Headscratchers Batman Discussion

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09:13:39 AM Aug 6th 2013
edited by
Someone needs to give the Tim Burton Batman movie, the 60s Batman TV show, and Knightfall their own Headscratcher pages. I have no idea how to do the first two and for some reason it wouldn't work when I tried to the last. The point is that the page has gotten way too big and needs to be split up somehow.

Edit: Alright, maybe it's not that big (the folders work now, for one thing), but I still feel like the above works need their own page.
06:09:29 PM Apr 29th 2011
edited by DrStarky
Archiving complaints. I expected a lot worse from a franchise this big but there is some civil, insightful content in there.

But pepole need to learn that this article is for sincere questions and not complaining.
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  • Somewhat similar to the first gripe listed above, I've always been flabbergasted by the idea that Batman is supposed to be capable of single-handedly defeating anyone (Superman, Darkseid, entire alien invasions, etc.) in world-shaking crisis situations but still struggles to keep up with low-level threats like a short guy with umbrellas and a man who enjoys riddles. Sort of the ultimate example of plot induced power creep even though Bats has no powers.
    • The Riddler and the Penguin never seemed like genuine threats to Batman so much as annoyances. I imagine most of the time he ignores them in favor of more serious threats. Also, the Riddler and Penguin have both gone legit and semi-legit respectively in recent years. Nigma is a private detective and Penguin is a mid-level Gotham crime boss (Batman tolerates his activities as a source of criminal underworld info). Also, Superman, Darkseid, and alien invasions are fairly conventional threats. Just throw the right kind of Applied Phlebotinum at them and * bam* , they're down. But villains like the Joker are highly unconventional threats and therefore require highly unconventional (and therefore more difficult) methods to defeat them.
    • Also, when Batman's going up against the really big threats, doesn't he usually have at least some of the other Justice League members on his side?
    • In addition, a lot of the time it's a matter of complications. When you're fighting opponents who are trying to accomplish something or have something to protect, they're easy to manipulate. And if they have weaknesses, so much the better. He beats Darkseid by threatening to destroy his planet, for example. With people like Joker, there's nothing you can threaten him with, no way to manipulate him, and no real goals other than killing people. With Riddler, Batman is giving him what he wants just by trying to stop him. People like Bane have no real weaknesses, he has to take them on at their full power until he can figure out a way to stop them. What makes it so much more interesting is that, if he were willing to kill, none of this would be an issue and the situations would be reversed. It is, after all, easier to kill someone than to systematically tear them down piece by piece.
    • There might be an element of not having to "hold back" involved. Batman can stop just about anything, but thanks to his iron-clad rule against killing and the local Cardboard Prison, anyone above a certain level of marketability dangerousness is just going to keep coming back.
    • Keep in mind that Batman is to the larger threats like Darkseid, etc. as the low-level threats are to Batman: they very rarely face him head-on, and generally challenge him either through schemes and machinations or by putting other people in danger.

  • Damian as Robin is bad. But the way Grant Morrison treats him like he's the top shit dog on campus is what really bugs me. He's a whiny little bitch with daddy issues, and Morrison seems convinced that he's everything Robin was ever supposed to be. What the hell ass?
    • Just hope the editors don't decide to listen to fan opinion and kill him off. We all remember how that worked out last time.
    • Personally, I thought that it's Morrison's deconstruction of the Gary Stu character. Try to find a Batman fanfic from pre-Infinite Crisis (or even later) and odds are that if a new character is introduced, around half the time, they will be Batman's long-lost son/daughter who proceeds to kick ass and take names enough to put Nightwing and Robin to shame (even if they're going to be shipped). But even if that isn't the case, Damien is still relatively new, he's an annoying little snit (I'll give you that), but you gotta remember that much of his existence has been that of a living MacGuffin. Hopefully, being Robin will get him to shut up and chill out.
    • Plus, you have to remember that he is MEANT to be an annoying little snit. Going by Alfred's lines to Dick in Batman and Robin 1
    "There's no denying he can be difficult, but underneath all the defensive bluster, young Master Damian is the inheritor of his father courage, his determination, his desire to do what is right. If anyone can bring out the best in the boy, it will be you, I have no doubt"
    • So it's pretty clear that their setting up a character arc that will see Damian loose some of his jerkassness. Of course, he'll still be annoying in the interrim, so we shall just have to endure, but at least the fact that it's a deliberate character trait rather than unintentional keeps him somewhat from full-on Scrappy status.
    • Also, notice that he doesn't even consider going up against Nightwing. Ever. He would be ended.
    • I have to add that Damian is a much more likeable and believable character in the hands of other writers. Morrison on the other hand treats him like a little prince who everyone else is just jealous of. One of his best moments was the end of The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul, where Paul Dini wrote him as a scared little boy in the middle of a battle who just wanted to make his father proud. Much better than Morrison's Marty Stu who succeeds at everything he tries.
      • Damien is a bit better when others, such as Dini, are writing him. But that doesn't mean that Damien isn't the same Scrappy he was when Morrison is writing him. He's had his spine broken and replaced and his mother tried to control his body. He's gotten plenty of Character Development since he first showed up on the scene where he killed the Spook, but people just won't accept him since he's not Tim (despite the fact that Tim has his own book and is still part of the Bat-Family) and because they absolutely refuse to see him any different than the character he was when he was first introduced. As for why Bruce first took him in, and later Dick? The same reason Jason was taken in (and possibly Cass, I haven't really read much of her): if there is a chance that Batman help a kid with a troubled past make something better of themselves, he will do it.

