Most 80-year-olds don’t drive fast cars, scale buildings or routinely beat-up people.
But most 80-year-olds are not Batman.
Batman entered his ninth decade of continuous publication this year, meaning that he’s lasted longer than any television show, movie franchise or spearmint gum.
It also means that my deep well of useless knowledge is once again fueling this column.
The world has changed a lot in 80 years.
I’m surprised in today’s climate this character is allowed to exist at all. Imagine this pitch meeting:
“It’s a story about a rich white man who spends his nights assaulting poor people and the mentally ill,” says Batman creator Bob Kane.
“That seems problematic somehow,” Executive Guy says.
“But that’s not all! He also drives a gas guzzling sports car, endangers a young boy and hangs out with a lady in a leather cat suit.”
“All of that sounds exactly like the Democratic Party’s description of Donald Trump,” Executive Guy says. “We’ll be sued!”
Even in a politically correct world, the caped crusader remains a stalwart member of the pop culture lexicon.
“Batman is the most realistic superhero,” says every nerd ever whilst pushing their glasses up on their noses. “And who are you to call us nerds? At least we don’t use the word ‘whilst.’”
It’s true. I shouldn’t judge.
Batman’s alter ego made his money the old-fashioned way — he inherited it. He could be in Aruba right now, but instead Bruce Wayne decided to devote his life to the pursuit of justice — just like the judges on “Chopped.”
Of course Bruce Wayne doesn’t use his wealth to create a foundation for criminal reform, or fund the overburdened police or even buy the cable channel that produces “Keeping up with the Kardashians” so he can cancel it.
Instead he hits the streets in a cape.
Batman can’t fly, burn holes in trucks with his laser eyes or lift Gillette Stadium into orbit. If you were a hardened criminal who sold drugs, robbed banks and murdered people, would a guy in a Halloween costume scare you? I haven’t done any of those things, and I don’t think it would scare me.
I think it would just be uncomfortable, like when you’re stuck on public transit with a guy who keeps talking to an invisible monkey. That guy makes everyone uncomfortable.
It’s the same with Batman. It’s not that criminals fear him; it’s just really awkward when a grown man in cosplay runs up and starts punching you.
“You’re going down scum,” Batman says.
“Fine, fine, I’ll turn myself in,” says Johnny McCriminal. “Can I get a selfie with you to send to my kid first?”
As ridiculous as Batman might be in the real world, I still think we’d be better off if he were here to take on some of the problems the cops don’t have time for.
Who doesn’t fantasize about the Batmobile rolling up, firing a Bat-bazooka and blowing up that idiot’s car in front of you?
“Jeez, I didn’t realize double parking was such a problem,” that idiot says upon discovering his Civic’s smoldering remains.
“You’re in a school zone,” Batman growls. “Justice never sleeps.”
Speaking of sleep, how about when the neighbor’s dog starts barking at 1 a.m., on a school night — then abruptly it stops. You look out the window to see the dog sleeping, a bat-shaped tranquilizer dart stuck in its neck.
Or when people put up gaudy yard sale signs, crapping up every telephone pole in the city with tape residue.
Then one night the signs are gone, and in their place are bat symbol-shaped bonfires on the front lawns of each house where a yard sale was advertised.
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