Flanderization of Batman

#1 Edited by DeathpooltheT1000 (9561 posts) - - Show Bio

Thanks to the TV Tropes guys for this.


The act of taking a single (often minor) action or trait of a character within a work and exaggerating it more and more over time until it completely consumes the character. Most always, the trait/action becomes completely outlandish and it becomes their defining characteristic. Sitcoms and Sitcom characters are particularly susceptible to this, as are peripheral characters in shows with long runs.Named for one of the examples in The Simpsons, Ned Flanders, who was originally just a considerate neighbor and attentive father (contrast to Homer), before becoming obsessively religious to the point of lunacy.

  • Bruce Wayne was originally depicted as merely Comfortably Well-Off. Now, he's one of the two richest men in The DCU. Of course, that's hardly the only example of Bat-Flanderization:
    • Killer Croc was originally a somewhat intelligent gangster with a medical condition (a very severe medical condition), whose misanthropy was the result of being tormented by everyone (family included) for his freakish appearance. This was eventually downplayed, with Croc becoming more bestial and less intelligent as time went on (this was typically explained that his condition was worsening, further separating him from humanity). By the time of Hush, Croc could probably pass for a bulkier version of Marvel Comic's Lizard (explained away by Hush infecting him with a virus that further increased his mutation).
    • Batman himself has become increasingly ultra-competent and infallible in the past few decades. One could argue the flanderization of Batman was necessary to keep him interesting in the context of the Justice League. He's one of the few characters without a true super power, so the question of why they keep him around (aside from maybe his money) needs answering. Having him be the greatest strategist in existence gives him a purpose and even a reason for being one of the guys in charge.
      • He's also portrayed as the "brooding loner" of the Justice League. This is despite the fact that the "Bat-family" has more members than Superman's friends and allies, two of the five Robins have led the Teen Titans, one of those two also led Young Justice, the other is considered the most trustworthy man in the hero community, and Oracle acts as the Mission Control. He is a close friend of a lot of superheroes as well, and he managed to be something of a father to CassandraCain.
      • Also, any time he and Superman teamed up between 1986 and—oh—1998, Batman's badass vigilante aspects and Superman's nice guy aspects were milked to create a dynamic that was fairly shallow when you realize that their "methods" are situational and not particularly consistent.
  • Batman The Animated Series: Somewhere between the early seasons and the later "new look" seasons, Batman went from a caring and compassionate man with some anger issues to the mostly cold grim vigilante most people recognize. It works mostly (unless he goes the full Jerkass route) but its a bit odd when you're rewatching the series. Some of the villains go from conflicted neurotics who seemed like they could be saved to simpler hardened criminals although this is usually justified as them giving up on a normal life after failed attempts at reform.
    • This could be attributed to the growing number of youthful, idealistic foils introduced by Executive Meddling. The higher-ups became increasingly convinced that Batman was too old for the Target Audience to relate to, hence the addition of Robin, Batgirl, the other Robin and very nearly Creeper. Some of Batman's worst Jerkass moments resulted from his use as a foil for the sidekicks, as seen in the episodes "Old Wounds", "Never Fear" and "Growing Pains". This had the effect of making Batman considerably less likable and, ironically, less relatable, although it worked in Batman Beyond when he was 80.
      • It's at least justified for "Never Fear" considering Batman was under the effects of Scarecrow's gas.
    • The entire DC Animated Universe could count. With the aforementioned Batman The Animated Series, it starts off as a more representative portrayal of the original comics, but beginning with Superman The Animated Series, is later flanderized gradually into a Deconstruction of previous portrayals (including said original comics).
    • The animated portrayals of the villains remained more or less stable throughout the series' run, with two notable exceptions.
      • The Ventriloquist was always a milquetoast sissy-boy who could still be quite dangerous when the situation demanded it, but every time he appeared his wimpiness only seemed to increase until his puppet, Scarface, had virtually taken control of him. Eventually he became so frightened of Scarface that he was constantly trying to hide from him (from a wooden dummy!). This trajectory finally resulted in the Ventriloquist's Heel Face Turn, so maybe it was just Character Development.
      • The Mad Hatter started out a quite menacing and fairly serious villain (at least by the standards of the show). He did grow more dangerous as time went on - but unfortunately he also got sillier, so that by the end of the series he was a ridiculous (if still sadistic) fruitcake constantly spouting Joker-like puns. He also physically shrunk, so in his last episode he looks barely taller than an Ewok!
#2 Posted by TheBhramaBull (268 posts) - - Show Bio

What's the point of this post? I mean, really? Flanderization has occurred with pretty much every single comic book super hero then, not just Batman

#3 Posted by lifeofvibe (3430 posts) - - Show Bio

@thebhramabull: there is no point...its just interesting what he talking about

#4 Posted by tec79 (158 posts) - - Show Bio

I also agree this is interesting. If the writer could tie this into a single conclusion, I would like to see they ultimate point they are trying to make. I find this to be an interesting line of thought and good analysis.

#5 Posted by RustyRoy (11119 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah its interesting to see how many changes Batman has gone through, I's also say that there's very few characters who have had as many different interpretations as Batman.

#6 Posted by Kangaxx_54 (303 posts) - - Show Bio

It's funny, I've recently thought about the same. Not in those words, and I don't consider it a bad thing, but there have been a very drastic change over the last twenty years. I've just been reading some of the first issues of Legends of the Dark Knight, published in 1990, and TDKR clearly haven't had an impact yet. In one of the stories, Batman's walking home because the Batmobile is not yet finished, and he had to leave the hangglider behind :). It's interesting to read those stories, but I vastly prefer present-day Batman.

Also, the rest of my day have now been claimed by TVTropes!

#7 Posted by Nathaniel_Christopher (1558 posts) - - Show Bio

Ah I love TV Tropes.

Killer Croc's probably one of the worst examples in comic history to be honest, with his overall appearance and intelligence ranging all across the scale. A similar thing happened to many villains between the transition from Batman the Animated Series to The New Batman Adventures. Now I didn't necessarily see that as a bad thing, because some of the new designs like Mr. Freeze and Scarecrow were much better. Others however, like Mad Hatter and the Riddler, were weird and seemed pretty unnecessary. Freeze's seemed like a natural and logical progression of the character's condition. Scarecrow honestly had no explanation for his change, and the writers even admitted they no longer even knew if there was anyone actually inside the suit. I thought that worked perfectly and left his identity completely unknown. Hatter and Riddler however had established backgrounds and identities, and then they just changed in TNBA.

I feel like in comics a lot of the time the author's want to have Batman act dark and grim just for the sake of it. Whereas in BTAS I felt it was something that slowly built up over time, and even in the later days of TNBA you could still see shades of the more lighthearted man he'd been before.

I do have to agree that when written among the members of the Justice League it's inevitable that as the one guy with no powers his ability as a tactician and preparedness for situations is something that'd naturally be focused on more.

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