Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lead kindly, Darkness

The most stereotyped answer to the question as to why one likes Batman is “Because he does not have any special powers. He is more believable than Superman or Spiderman.”

Well. I’m sorry, but the answer lacks originality. In pretty much the same way a photocopy lacks originality. You can tell, straight away, that it's one of those things that people say just because everyone's saying it.

Since when has a character or a story, especially a superhero, been judged on its believability? The point of fiction being to offer your imagination a chance to break free of the shackles of reality and spread its wings and set out to explore the wilderness of possibility and, more importantly, impossibility, it would be stupid to appreciate fiction, and superhero fiction at that, on the basis of how realistic it is. 

No. It’s not that. It’s not that at all. Batman is not the best of them merely because he is more believable. He is as unbelievable as the rest of them. It is near on impossible for any single man to have:
(a)    All the money in the world to play with
(b)   Had Catwoman (and other women, of course)
(c)    Attained the peak of physical perfection
(d)   Gained expertise in almost all spheres of knowledge
(e)   Without any special sense like Spidey, dodged as many bullets as he has

To me, Batman is the greatest superhero because he represents the supreme will that we should all aspire to. Because, unlike Superman and Spiderman, Batman had to work to become Batman. He could have just been Bruce Wayne, head of Wayne Enterprises and amassed millions more. And to get your niggling doubt out of the way, he could have very easily gone in for therapy to get over the shock of his parents’ death.  He didn't need to don a cape and a gown and prowl the streets at night.

But he didn’t. He decided to do the impossible. And, because he is a fictional character in a fictional city, he achieved it. What one should take home after taking a Batman comic (apart from that immense sense of satisfaction) is the inspiration to strive to achieve the impossible. You might not be able to achieve the impossible. Because you are a real person. You’re not meant to. That’s why it called ‘impossible’. However, what it will help you do is to become the best you can.

So. When you wake up and switch off the alarm clock, throwing to the wind your resolution to pay a visit to the gym TODAY, no matter what, you should think of Batman and the hours of training he puts in. When you are on the verge of giving up working on what could be the most important case of your career, you should think of Batman and the effort he puts in to catch the Joker. And while you’re doing all that thinking, think also of all the Selina Kyles and Vicki Vales that wait at the end of the Tunnel of Effort.
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