It’s commonly held that the flawed superheroes are more entertaining than the “perfect” superheroes. And the supervillains are usually more entertaining than even the flawed superheroes.
The more messed up the supervillain, the more interesting I find them. The Riddler, in recent years, has been made more interesting by the writers letting him realize that he suffers from a disorder in which he sufferscompulsionsto leave clues.
Now bear with me, here, because I’m still thinking through this as I type it.
It’s long been established that Batman has mental issues. He has this moral code in which he won’t kill his enemies, despite repeated empirical evidence that failing to do so will result in their eventual escape and the deaths of hundreds if not thousands more innocent people. Yet the beatings he gives the criminals — while satisfying his need for revenge (and the readers’ desire to feel superior to evil yet indulge their bloodlust) — certainly would cause incredible amounts of recidivism.
Half of the plot of the recent movie “The Dark Knight” revolved around the public becoming convinced that Batman was a bad guy.
And it has now occurred to me why I love Batman so much.
Because the public was right.
Batman is a supervillain of the highest magnitude — one whose temporary solutions to crime satisfy only immediate problems but lead to greater ones down the line, and one whose mental issues run so deep that he doesn’t even know that he’s a villain.
Seriously — think about the Gotham that Batman inhabits. Admittedly, it’s doomed one way or another; the corruption is absurd and it teeters on the brink of destruction at all times. But with Batman there, the pain is prolonged. It’s Sodom and Gomorrah locked into an event horizon*, and the false hope he gives is mind-warping good people into trying less hard to fix things.
Batman is the most amazing supervillain ever. No wonder he’s so entertaining!
*–for those of you who appreciate references to Batman, the Bible, and science fiction, you’re welcome.