Batman is not Rocky
July 17, 2013
Most incarnations of Batman involve him getting heavily physically injured over the years. Stabbed, shot, punched, back broken, bruised kidneys, bad knees. He dishes out more than he takes, so he also leaves behind a trail of shattered kneecaps, concussions, broken bones and shattered jaws.
But now we know that the brain trauma from blows to the head, as well as the deteriorating effect of major injuries, causes a series of interrelated health problems. This isn’t news – Muhammed Ali, wounded combat vets, football players and assault victims all have pointed out the downsides, a few turns down the road, of getting one’s head beaten in.
But Batman would know this, right? He is very smart: a planner with a highly-honed ability to see all the possibilities and to have multiple contingencies for each one. He would realize that to do his job as commonly depicted, he would be a pro running back with a cape. Pro running backs generally last about four years before the brutal punishment turns their bodies into rotten hamburger. They face a lifetime of escalating health problems in retirement, starting around age 30. Batman would have to expect he could last up to at most eight years. And he would also know that he wouldn’t be a truly effective, expert crime-fighter, until he had ten years of experience. You see the problem.
What would be Batman’s contingency plan be for becoming too physically broken to continue? Is it really the Batman Beyond scenario – go find fresh meat to wear the suit while he hobbles around on a cane?
No, Batman would avoid the physical punishment in the first place. He would use his brains to avoid trading blows with three henchmen at a time or a Venom-boosted Bane. He would let his gadgets do the work, or would outsmart people to the point where he wouldn’t have to fight them physically. Ninjas don’t get in fist fights – they attack from the shadows and disappear into the night. He was trained by the League of Shadows, not the League of Punching Bags.
He would be the modern essence of Sun Tzu. He would know his enemy very well and find ways to take them down. For unavoidable combat situations, he would probably only use Aikido to immobilize opponents or at least avoid serious harm befalling anyone.
He wouldn’t built himself up to be like Dwayne Johnson. The Rock probably has a hard time hiding or fitting into a crowd. Batman would have to fit in, avoid notice, look average, and be easy to disguise as a multitude of other average men.
I know I’m painting a very different picture of Batman. He would be a combination of Oracle, Sherlock Holmes and Steven Seagal rather than a combo of Rocky, Dirty Harry and Inspector Gadget. I think he would be much more interesting.
Maybe I just need to create a superhero like that, since the chances of seeing that incarnation of Batman is probably slim to none.