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Keim Time: the hero we deserve

The symbol of Batman is synonymous with the DC superhero, but what exactly does the character represent?

The character of Batman is one that I find to be fascinating, especially when considering his public perception. Almost everybody knows of Batman, a lot of people like him, but everybody seems to have a different idea of who he is and what he represents. Is he a pure-hearted savior? A lawless anti-hero? Or just an uninteresting character that Hollywood needs to stop adapting?

While I do not claim to be some kind of Batman expert, I do believe I have consumed enough of his stories to consider myself experienced in this field. With plenty of movies, animated series, comics, video games and LEGO sets under my belt, I deem myself qualified to discuss the essence of his character.

To begin my discussion, I will give some background information regarding the Dark Knight. After his parents were shot dead in an alleyway, Bruce Wayne committed himself to justice at a young age. Through years of physical training, gadget accumulating and general preparation, he finally deemed himself worthy to return to his home in Gotham City, cleaning up the streets as the masked figure known as Batman.

What keeps me, as well as countless others, interested in the Caped Crusader after all of these years is that he remains, to some extent, a moral paragon. Though adaptations differ, the character that I consider to be the baseline of Batman is someone who, while not flawless, embodies attributes that all people would benefit from imitating.

Despite being often viewed (fairly or otherwise) as an angst-riddled loner, the Bat of Gotham is an incredible symbol of hope for both audiences and the fictional people he saves. Across all adaptations, Gotham City is almost invariably portrayed as a rotting cesspool of crime. Beyond the clown-faced menaces, frozen widowers and plant-based terrorists, small-scale thugs and muggers are rampant throughout the city.

It is because he lives in such an environment that Batman has so strongly committed himself to enacting justice. He wants to protect the people of Gotham and give them the opportunity to have a better future. As a child, he lost everything he had to a random act of violence and he wants to do whatever he can to prevent that from happening to anyone else. The hope for a better tomorrow is one of his most important motivators that can inspire both the citizens of Gotham and all fans of his in our world.

The most important facet of Batman’s character is, unfortunately, the facet that is most misunderstood by various adaptations: his mercy. His cardinal rule, the idea that dictates his every interaction with a criminal, is simple but immensely significant: do not kill. Regardless of this fact being ignored by Tim Burton, Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan and many other people who have tried to adapt the character, it is the fact that speaks to the very core of his being.

Though different people are allowed to interpret fictional characters in their own unique ways, it is my personal belief that, if you portray Batman as a killer, you fundamentally misunderstand his character. The Batman I see wouldn’t shoot down thugs with his Batmobile and he wouldn’t leave Ra’s al Ghul to die on a crashing train. To reiterate, his entire life was turned upside-down as a result of senseless killing. He wants to protect the lives of not only the innocent, but the guilty as well.

Another reason the Dark Knight preserves life at every opportunity ties back to his philosophy of hope. He believes that everybody deserves a chance to change. Just because somebody did something horrible today doesn’t mean they can’t become a better person tomorrow. That chance, that hope, is something that can only be accomplished through acts of mercy.

There is a reason why Batman has remained culturally relevant for over 80 years. So many different people want to share their own interpretation of the character, even though not everybody sticks the landing. No matter what happens to him in the future, I don’t see anybody forgetting him any time soon. Why? Because he’s Batman.

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About the Contributor
Brian Keim
Brian Keim, Campus Editor
Brian Keim is the Campus Editor for The Carroll News, hailing from Medina, Ohio. He is a sophomore at John Carroll University, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and minoring in communications with a concentration in digital media.
Often referred to as a “person” who “exists,” Brian is also involved in the JCU Improv Troupe and Blue Streaks on the Run. In his free time he allegedly considers film-watching and book-reading to be two activities that are enjoyable as well as life-changing, if you know where to look.
To request biased film opinions, haphazard Academy Award predictions, or otherwise contact Brian Keim, he can be reached at [email protected]

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