Is Batman Bigoted Against Metahumans?

Posted by BatWatch (2366 posts) - - Show Bio

Is Batman Bigoted Against Metahumans?

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I know your instant answer to that question is, “No! Of course not!” but consider the possibility with me for just a few minutes. We know that Batman is willing to fight by the side of any hero when push comes to shove. He is a prominent member of the Justice League which is filled with supernatural heroes, yet when it comes to Bruce's inner circle, there is a mysterious lack of superpowered beings. Batman has adopted five children, yet none of them possess any powers. Almost all Bruce's closest allies are powerless. Bruce zealously guards Gotham from unapproved vigilantes, and almost every hero he allows to operate in Gotham is unpowered. Even when he offered the support of Batman to the whole world through Batman Incorporated, Bruce basically put a sign on his club house door that said, “No Metahumans Allowed.”

With all this in mind, I think it is fair to consider the question. I mean, aren't there any young, vengeful, orphans with superpowers that Batman could lead into a life of violence and vigilantism?

Exceptions

Again, the vast majority of Batman's allies are humans, but with a rolodex as full as Batman's, we can find all kinds of characters. All of the Robins and Batgirls are unpowered, but Catwoman is suspected to have an empathic affinity for cats. Azrael (Valley) had superhuman strength due to his line of strong genetic forefathers. The Birds of Prey operates under tacit approval of Batman, yet it is led by Black Canary who possesses a skull shattering canary cry. Even though these are exceptions to the no power rule, these are still relatively minor powers considering the amped up power houses that live in the DC universe.

Speaking of amped up powerhouses, Superman causes a significant chink in the theory that Batman is bigoted. After all, Batman considers a mighty alien to be his best friend, and Bruce often teams up with Clark even outside of their work with the Justice League. However, Batman is famed for his suspicious nature, and you could easily conclude that Bruce is only close to Superman so that he can be there to take him out should the need arise. Sure, Batman calls Clark friend, but Bruce is hardly above lying.

Batman Incorporated also has some exceptions. There is an entire unit of Batman Incorporated called the Dead Heroes Club that includes heroes with super powers. Also, Squire has the ability to interpret information by touch. Still, it remains true that not a single superpowered being is allowed to be “Batman.” Batman Incorporated's limited inclusion of metahumans might seem to disprove the idea of Bruce's bigotry at first, but if you apply Bruce's decisions to the real world, it makes them appear even worse. Can you imagine if the military created a separate branch for black soldiers or if women were prohibited from attaining a certain rank?

Reality Check!

I've been playing Devil's advocate, but let's get real for a moment. We all know why Batman does not have a bunch of superpowered allies, and it has nothing to do with bigotry. Batman is light on metahuman allies because it would ruin the tone of Batman. There are very few superheroes without superpowers, and none are as well known or well respected as the Dark Knight. It is the gritty determination of an unpowered man to focus him mind and body to overcome any obstacle that makes Bruce an admirable character. It is the knowledge that Batman cannot shrug off bullets and the lowliest thug could potentially cripple or kill him that adds tension to his battles for justice. If Batman had an ally that could simply throw up an impenetrable, psychic shield, it would fundamentally alter the nature of Batman stories, and nobody wants to see that.

However, that is an outside the universe answer to the question. What is the inside universe answer?

The In Universe Perspective

As far as I know, this subject has never really been covered in comics, but here are some theories that could explain Bruce's bias.

1. Bruce doesn't trust metahumans. Perhaps Bruce's feelings about metahumans are much the same as his feeling on guns. They can be useful, but they can also be extremely dangerous and unpredictable. It is better not to add an extra layer of risk to his operations. He knows the capabilities of humans, but metahumans are a wild card that cannot always be properly predicted.

2. The unpowered need help to fight crime. If you can walk through a hail of gunfire and punch a hole in a mountain, you probably do not need a billion dollars of Wayne tech to give you an edge. Powered heroes can go out and start making a positive change in the world just by virtue of their natural abilities, but human heroes need equipment and training, two things that Batman can provide.

