Batman has always existed.
I know that Bob Kane created The Bat-Man in 1939, and that his first appearance was in Detective Comics #27 in May of the same year. I know that there was a world that existed before Batman was created.
But I can’t remember life without Batman.
I don’t remember learning Batman was Bruce Wayne. I don’t remember learning about the fateful night of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murder. I don’t remember learning about the Batcave, the Batmobile, or the infamous Rogues Gallery.
I just know.
There are works that have defined Batman. Shaped who and what Batman is. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Jeph Loeb’s Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and Hush. Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. A Death in the Family. Batman: The Animated Series.
In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne realizes he can’t fight injustice as a man:
People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I’m flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed, but as a symbol… As a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.
Batman is a symbol. He is legend. He is modern myth. A god in the pop culture pantheon.
With the power of myth comes the ability to have different incarnations, live different lives, have completely different universes surrounding you. DC does a fairly good job of keeping their continuity in line with the Infinite Crisis arcs. It’s basically a giant bookend that closes the door on what has been so it can open the door to what will be.
I watched the 60s Batman. I watched Super Friends. I watched Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. I watched the animated series. I watched the animated movies. I even watched Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.
So much for an incorruptible symbol.
Batman never lets me down, and I’m able to embrace the character with all the flaws that have been heaped upon him through the years. Most recently, Christopher Nolan took the helm of the film franchise and revived it amazingly. Batman fans can once again hold their heads high and say they’re proud of their hero.
We all need heroes, someone to save us, despite our protests. We need people and ideals we can look up to, that can help us be better than we are. Even if these people and ideals are flawed, it’s important to have them. The day you stop trying to make yourself better is the day you start to become worse.
That’s one thing about Batman from which we can all learn. He is never satisfied with where he is or how good things have gotten. He strives to a higher standard, and always pushes himself further.
Be the version of you that the world deserves.
Be the version of you that YOU deserve.