I spend a lot of time thinking about superheroes. I think it is because I always wanted to be one, and secretly I sit around hoping that one day a radioactive spider will bite me and give me spidey sense or I will suddenly develop powers because yes, my parents aren’t actually my parents they are just the people who found me in a corn field 20 odd years ago.
Whenever I ponder superheroes, I have the same debate about who my favorite superhero is, of the main three superheroes that have had fairly recent movies made about them: Superman, Spider-man, or Batman. [Disclaimer: I am basing all of my knowledge on movies I’ve seen, not comic books. I know this makes me not a true geek, but what can I say.. nothing at all.]
Superman always ends up on the bottom of the list. I think it is partly because he was born with his powers and the fact that he has so many! Hello, greedy. Thus, the fights aren’t as fun, because if his skin of steel doesn’t work, he can just burn you with his eyes or fly away, or use his incredible speed to get away, or look through the walls with x-ray vision and spot the problem. Sure, one tiny meteorite could end up being his downfall, but somehow that isn’t enough to hold my interest. To be honest, I’ve always preferred Clark Kent, and I don’t think it is good for the bookish alter-ego to take precedence over the mysterious handsome superhero.
Speaking of secret identities, the whole Superman/ Clark Kent thing has got to be the worst best kept secret in the history of superheroes. I mean, sure, Superman wears tights, a cape, and has gelled back hair. But he looks exactly the same as Clark Kent, minus the glasses. Plus, Clark wears his super outfit right under his regular clothes. Has no one seen a glimpse of the blue and red spandex peaking out from underneath a shirt sleeve? It’s unrealistic.
As much as Superman is classic and you’ve got to appreciate him for the fact he is basically the one true hero in the history of the world, the true rivalry is between Spider-man and Batman. Both characters have a bit of a dark side, and considering giving it all up for a girl (or just to have a life). Both characters have dead relatives, that motivate them from the grave to be better people. Both characters have a bit of a chip on their shoulders, a sense of responsibility because of how they were raised and how things panned out. They both have good disguises that include masks, in Spidey’s case his entire face is covered.
Then, there are the differences. Spider-man has actual powers. Spider bite makes him part spider. A nerd turned Super. He gets points for being a former nerd, for being raised simply by his aunt and uncle, even though his uncle’s name was Uncle Ben which always makes me think of the rice.
Batman, on the other hand, doesn’t have powers. He learns fighting skills and uses his insane amount of money to make special gadgets in order to fight crime. He doesn’t have parents either, was basically raised by Alfred (his guardian, his butler, I am never sure).
This is where it gets sticky. Who is the better person? Batman, who puts his money to good use to serve Gotham City, or Spider-man, who has no money, lives in a shithole, and still swings around the city trying to save lives. Is it better to have everything and give everything, or to have nothing and give everything? Who has more merit?
Well, when you can’t decide the better merit, you have to judge on looks and looks alone. In this case, I think Bruce Wayne is going to have to win on this one. He is an excellent secret identity. In recent movies, he has been so good about acting the part of the wealthy playboy who loves to party and hang with models. I especially love how clueless he seems. In this way, Batman sacrifices his real identity’s reputation (if real is the person you are born, what ‘real’ really means is certainly up for debate) for the greater good of the city. In fact, he even sacrifices Batman’s reputation in The Dark Knight at the end, just to maintain that the White Knight (Harvey Dent / Two Face) was a martyr even though even he could not withstand the evil that comes from great loss and became part villain.
Spider-man’s secret identity, Peter Parker, doesn’t quite measure up. Sure, he’s cute in a geeky way, but he is always so flustered and scattered. He needs to step up. Then again, maybe not. Maybe that is the mastermind behind his secret identity. Regardless, I am still loving Bruce Wayne at this moment. Or Christian Bale. Or whatever.
I think I may have come to a decision. Based on my almost midnight musings, Batman reigns supreme in my personal debate about who is the best superhero. He’s self made, he uses his money for good and not evil, he sacrifices himself time and time again, and he’s handsome when played by Christian Bale. Looks like we have a winner. At least until the next Spider-man or Superman movie comes out.... Or until another superhero comes along to sweep me off my feet, anyway.