Batman as a Cultural Icon

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Batman as a Cultural Icon The superhero has permeated American culture for more than a century. Graphic novels depicting heroes like Superman, Green Lantern, and The Flash grab the imagination, tapping into both the reader’s deep seated longing for the ideal and his fantasies of titanic power. The exception to the god-in-tights trope that otherwise defines the genre is The Batman. Unlike his iconic foil, Superman, Batman fights to the best of his ability without powers. Ironically, it’s this that makes him more powerful as a character. Readers of Batman comics, consciously or not, put themselves in the shoes of Batman. If Batman can do all this, the reader thinks, maybe I can conquer my problems too. Batman has become a potent pop-culture icon of self-actualization and ambition in the face of adversity, and the stories depicting him are a direct parable for the conflict against one’s own inner darkness. Batman’s saga begins with a smoking gun and a promise. Up until that fateful night, he was merely the young son of a wealthy family in the crime-ridden Gotham City. He was on his way home from a night at the cinema when mugger violently killed his parents. Young Bruce Wayne, orphan, channeled all the pain and hate he felt on that night into a promise to himself that was as simple as it was naive: to end crime in Gotham. As he sat alone in the rainy alleyway by the corpses of his parents and listened to wail of GCPD police sirens, he took the first steps of his journey of self-actualization that would last him his entire life. And so he grew into something greater. The story of his growth is rare within the superhero genre. Superman was born with extraordinary abilities, and the Green Lantern was given a magic alien ring. The Martian Manhunter is, well, a martian. Batman, on the other hand, studied and trained and traveled the world for his abilities. He learned

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