Batman, Superhero or Fraud?


CC licensed: Bruce Fingerhood, Batman via Flickr


Is Batman a superhero?  DC Comic states, “Batman is the most feared superhero of all, because he’s pushed himself to the absolute pinnacle of human achievement. He’s a brilliant detective whose mastered fighting techniques the world’s barely heard of. An Olympic-caliber athlete with a plan for every occasion, Batman [is] seemingly always five steps ahead of his foes.” Keeping this in mind Batman is a superhero because not all superheroes need super powers.

Not all superheroes need powers to be considered super. There are plenty of superheroes who don’t have powers. For example Natasha Romanova, also known as Black Widow, doesn’t have superpowers, but she is a world class athlete, gymnast, acrobat, expert martial artist, and an aerialist capable of numerous complex maneuvers and feats. Yet Black Widow is considered a superhero. Another superhero without powers is Green Arrow, who is a master archer and swordsman. He also has an arsenal of trick arrows and hand-to-hand combat training. Batman, the caped crusader, relies on his own integrity, physical discipline, and uncanny preparedness.  Batman has his fair share of gadgets, wealth and allies to boost his own considerable ability.  What all these superheroes have in common and what makes them super is their will to help the greater good.

Not all superheroes come from comic books or movies; the rest come from the world around us. Anyone can be a superhero, such as medal of honor recipients like Audie Murphy, John Basilone, “Chesty” Puller, Dan Daly, and many more. Audie Murphy was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, receiving every military combat award for valor from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. John Basilone was a United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant who received the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. “Chesty” Puller was a United States Marine Corps lieutenant general and is the most decorated Marine in American history. He fought guerrillas in Haiti and Nicaragua, and participated in battles of World War II and the Korean War. Dan Daly was a United States Marine and one of only nineteen men (including seven Marines) to have received the Medal of Honor twice. These medal of honor recipients prove that superheroes don’t need to come from comic books or movies. They come from the world around us.  

Although some may say that the definition of superhero is a fictional character with superhuman powers, they are technically correct according to etymology. Superhero is a compound word. First the prefix super- means “exceeding the norms or limits of a given class.” So someone could see this as a superhero having super powers. However hero is defined as “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” So a superhero would mean a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities exceeding the norms or limits of a given class.

Batman like many other superheroes do not need superpowers. Yes, superpowers can be very helpful at times, but their abilities rely on skill, smarts, and quick thinking. Qualities that any superhero has. So why say a superhero has to have powers to be considered super?  Maybe it’s because what can be explained but cannot control is more fearful than the unexplained, and that fear comes from people believing that their superheroes will either turn their backs on them or disappear altogether when they need them the most.