already existed in Doc Savage, Batman is very different than Doc Savage in several ways.

The first is that while Batman is a very intelligent, athletic man, Doc Savage is a master of every field of human endeavor, from science to medicine. Batman on the other hand, like Sherlock Holmes, has ultraspecific knowledge: Batman can probably identify a brand of cigarettes by ash, and is an expert in fields like chemistry, forensics, and applied geology, but he's probably not going to know any more than a very, very educated person about Sumerian Mythology or the moons of Uranus. Doc Savage on the other hand, was not only a great chemist, he was a great violinist, too. Violinist.

Quote from: "nightwing"
To me, superhero battles are the same way. Spidey meets Daredevil, they have some misunderstanding or other and fight for 20 pages, then realize they're on the same side and must team up against the villain. But wait, we're out of space now, readers, so tune in next month for the battle with Doc Ock.


I don't think hero vs. hero battles keep the plot from getting started: these sort of conflicts can, in many cases, define the plot itself. I'm remembering one of the X-MEN/AVENGERS team-ups, where the X-Men were placed in the ridiculous position of defending their greatest enemy, Magneto, from the Avengers, who wanted to bring the super-villain before the World Court for crimes against humanity. The X-Men, however, realized that because of a recent wave of anti-mutant hysteria, it just wouldn't be possible for Magneto to get a fair trial.

Strangely enough, the Avengers are my favorite superteam at Marvel, but still, every time they and the X-Men have a tiff, I tend to root for the X-Men, because they're "rebels," whereas the Avengers represent "the Man."

Which brings me to my next point...

Quote from: "nightwing"
I guarantee you if Batman was written as a guy who came up with non-violent solutions to problems, cures to diseases or other altruistic achievements, he'd be rejected by fans as completely as "boy scout Superman." Intelligent and well-adjusted = dork. Intelligent with zero social skills and a mean streak = cool.


Though I agree with you that Batman shouldn't be written this way, there is something to be said for the very real appeal of misanthropic, rebellious, or loner heroic characters.

X-Men was more popular, but for my money the guy that got the whole thing down pat first and best was Steve Gerber in his DEFENDERS. No disrespect intended to Englehart, who did some great DEFENDERS yarns, but reading the Thomas and Englehart DEFENDERS was a little bit like watching the first season of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION when the actors hadn't jelled or discovered what the show was about.

Gerber, on the other hand, figured out that what brought the Defenders together was not the fact that they were all an ironic "non-team team," but that at some level they were all just not socially acceptable. Gerber gave the Defenders something that only the Legion of Super-Heroes previously had: a team that people respond to with an unusually strong sense of identification.

Quote from: "nightwing"
Plus nine times out of ten it all ends in a draw anyway so as not to offend fans of either character.


Yeah, I always hated that; it's for this reason that I loved the Lee/Kirby Hercules/Thor fight where Hercules rather definitively BEATS Thor. Thor's girlfriend, Jane Foster, comes up to comfort him, and Thor pushes her away and says "Get away! I don't want your pity." And then you had the jackal-like reporters say things like "If I were you, goldilocks, I woulda stayed in bed!" Which prompts Thor to wonder, "So, it's come to this. Thor, a subject of jest."

Later on, Thor got his dignity and acquitted himself with honor when he fought to save Hercules when he was trapped in the Underworld by Pluto. But still, what a moment!
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« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2006, 03:17:59 AM »

Quote from: "Criadoman"
....and the apex of human development in Bats.


Hang on. Wasn't that Superman's line?

I don't agree with this idea in relation to Batman.

Quote
For me - if Bats and Supes could be considered to be 2 extreme sides of the same spectrum, then all other heros pretty much fall somewhere in between.


I do see what you're saying, but I don't really agree. I don't think Batman is at the opposite end of a spectrum to Superman. And I don't agree with some of the things Nightwing said about Batman's "brains" or "intelligence". The Batman I'm familiar with was not a genius at the top of the heap. I don't recall him ever being a genius like Luthor or Einstein. He was a physical man with a very sharp analytical mind, a detective. He didn't even invent the Batarang....

Batman was an obsessive youth who devoted most of his life, up to a certain point before his crime fighting activities started, to physical training of all types (boxing, martial arts, acrobatics, etc.) and in the sorts of chemical and forensic pursuits that could aid his fight. Without the mental discipline and all those years of intense training, Batman would be a normal man with an athletic build (or, if the average American is anything to go by, a build like the Pillsbury Doughboy), and an undeveloped talent for deduction.

You don't for a minute think he invented and built every component of all his equipment, do you?-----because I don't.

At the other end of the spectrum from Superman I would put someone like Green Lantern. Hal Jordan was a two-fisted scrapper, and I loved that about the character, but let's face it: a Green Lantern can be an entirely cerebral character, activating his weapons through the exclusive use of his mind. That, to me, would set him apart from Superman & Batman. Batman isn't Batman because he's a detective -- there are plenty of detectives; he's Batman because he has a scary image and can beat five men at once in a street-fight.
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