I love superheroes. I get as excited as the next person, eagerly awaiting the next Avengers movie, watching the Flash, fangirling over Supergirl. I watch CW shows more than I watch the news. I believe in what these superheroes stand for: truth, justice, and righteousness.
But growing up, one superhero I could never get behind was Batman. In comparison with Superman, Batman just seemed like a glorified rich guy that could afford to make his own fancy toys to reaffirm his so-called crusade for the truth. I didn't want to place my faith in someone who wore a mask or lived in the shadows.
So while my friends would all go out to watch the movies, I refrained. Whenever the movies came on TV, I would change the channel. In my mind, superheroes were meant to bring hope and light to lives, and Batman only seemed to highlight all the darker aspects of humanity — vengeance and violence.
But recently, I took a leap of faith and watched the movies with an open mind. I didn't change the channel, and I didn't avert my eyes. I soaked in every minute of it, and I think I'm finally starting to get why people admire this hooded figure that maintains justice in Gotham.
Batman is as much a symbol as he is a superhero. The idea that one person, any person, can stand up to injustice and fight for what they believe in. The idea that sometimes sacrifices are necessary; sometimes, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.
Sometimes, a hero has to lurk in the shadows for a city to remain in the light.
And that, I now realize, is what was so frightening to me when I was younger. I wanted my superheroes to be these perfect idols that I'd built them up to be. I didn't want to consider Batman a superhero, it's easier to define him as a glorified billionaire with no hobbies. Because when you consider Batman a hero, you have to face the hard reality that heroes are human too. And no human, no matter how heroic, is perfect and always good.
Superman gets all the glory for being the one who fights for the truth and protects the innocent. He has incredible powers of flying and heat-vision and super-strength. He is the champion of Earth.
On the other hand, Bruce Wayne has a suit, a car, and the will to fight evil. He expects no recognition, trusts very few to do the right thing, and yet time and time again, he saves his city from destruction. He comes back from the brink of death with nothing but sheer will and guts.
The difference is that Batman is human. Bruce Wayne wasn't born a hero. He created Batman as a way to help his city. People relate to him because he isn't some alien from another planet that has the powers of a god; he's the hero for the ordinary man. His flaws and his imperfections only make him that much more relatable.
Batman is not the hero everyone wants to be. He is the hero that everyone needs him to be. He is the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader. He inspires hope even in the darkest of times and he reminds us to never stop fighting for what we believe in.