(Answer: Batman (But he cheats. With Kryptonite.))
Superheroes present conundrums to us throughout our lives, from earliest childhood through to fully grown adults. I remember an important life lesson when a debate based on my foundational statement that ‘Batman must be able to fly, otherwise he wouldn’t have a cape, my mum said so.’ established a new political order of my peer group with Alex from Form 2 (statement: Batman can’t fly) the new gang leader and me sent to the school nurse with a nosebleed and grazed knee.
Of course, a fellow blessed with a considerable reasoning faculties I've taken these defeats as life lessons and honed my outlook to accommodate all possible viewpoints on any given issue reasonably and thoughtfully.
However, as that rapidly approaching (and arbitrarily named) phase of life ‘middle age’ approaches I am drawn more and more towards questioning some fundamental aspects of super heroes characters. It’s good to know that I use my time constructively:
What’s with Batman? Why does everyone love him when he so clearly belongs in that parasitic pariah-caste of the modern age known as ‘the one percent’. This faceless, free spending playboy billionaire does not also project the image of an uncaring rich man to the masses, he also preserves the status quo by preying on the lower classes’ most vulnerable and infirm, terrorising them before beating the shit out of them and then throwing them into Arkham for the government to pick up the bill. If he actually took time to sit down a really try to understand the Joker or Two Face, perhaps so much more can be achieved. Maybe if they all took a weekend retreat to some out of the way place, did a drum circle, smoked some cool tobacco and chatted about their feelings like real men, perhaps they’d find some common ground.
But no, he spends obscene wads of cash on fancy hi-tech toys with little practical value other than to look cool and give him options. The development cost of the Batmobile alone would cover the wages of three Gotham police precincts, two homeless charity soup-kitchens and with enough left over to fund several dozen mental healthcare community support projects. You must be ashamed of yourself Mr. Wayne (also Mr Stark).
Superman is the evocation of modern day passivity, that representation of contemporary facile entitlement in a generation that thinks not of helping itself but rather expecting everybody else pick up the pieces. Stuck up a tree and can’t get down? (can’t be bothered to get down I say.) Call Superman. Stuck hanging from a crashed helicopter that is slipping rapidly from the top of a skyscraper? No, rather than taking responsibility for your own actions and trying to get out of the situation with your own effort, no, you cast words blindly to the heavens, hoping for help. Three camp, PVC-clad thespians turn up at the oval office and demand you ‘kneel’ before them what do you do? Fight back? Resist? Give ‘em a good ol’ fashioned right hook of the free world. No, you bend the knee and hope some wayward love-stricken son of Krypton will come and sort out the whole sorry mess. A poor moral message for all of us. Awful.
Footnote: Since 1989 I think it has established that Batman can in fact fly. If gliding counts as flying. Which it does. Alex is a wanker. He’s also a lawyer now.