DC Universe Online Debate: Who’s the Toughest Batman of All?
In the empire of comic book pop culture, Batman is king. No one can touch his legacy in comics, television, and film. Even the most passive fan can tell you his complete origin story and rattle off the top tier of his rogues gallery. His legend is so striking, so universally known, that he may as well be considered a part of human folklore. And, like the timeless faces of folk heroes, he’s had countless incarnations. In this article we’re going to put three incarnations of Batman to the test – each representing a different generation of the character: Classic Batman vs. Present-day Batman vs. Future Batman and find out which among them would be victorious in an all-out battle against the self.
Why subject one of the greatest heroes of all time to this insane fight? Simple! Because DC Universe Online recently introduced Classic Batman to Legends PvP, the in-game arena where you can fight as the greatest DC heroes and villains. Fans can fight their own Batman-on-Batman battles in righteous combat, but we’ve decided to take another route: heated online debate! Doug Banks of Nerdy Show and Ghostbusters: Resurrection, Nelson Lugo of Epic Piecast – known Batman fanatic (who recently subjected himself to Batman trivia under penalty of electrocution), and DC Universe Online Senior Creative Director Jens Andersen have each chosen a generation of Batman to be their champion and are going to duke it out verbally for your bat-pleasure.
First things first. Gentlemen, let’s broaden our minds – why do you love Batman?
Jens Anderson, DCU Online:
Batman is one of my all-time favorite characters for three reasons:
First, he has an amazing back-story that drives his character. Some of the elements might seem like old tropes now, but as far as I was concerned when I was introduced to the character, it was pretty unique. It’s the combination of those elements – living in a crime ridden city, witnessing the murder of his parents, and the inspiration to use the bat motif to instill fear in the hearts of criminals… It’s so cool.
Second, his dedication to his mission. The way Bruce trains to be the Batman – to truly be successful at it – is amazing. Could you do, or even survive, half the shit that this guy has pulled off? He’s got an amazing balance of mental and physical strength; he trains his brain and his brawn equally. This makes him a character the reader can relate to on many levels, because in the end, he has no super powers… He’s just a dude in a cape and cowl.
Third, he is super resourceful. The number of gadgets, the never-seen-that-before prototypes that he can pull out of one Wayne subsidiary or another, seems boundless. For other heroes it would get kind of ridiculous that there was always a convenient item on hand to get out of the situation, but not with Batman; with him, you expect it. Why? Because of his other main resource: his creativity. It’s something he can use in the moment, by exploiting one of those gadgets in an unconventional way than what it was designed for, or something he puts to use through good strategy and planning. He is one of the most creative problem solvers in comics – that’s what makes him so incredible to me.
Nelson Lugo, Epic Piecast:
Batman, much to my great disappointment, is only a fictional character. I don’t like Batman. I don’t love Batman. I am completely and utterly obsessed with Batman.
I am not a fair weather fan – I read and consume everything Batman in the best of times and in the worst of times. I have probably forgotten more about Batman than most people will ever know about Batman. The first thing I remember reading on my own as a child was a three issue mini-series that came in cereal boxes called “The Untold Legend of the Batman”. Honestly, I have no idea how or why my brain has latched on as tightly as it has over the years. Maybe it’s because Batman is just a man – a man who is incredibly smart and works really hard. There’s the possibility that if I had his drive and resources I could be Batman too. Or the fact that Batman is the perfect archetype for the hero’s journey with all of the tragedies and triumphs that go along with it. For the past seventy-five years writers have been shaping, reshaping, inventing and re-inventing Batman for millions of readers worldwide and more often than not… it works. But mostly, I think Batman will always be a part of my life because the universal truth of every Batman story: no matter how hokey or over the top it is… or how gritty or psychological it gets… the stories are always about hope. We fight today for a better tomorrow.
Doug Banks, Nerdy Show:
I’ve once heard the character of Batman described as a “diamond.”
Not in a sense of value, but indestructibility. You can interpret this character in a million different ways and different combinations, but as long as you keep the “core” of what makes him Batman, then the character still works. It may be a different story, or a different tone, but it’s still Batman. I can’t think of any other character that can do that. He can be dark and serious, or colorful and lighthearted. In every incarnation, he can show us something new. Because here’s the secret: Batman is us. A mortal human with no super powers. All he did was train his mind and body. Personal tragedy? Broken back? Blindness? These are human problems. He overcame it. And if he can, you can too. Some say that Superman (being the “Man of Tomorrow”) represents the hope of what mankind will one day be. Batman represents the fact that if we chose to, we could be him now. And if we somehow had to confront that idealistic übermensch future version of ourselves, we could kick their ass.
So now you know where these fine gents stand with the Dark Knight, let the battle begin! Jens has sided with Future Batman – perhaps the tech of his era or the further years under his belt gives him an advantage. Nelson has taken up with the Present-Day Batman – no-nonsense crime fighting at its best, no matter what Morrison and Snyder throws at him! And Doug is in the corner of Classic Batman – here’s hoping some slippery continuity and blinding technicolor can help him onomatopoeia his way to victory.
DC Universe Online’s Future Batman is the absolute baddest Batman there is. Why? Gosh. Where should I begin?
He is the ultimate survivor. In an alternate future where heroes and villains of the DC Universe annihilate each other, leaving the door open for Brainiac to invade and subjugate Earth, he is the last surviving hero. He manages to elude Brainiac long enough to formulate a plan to go back in time and erase this apocalyptic future entirely by leveling up the population of the planet with super powers. At the last moment he is betrayed by Luthor, who collapses the entire Fortress of Solitude on his head, yet he STILL survives to come back to our time and confront Luthor for his treachery.
