Batman first debuted back in 1939 in Detective Comics issue 27. The World’s Greatest Detective would soon become a pop culture phenomena, enthralling millions of readers over his almost century-long career in comics and other media, and continues to endear us to this day.
But, as with any character with a long, complex history, there are a few aspects that have left us a little befuddled. So We’re breaking down the parts of the bat that have left fans scratching their heads, with our list of the 10 things we don’t understand about Batman.
The Plot Armour
When it comes to superhero versus debates, Batman generally manages to come out on top in most cases. This is thanks to the fact that, if he’s given time to prepare, he can arguably take down anyone or anything.
Case in point, JLA Tower of Babel; Batman’s files on his justice league counterparts are stolen by Ra’s Al Ghul, revealing that he had a backup place to take down all of his super-powered peers and allies in a ‘worst-case scenario’ situation, which was kind of seen as a big betrayal on his part.
Anywho, over the years, Batman notoriously defeats characters he really should have no business in defeating. This is called plot armor; a term that refers to a character’s unusual or unlikely ability to survive infinite amounts of damage or terrible circumstances all thanks to their importance within that story or story universe.
The Batcave Trophies
Have you ever wondered why Batman has so many strange objects in the Batcave? From a T-Rex statue to a giant penny, and an oversized Joker card, there’s a lot of memorabilia decorated his HQ. These objects are from Batman’s earlier adventures in the comics, many pulled from the stories penned by Dick Sprang.
The T-Rex itself is from Batman Chronicles issue 8, where the caped crusader duked it out with a mechanical t-rex in a theme park. Alfred had suggested that he keep it as a trophy in the Batcave to remind the dark knight of his successes.
That giant penny? It’s often believed to be a reference to two faces, but it’s actually from a comical a villain called the penny plunderer, although the new 52 changed it to be a piece of art that Lucius Fox used to help Batman take on the Riddler.
And the giant joker card? It’s from a time that Batman defeated the joker at one of his lairs when the clown prince of crime used oversized models of casino games to screw with Bruce. Batman also took home a pair of giant dice from that encounter in Batman issue 44 from 1947.
Why he didn’t marry Catwoman
Recently, there was some major controversy stirred up by Tom King’s run on Batman. Batman and Catwoman were set to be married. Selina decided last minute to not marry Bruce, which pissed off a ton of fans, and Tom King even got death threats over it.
So why did this happen? Selina realizes that a Brice Wayne who is happy cannot exist with Batman and the world needs Batman. Selina, in trying to be a hero, decides to sacrifice her needs and her love for Bruce, because that would rob the world of Batman. Which is kind of funny, since that was the Joker’s reasoning for trying to kill Selina an issue earlier in that run.
All of the Robins
There’s been a whole lot of Robins over the years. Who is who? Why have there been so many? And how many of them are actually related to Bruce Wayne? Let’s break it down. First off, there’s Dick Grayson, the OG robin.
He first appeared in 1940’s Detective comics issue 38, introduced as a way to make Batman more accessible to kids and to harvest a younger readership. It doubled Batman’s sales. By the time the late 60s and early 70s rolled around, DC was allowing Grayson to age; he had become a franchise of his own with the Teen Titans, and eventually adopted a new mantle in 1984, Nightwing. This left the position of Robin empty.
Enter Jason Todd, who first appeared in 1983, who initially was a complete carbon copy of Dick Grayson, even straight down to aesthetics minus having red hair (which he would later dye). Todd would endure some creative changes after Crisis on Infinite Earths, getting a new origin that made him a street kid, a rebel who was difficult to work with.
Fans didn’t like this new Robin all that much, which led to the controversial A Death in the Family story arc, in which fans were given the opportunity to call in to vote on whether or not Jason Todd would be killed off. The Joker beat him to death. Batman was traumatized. Todd would later return in 2005 as an anti-hero called Red Hood.
Next up is Carrie Kelley, who is a robin from an alternate universe, appearing in Frank Miller’s Batman The Dark Knight Returns. She’s most notable for being the female robin, and the series thematically explored Batman’s trauma and increasingly unhinged nature thanks to his Robin history.
Back into what’s canon though – we got Tim Drake, appearing in 1989 in Batman issue 436, who was a bit of a mix between Dick and Jason’s personality traits.