  • The whole "Never kills." While I can see Batman striving to never kill anyone, but I'm betting about .5% of all the guys he beats up don't survive. I mean, look at the size of his fists! He's immensely strong, its preposterous to think that none of these guys have not survived their injuries, or have strokes or heart attack from shock.
    • I agree. In movies and comic books people repeatedly beat each other to bloody pulp and are back on their feet by the next issue, if not by the next frame, while in real life many serious fights (e.g. street fights/gang fights) involving at least somewhat competent fighters end rather quickly - soon enough the stronger (or luckier) party knocks out his opponent's kidney, breaks a rib and causes massive internal bleeding, injures the spine or inflicts some other form of damage that takes weeks' worth of medical care to fix, even if treated promptly and properly. This damage is much easier to inflict than the movies/comics show; for instance, it takes just 14 pounds of pressure to snap a human knee in a standing person. MMA fighters inflict serious damage but they do it in a civilized and supervised manner, never intending to actually cripple their opponent but instead to take them down with surgical precision. I guess the latter explains the "never kills" phenomenon - instead of just kicking a dude's ass, he takes the enemy down in the most professional manner with surgical precision.
    • Why is that preposterous, exactly? He's The Goddamn Batman. No one's ever died from one of those beatings because Batman is just that good.
      • Because that doesn't make sense. So Bruce Wayne can judge just by looking at people how far he can go before they get a stroke? Or some preexisting condition doesn't kill them?
      • Mob henchmen generally speaking aren't among the demographic that's likely to get a stroke. They tend to be physically fit men in their 20s and 30s, 40s at the absolute tops. And if a preexisting condition kills them, then Batman isn't the cause.

        Also, Bruce can get a pretty damn good read on people by looking at them, and he's an expert level martial artist. He knows the human body inside and out, and knows how much force to apply to put someone out of a fight without killing them.
      • Professional athletes in the peak of physical conditioning have been known to suffer heart attacks and strokes on the court. For Batman to know exactly how much damage a random person can take in a chaotic fight without pushing him over the edge goes well beyond Bad Ass Normal and even crazy prepared into the realm of psychic diagnostics. Let's face it, the only reason Batman doesn't have a body count is because he's a good guy and this would violate the narrative.
      • Professional athletes dropping dead from heart attacks and strokes does not happen nearly as often as you make it out. And even then, it doesn't cause instant death. There is a small window where those people could have been saved but medical care doesn't arrive in time. Even in the extremely unlikely instance that Batman jumps a thug who slumps over from a heart attack, Batman knows enough about medicine and has the tech necessary to keep them alive and get them to a hospital.
    • They did try to get away from the whole "Never Kills" thing at the start of the Dark Age, presumably regarding it as another Silver Age anachronism. In The Dark Knight Returns, which was, of course, one the works which ushered in the Dark Age, Batman mentions in the narration that he's killed in self-defense or to save others (roughly the same circumstances as a cop would be allowed to use lethal force) and is explicitly shown killing a member of the mutant gang to save a kidnapped child. Although he will not commit cold blooded murder, even when the victim is the Joker. For whatever reason, this potential aspect of his personality never became part of mainstream continuity.

