Here I am again, this time answering to a request from casualgamer, who wants some information about the characters that are scheduled to appear in the upcoming videogame Injustice: Gods Among Us. So, I’ll start from the one and only character that doesn’t need an introduction at all: the Dark Knight himself, Batman. He surely had a long life in live-action adaptations, starting from the movie serials in 1943 and 1949, but reached universal celebrity with Adam West‘s camp portrayal of the character in the cult tv-series Batman. After the debatable dancing version of West’s, Tim Burton transformed Batman in a tormented and melancholy cold-blooded vigilante in Batman and Batman Returns with the face of Michael Keaton, but Joel Schumacher made him kitsch once again in the following Batman Forever (Val Kilmer) and Batman & Robin (George Clooney). Finally, Christopher Nolan created a memorable version of the character, portrayed by Christian Bale, with The Dark Knight trilogy. Let’s see in what these versions differ from the comics’ one.
Despite being told and retold many times, Batman’s origins preserve some common traits, known by everyone, I suppose: young Bruce Wayne, son of billionaire Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, witnessed to his parents’ murder. Coming back home from Monarch Theatre, in Gotham City, a robber, named Joe Chill, assaulted them to have Martha’s pearl necklace, and when Wayne tried to defend his wife, both him and her were killed. Clearly traumatized, the child was found by social worker Leslie Thompkins, who tried to comfort him the best she could: Bruce, anyway, closed himself to the world, and spent most of his childhood inside Wayne Manor, raised by Alfred Pennyworth, the family’s butler and a father figure for the child. Growing up, young Bruce Wayne decided to consecrate his life to freeing Gotham City, and the whole world for what he could do, from the evil that took away his parents from him. In order to achieve his goal, Bruce started travelling the world, searching for teachers and masters who could help him in his fight against crime. He learnt martial arts and gymnastics from Ted Grant, aka the American superhero Wildcat, one of the best fighters in the world, and many other combatants; man-hunting from French assassin Henri Ducard; stealth, moving in the shadows, reconnaissance and the art of disappearing in the darkness by Japanese ninja Kirigi; tracks-reading and hunting from the African tribes of the Ghost Tribe and the Ten Eyed-Brotherhood; medical science from Nepalese monks, and many other skills such as chemistry, physics, forensics, even ventriloquism. Having only his goal in mind, Bruce reached the maximum expertise in every field he practiced, bringing his body and mind to the peak of the human possibilities. With a remarkable preparation, a twenty-years-old Bruce tried to enter FBI, but gave up, understanding that the legal system would have been a limit for his mission. With a lot of experience and a steel-strong resolution, Bruce came back to Gotham.
In his home city, Bruce understood that nothing had changed in the years he passed abroad, but one thing: now he was ready for his war to begin. Alfred, despite some obvious worries, agreed to help him in his crusade. Only one thing was missing, even if Bruce didn’t know what. One night, thinking about it in one of Wayne Manor’s halls, a large bat broke a window and entered the room: the man remembered his phobia of bats when he was a child, and decided to make his personal fear a symbol of terror for all criminality. That same night, with the help of Alfred, he tailored a costume resembling a bat, and with some experimental technology from Wayne Enterprises, he started hunting down Gotham’s criminals. The Batman became an urban legend, until he made his public debut during a dinner between Gotham’s most important crime lords: during that event, the vigilante promised to the bosses that their reign was over, and that the city had a new protector. Using its allies inside Gotham Police Department, the mafia had Batman hunted down by every single policeman in town, while the hero could count on the support of the two honest law-defenders in Gotham: assistant district attorney Harvey Dent and Lt. James Gordon, who helped him from the inside warning him of the corrupt agents’ moves and arresting the ones Batman managed to capture. With the years, Batman cleaned up Gotham City from most of the organized crime, but his mere presence gave birth to a new generation of criminals, inspired by his figure: deranged psychos like the lethal Joker or ambiguous anti-heroes such as the thief Catwoman, a bunch of quaint maniacs that became more than a challenge for the Dark Knight. Batman became active also outside Gotham, and was among the founding members of the Justice League of America; he also became the best friend of Earth’s most powerful superhero, Superman, and trained many disciples and partners in his crusade, the first of them being Dick Grayson, aka Robin, another orphan with a thirst for justice.
Bruce Wayne is an obsessed man, different from the maniacs he hunts down just because his ultimate goal and the aim of his life is justice instead of personal realization or power. Batman is at the peek of human possibilities regarding strength, speed, agility, reflexes and combat training; he also has a genius-level intellect, and has at his disposal an entire arsenal of non-lethal weapons built with the patrimony inherited from his parents. Batman’s only rule in his crime-fighting crusade is never to kill anyone: for everything else, he’s just as brutal and violent as the criminals he fights, thus instilling fear in everyone who pursues crime in Gotham City.