In 1993 he managed to get his own solo series, the first Robin to ever get one. He would eventually become the Red Robin. Stephanie Brown would become Robin for a brief period but then was retconned during DC’s reboot with the New 52 in 2011. And that brings us to our final Robin, Damian Wayne, Batman’s actual son.
He debuted in Batman issue 655 as part of the Batman and Son storyline; his mother is Talia Al Ghul, who has raised and trained him for years, hiding his existence until one day she left him in Bruce’s custody. He was a bit of a problem child, violence, angry.
Eventually, though, he would become Batman’s Robin, even into the New 52, and even got killed off in Batman Incorporated, although was revived in 2014’s Robin Rises. He’s also the one who is pals with Superman’s son, and the Robin who loved Bat Cow.
Fredric Wertham and the Bat Family
The Golden Age Batman is very different than the Silver Age Batman. For context, the golden age is categorized as the boom of American comic books between 1938, starting with the introduction of Superman, to 1956, with the silver age running from 56 to 1970.
While the conclusion of WW2 played a very large role in the shift of the kinds of stories published and the motivation and context behind the actions of superheroes at the time, there was another major factor that distinguished a change in DC’s holy trinity; Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman.
That factor is a fellow named Fredric Wertham, a psychiatrist and author who published a book called Seduction of the Innocent that specifically targeted comic books, claiming that they were corrupting young readers.
It attempted to assert that reading comics would encourage similar behavior in children; something that was based on undocumented anecdotes, with Wertham, lacking actual scientific evidence that comics were responsible for changing the behavior of children.
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One of his claims was that there were hidden sexual themes in Batman’s comics and that Batman and Robin were gay, and would make kids gay themselves. According to Wertham, I quote, “They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler.
It is like a wish dream of two homosexuals living together.” Because yes, having flowers in large vases makes you gay AF. A senate hearing occurred in 1953, and led to the Comics Code Authority, mass censorship of comics that ended some publications altogether like EC comics (who survived only via Mad Magazine).
This is where the bat family originates from; from a desire to make Batman look more family-friendly and appealing, and to give him straight love interests like Bat Woman in order to battle against homosexuality claims. If only he could see Batwoman now, he’d be rolling in his grave.
Batman V Superman
The most recent cinematic portrayal of Batman (as of this recording) left a lot of fans scratching their heads. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was not a good film.
If you’re of the same opinion as we are, no, this number is not going to explain why the film got made, or any of the other perplexing offensive studio based questions. This number aims to explain the confusing nightmare scene in the film, which is arguably the most baffling sequence in the entire movie, and that’s saying a lot.
Batman is in the Batcave checking out some files he stole from Lex Luthor that he’s hoping will help him figure out where to get his mitts on Lryptonite. He discovers files for other super-powered individuals in the process. All of a sudden, there’s a hard cut to Batman wearing a trench coat in the desert. He starts looking around for Kryptonite but is set up, and a bomb goes off, and then some soldiers show up wearing Superman’s insignia, and some weird flying creatures show up, taking out his allies.
Then he appears in a dungeon tied up. Superman appears murder’s Batman’s allies and then blames Batman for taking Lois away from him. He punches a hole into his chest. We cut back to Batman at his computer in the Batcave, and then some weird dude surrounded by light shows up in a portal telling him that he’s too early, bruce is right about “him” and that bruce needs to save Lois Lane. Bruce then wakes up in front of his computer.
This is all a vision present to bruce by the flash, who was the dude in the portal, and the too early bit is the flash showing up too early thanks to this being his time traveling. This is supposed to be some sort of vision from an alternate version of the flash warning him that Superman will go evil if Lois Lane dies. Moving on.
The Silver Age and all that CAMP
One of the biggest confusions about the caped crusader is why he was so darn campy in the 50s and 60s. The comics code authority had a lot to do with it, but DC also has a history of shifting his personality and methods to better sell to their audiences.
A year after his initial debut, by the time Detective comics issue 38 rolled around in 1940, the publisher had completely removed the use of extreme violence and firearms, establishing his ‘code of honor’ in a more rudimentary form; he would never kill again. Robin was also introduced, which majorly boosted Batman’s sales.
After the comics code, DC built a whole Batman Family, including the Bat-Hound and impish Bat-Mite, and many of his rogue’s gallery were discarded or were neutered, becoming vanilla versions of themselves for years.