  • The Killing Joke. Don't get me wrong, the comic is chock full of incredible Batman moments - the Joker's Multiple-Choice Past, the treatment of Gordon and his desire to prove "our way works," even Batman meeting with the Joker in Arkham to wearily ask for the madness to stop. I loved it all up until the end, when Batman LAUGHS at a joke. Really? Especially after what just happened? It's a brave choice but ... yeah, it just bugs me.
    • He was laughing at the situation, not the joke itself.
    • Also, the joke was quite ironically funny. Think about it. Batman represents the guy who crossed the bridge, and he has the light. And the Joker is the guy who is too scared to go out into the world and escape the asylum. The "outside" represents the world most people live in. The flashlight is how the Joker can get help but he thinks that as soon as he reached a certain point, he would be forced to take responsibility, and live by the world rationally, and then "fall," having realized what he has done. (Note that he says it is too late for him when Batman offers him a chance to change.) From Batman's perspective, it certainly would seem very witty and very funny on the Joker's part.
    • Also, I took the joke as revealing how the Joker thinks, and how insane the situation is. Batman, who himself is arguably insane, is offering an impossible hope to the Joker, like one escaped inmate offering to shine a flashlight as a bridge. And the Joker rejects that hope, but not because it's insane and impossible, but simply because he can't bring himself to trust Batman enough to make the jump (hence the other patient says the first one would turn off the flashlight). In a tragic, ironic way, it is a funny metaphor for Batman and the Joker's situation, and I can see why Batman at least has to laugh sympathetically at it.
      • This is one of the things that bugs me. #1, insanity is a legal definition. #2, it doesn't have much to do with anything outside of understanding the consequences of your actions, or the difference between right and wrong. #3, Batman's neither insane nor the term you should have used, crazy. Chock The Killing Joke up to Alan Moore being the idiot that is Alan Moore; judging from any given comic he's written, heroes are always fucking insane in his mind: if you're a hero, then you must be homophobic, a hypocrite, a rapist, have bizarre fetishes, serious mental disorders, or be a superpowered fascist.
        • 1. Words have more than one meaning. Insane is a general adjective, not just a legal term (Merriam Webster - "1: mentally disordered : exhibiting insanity, 2: used by, typical of, or intended for insane persons <an insane asylum>"). 2. Batman feels compelled to dress up like a giant bat and beat up criminals each night. In some continuities he has tried to stop, and he can't. That's being compelled to act against his will, which IS a legal insanity defense in some states. 3. Batman is played heroically straight in this story, far more so than in many other comics. Are you mixing this up with Frank Miller? 4. I explained the joke in neutral terms, so I'd appreciate not being the target of your vitriol. Criticize Alan Moore's writing if you like, but don't lash out at me in displaced anger over a word that you're defining too narrowly in the first place.
    • It's the best scene in the entire volume. The one and only time ever that Batman and the Joker truly understand one another, if only for a moment.
    • This troper saw it as more of a No Fourth Wall moment: Joker knows that even if he were successfully cured, the editors at DC would never let him stay cured; he's too popular and interesting of a character to be taken out of the picture. Thus, he simply doesn't want to go through the effort, only to have it crash down for one in-universe reason or another.
    • I took the joke to be a jab at Batman's psyche: one inmate clears the gap (Joker) and invites the other to leap. The second inmate (Batman) won't, prompting "Joker" to offer the beam of light, displaying obvious insanity. "Batman" retorts that he won't fall for that, indicating some amount of sanity—up until he concludes "Joker" will turn the flashlight off when he's halfway across, proving he's just as crazy as him. Real Batman gets the joke, and genuinely finds it funny...almost creepy.
    • I don't understand why the man trying to sell the amusement park to the Joker isn't going OMG IT'S THE JOKER OMG instead of talking to Mr. J. as if it was a normal person.
      • I'd be trying to act as normal as possible and hope he doesn't kill me before I get paid.
        • I'd bring along an auditor or accountant just to keept the mood down. Or an actuary.

