Batman: Plutocrat

Bruce Wayne

Steven Padnick does a much better job expressing why I’m uncomfortable with the traditional version of the Batman/Bruce Wayne mythos, leading me to create my own alternative version, than I could:

Just look at who he fights. Superman (for example) fights intergalactic dictators, evil monopolists, angry generals, and dark gods, i.e. symbols of abusive authority. Batman fights psychotics, anarchists, mob bosses, the mentally ill, and environmentalists, i.e. those who would overthrow the status quo. Superman fights those who would impose their version of order on the world. Batman fights those who would unbalance the order Batman himself imposes on Gotham. [...]

Of course, Batman doesn’t like the upper class he belongs to, either! Shallow, petty, boring, and vain, they know nothing of the pain and suffering he sees every night when he hunts killers through the slums of Gotham, every day when he closes his eyes. But does he dislike his wealthy peers because they don’t appreciate how wealthy they are? Or is it because they aren’t wealthy enough to appreciate how much responsibility he has?

But even if he thinks they’re upper class twits, he really doesn’t do anything about it. He leaves them in place, protects them from harm, flirts with and beds them. They’re not the bad guys, after all. It’s all those poor evil people. The one’s who keep crashing the gate, the ones who happened to be hurt in the hunt for profits. If it comes to a clash between the twit and the poor schlub they screwed over and disfigured, Batman tends to side with the twit. (To his disgust, yes, but he’ll do it.)

Tor: Batman: Plutocrat

The Christopher Nolan version does its best to skirt around this by making the Waynes progressive elites who help the poor and develop alternative energy systems and by making the threats to the status quo (mob bosses, the Joker, Bane) legitimately worse than the status quo. Note, for example, that Batman/Bruce Wayne are aware of John Daggett’s shady dealings in Africa, yet Daggett only becomes a concern when he steals Bruce Wayne’s finger prints and begins meddling with the Gotham Stock Exchange.

5 Comments

  1. Would you say this applies to Grant Morrison’s current run (the 100+ issues) as well?

    • I only read the first few issues of Morrison’s run and those definitely fit the Batman status quo. I haven’t read any of the death and return of Bruce Wayne or Batman Inc. books, but Padnick calls these out in his essay.

  2. The kind of ppl who root for the jokers and banes arent revolutionaries, they are lazy. Batman doesn’t overthrow the illuminati and neither does superman, they are too busy dealing with acute, violent cases of social corruption. I would argue neither of them are very relevant role models, except in very vague aspects of behavior.

  3. #Klint
    Padnick does the most general, shallow reading of Morrison’s Bat-Arc that I’ve seen from anyone who’s claimed to read it.
    The point of the entire Batman Inc. story is that after Bruce Wayne’s odyssey through time (where he finally receives spiritual closure over the trauma that caused him to create Batman) he publicly takes responsibility (to an extent) for creating Batman (at least through him giving resources). He creates this whole thing- Batman Incorporated, as a reaction to lower-liminal visions he receives while in the time-stream, or an Apocalyptic force that threatens to burn the world to dust. Leviathan. An organisation that brainwashes children and the disenfranchised (fuck it, lower class) to become murdering puppets under it’s control.
    So he pledges to help give funding and and support, but also allows them complete autonomy, to the people who have taken up the mantle of the bat through his prior inspiration.
    The whole damn arc in other words, is about Batman taking responsibility for his own actions. Socially, more than anything. It’s a damn pity that Morrison’s entire concept is going to be thrown out the window for the sake of “continuity”.

    • Continuity has been throwing out stories for years. Thankfully you can still read and enjoy those stories regardless of what some other writer or editor decided to do with a title later down the road.

      And isn’t Morrison bringing Batman Inc to the New 52 universe now anyway?

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