This month, Sam Swoap and Zach Armet tackle the most controversial superhero of today’s modern comic mythology.
The Riddler: If Batman is so great, why doesn’t he use his money to clean up the streets of Gotham City. Why doesn’t he create jobs to uplift the city’s poor? Gotham is always rife with unemployment, which could be easily fixed by Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises.
Alfred Pennyworth: The problem is that the whole city is corrupt. The mob rules the city, and no one besides Batman can challenge their corrupt dominance of Gotham. The whole idea behind Gotham is that everyone in the city is poisoned by money. He can’t use his money to create jobs because Gotham is a decadent rotting husk of its former glory. Fighting crime in the Batmobile is his only way to improve Gotham.
The Riddler: The Batmobile is the perfect example of why he is such a horrible superhero. It’s so egotistical of Batman to declare himself savior of the city, and then patrol the streets in a vehicle fashioned in his own image. The Batmobile is simply billionaire Bruce Wayne’s plaything.
Alfred Pennyworth: What makes Batman such an iconic superhero is his reflection of our societal values. I mean clearly we as a society value opulence, physical prowess, whiteness, and maleness. But more importantly he is that ideal of a renegade. He is one man on a Crusade to save his city, where anyone else would long ago have abandoned ship. He is the classic underdog, fighting against the whole city to save it from itself.
The Riddler: His great war on the sinners of Gotham is a glorified way for him to exact revenge for the death of his parents. He doesn’t directly attack the politicians and police officers of Gotham, he hunts the scum of the city’s underworld in an attempt to clean up the streets. He prowls Gotham for folks just like the murderer of Martha and Thomas Wayne. When a villain appears, they arise out of power, because whoever is able to kill the Batman, will become the savior of the criminal underbelly and be able to form a unified criminal empire.
Alfred Pennyworth: Batman might not be an effective superhero, but he certainly is a great narrative . If he cleaned up Gotham, there would be no story. He is possibly the best superhero in existence because of the symbolism inherent in his story.
The Riddler: It is the symbol of Batman that creates villains in the first place. In order to obtain power over the criminal world, villains try to prove themselves by destroying the great hero of Gotham. The villains are out there not because of the city’s corruption, but because of the very person trying to fix Gotham.
Alfred: But you conveniently forget there are many villains who would be out there regardless of Batman’s existence. He is the one who stops these people. To quote Alfred Pennyworth, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
The Riddler: A so-called hero such as Batman cannot be romanticized. His singular quest for justice for the murders of his parents has victimized an entire city. His approach toward cleaning up Gotham has disenfranchised the lower-income populations. Batman is undeniably a selfish egomaniac feeding the vicious cycle of Gotham’s underworld.
Alfred: Batman is how we picture ourselves in our best moments. He is flawed, and that humanizes this otherwise perfect character. He is a hero because he inspires others to defend the good spirit of humanity. His symbol is a beacon of hope to those without any. As Batman said, he’s “not the hero Gotham needs, [he’s] the one it deserves.” Batman is the savior of Gotham, the crusader against evil, the Dark Knight.