  • Here's a thing. So people make fun of Batman for dressing up like a bat and hitting folks. That's fine. It's weird. The problem is when people in universe do it. What people are forgetting is that this behavior is context appropriate. The Crimson Avenger, Giovanni Zatara, the WWII-era Justice Society. People have been doing this for ages. Writers need a new quick joke.
    • I think it's the fact that Batman is actually dressing up as a bat that weirds people out. The people you listed are dressing up in funny outfits, but those outfits are merely outlandish and exaggerated. They're not cosplaying as an animal. Still a tad hypocritical, though.
      • Wildcat is a boxer dressed up as a giant kitty. Admittedly, you probably aren't as inclined to pick a fight with a professional fighter with a bad attitude as much as you are a mysterious vigilante that you'll probably never meet in person, but still.
        • "Wildcat is a boxer dressed up as a giant kitty." Granted, but a wildcat is a fairly mundane animal. Bats on the other hand can be very...unsettling. So much about them weirds people out. They live in darkness, drink blood, and tend to infest houses and show up in odd places (like chimneys and basements). On top of that they've long been associated with demonic imagery. Also, when you meet someone like Wildcat it's immediately clear that, even though he's dressed in a funny animal suit, he's still just a regular guy (the fact that his secret identity is public knowledge also helps). But Batman is not, by any definition, a "regular guy". He's a weird, anti-social, ultra-obsessive brooder. One might almost say he acts like an actual bat placed into the body of a human being.
    • They might also have figured out that Batman doesn't have special powers like most superheroes: he really is just some unknown guy dressing up like a bat and going out to catch criminals each night. That puts him more on their level, and makes his behavior seem all the weirder. But how the public sees Batman really depends on the continuity. He's run the whole gamut, from being a masked vigilante hunted by Gotham PD to being handed the Key to the City before a cheering crowd.
    • It tends to be the former in current continuity than the latter of the above post. Also, the Crimson Avenger hasn't been around for over 30 years in Year One, same thing applies to Zatara, same applies to the Justice Society. Superheroes were much rarer before the dawn of Batman. The only real definite superhero sense World War II and before Batman is that Green Lantern existed, (when he fights the Icicle in a flashback in Hush,) and he is more of a galactic police man then a super hero at that time.
      • Different Green Lantern. That one was Alan Scott, with the magic ring. The galactic policeman of the time was probably still Abin Sur; Hal wouldn't take over until the new Age of Superheroes had already started.
    • I always figured that when someone in-universe is pointing it out, it's an attempt to make Batman less terrifying to them. They rib him about being a dude in a costume because they are - on some level - reminding themselves of that fact. Like when you see a strange-shaped shadow in the dark, and you jump, and then afterwards reassure yourself that it's just a trick of the light.

It just bugs me... that so many people assume The Dark Knight Trilogy is 100% canon to comic books.
  • Same here... But it also bugs me when people say that they were completely unfaithful to the books, without noticing how much of the story is taken from The Long Halloween. (Not trying to insult, just saying in general.)
    • (Not OP, but) True. However, the degree to which some fans get...like how a non-scarred, bleach-skinned, genuinely happy Joker who doesn't speak monologues about Chaos is silly and outdated, how superpowered criminals are too unrealistic for a good story, how Two-Face has nothing to do with duality and only with chaos, how Batman apparently doesn't have so much a No-Killing rule as a No-Cold-Blooded-Murder rule...it leads more than a few to retroactive Hype Backlash.
      • Look, I was genuinely sad when Heath Ledger died. But the honest truth is that his performance wouldn't have been nearly as critically acclaimed if he hadn't had died. Also, on the subject of "realism", Christopher Nolan has specifically named Robin and The Penguin as being characters that were too unrealistic for his films... Yet a "microwave emitter" that vaporizes all water in it's radius (apparently ignoring the water that makes up two-thirds of a person's body weight) and cellphones that act as sonar imagers (sonar that was apparently so accurate, it was still able to show the color on The Joker's make-up) are perfectly realistic in Nolan's universe. As for the No-Cold-Blooded-Murder rule, Batman's line to Ra's al-Ghul about how just because he wouldn't kill him, didn't mean he had to save him was cool. What REALLY bugged me, was that he later goes out of his way (TWICE) to save the mass-murdering psychopathic clown, yet doesn't bat an eyelash at all the mooks he probably killed in the car chase, doesn't think twice about hurling rottweilers off the top of a building, and sends Harvey Dent falling to his death when he easily could've saved him.
        • The honest truth is that it was an excellent portrayal of an excellently written character. But sure, Ledger's death got it attention. Had he been alive people would have liked it just as much, but they wouldn't have talked about it as much. (After all, there was no similar posthumous praise to his performance in Dr. Parnassus.
        • If it makes you feel any better, they do say that the microwave emitter was designed to eliminate enemy water supplies, so it's not much of a stretch to assume that it's designed to target pressurized water in metal pipes. Plus, it's specifically mentioned as being directional, so as long as it was aimed right, the mooks wouldn't have to worry anyway.
          • Pressurized water in pipes? As opposed to the human body, which has enough pressure in it that if you pierce it in the right place it squirts fluid for several yards?
        • I think what Nolan meant to say is that having characters like Robin and Penguin would have made the movies too campy. Isn't it already enough of a struggle to make non-comic fans respect the idea of a rich man dressing up like a bat to fight crime? Now, you want to throw in a young boy in tights on top of that?
          • However both Robin and Penguin can be done right, and have been before (notably in Batman The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures), and I highly doubt that if Robin ever shows up in future movies (although not the Nolan series, that ship has sailed) he'd be wearing tights.
          • And besides, isn't the comic book Penguin just a gangster with a big nose and tuxedo who looks a bit like a Penguin, and not a sewer dwelling Penguin Man?
          • Pretty much, yeah. Depending on who's writing him, he may squawk like a penguin every so often ("Batman's onto me! Hwwaauuk!" Not a direct quote, but you get the picture). Not that such a vocal tic is required anymore than bird-related crimes...

