Today I interrupt the series on space (and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am) to bring you a Batman-related post. For the last few weeks, I’ve been on a Batman kick. And no, it’s not just because he’s hot and brooding. For some reason, watching his antics always makes me feel better when I’m feeling powerless. Chew on that, psych majors! But there’s another reason for my Bat-brooding, one I’ll get to in a moment.
Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and Beware the Batman (below)
When I admitted to watching Batman, I didn’t mean the movies, which I’ve seen and loved. Various animated series on WB/CW or Cartoon Network have featured my favorite non-super-powered superhero. I’ve seen them all. I cut my eyeteeth on Batman: The Animated Series (1992—1995) and followed that up with The New Batman Adventures (1997—1999) and The New Batman/Superman Adventures (1997—2000). I disapproved of then approved of Batman Beyond (1999—2001; with a non-Bruce Wayne Batman) and The Batman (2004—2008). Recently, I blew through three seasons of Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008—2011). (Um, not all in the last few weeks, mind you.) I recently investigated the latest awesomeness, Beware the Batman. Yee haw!
The Batman and Batman Beyond
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Bruce Wayne as Batman has been a source of fascination not just to me but for many since his creation by Bob Kane and Milton “Bill” Finger in 1939. After all, he’s a bilionaire who fights crime at night with cool bat gizmos. (Can you imagine Bill Gates doing that?) Emotionally scarred by the murders of his parents, Wayne wages a one-man campaign against crime. And yes, he has the occasional sidekick: Robin, Batgirl, Katana, etc. But he mostly prefers to work alone.
Watching Batman in action has caused me to question the motivation of one of the main characters in my young adult fantasy novel. While not strictly a vigilante, this character has a chosen calling, which drives him to do what he believes is right. Unlike Bruce Wayne, he won’t stop short of taking a life.
While watching a Christmas episode of Brave and the Bold, I was struck by Batman’s declaration that he can’t take Christmas off, since crime doesn’t take a holiday. And in another episode, which causes me to wonder if the denouement of The Avengers movie was inspired by a scene in this episode, a severely injured Batman refuses to stay in bed and recuperate. After all, Gotham needs him. Apparently the police in that city are so incompetent, only Batman can save the citizens.
Batman seems to have a bit of a savior complex mixed in with his desire for revenge against criminals. What’s a savior complex? I found a handy definition at People Skills Decoded:
The savior complex is a psychological construct which makes a person feel the need to save other people. This person has a strong tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often sacrificing their own needs for these people.
This is what makes Batman/Bruce Wayne so fascinating. The dude can’t help himself! But this is not a master class in psychoanalysis, so I’ll get to the point of this post. As I contemplated my character’s emotional arc, I came to the conclusion that a savior complex wasn’t a compelling enough reason for this guy to keep doing what he does. I needed to go beyond that as I fleshed out his story. So embedded in his wound of rejection is the shrapnel of despair and anger—a combination with lethal results at times for others. I can’t help thinking of damaged heroes like Tony Stark/Iron Man (especially in Iron Man 3) or Wolverine/James Howlett/Logan. Sometimes, they don’t want to save people. Sometimes, they need saving, especially from themselves. They make mistakes. And since my character is a teen who’s trying to figure out his life, making mistakes is par for the course. So, his complex is really a chip on the shoulder + rebellion + temper + needing to prove himself + parental nagging (“Get off your behind, boy!”).
Hmm. He reminds me of myself at that age.
How about you? Is a savior complex what you look for in a superhero or just a plain hero who isn’t so souped up? What qualities make a compelling hero?
P. S. If you have more spare time, you might take this superhero quiz to find out which superhero you are. For some reason, I’m Superman. Not exactly what I suspected of myself. Go figure.
Batman images from screencrush.com, braveandbold.wikia.com, gameinformer.com, seekersofthebat.com, superheroesrevelados.blogspot.com, Wikipedia, and thedcnation.wikia.com.