Eventually, after Julius Schwartz became the editor at DC, some of the more campy, sci-fi silly concepts that plagued Batman’s titles were exorcised, the Bat-family minus Robin were ditched, and Robin was franchised out to become the leader of the Teen Titans.
But, despite his campy nature, this era was incredibly important for comic books and superheroes becoming integrate parts of pop culture and mass media. Arguably, the 60’s Adam West Batman tv series introduced brand new audiences to Batman and superheroes, and thus began a trend that has only increased in fervor in our current times; when it premiered in 1966, it was a national phenomenon.
It kept Batman afloat when his comic sales were dipping into the questionable territory and allowed for members of his rogue’s gallery to be re-introduced. He assumed the spotlight in World’s Finest, the justice league comics, and the brave and the bold. He may have lacked the dark personality traits and outlook that we know and love now, but he was crucial in establishing a future for the dark knight and other comic book heroes.
The Paranoia – Identity Crisis
One of Batman’s most notable personality traits these days is his paranoia. But it wasn’t always that way; sure, he’s always been overly prepared, being a master strategist and tactician, but his paranoia was something that was introduced more so after Identity Crisis in 2004.
It was a seven-issue limited series that was considered controversial; the story began with elongated man’s wife, Sue Dibny, being murdered, and the JLA trying to find who is responsible.
It’s then revealed that villain Doctor Light once raped Sue Dibny in the JLA satellite headquarters and that the JLA members at the time voted to allow Zatanna to mind-wipe Doctor Light and alter his personality to that of an ineffectual idiot.
Then, it’s revealed that this mind wipe trick has occurred on multiple occasions. As the story progresses, Batman finds out, and disapproves, attempting to stop one of the mind wipes, then being magically restrained and having his own memories of the incident removed.
By the end of the story, it’s revealed that Batman remembers all of the events, and, growing increasingly suspicious of his allies, creates the Brother MK 1 satellite to monitor superhumans, and has grown increasingly paranoid ever since.
Here’s a fun one; why does Batman’s insignia have that yellow oval around it? Remember how we mentioned in our last number that Julius Schwartz came in and modernized Batman towards the end of the silver age? This happened in 1964 and is sometimes referred to as the ‘new look’ era.
Adding the yellow was a way of updating Batman’s appearance, with Carmine Infantino updating the look. But it did get an in-world justification, too, years later though in Darwyn Cooke’s DC The New Frontier.
According to Batman, the change was due to him not wanting to scare children, which is kind of hilarious when you think about the reasons why Batman underwent all of those changes between the golden and silver ages. It also has a practical purpose; it acts as a bulleyes, drawing Batman’s foes to aim for the center of his chest, the most armored part of his bat suit.
His Super Friendship
Speaking of the justice league, let’s take a look at Batman and his relationship with DC’s other iconic flagship hero, Superman. Over the years, the two have been depicted as best pals, yet, they’re constantly finding themselves fighting against one another.
The two initially debuted within a year of one another, with Superman arriving in Action Comics issue 1 in 1938. The first time the two appeared in the same story together was during a brief cameo in All-Star Comics issue 7, alongside Jay Garrick’s Flash, raising money for a war charity for orphans.
You could argue that this is the first time they met – one of the biggest question marks concerning their friendship is when they first met, which has been retconned Multiple times, thanks to how many times DC has retconned what’s canon.
In 1941, the two of them shared the cover of World’s Finest Comics but did not interact in the stories within. That wouldn’t happen until 1952, in Superman issue 76, and two years later, thanks to World’s Finest being consolidated, Bruce and Clark started teaming up regularly.
Back to Superman issue 76, which was claimed to be their first official meeting in a story titled The Mightiest Team on Earth, with the two of them coincidentally being on the same cruise ship when a diamond thief stirred up some trouble. They also coincidentally shared a cabin, and secretly tried to change into their costumes without the other one knowing. For decades, the two would remain, friends, allies, seeing each other as opposites but with the same good intentions.
Of course, this came to an end, thanks to Frank Miller and the Dark Knight Returns, which drastically changed the way Batman narratives were written and perceived. It featured an aged Batman fighting against Superman in a dystopian future, the latter hero being the only remaining sanctioned metahuman who served President Reagan as a lackey of sorts.
That would forever alter their dynamic, with DC writers for years pinning the two up against one another, expanding what their friendship entailed of, and exploring what exactly it took for DC’s two most powerful forces to turn on one another.