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Long Live The Batman

A self-reflection on how Batman has shaped my life.

Long Live The Batman

For the last eighty years, a masked vigilante has graced pop culture. Bringing justice to the streets of Gotham as a symbol to fight superstitious and cowardly criminals that plagued his city. This man is The Batman. Since his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in March of 1939, Batman has been a positive role model for comic readers.

Showcasing how one man turned a tragedy into a call for justice. If you know me, you know I am a self-acclaimed Batman expert. A lot of my teenage years have been dedicated to researching the character's history. I am a walking Batman encyclopedia who knows everything from the night Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered, to his favorite dish (Mulligatawny Soup). I wanted to write this article to just describe my history with this character and how he has played a big part in my life.

Many critics of superheroes talk about how people shouldn't be looking at these characters for guidance. Sure, at first glance how could one relate themselves to a man who dresses up like a bat and fights a murderous clown? Well, I argue that these characters at their core are literary characters. These superheroes are apart of America's mythos. America's version of the Greek gods.

We are meant to look at these characters for guidance. To help us with our tragedies or our insecurities. That is why these characters have lasted for so long. Growing up as an only child, I obviously didn't have a lot of people in my life I could talk to. So I went to cartoons and movies to help show me what type of person I wanted to be and strive to be to this day. To be just a good person spreading good.

I didn't start liking Batman from a young age. My first exposure to superheroes was around 2010 after the second Iron Man film. But I didn't just want to be a casual reader. I wanted to know about these characters. I just so happened to stumble on Batman around February of 2012. I was on YouTube just looking at the sidebar of recommended videos. I just clicked on a Batman video with a fancy thumbnail and it was gameplay of the video game "Batman: Arkham City" (2011) that released that past fall. In the video, there was a commentator named kNIGHTWING01 and he was just talking about the different characters in the game you, the player interacted with. It was such a unique approach to the video and I just marathoned his videos for the next couple of months. In 2013, I finally created a YouTube page and he was one of the first people I subscribed to. I didn't know then, but I had opened myself to a bigger universe.

I spent the next year looking at Wikipedia articles on characters to the Batman Mythos. The iconic villains like The Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and all the different Robins. (Yes there are multiple Robins). Eventually, I convinced my mom to buy a Batman Encyclopedia that laid out all the major points of interest in Batman. At the time his 75th Anniversary was rolling around the corner and I was gearing up to celebrate in my own little way. By the time the anniversary rolled around, I had learned about the last seven decades of Batman.

If asked I could describe any major Batman story arc that came to mind. The Golden Age of comics in 1939 up to around World War II when Batman was first introduced. Fighting gangsters and mob bosses in Gotham City, wielding a pistol and executing criminals (very different from the character today). Or the Frank Miller run in the 1980s, "The Dark Knight Returns" where a fifty-five-year-old Batman dons the cowl once again to take back Gotham from a rising gang. By this time I have made sure to watch the main Batman movies released in Cinema and building up a collection of Batman comics and memorabilia. Then in August of 2014, my big break came.

Instagram was a very different place in 2014. There were no Instagram stories, your timeline feed was posted in chronological order, and the menu was blue! Today superhero accounts plague a section of Instagram. It is so difficult today to break out and gain a huge following. But back in 2014, there were hardly any left. I remember a guy DMed me on Instagram, he ran a superhero fact page called @Superhero_trivia. He asked if I wanted to be apart of his team. Obviously, fourteen-year-old me was ecstatic at the opportunity. I decided to do my facts on the Batfamily, a name given to all the members of Batman's team throughout the years. @Superhero_trivia was a little bit hesitant at the time. How could I provide so many facts on just one subject matter? At least with superheroes, there is an array of characters to do facts on. It was a daunting task, but one I was prepared to face.

The job's simple. Find some cool fact about someone in the Batman Mythos, make it into a picture with text and watermarks and then post it. Oh and try not to make any grammatical errors. Something I sometimes struggle with because of stupid auto-correct with apple. I didn't expect back in August of 2014 I would gain a lot of followers. But the account skyrocketed. And here I am all these years later, still posting facts on Batman characters. With a small following of 137,000 followers. The account has opened doors for me. I get contacted with brand deals to promote their products. I helped revive the show "Young Justice" (2010-) that was canceled in 2012 by Cartoon Network for no real good reason. My account was leading the charge with the hashtag #BringBackYoungJustice. And now today, I am working with an actress who is campaigning for the role of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in the next Batman movie or tv show.

To me, I didn't set out to be insta-famous. I just wanted to create a community where people didn't have to feel afraid to talk about Batman. In both grade school and high school, I was shamed for liking superheroes and cartoons. And I wasn't an overly weird guy, I just saw it as liking sports or video games. But everyone else thought I was a weirdo. So that's why I am proud of the account today and proud to be a Batman fan.

Because Batman is that outsider. He is someone who doesn't follow everyone else's agenda or ideas. He does the right thing because it's the right thing. Plain and simple. The man did not let the traumatizing event of the death of his parents keep him down. He trained, he studied, and he tried to be the best man he could be. He took in and fostered orphan boys and raised them on how to be good men. That is something I heavily relate to because I have a similar family dynamic with my step-father taking me in under his wing to teach me how to be a man. Batman is much more than a guy who dresses up like a bat. He is a broken man. Like the rest of us. He isn't a teenager with spider powers or an alien from another planet. He is just a human who is strong enough to overcome any obstacle that comes his way. Batman was the role model I needed in life at a dark time. He helped me channel all the rage and darkness I had at that young age and turn it into a force for good.

So as his eightieth anniversary rolls around, I just want to take the time and acknowledge the character that has helped me and others rise from the darkness. #LongLiveTheBat

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