3. There are better places for metahumans to learn to be a hero. Batman doesn't know what it feels like to be able to shoot beams out of his eyeballs. He has no idea what it is like to have to pull your punch because a fraction of your strength could take off a villain's head. Batman simply does not have the experience to help people like that, but there are others who do. The Justice League, throughout most of its existence, has reached out to new heroes and helped them out. There are tons of teams which take fledgling superheroes and give them more experience with the moderate safety net of allies. This was especially true during the time the JSA was in operation for the JSA were essentially superhero trainers. If you had powers, why would you look up to Batman to train you?

4. Batman is a symbol. Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot, so what makes you more scared if you are a street level criminal? A guy in red and blue who can punch through a mountain or a guy who can blend in with the night and take you out with a punch to the face. Superhumans generally handle superhuman threats. They don't worry about the common lowlife. Having a hero who is human reminds both good guys and bad guys alike that everybody can be Batman. Your neighbor across the street, the police officer on the corner, and the person reading the newspaper on the park bench could all be someone watching you and waiting for you to commit a crime just so they can punch your lights out. The metahumans are going to fly right over your head and punch Godzilla in the jaw, but Batman is probably watching you right now.

Final Thoughts

I don't think Batman is a bigot. At most, he is more suspicious of superhumans because of their greater power. However, this idea is largely unexplored in comics, and it could lead to some interesting plot lines if Batman had to deal with a new powered trainee or he was called to task on his apparent bias. I would not like to see Batman surrounded by metahumans, but as a brief story arch, it could be interesting.

For more news, reviews, and commentary for the entire Bat Family, check out BatWatch.net.

#1 Edited by BlackWind (5661 posts) - - Show Bio

Not exactly, he just doesn't trust them. Not that he himself is trustworthy.

So nothing's perfect.

#2 Posted by FatihBATMAN (1389 posts) - - Show Bio

Nice post as always.

#3 Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt (12592 posts) - - Show Bio

Bigoted isn't the term i would use. Cautious is a better one. and the reason that most of the heroes that Bruce allows to operate in Gotham is that most of Gotham's heroes are unpowered.

#4 Posted by batshrine (976 posts) - - Show Bio

So I am being totally honest, normally I love your commentaries (I read them directly off your website) but this one threw me off.

I mean you had good points at the end but you literally started saying Batman was a bigot, then saying we know he's not then you try to explain why we know he is not, then you try to theorize why the Bat family is short on super powers. There didn't seem to be much of a focus...

But besides that! My thoughts

Intro

There are heroes in Gotham with superpowers, I will address that later cause you do to!

Yeah odds are an orphan that needs help will have no powers there are a finite number of heroes and villains with powers and there are billions of people in the world.

Batman never said no super powers allowed.

Exceptions

You also forgot Black Lightning operates in Gotham as well, so does Ragman, Zatanna and Zatara, Jason Blood, Plastic Man, Hitman (before he died). We unfortunately haven't gotten a chance to see any of them in their solo adventures in New 52 but it has been confirmed that they all operated in Gotham City. And then you might wonder why don't they see Batman more often, its a big city, and they all have their adventures without Batman. Just like how in the Bat family stories, Batman has barely shown up in Batgirl, only showed up once in Birds of Prey, Nightwing he only shows up for tie ins, and Batwoman he was only visible once (and they are all part of his family, and they still manage to have solo adventures). My point being is that he does allow others to fight crime in his city, but as long as they don't break his rules. The reason why he is shown being critical towards it is his rule breaking, doesn't want people ruining his MO, and if they don't have powers, he doesn't want them hurting themselves.

As far as Superman, I will argue that he is not close to Superman because he is suspicious of him but because Superman is his best friend. There is ample evidence to prove it (check out any world's finest or team up stories). It started out as an uneasy alliance on both sides but they eventually grew fond of each other and now are legit friends. Do they trust each other with their lives, yes actually. Is Batman cautious with Superman's powers, and has a back up plan if Superman goes rogue, ya actually, and it has been depicted multiple times that Superman is ok with that (hence trusting him with his life).

