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Are Batman’s villains a reflection of his personality?


A lot of people like Batman. He’s said to have one of the best group of villains as well. After interiviewingDetective Comics writer, Scott Snyderhe said something that I had thought about way back in a corner of my brain. Batman’s villains represent different aspects of Batman’s personality and show us what he could become.

I brought up the question before of whether or not Batman could’ve become the Joker. While Joker‘s past is not fully known, we assume he suffered some sort of tragedy. Where Batman decided to dedicate his life to train himself and fight evil, Joker went the opposite route. Joker gave in to all his dark urges and impulses. He allows himself to run free without any inhibitions. He represents what Batman could have done if his mind wasn’t disciplined enough to deal with witnessing the murder of his parents and becoming a hero.

What about the other villains? Do they all show us what Batman could have become or show different aspects of his personality?

Two-Face is what Batman would be if the struggle between having dual identities became too much. Like Bruce, Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face involved a horrific moment (at least I’d say getting acid splashed into your face would be pretty horrific). There’s the possibility that Harvey had some issues before his transformation (as brilliantly shown in the Two-Face origin episode in Batman: The Animated Series). As dedicated as Bruce is to fighting evil, he does have a dark side. We saw him go over the edge after Jason Todd‘s death at the hands of the Joker. He began violently bringing criminals to justice, It was Tim Drakethat convinced Bruce Batman needed a Robin to help keep that darkness in check.

What about Mr. Freeze? This is a criminal that uses a freeze gun on people. How could he have any similarities to Batman? Mr. Freeze devoid of emotions. Again, he suffered tragedy when his wife became ill and he lost everything that mattered. Batman rarely shares his emotions with others. If Batman didn’t allow himself to interact with those in the Bat Family, he could easily become as cold as Mr. Freeze.

Those seem to make sense so far but what about someone like Penguin? Surely he and Batman don’t have anything in common. Discounting Oswald Cobblepot’s appearance, he is a victim of cruel teasing. We never really saw Bruce growing up after his parents were killed. We’ve only seen his story jump to when he was a young adult and had spent years training. I wouldn’t think young Bruce was necessarily home schooled by Alfred or had a private tutor. He probably still went to whatever prestigious school there is in Gotham. At this point, Bruce made a vow to his parents that he would rid the world of evil. As he became focused, I’m sure his social skills went a little sour and there would most likely be ridicule or bullying. Penguin received it for his looks, Bruce would have by his behavior. It wouldn’t be until later that Batman would hone his performance and Bruce Wayne and become the rich playboy everyone thinks he is. If Bruce became emotionally unattached to his peers but embraced what his parents fortune could give him, he could have gone the route that Penguin did. Only without umbrellas filled with weapons.

Those might make sense but there’s no way he has anything in common with Catwoman, right? Wrong. Selina is about class (in some of her origins) and the thrill of excitement. She is often portrayed as being highly intelligent and could easily make a proper living without resorting to catburglary. It’s the excitement of putting on a costume and doing things she shouldn’t that often gives her the motivation to dress up as a cat. As Bruce began his training and on the night of his first venture as a crimefighter, he felt the adrenaline and rush of what he was doing. If he wasn’t so committed to the vow he made, he could’ve turned to seeking thrills instead.

What about Ra’s al Ghul? He and Batman may have more in common than Bruce would like to admit. When Ra’s first approached Batman about being his heir, he talked a good talk. Batman was curious about his plan to save the world. Both believe they can form an empire to rid the world of the unworthy. Batman has started Batman, Inc and is trying to force his ideals on other nations. He may not go to the drastic means that Ra’s al Ghul would but he does believe he knows what is best for the world. If Batman didn’t have as much patience as he does and if he didn’t believe there was good in everyone, he could easily go the route Ra’s does.

There’s a few examples. Perhaps not all of Batman’s villains can be compared to him. Does theVentriloquist and Scarface represent the dual personalities and Batman being in control? Is Killer Crocwhat Batman could become if he used all his power and training to kill anyone that got in his way? IsFirefly who he would become if young Bruce became obsessed with that candle that was burning as he made his vow to his dead parents? Maybe not.

Article from comicvine, written by Tony ‘G-Man’ Guerrero on March 25, 2011

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  1. April 13, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    Great analysis of the villains and how they relate to Batman. I have heard that particular saying before but never really thought much about it.

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