5 Defining Moments When Just Being Batman Wasn't Enough For The World's Greatest Detective
"Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
"Because he's Batman!"
How many times have we heard that expression every time Batman's actions need an explanation? Don't get me wrong, I love the Caped Crusader and he is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time, but what I think makes him so special is the fact that he is just a man.
Batman has always been a fan favorite for numerous reasons: he has an awesome gallery of villains, his origin is very human and the best writers/artists want to get involved with The Dark Knight.
Although I love the fact that Batman possesses the ability to be better and improve himself over time, he is still human and he needs to fail to keep evolving.
And that's what I want to share with you in this article. Occasions when Batman simply wasn't able to alter the outcome, prepare enough or foresee the consequences of his actions. He is Batman, yes, but what makes him so appealing is that he is a human being. Just like you and me.
This article was inspired by the recent passing of Batman legendary writer and editor Dennis O'Neil. He was responsible of making Batman relevant again, and the introduction of brutal stories that tested our hero to the limit of his abilities.
1. Batman: A Death in the Family
Ironically, the most tragic moment in the life of Batman came from the people that love him the most: his fans. Jason Todd was a carbon copy of Dick Grayson when he first appeared, but it was after the comic book event Crisis on Infinite Earths that DC rebooted the character and gave us the Jason Todd that we know today. At that time, people disliked Jason with a passion, either for his recklessness or people just simply saw someone that didn't deserve to be Robin.
DC decided to leave the fate of Jason Todd in the hands of the fans and it was decided that he needed to go. The fans took away any chance for Batman to help his protege and we abandoned our hero when he needed us the most.
Jason Todd's demise in 'A Death in the Family' arc is arguably Batman's greatest defeat and hopefully its impact will be explored within the upcoming film. In the comics, Batman was deeply affected moving forward but his stories became even more engaging. From that point, Batman experienced numerous situations when he had to push himself physically and morally.
2. Batman: Venom
Venom is the performance enhancing drug that gives Bane his superhuman strength, but it was Batman who took it first. Batman: Venom shows Batman at his most vulnerable. His consumption of the drug comes after he wasn't strong enough to save a little girl. Guilt can be a very bad influence and Batman decided to heed its counsel.
This is another example of why he is such a great character. With Batman, success is not guaranteed. Batman is always two or three steps ahead of his adversaries but guilt demanded a more immediate solution. That is a very human reaction.
3. Batman: The Long Halloween
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was heavily influenced by this arc and it shows, since the movie is one of the best comic book films of all time and that's thanks to the excellent source material.
This story defines Batman's crusade against crime and how his decision to become the protector of Gotham City falls solely on him. A whole year of murders, mob wars and the demise of Harvey Dent are consequences he has to deal with after trying to believe that there were others like him that could share the burden.
4. Brother Eye
'Brother Eye' is the prime example of how things seem to be a good idea at the time. Created by Batman after he discovered that the Justice League erased his memory due to him walking on them when they decided to magically lobotomize Doctor Light, he decided to (no pun intended) keep an eye on them by collecting a massive database of information concerning every known meta human including the Justice League members.
The information he gathered fell in the wrong hands, including the weaknesses of his allies, and their trust in Batman was broken beyond repair.
It doesn't end there, though. Brother Eye was a very important part during the 'Infinite Crisis' arc in which the satellite gets hacked and is used to coordinate attacks on every meta human on Earth using the O.M.A.C.s (sleeper cyborg agents) and then becomes sentient.
Finally, during the events of Final Crisis, Brother Eye assimilates Apokolips (Darkseid's home planet) and then decides to help in mounting the resistance against Darkseid's forces.
Woah. Did you get all that?
The reason of pointing all this out is that no matter how intelligent Batman is, he couldn't have foreseen all this happening when he decided to launch a super computer into space just to gather some data.
Actions have consequences, and it was important that Batman learned that the hard way.
5. Batman: Knightfall
In my opinion, this is Batman's greatest defeat and the defining moment that took Batman towards a new direction in comic book lore. He was outsmarted and outnumbered. As Bruce Wayne and as Batman, he burned out in the span of six months by the actions of a venom-enhanced genius named Bane. Batman was the target of systematic attacks until he exhausted all resources and every ounce of strength he had in his body. And even then, he lost.
Bruce Wayne was then replaced by Azrael as the new Caped Crusader who, little by little, becomes increasingly violent and unstable, tarnishing Batman's reputation.
These events caused two major changes in the Batman dynamic: the trust of superheroes, police and the public in him had to be restored due to Azrael's actions and the realization that Batman cannot work alone any longer, leading to the creation of the concept of the Bat-Family.
In conclusion, Batman has many great stories that involve defeat and despair but that's why we root for him so badly. He has to go up against super powered aliens, cosmic gods, magical creatures and all of it has to be done with only his cunning and physical prowess. Of course we can not leave out those wonderful toys he employs, right?