Why is Batman Needed in JUSTICE LEAGUE? Author: Ricky Church (Follow @RICHARDCHURCH16)
Date: January 24, 2016
For one of the world’s most popular superheroes, it’s curious that Batman has no actual super powers. He doesn’t fly, have super-speed or a will-powered ring from space.
Much like Sherlock Holmes, Batman relies on his superior intellect to combat crime with fighting skills that would put Jason Bourne to shame. He’s a human being who fights, with the exception of a few villains, fairly ordinary human beings rather than aliens, monsters or super-powered foes.
Batman’s focus on realism is one of the main reasons “THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY” was such a huge success; Christopher Nolan’s approach and emphasis on realism in Batman’s world made each movie very accessible to the mainstream audience.
It’s been nearly four years since the trilogy ended with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. And now, Ben Affleck will be donning the cape and cowl as Batman fights alongside Superman and Wonder Woman against big monsters like Doomsday, going on to form their collection of superheroes in the Justice League.
Witnessing Batman alongside his superhero colleagues has been something many fans have clamored to see for several years…but why is that? Why is seeing one of DC’s most down-to-earth superheroes join forces with other superheroes to fight aliens, super villains and otherworldly creatures so appealing?
Take THE AVENGERS films for example. Nearly everyone on that team in the MCU has superpowers of some kind (yes, including Iron Man with his suit). The only two ordinary human beings in the Avengers are Black Widow and Hawkeye. Though Black Widow has become a popular character, she hasn’t had a movie of her own (nor does Marvel seem inclined at this point to make a movie centered around her), relegating her to a supporting character in Iron Man and Captain America’s films. Hawkeye, meanwhile, has never been very popular; usually being the mainstream audience’s least favorite Avenger. Much of this perception likely stems from the fact Hawkeye and Black Widow have no superpowers; instead, they wield a bow and arrow and a pair of pistols respectively.
Mainstream audience members have felt that’s rather silly when they stand next to the likes of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man or The Hulk, even with their fighting skills and Hawkeye’s unique arrow gadgetry.
Though Batman is far more popular and well-liked than both Black Widow and Hawkeye, he could still face the same block from the mainstream audience who can’t suspend their disbelief that a man dressed as a bat could hold his own alongside Superman, much less in a fight against him.
However, this is where Batman differs from Hawkeye, Black Widow or similar superheroes: even without powers, Batman remains as dangerous as any member of the Justice League due to his sheer intellect and force of will. Take this exchange from the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED episode “Epilogue,” where Terry McGinnis, Bruce Wayne’s replacement as Batman 40 years in the future, speaks with government spy Amanda Waller…
Batman is the consummate tactician, planning ten moves ahead of the villains. This was a popular concept throughout the 2000s era of comics. In “Tower of Babel” Batman had a host of plans designed to defeat any member of the Justice League should they go rogue. Grant Morrison’s depiction of the Dark Knight similarly showed him as an unstoppable force who meticulously planned his attacks and counter-attacks sometimes years in advance, making his mantra “the victory is in the preparation.” Jim Krueger and Alex Ross also utilized this concept of Batman in their maxi-series Justice, using Batman as the focal point for the Justice League’s counterattack against the Legion of Doom.
Simply put, and needless to say for anyone reading this, Batman is AWESOME. He’s an ordinary man who has risen to a higher calling, training his whole life to ensure what happened to him will never happen to another ten year old child. Even Superman has acknowledged Batman’s capabilities as a fighter; indeed, Batman’s skills are the reason he gave Batman, above anybody else in the Justice League, a kryptonite ring to stop him should he ever be mind-controlled or, should the worst come to pass, go rogue (as Batman very much fears in Batman v Superman).
However, despite all of Batman’s immense skills, it is his humanity that has earned him Superman’s respect. In many different mediums the Man of Steel has always remarked that underneath all of Batman’s bravado and stern visage, what drives Batman the most is his determination to never see another person die. This determination within Batman has sparked more than a flame, but several forest fires to combat injustice. It’s allowed him to overcome mental and physical trauma, pushing himself beyond the brink to protect his city and the world. This is why so many fans want to see him standing next to Superman and Wonder Woman: despite his disadvantages as a flesh and blood mortal, Batman’s sheer force of will and stubborn refusal to give into random chaos is just as super as the other two members of DC’s Trinity. - Ricky Church
Richard Church is an aspiring writer for short stories, novels and screenplays.
He is also an avid fan of the superhero genre.
Follow him on Twitter @RICHARDCHURCH16.