  • It just bugs me when Al Ghul is translated "The Demon". It means "The Ghoul".
    • It does literally translate to "the Demon;" that's the name Arabian folklore gave the creature known in English as a "ghoul." So you're half-right...?
    • Yes, 'ghul' is the source of the word "ghoul," but in an astronomical context "Ra's Al Ghul" is also the source of the official name of the "Demon Star", which is where the ghul-demon association comes from. But there's a third meaning as well. Algol is located in the right hand of the constellation Perseus and represents the head of Medusa, so in a mythological context, al ghul means "The Gorgon".

  • In Tim Burton's Batman, the Joker attempts to nerve gas the city during his parade, luring people there by promising free cash. After Batman saves them from danger, rather than ganging up on the Joker and beating his ass to death, they go right back to scrambling for the cash. What the hell, Gotham?
    • That's not even the half of it. They're out there accepting money from a man who has, with both the public's and the media's eyes trained firmly on him, slit a man's throat at the courthouse, poisoned dozens and perhaps even hundreds of people using combinations of everyday household items, gassed an entire museum, and ADMITTED on television that he was a willing tool of crime boss Carl Grissom, the absolute worst thing to ever happen to Gotham City until he came along. Burton tries to Lampshade this by showing that the people of Gotham are just as paranoid about Batman as they are about the Joker, and confused about whom to trust - but COME ON! Burton has them blame EVERYTHING the Joker does on Batman. I mean, if you saw some gangsters getting machine-gunned into the next world by a troupe of fruity, white-makeupped mimes, who would you think was responsible - a macho guy in black, or a confirmed killer who ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE A CLOWN?! It's not rocket science, people!
    • Reverse Psychology at work? Maybe the townspeople think that Batman's trying to frame Joker. Seriously, though - the comic book adaptation of the film improves upon this hugely. In the comic, Joker pretty much starts the parade with no warning whatsoever.
      • He doesn't give much warning in the movie, either. He says he's going to throw money at people at midnight, but never which street he's going to show up on. And when he does show up, the reaction shots of the citizens are pretty indifferent until they actually see green flying everywhere.
    • Money, Dear Boy. There are always a few idiots.
    • In the entire scene, Joker is surrounded by his henchmen, most of whom are rather indescretely armed with tommy guns. Not many people are going to want to mess with them. Also, it's Gotham. Poverty and financial depression are pretty standard there. The citizens are probably going to take whatever free cash they can get.

  • This is kind of a meta-Headscratchers, but, they keep trying to merchandise the cowl. Which makes sense, far more than bust after bust of batman's head. But it still just looks weird. The mouth hole is really the thing. example. I think it's the shape.

  • A character that uses violence and fear to defeat his chaotic enemies. Wait, we're talking about Batman? I thought we were talking about Sinestro. The core of Batman is the same as Sinestro, but Batman's use of it is generally appreciated, whilst Sinestro is demeaned for it. Christ, the reason why Batman hates Hal and the other G Ls is the same reason that the Sinestro Corps hates them: they oppose Fear. It's touched on a few times (Batman tries a GL ring and can't use it because he can't get over his parent's death, Batman gets a Sinestro Ring, Parallax sees Batman as his Disciple and takes him over), but not enough for my taste.
    • Yes, they both use fear, but they don't use it to the same ends or for the same purposes. Batman uses fear to protect innocent people and to take down criminals. Sinestro uses fear to rule, take over, and generally do bad things. The core of Batman isn't the same as Sinestro, just one of Batman's methodologies is similar to Sinestro's modus operandi.
    • I would disagree, and say your analysis of how the two characters use Fear is exactly the hypocrisy I'm talking about. Sinestro still considers himself the Greatest Green Lantern, and his Corps is merely an extension of that: protect the innocents by scaring the bejesus out of the criminal element. Batman is one Power Ring away from ruling / taking over Gotham.

09:51:42 AM May 1st 2011
I restored mine (the latest one, about Sinestro) because your labeling of mine as 'complaining' was false.
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