Fanboy Friday: A Class About Batman?

On Monday Nicole sent me a tweet informing me that the University of Victoria is offering a course called the “Science of Batman” and asked me, “On scale of “Transfer immediately” to “I’m on the ferry”, where is this?”  I replied with, “I just jumped into the ocean.”  After reading the description I decided two things would happen if I took it: I’d get a 5.0 in the class, easy, and I’d get into a fan-boy argument at least five times a class.  My initial excitement over a class about Batman turned into sorrow because I don’t attend UVic and that sorrow turned into a question: what would people, who weren’t fans of Batman, think?  I ask this question because I have been a fan of Batman for as long as I can remember.  I will always love the character.  I may not always like the direction of his comic books, television shows, and movies but I will always love Batman.  By extension it is nice when other people also enjoy the same things you love, so even though I am not at UVic I hope this class about Batman succeeds.  I cannot speak for every Batman fan, only myself but here are my thoughts why a class about my favourite superhero is a good thing.

On the surface a class about Batman may seem shallow, an excuse for comic nerds to gather and fight over which Batman movie was the best, and a waste of time.  Batman after all is just a comic book character right?  There is no Gotham, no Bat Cave, no multi-billionaire playboy philanthropist  Bruce Wayne, why should Batman get a class?  I mean Batman hasn’t really saved the world countless times.  I am sure some people will ask these questions and scoff at an entire university class about Batman.  I am sure some people will ask why Batman, and not Muhammad Ali, or Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi?  I am sure they will back their argument up with those are real people who made real contributions to the world, Batman is just a cartoon.  I am equally sure comic book fans will wonder why Batman is the only character to get a class, why not Superman, or Spider-Man, or the X-Men?  I am sure they will back their argument up by saying Spider-Man is a more relatable character, or the themes in X-Men tell us more about ourselves than a character who dresses up as a bat to beat up criminals at night.  Both valid points, however, just because Batman isn’t real doesn’t mean that Batman doesn’t matter. The class isn’t analyzing Batman the franchise, it’s looking at the core character of Batman and what that core represents.  A class for about Gandhi or MLK Jr. or Ali would be less about those people as people and focus more about what they represent and stand for.  We mythologize our heroes, it doesn’t matter who they are- our parents, our favourite athletes, or fictional characters.  Context doesn’t matter when it comes to a hero’s accomplishments because what they accomplished matters to us and it helps shape who we are.  For those like me, Batman shaped who I am and what I view as important.  Does this mean I am going to dress up as a bat and fight crime?  Of course not, but did the stories of Batman teach me lessons that are still applicable today? You bet.  Are the lessons I learned from Batman cheapened because he’s not real?  Some people may argue that it is but if a lesson is learned does it really matter how?

Growing up most kids know the story of Santa Claus.  As we grow older we understand that Santa the person isn’t real but the metaphor of Santa will always be.  If the metaphor of Santa can teach us that giving unconditionally is good and it feels just as good to give as to receive, what can the metaphor of Batman teach us about being human?  In any interpretation of Batman, whether it is the 1960’s Adam West television show, Batman: The Animated Series, or the Chris Nolan trilogy, there are certain characteristics of the character which stay consistent.  First and foremost is that Batman is human- this fact automatically separates him from other A-List superheroes.  Superman is from Krypton and is basically a sun-god.  Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider granting him the powers of a spider.  Wonder Woman is the Amazon Princess from the island of Themyscira.  The X-Men are born with their powers which manifest themselves during puberty.  Yes, Iron Man is human but the Iron Man armour  is a little more fancy than Batman’s cape and cowl.  Batman didn’t become as popular as he is today just because he has a cool costume or because he’s a “dark” character or even the fact that he’s the most powerful superhero- he isn’t (the fan-boy in me believes he is but that’s a whole other discussion).  So what makes him so special?  For me growing up, it was seeing a character saving the day with nothing but his wits, body, and will.  It was a character who took on nightmares personified without backing down.  It was seeing a man always doing the right thing even if it wasn’t always the easiest.  It was seeing these things over and over again and every time Batman would win.  I would like to tell you that I attack everything I do with the same passion and drive Batman does for his war on crime, I do not.  I am human, Batman is a symbol, he represents the best in us.  Batman is also human and can represent the worst in us.  Both are important because even Batman has limits and that might be his greatest character trait of all.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole

This article was approximately 20 years in the making. I am extremely confident that in about 1996, there was a Grade 2 Baby Irving version of post: “What I did this summer was watch Batman. I really think Batman is cool”.

I had to google what a cowl was. It is “an item of clothing consisting of a long, hooded garment with wide sleeves… In contemporary usage… it is distinguished from a cloak or cape (cappa) by the fact that it refers to an entire closed garment”. So, it sounds like a Snuggie. Upon further investigation, I discovered cowls (the cowl?) are all over Etsy. I then learned cowls are essentially large scarves. Most of which are knitted. Batman has a cowl. Irving likes Batman.  Irving has an overwhelming preference for pretty girls (with ombre hair) in cowls/chunky knit scarves. I see what happened there. This makes so much sense.

Freud is so real right now.

I’d also like to take this time to mention that this course is an exercise physiology course. Reason number #472 that Kinesiology is a fantastic degree.

Irving Chong (@Irving_Chong) and Nicole (@_nicoliooo) are co-creators of This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things even though it doesn’t make sense why they’re friends.


One thought on “Fanboy Friday: A Class About Batman?

  1. We Aren’t Any Closer to Having Nice Things: 50 – This is Why we Can't Have Nice Things

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