Yeah Batman Inc has its super powered folk and they have been Batman for far longer as the outsiders. Obviously we don't know with the DCnU timeline, but the outsiders have been with Batman longer than Tim Drake has. And its not a team of black soldiers or just women. Its a team with the gun power that the rest don't have. The whole point is Batman goes out to different countries and trains people to be Batman. He gives them the resources, and tech and finds people that will adhere to his philosophy. I will get back to this point later.

Reality Check!

Ya you make good points here, but there are certain powers that can still work with Batman's dark setting. I mean imagine a character that could control the dark, or even a character that is kinda psychic and will know when someone would shoot a bullet and easily avoids it but simply moving your head. I am sure that would freak villains out. Granted yeah I am not reading Batman for the super powers, but they could still work in his world (just all depends on the writer).

The Universe Perspective

1. There is a difference between someone being racist and someone saying something racist. Batman trusts some metahumans, he doesn't trust their powers. And for good reasons, if any of them could take him out at a moments notice, its good to stay on your guard.

2. YES! Thats what I honestly believe. Batman's surrounded by non powered people in his Bat family because he can train them. Batman Inc, same thing.

3. Eh I feel like this is a weak extension of number 2.

4. I feel like this would go better in your reality check. I mean honestly if i was even littering, and I saw Superman I would pee my pants. And plus he could always change his clothes to be black and grey, and if he did his glowing red eye thing, I am sure I would think I'm going to die. Plus how often does Godzilla really attack. And I am sure if Godzilla attacked Gotham, Batman would go after Godzilla first too...

Ha sorry if I am critiquing you, I just love your thoughts, and am trying to help your writing any way I can. This honestly felt like you were going to try to provide evidence that he is a bigot, then you switched gears. If you really wanted to do a comparative analysis and show both sides, say that in your intro. Cause your intro was purely in favor of him being Bigoted, and then you ended with him not being. Over all excellent thoughts and great questions posed.

And one last thing, I will say that the argument that Batman doesn't trust superpowers is valid. No one should have that much power because if for any reason things go bad, things go BAD. But he would never persecute someone, or judge them simply because they have super powers. It goes purely against his philosophy of justice.

#5 Posted by BatWatch (2366 posts) - - Show Bio

@batshrine:

Hey, I've got about a hundred comments on ComicVine today, so I can't really give a response that does this justice, but I wanted to let you know that I read it and appreciate your thoughts.

To briefly defend the article, my idea was to explore the idea of whether or not Batman was a bigot. I was trying to look at both sides of the issue, and I first tried to make the case that he was, and then took it apart piece by piece and explained the real reasons behind Bruce's actions and theorized on possible In Universe explanations for his actions.

Thanks.

#6 Posted by SmashBrawler (5507 posts) - - Show Bio

You humans are all racist!

#7 Posted by DeathpooltheT1000 (9601 posts) - - Show Bio

So Batman is insane, because he notice that Clark is dangerous for the fact he can destroy the world with his own hands?

#8 Posted by darkman61288 (722 posts) - - Show Bio

Batman is just paranoid . This paranoia comes from the fact that he saw the abuse by those in power in Gotham city.And he fears what could happen if the JL abused their power. He has also had romances with metahumans like Zatanna, Wonder Woman, and others.

#9 Posted by BatWatch (2366 posts) - - Show Bio

@SmashBrawler said:

You humans are all racist!

No we're not! Now crawl back into your animal mother's tummy you metahuman freak!

@DeathpooltheT1000 said:

So Batman is insane, because he notice that Clark is dangerous for the fact he can destroy the world with his own hands?

I didn't say that.

@darkman61288 said:

Batman is just paranoid . This paranoia comes from the fact that he saw the abuse by those in power in Gotham city.And he fears what could happen if the JL abused their power. He has also had romances with metahumans like Zatanna, Wonder Woman, and others.

Eh, he never really had a romance with either one of them. He flirted, but that does not really count.

#10 Posted by darkman61288 (722 posts) - - Show Bio

@BatWatch: Batman and Wonder Woman did date in JLA. And he has feelings for Zatanna.

