This is a popular question that comes up all the time. And internet, we need to talk. Batman is a crazy guy in a bat costume. He lives in a world with gods. He’s not taking down Superman. He’s not outwitting the Flash. If anyone’s taking down Darkseid it isn’t Batman, even if he *gasp* uses a gun. Here are some common arguments I see about Batman being able to win a fight vs. various super beings, and why they’re wrong.
Batman is Super Smart!
This is a common one. TV Tropes is riddled* with tropes about outwitting, outthinking, etc. that Batman is pretty much the epitome of. However, this falls flat pretty quick when we consider:
- Superman’s main nemesis is a genius that Superman regularly trumps.
- Speedsters like Superman and the Flash can think super fast, and more importantly, act on this.
- There are legitimate villains that have the power of super intelligence. I mean, Brainiac anyone?
Batman is that straight A student from a small school that just showed up at MIT. Also, everyone at this fictitious MIT is on speed…and a superhuman mutant.
Another side note here is the fact that Batman’s “foes” are often stupid, even if we’re told they’re smart. In the Princess Bride, the only reason Wesley defeats Andre the Giant is because Andre wants to have a one on one fight. He quickly shows he could have just beaned Wesley with a rock from far away. Why Superman would ever bother fighting up close to Batman is beyond me. And yet, we see “smart” villains/heroes engage in strategies against Batman that a five-year-old would consider ridiculous.
Batman has Advanced Technology
Where does he get those wonderful toys? Batman is chocked to the brim with technology. He’s got Batmobiles, Batwings, his utility belt, etc! He invariable has just the gadget to solve any problem. That’s all well and good, except…
Various heroes have alien technology that trumps Batman’s. Superman’s fortress of solitude, Green Lantern’s ring, etc. So many people in the DC universe are aliens with advanced technology that Batman being able to just buy stuff isn’t that impressive.
Also, in general advanced technology isn’t that impressive because others can catch up. There are secret labs, like Cadmus that are working on similar technology. The military and other forces can get it too. And in the DC universe being able to just make advanced, powerful technology doesn’t seem that hard. Remember Steel? He just whipped up his super-suit in a basement in one day.
Batman has Money!
This kind of ties into the technology part, but I think needs some elaboration. Batman is a billionaire. However, the reason he’s a billionaire is because of his company Wayne Enterprises, which sells defense technology. In the Christopher Nolan movies, we basically see that Batman gets his gadgets via the research and development from his company. This poses quite a few problems.
Essentially, Bruce Wayne is embezzling from his company. Any half-decent audit would eventually notice that a lot of resources just going to Wayne’s side projects. Also, shouldn’t various groups, like the military, notice that various technologies they’ve been demoed are being used by Batman? Also, shouldn’t the same groups have technology as good or better than Batman’s? If Batman’s in-world wealth is to be believed, the following things have to be true:
- Wayne Enterprises is a successful, multi-billion dollar firm that Wayne controls a majority of.
- Bruce Wayne can take technology and resources from Wayne Enterprises with no one noticing.
- Wayne Enterprises develops great technology, but they don’t sell it. They sell inferior technology and keep the best for Batman. Somehow, no one at Wayne Enterprises notices.
In essence, Batman’s wealth in the DC universe makes about as much sense as him winning a real fight with any major power.
Batman knows Everyones’ Weakness
Many heroes have weaknesses. Superman has kryptonite; the Green Lantern has the color yellow; Martian Manhunter has fire; Wonder Woman has misogyny. And, of course, Batman knows them all. If push came to shove, he’d exploit them to win, which is the premise the series/movie Doom.
Here’s the problem, every single weakness of every hero applies to Batman. Kryptonite is a rare and radioactive mineral to Superman. Well, there are tons of radioactive substances to humans, and Superman can safely handle all of them. Yellow things are ineffective to Green Lantern’s ring? That’s objects of every color to Batman! Batman is hurt by fire, and can be tied up. Batman doesn’t have an edge on any hero/villain because of their weaknesses. At best he starts on the same page before being knocked back a hundred feet due to no super powers.
But, the Authors Love Batman!
Batman is the Wesley Crusher of the DC Universe. I said it! Batman’s major edge is that the authors like him. Here’s TV Tropes take on “The Creator’s Pet”
Sometimes, however, the creator(s) have become so attached to this character for whatever reason, whether because they see something of themselves in the character or the character reminds them of someone they were close to or the character represents something they admire, that they decide to increasingly focus on him, magnifying the importance of his role…
I can’t actually argue here. This is Batman’s gift. To be fair, Batman comics have understood the importance of the audience being able to empathize or even place themselves in the story. The whole reason Robin worked is that it allowed children to pretend they could adventure alongside Batman. As Kevin Smith regularly says, he knows he can’t ever be Superman, but with enough money and training, any of us could be Batman. It makes at least as much sense as the plot to Chasing Amy. There’s a reason that this “normal” guy being able to triumph over gods in the DC universe resonates with so many. But seriously, Batman would beat few if any in the DC Universe. I mean, come on, his biggest nemesis is literally a clown!