Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Everybody knows who Batman is. (Which is ironic considering how much time he devotes to keeping his identity secret.) And that makes Batman a useful example to use to describe other characters.
There are certain proclivities, attitudes and attributes that a young Bruce Wayne exhibited, and something could have been done at some point to intervene and prevent his adolescent angst and desire for revenge from festering and developing into full fledged “Batmanitis.” (ALFRED WHY WEREN’T YOU THERE TO HELP HIM!) Saying a character has a “BATMAN TENDENCY” isn’t a slight, it is just a shorthand way to use an archetypal touchstone to help our listeners easily understand the differences between the many original characters in the comic book world.
So let’s talk about what those tendencies are.
Batman is rich. He loves to use the “bat” motif to frighten superstitious criminals. He feels the loss of his parents in an intense and personal way. He travelled the world to learn how to become wage a one man war against crime. He will never stop fighting crime. Ever. He just won’t do it, and to be quite frank you can’t make him stop.
When we say that a character is displaying a “Batman Tendency.” We really mean something that is similar to Batman in some way.
Think of it like this. Both Batman, and Dracula are both really into bats, but because Dracula doesn’t A) want to avenge his parents. B)Wage a never-ending war on crime. He is not Batman. He is different. We easily make this comparison using characters in Watchmen, None of them have all the attributes, but many of them have (non copyright violating) similarities.
Rorschach for instance, wages a war on crime, uses violence or the threat of violence to intimidate criminals into giving him information. They both understand pain, and know how to cause it. Rorschach however is not driven by a desire to avenge his parents. As I have said before on the show, Rorschach is a Batman who does not have any sort of overriding faith in the goodness of humanity. So whereas Batman declared that he would find vengeance for the murders of his parents, when Rorchach found out his mother had been murdered, he only said “good.” Consider Nite Owl II, Dan Dreiberg. He is wealthy, having inherited a large amount of money. He loves owls, and uses an owl motif in literally everything he does. He has a cave, He has a bunch of vehicles and gadgets that are owls. Those are all batman tendencies. He differs from batman in that he actually quits his crusade against crime, much to Rohrschach’s displeasure.
Superheroes will always exhibit certain common characteristics with an iconic character like Batman. Despite these common threads, there is still a huge amount of room for originality in the medium.
Comparing and Contrasting characters by using an example that everyone is familiar with is fun. It is also fun to say “BATMAN TENDENCIES.” go ahead, try it now, even if you’re wearing earbuds in an office. If you do say “BATMAN TENDENCIES” and someone asks you what that means, just shoot them a link to this article, and while they’re here, they might as well subscribe to our podcasts, right?