#11 Posted by spinningbirdcake (1430 posts) - - Show Bio

I think he trusts Clark, maybe Diana but that's about it. And as smart as he is he should be wary of superhumans.

#12 Edited by BatWatch (2366 posts) - - Show Bio

@darkman61288 said:

@BatWatch: Batman and Wonder Woman did date in JLA. And he has feelings for Zatanna.

I recall them talking about possibly dating and then not acting on it. When did they actually date? Yes, Bruce has feelings for Zatanna, but they still did not date.

I really think Batman is a bit skittish about getting to close to metahumans.

@spinningbirdcake said:

I think he trusts Clark, maybe Diana but that's about it. And as smart as he is he should be wary of superhumans.

I agree. Also, what's up with your name?

#13 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio

I really think bigot is far too strong a word. He is very wary, and probably, I would think, a touch jealous. He has to work so damn hard, but things (in terms of saving people) come so easy to guys like Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, etc...  
 
It's like the frail and intellectual guy in a room full of football players. He could be great friends with half the team, doesn't mean he won't resent the fact he's the only one not asked to prom. 

#14 Posted by BatWatch (2366 posts) - - Show Bio

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

I really think bigot is far too strong a word. He is very wary, and probably, I would think, a touch jealous. He has to work so damn hard, but things (in terms of saving people) come so easy to guys like Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, etc... It's like the frail and intellectual guy in a room full of football players. He could be great friends with half the team, doesn't mean he won't resent the fact he's the only one not asked to prom.

Heh! The football/intellectual setup is a clever comparison.

I had not thought of it as jealously. Perhaps so.

#15 Posted by OhItsThatGuy (791 posts) - - Show Bio

Batman isn't bigoted against people with powers. He has been shown to have great respect for people like Superman and Martian Manhunter. He has also been shown multiple times being affectionate towards Wonder Woman. I just feel that Batman is surrounded mostly by humans, because those humans were incredibly vulnerable at one time of their lives, and Batman swooped in to help. Batman's closest are more like a family, with Batman as the dad. He comes off as distant to almost everyone else, human or not, for he has trust issues. Batman is severely, mentally ill.

#16 Posted by BatWatch (2366 posts) - - Show Bio

@OhItsThatGuy said:

Batman isn't bigoted against people with powers. He has been shown to have great respect for people like Superman and Martian Manhunter. He has also been shown multiple times being affectionate towards Wonder Woman. I just feel that Batman is surrounded mostly by humans, because those humans were incredibly vulnerable at one time of their lives, and Batman swooped in to help. Batman's closest are more like a family, with Batman as the dad. He comes off as distant to almost everyone else, human or not, for he has trust issues. Batman is severely, mentally ill.

So if I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that part of the reason that Batman partners with humans is that he instinctively identifies with their vulnerability. Interesting idea. Very interesting.

Batman's mental illness seems to differ from writer to writer. I suppose if you take all the writers different versions and try to make them into one coherent whole, then you are right, but my own personal version of Batman makes him merely eccentric and not crazy.

#17 Edited by OhItsThatGuy (791 posts) - - Show Bio

@BatWatch:

I get where you're coming from, though I can't shake the idea of him being crazy. I feel a large part of what makes Batman interesting is that the only thing that really separates him from his frequent enemies is the fact that Batman is actually aware of the fact that he is mentally-ill. His awareness goes so deep, that Batman admits that at his deepest core, he isn't a good person(which I somewhat doubt a bit). His reasoning for what he does also seem to tell of severe mental illness. Though he fights crime, he will go about breaking several ethical boundaries to do so. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Batman conspires, lies, deceives, spies, infiltrates, steals, and exploits to save the day. It comes off like a pathological need to preserve peace, than something brought about from a view of compassion, honor, or responsibility The same way Joker is driven kill, it seems Batman is driven to save. Also, his reasons for not killing go far beyond any sensible code of ethics. It is without any doubt that if Batman simply applied lethal force against his rogue's gallery, a rogue's gallery that has undergone therapy for decades without any slight hint of improvement(besides Riddler), Gotham and the world would be a much more pleasant place. What I found most disturbing was when his reasoning was finally explored when Jason Todd asked Batman why he didn't kill Joker. Batman essentially told him that if he killed Joker, he'd go down a place he could never force himself from. This essentially means that if Batman killed one person, there was essentially nothing he could do from killing more people. If that isn't sick, then I don't know what is. It's no wonder Superman considers Batman the most dangerous person on the planet. I respect your opinion of course, but I just can't swallow the idea of him just being eccentric. Batman is awesome, and he's helped billions by just being there(especially most of the Robins who he helped so they would not end up like him), but the dude is a loon.

