I love superheroes, I do. I couldn’t be more thrilled at the influx of comic books, movies, and TV shows flooding the marketplace right now with their tales of adventure and mayhem. And with the Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice film in the works and set to release next year, there are plenty of speculations and online rumors as to how the plot will unfold. Many posts can be seen asking things like, Will the creative teams stay true to the nature of the heroes and their relationship to each other? Will they choose a specific comic book arc to portray? Who will win in the (nearly assured by the title) hero face-off: Bats or Supes? While all are worthy questions, I would like to posit a query of my own: Why must they face-off at all?
Through the decades and since their inceptions, the two heroes have amassed countless fans and piles of canon and non-canon origin stories. Way back in 1952, DC Comics first paired up The Man of Steel and The Caped Crusader in Superman #76 and the two have been like peanut butter and jelly every since. There are those who would disagree and have a less amicable view of their relationship. For longer, I’m certain, than anyone knows, fans and writers have been asking: Who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman? Now before we start a comic’s faction version of West Side Story, allow me to provide a little background on our two protagonists.
Superman, an all-powerful, flying alien (and all-around nice guy) from an extinct planet, was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938. Siegel and Shuster pulled much of Kal-El’s origins from their Jewish heritage and created a Mosaic messianic figure. He is the last son of a doomed race, sent to another world to protect and save it. He was found and adopted by a kindly, “salt of the earth” sort of couple in Kansas. He grew up learning compassion, a sense of moral justice, and the value of hard work. Receiving tremendous powers and supernatural abilities from Earth’s yellow sun, he is known the world over as the original superhero; fighting for truth, justice, and at one time, the American Way.
Batman, the billionaire crime-fighter (and sometimes anti-hero) from Gotham City, USA, was created at the request of editors at National Publications. Bob Kane came up with the original design and concept and Bill Finger wrote the first Bat-stories. The Bat-man, as he was then called, was modeled after other billionaire crime-fighters like Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel. After witnessing the murder of his parents as a child, Bruce Wayne vows vengeance on criminals and other ne’er-do-wells. He dedicates his life to bringing justice to Gotham City and hones his mind and body to the peak of human perfection.
At their cores, both heroes want the same thing: to help. They go about it differently to be sure, at times using methods the other deems questionable, but ultimately, they fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. In A Test of Minds: The Psychology of Superman and Batman, DC Comics Executive Editor, Dan DiDio puts it this way:
“We identified Superman as the fireman of the DC Universe;
waiting to be on call, and when hearing the call, rushing to help.
He wasn’t proactive in the sense of trying to change the world,
He was just there to be sure everybody was safe in it.
Batman, on the other side, was the policeman of the DC Universe.
Very simply, he put on a suit, and he went to stop crimes. He
wanted to stop crimes before they happen. And if he can’t stop a
crime before it happens, he goes out and apprehends the bad guy.”
Fans from both sides long to see a massive showdown between Supes and Bats, and I have little doubt this movie is going to give it to them. In the end, and judging from the title, they will likely reconcile their differences and learn to work together for the greater good. My guess is they will have sock it out before they get there, unfortunately. I do not desire to see them pitted against each other, but then I know a lot about their history as friends. Yes, folks, Superman and Batman are FRIENDS. Do any amount of reading or research and you will see they share a mutual respect and admiration for each other. They come through for each other, call each other out when needed, and honestly care about one another. That is what I want to see in this film. I sincerely hope the writers and producers take the road less travelled and show us a super team up with more heart than destruction. But hey I’m an optimist. 😉
“People misunderstand our friendship. It’s not simply mutual respect. Or loyalty over time. As in any social setting, your friends are the ones you consider your equals. But your best friends – your closest friends – are the ones you consider your betters.” – Superman, Justice League of America #0