Why Spider-Man Is Better Than Batman
By Wyatt Bender
Don’t get me wrong: Batman is my favorite character. I probably spend more time thinking about Batman and how he works and what he means than anything else. Just going off of personal preference, I love Batman more than… well, more than most other things in the world, period. Spider-Man just happens to objectively be the single greatest comic book character ever created.They actually make a pretty good contrast to each other, and it all starts with the idea that Batman is very much a child’s fantasy. That’s not a bad thing, either. Every now and then someone will ask me just why it is that I like Batman so much, and the best way I can put it is that there’s this pure, beautiful idea at the center of his character. Bruce Wayne has this perfect life until crime takes it away from him, so he decides right there that he’s going to end Crime by himself. The fact that he’s a child when this happens is a crucial part of the story, because if he was older, he’d realize the inherent flaw in that plan. He’d understand that the world isn’t a fair place, and that sometimes bad things happen to good people for no reason, and that there’s not much anyone can do about it. Only a child would think it was possible for one man to end crime, but because he’s a child, that’s exactly what he decides to do. And the best thing is, he does it! A lot of people show Gotham as this crime-ridden urban nightmare, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s no one getting mugged in Gotham City. There’s no carjacking or guys robbing banks with shotguns. Why? Because Batman showed up and ended that. It’s the reason that scene in Year One where he tells the gangsters that they’re done is such a great moment, because he’s right. There’s no more room for them in Gotham City, because what you and I know as Crime here in the real world can’t stand up against Batman. If Crime’s going to survive against Batman — and it does, because if it doesn’t, we don’t have any more Batman stories — it has to become something else, which is exactly what happens. People don’t get mugged in Gotham City, they get mind-controlled by the Mad Hatter or dosed with Joker Venom or thrown into an elaborate deathtrap. Nobody robs a gas station, because they’re too busy going after the priceless Egyptian Twin Cat statues at the museum. Crime in Gotham City operates on a whole other level than anything we’d recognize. And it’s like that because one child had the determination to forge himself into a weapon against evil. It’s a beautiful, beautiful idea, and I will never not love that. But it’s also a childish one, largely because he conveniently had everything he’d need to accomplish it, like being naturally athletic and handsome and having a photographic memory and a billion dollars and a mansion full of secret passageways and a butler. Alfred might actually be the single best example of how much of a child’s fantasy Batman really is. He’s a parental figure who specializes in patching up his scrapes and bruises and making his favorite dinner, but Batman’s actually his boss, which means that he can stay up as late as he wants and he doesn’t have to wash behind his ears if he doesn’t want to, so there. The only thing that even comes close to that is Captain Marvel Shazam Captain Marvel, a little kid who can turn himself into the kind of all-powerful being that every kid imagines grown-ups are, and then does all the stuff that kids want to do. He flies around, thumps a sneering bully on the head, and then makes friends with a talking tiger. And again, that’s not a flaw in those concepts. You can still use them as the core of very, very sophisticated and entertaining stories, for an audience of any age. That adaptability is one of Batman’s greatest strengths as a character, but at their heart, Batman and Captain Marvel and Superman are what kids imagine adults to be, and the kind of adults kids want to be. Spider-Man is different.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document