Establishing Myth from the Rooftops


In terms of fictional cities there are probably few as recognizable as Gotham and Metropolis.  This is mostly as a result of their association with two of the more famous superheroes – Superman and Batman.  In terms of the cities themselves they do not really have much in common, except that they could be said to be based off of New York City.  As cities though which represent such well known fictional characters though, they do share one thing in common and that is their height, and that is a height which is massively exaggerated at times.  There are some practical reasons to this.  For about 4000 years between 2700 BC and 1300 AD Egyptian pyramids were the tallest manmade structures in the world.  From 1311 AD until 1884 various churches were the tallest structures in the world.  Only starting in 1930 with the Chrysler Building (which was surpassed a year later by the Empire State Building) were the first skyscrapers which modern technologies allowed to build far past the height of other buildings and this fascination with growing higher continued for some time.  For instance, in 1956 Frank Lloyd Wright designed a skyscraper known as the Illinois (which was never built) which would be a mile high.  Thus the height of the buildings was partly reflective of the technological and architectural impulses of the time.  However, taken from a different vantage point the height of the buildings might have helped to establish these two heroes as almost mythical characters (to which Spider-Man could also be included).  Since the ancient times height has always been something which has been associated with divinity whether it be Zeus staring down in anger from Mount Olympus or the Christian God halting the building of the Tower of Babel do to its hubristic nature (though the interpretation of this is debatable.)  Generally speaking though gods and some legendary heroes assumed positions of both physical altitude to display their power.  In the case of the two iconic DC heroes, this was likely not planned specifically for this case but it nonetheless may have helped with their establishment as nearly mythical figures. 

11 Comments
11 Comments
Posted by Daveyo520

Nice blog.

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Posted by Delphic

I would agree that due to the characters usually descending from great heights it contributed to their mythical status, despite the actual reason for perching is only to have a greater vantage point.

Posted by RazzaTazz
@Delphic: Oh another thing I just thought about, with the bat signal Batman is getting his inspiration from the heavens
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Posted by Renchamp

Power from on high? Interesting concept. Maybe that's why we always assume aliens in comics are powerful. They could just be idiots and that's why we don't see Skrulls in real life.

Edited by RazzaTazz
@Renchamp: Aliens that are idiots was going to my next blog, thanks for ruining it :P
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Posted by Renchamp

@RazzaTazz: All this conspiring has us on the same wavelengths. I'll keep "our" secrets just that - secrets.

Posted by RazzaTazz
@Renchamp: The first rule of conspiring is that we don't talk about conspiring
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Posted by Renchamp

@RazzaTazz: Oh. Right. I guess I'm not on probation, then, for all that non-conspiring stuff, because it never happened the way I mistakenly said it did just a few minutes ago. Crisis averted? Yeah, everyone is fooled... about nothing, because there is nothing to be fooled about. (I gotta work on my subtlety.)

Posted by RazzaTazz
@Renchamp: I think we're good
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Posted by CATPANEXE

Fascinating and respectable observation. It's definitely plausible that specifically was even their subconsciously when all this was created. As well of course as the creators of these characters and cities already stated they original drew from the structures around them in the cities they lived and worked, so more of the same there.

I'll point out as I have before that I believe Batman specifically has already transcended his initial medium and defining mold and stepped from it into myth/legend in the eyes and imaginations of people, and also that it's the biggest thing that makes him so special and important. Batman is less a comic character and or defined by any terms, as he is more of a legend like Santa Claus is, hence why he works so easily with whatever medium and approach he's attached. Superman not as much as he still seems to need to be confined to exact measures, though notably like Captain America did peak to the level at least of a real time concept and household word.

Posted by RainEffect
@CATPANEXE said:


I'll point out as I have before that I believe Batman specifically has already transcended his initial medium and defining mold and stepped from it into myth/legend in the eyes and imaginations of people, and also that it's the biggest thing that makes him so special and important. Batman is less a comic character and or defined by any terms, as he is more of a legend like Santa Claus is, hence why he works so easily with whatever medium and approach he's attached.

Absolutely. It is why I love it when he is referenced as THE Batman. My sister once asked why he is called The Batman when she followed me into my comic store. I had to explain that he's transcended the restrictions of just a 'super-hero' and instead he's become a legendary guardian. 
 
That scene in Batman Begins, shortly after the docks moment, where Batman is perched on a gargoyle overlooking Gotham is like paramount to his character.