Luthor betrays Earth’s new heroes and villains by entering Brainiac’s Nexus of Reality, but Future Batman arrives in our time to save our collective assess. He fights Future Luthor in a battle that rages across different dimensions – literally warping time and reality as we know it. He then assembles alternate reality versions of himself and leads them against Future Luthor, who is attempting to alter history for his benefit.
So, 1) survivor of a super hero apocalypse, 2) has control over time and reality itself. He’s basically the only one standing between Earth and complete disaster at the hands of the greatest villains in the multiverse. How are you going to top that?
I love an alternative/future Batman as much as the next rabid-comic-book-fan but those incarnations are in no way the best or the baddest.
If you want a Batman that speaks to the problems, fears, hopes, and dreams you are faced with right now – then look no further than the Batman of today. Present Age Batman is exactly that… present. He isn’t mired in the misplaced nostalgia of the past – nor is he being molded into some aspect of what we might want him to be in the future. The Batman being crafted right now takes all the history that the golden and silver ages have given us and breaks new ground by telling compelling stories that were just not possible 75 years ago. Modern Age Batman just makes sense – and will always make sense.
The Batman of old is unrelatable. Nolan’s films would never have been made with a golden/silver age Batman in mind – not to mention we will NEVER get a alternative/future live-action Batman film. Today’s Batman is the Court of Owls… the Arkham Asylum Games… and the Death of Robin. The only Batman that carries the weight, pathos, inner turmoil, and complete spectacle that we all can understand – is the Batman of the present. A Batman in the hand is worth two Batman’s from an alternate future.
Zzzz… hmm? Wha? Oh–
Let’s get one thing straight: We’re here to discuss which of these Batmen would win in a fight against each other.
Personal preference has nothing to do with it. Nobody gets bonus points for being your “favorite.” We’re talking cold hard facts. Are we clear? Good. Now let’s dive in.
Jen’s comments about Future Batman being the “ultimate survivor” ring true. However, does this not apply to every version of Batman? Last surviving hero? Elaborate plans? Well, duh. He’s Batman, after all. I would expect no less. Everything Future Batman does, you just sort of nod and think “Yeah, that makes sense.” ‘Cause ultimately, “Future” Batman is just Present-Day Batman to someone else. I just don’t see what makes him superior to other Batmen. He’s certainly not smarter. He might have more advanced gadgets, but better tech does not make a better Batman. Just ask Terry McGinnis.
Jen’s opening statement boils down to: “Future Batman would win because he’s from the future.” That’s simply not enough to convince me.
And for dear Nelson, “Current Batman” is telling stories that couldn’t be told 75 years ago? I completely agree. But is that because the character is objectively “better” than before? Or is it because of the “Comics Code” and writing practices of their day? All I’m hearing is: “Future Batman and Classic Batman are unrelatable. Modern Batman would win because he’s not from the future or from the past.” This sounds like another weak argument for his skill as a fighter.
Future Batman and Modern Batman are too similar anyway. Let me tell you why “Classic Batman” is different, and why he would win in a fight with anyone. And I’m not just talking about any Batman before 1985, I specifically mean Adam West’s Batman from 1966. Do I look like I’m joking?
West’s Batman is a force of nature, and a lawful good one at that. No other Batman is smarter, more courageous, more capable, more loved by Gotham, or has more respect for the law. West’s Bruce Wayne isn’t the product of some terrible tragedy. There are no dead parents, melancholy soliloquies, or brooding “emo” behavior. He dons the cowl for purely altruistic reasons. Now that sounds like the kind Batman I’d want to be. I can certainly relate to him more than the others.
But ultimately none of that matters. Why? Simple math: Adam West’s Batman never loses.
Never. Not once. Not ever. Doesn’t matter who he’s fighting. He’s always prepared for anything. No exception. In this epic brawl of Batmen, there is only one outcome. The others might as well slap on the batcuffs now and save us some time.
And Nelson, do you really think Christopher Nolan didn’t have “Classic” Batman in mind? Really? Then I want you to re-watch the climax for The Dark Knight Rises, and as Batman courageously soars out over the bay, I want to you remember one thing: “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”
It’s not just that Future Batman “survives” in the future that makes him awesome, it is how he survives that makes him the champ in this debate. He literally has a reset button; that’s hard to beat. Give a guy who can plan ahead actual knowledge of what is going to happen and the ability to replay those events over and over until he gets it right…well, you get the idea – game over for the opponent.
But truth be told gentlemen, I think this conversation really only proves one thing – Batman is awesome in any form. All of these different phases and incarnations are great in their own way. All of them contribute to 75 years of Batman and many more to come. I really appreciate you guys taking the time to nerd out with me. Let’s all crash Wayne Manor after Bruce heads out for the night and raid the liquor cabinet. We can raise a glass in the Caped Crusader’s honor. C’mon, you know he has got to have some good stuff in there. “Alfred!! Line ‘em up!”
Are you satisfied with the “all Batman is cool, everybody wins” angle? There’s certainly something to be said of it, I mean – it is Batman. But if you’d got a different outcome in mind, now’s the time to don your own cape and cowl and enter the fray. Let us know in the comics below, or take the fight to the PvP in DC Universe Online!