#18 Posted by BatWatch (2366 posts) - - Show Bio

@OhItsThatGuy said:

@BatWatch:

I get where you're coming from, though I can't shake the idea of him being crazy. I feel a large part of what makes Batman interesting is that the only thing that really separates him from his frequent enemies is the fact that Batman is actually aware of the fact that he is mentally-ill. His awareness goes so deep, that Batman admits that at his deepest core, he isn't a good person(which I somewhat doubt a bit). His reasoning for what he does also seem to tell of severe mental illness. Though he fights crime, he will go about breaking several ethical boundaries to do so. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Batman conspires, lies, deceives, spies, infiltrates, steals, and exploits to save the day. It comes off like a pathological need to preserve peace, than something brought about from a view of compassion, honor, or responsibility The same way Joker is driven kill, it seems Batman is driven to save. Also, his reasons for not killing go far beyond any sensible code of ethics. It is without any doubt that if Batman simply applied lethal force against his rogue's gallery, a rogue's gallery that has undergone therapy for decades without any slight hint of improvement(besides Riddler), Gotham and the world would be a much more pleasant place. What I found most disturbing was when his reasoning was finally explored when Jason Todd asked Batman why he didn't kill Joker. Batman essentially told him that if he killed Joker, he'd go down a place he could never force himself from. This essentially means that if Batman killed one person, there was essentially nothing he could do from killing more people. If that isn't sick, then I don't know what is. It's no wonder Superman considers Batman the most dangerous person on the planet. I respect your opinion of course, but I just can't swallow the idea of him just being eccentric. Batman is awesome, and he's helped billions by just being there(especially most of the Robins who he helped so they would not end up like him), but the dude is a loon.

(laughs at calling Batman a loon)

All very interesting. Seriously, I like your perspective a lot, but I'm not sure I can say much in response because I'm just kind of pondering it.

#19 Posted by Ammo_Baba (10 posts) - - Show Bio

@Avenging-X-Bolt: Although Batman is cautious in the people he keeps closest to him (if anyone can really get emotionally close to Batman) the Bat Family it would seem are more of a split representation of his own psyche kinda like the cliche he sees something of himself in each of the ones he actually acquainted, like

Dick Grayson- Having a similar past to his own as well as his determination to bring vengeance

Jason Todd- His extreme hatred of Gotham's underworld and aggressiveness towards it

#20 Posted by PsychoJack (174 posts) - - Show Bio

He's not a bigot, just doesn't trust them because of his paranoia. Hell, he barely trusts anyone.

#21 Edited by jointron33 (1902 posts) - - Show Bio

He is an insecure little twit who is scared of the big boys

#22 Posted by Guardian_of_Gravity (2973 posts) - - Show Bio

@jointron33: Thank you for your meaningful and utterly necessary addition to a dead thread.

#23 Posted by Divine_Disorder (101 posts) - - Show Bio

At the beginning of Justice League, when they first meet Martian Manhunter, Batman is immediately suspicious of him. Superman says, "Don't take it personally, J'onn. He doesn't trust anyone." Then J'onn says, "A wise policy." So there's the answer. Batman's not bigoted against metahumans. He just doesn't trust anyone, period.

@BatWatch:

I get where you're coming from, though I can't shake the idea of him being crazy. I feel a large part of what makes Batman interesting is that the only thing that really separates him from his frequent enemies is the fact that Batman is actually aware of the fact that he is mentally-ill. His awareness goes so deep, that Batman admits that at his deepest core, he isn't a good person(which I somewhat doubt a bit). His reasoning for what he does also seem to tell of severe mental illness. Though he fights crime, he will go about breaking several ethical boundaries to do so. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Batman conspires, lies, deceives, spies, infiltrates, steals, and exploits to save the day. It comes off like a pathological need to preserve peace, than something brought about from a view of compassion, honor, or responsibility The same way Joker is driven kill, it seems Batman is driven to save. Also, his reasons for not killing go far beyond any sensible code of ethics. It is without any doubt that if Batman simply applied lethal force against his rogue's gallery, a rogue's gallery that has undergone therapy for decades without any slight hint of improvement(besides Riddler), Gotham and the world would be a much more pleasant place. What I found most disturbing was when his reasoning was finally explored when Jason Todd asked Batman why he didn't kill Joker. Batman essentially told him that if he killed Joker, he'd go down a place he could never force himself from. This essentially means that if Batman killed one person, there was essentially nothing he could do from killing more people. If that isn't sick, then I don't know what is. It's no wonder Superman considers Batman the most dangerous person on the planet. I respect your opinion of course, but I just can't swallow the idea of him just being eccentric. Batman is awesome, and he's helped billions by just being there(especially most of the Robins who he helped so they would not end up like him), but the dude is a loon.

Interesting point of view. I agree that Batman's a bit of a nutter himself, but I have to disagree regarding his no-killing policy. I think that's basically the only thing that separates him from his rogues. They're all crazy to varying degrees AND they're all aware of it, too. Except the bad guys kill and Batman doesn't. If he were to cross that line, then he's essentially no different from the rest of them. When he explained this policy to Jason, I didn't interpret it as Batman unleashing his inner serial killer and finding it impossible to stop killing once he starts. I took it to mean something like, "Why stop at one guy? If I kill this person, I might as well kill that person, and so on and so forth." Where does it end? How do you make the decision to take one criminal's life and spare another's? It's not Batman's job to make that decision, it's the court's. Batman's no judge/jury/executioner. He's only there to help prevent crime, protect the innocent, and apprehend criminals. Plus there's also the problem that if he killed all of his villains and Gotham was finally a safe place, then writers would literally be writing Batman out of a job. His rogues are almost as iconic as he is. There's no way writers are going to kill them off permanently, or even lock them up permanently.

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

@batwatch: hey um you do know batman has shruged off a shotgun right? There's that and his suit is bullet proof but now like a bullet proof vest more like they'll just bounce off like batwomans suit. So you do know he's bullet proof right?

#25 Posted by Divine_Disorder (101 posts) - - Show Bio

Interesting point of view. I agree that Batman's a bit of a nutter himself, but I have to disagree regarding his no-killing policy. I think that's basically the only thing that separates him from his rogues. They're all crazy to varying degrees AND they're all aware of it, too. Except the bad guys kill and Batman doesn't. If he were to cross that line, then he's essentially no different from the rest of them. When he explained this policy to Jason, I didn't interpret it as Batman unleashing his inner serial killer and finding it impossible to stop killing once he starts. I took it to mean something like, "Why stop at one guy? If I kill this person, I might as well kill that person, and so on and so forth." Where does it end? How do you make the decision to take one criminal's life and spare another's? It's not Batman's job to make that decision, it's the court's. Batman's no judge/jury/executioner. He's only there to help prevent crime, protect the innocent, and apprehend criminals. Plus there's also the problem that if he killed all of his villains and Gotham was finally a safe place, then writers would literally be writing Batman out of a job. His rogues are almost as iconic as he is. There's no way writers are going to kill them off permanently, or even lock them up permanently.

Forgot to say that Batman is supposed to be an incorruptible symbol of good. If he were to kill, then that symbol will be tarnished forever and he loses the one thing that separates him from the villains. Plus killing is too easy. It takes more strength to not kill a bad guy, especially for someone like Batman who is, without a doubt, more than capable of killing, but chooses to restrain himself. A no-killing policy is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.

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