SciFi Friday Comics Edition: Batman, A Gay Captain America, and Supergirl Gives Up Being a Slut

With The Dark Night breaking former box office records, and with Comic Con going on this week, I will devote this week’s installment of SciFi Friday (delay until Sunday) to comics related stories.

Batman has no superpowers and therefore of all the major comic superheroes it might be most plausible for Batman toe exist. Scientific American has an an interview what it would take for someone to train to become Batman.

What’s most plausible about portrayals of Batman’s skills?
You could train somebody to be a tremendous athlete  and to have a significant martial arts background, and also to use some of the gear that he has, which requires a lot of physical prowess. Most of what you see there is feasible to the extent that somebody could be trained to that extreme. We’re seeing that kind of thing in less than a month in the Olympics.

What’s less realistic?
A great example is in the movies where Batman is fighting multiple opponents and all of a sudden he’s taking on 10 people. If you just estimate how fast somebody could punch and kick, and how many times you could hit one person in a second, you wind up with numbers like five or six. This doesn’t mean you could fight four or five people. But it’s also hard for four or five people to simultaneously attack somebody, because they get in each other’s way. More realistic is a couple of attackers.

How long would Bruce Wayne have to train to become Batman?
In some of the timelines you see in the comics, the backstory is he goes away for five years—some it’s three to five years, or eight years, or 12 years. In terms of the physical changes (strength and conditioning), that’s happening fairly quickly. We’re talking three to five years. In terms of the physical skills to be able to defend himself against all these opponents all the time, I would benchmark that at 10 to 12 years. Probably the most reality-based representation of Batman and his training was in Batman Begins.

Why such a long training time?
Batman can’t really afford to lose. Losing means death—or at least not being able to be Batman anymore. But another benchmark is having enough skill and experience to defend himself without killing anyone. Because that’s part of his credo. It would be much easier to fight somebody if you could incapacitate them with extreme force. Punching somebody in the throat could be a lethal blow. That’s pretty easy to do.

But if you’re thinking about something that doesn’t result in lethal force, that’s more tricky. It’s really hard for people to get their heads around, I think. To be that good, to not actually lethally injure anyone, requires an extremely high level of skill that would take maybe 15 to 18 years to accumulate.

There have been a number of political articles on Batman recently. The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed on What Bush and Batman Have in Common.

Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

“The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

Spencer Ackerman sees the movie as reflecting Dick Cheney’s policies:

Insofar as it’s possible to view an action movie that had the biggest three-day-opening in cinematic history as a comment on the current national-security debate, “The Dark Knight” weighs in strongly on the side of the Bush administration. Confronting the Joker, a nihilistic enemy whose motives are both unexplained and beside the point, the Batman faces his biggest dilemma yet: whether to abuse his power in order to save Gotham City. Again and again in the movie, the Batman’s moral hand-wringing results in the deaths of innocents. Only by becoming like the monster he must vanquish can Batman secure a victory that even he understands is Pyrrhic.

Batman, the film’s hero, played by Christian Bale, sees this as a morally devastating paradox. Dick Cheney and his ideological allies in the Bush administration, however, clearly view this as a righteous challenge. Cheney, Addington, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and others can go to to this sixth Batman movie to see, in the Joker, as played by Heath Ledger, a perfect reflection of their view of Al Qaeda. He presents an enemy unbounded by any scruple; striking out for no rational reason; hell-bent on causing civilization-threatening destruction, and emboldened by any adversaries’ restraint.

Such views show the problem with conservative thinking. George Bush is not Batman and al Qaeda is not The Joker. Comic book superheroes can break the law and ignore principles such as due process. Political leaders cannot.

Cogitamus takes a different viewpoint from the idea of Batman representing conservative views:

Cheney and his supporters are wrong because if you watch the film, it becomes clear that even if we were faced with a Joker-style supervillain, he’s fundamentally not the problem — Dent correctly diagnoses him as a wild dog set loose by others. The Gotham system is the problem, where mobsters and police pick sides based on the day of the week and their mutual enemies, when a psychopathic avenger like Two-Face finds himself executing police or mobsters based on the flip of a coin, and when the nominal forces of order are fundamentally impotent because that’s how everyone wants it, all we can say is that Gotham feels awfully Westphalian.  The solution is not more disorder (more extreme vigilanteism) but better law and order…

If you really wanted to read these films as a reflection of international politics (Is America Batman?) I think you have a dismal road ahead of you. Batman begins to realize that what Gotham needs is not a caped crusader, but a functioning law enforcement system. He begins seriously considering retiring the rubber PJs as Gotham’s police and prosecutors become more effective. The lesson here is not exactly kind to the idea that breaking the laws of war and ignoring the expressed opinion of the UN Security Council is going to lead to greater peace and stability.

Moreover, if you read Gordon’s “escalation” dialogue from the first film in the context of international politics, I think it’s clear you have to say that 9/11 was only possible because of preceding American actions across the globe. That is, if you actually think America is Batman, than you have to concede that Bin Laden/Joker is at least partially the creation of the US government.

I wonder how conservatives who oppose gays in the military will take this story. Slice of SciFi reports that a gay actor might get the role of Captain America:

At the San Diego Comic Con actor John Barrowman, the man behind that famous WWI army coat in BBC’s hit show “Torchwood,” was asked if he has been approached for the role of that other famous Captain. Sitting in on a Torchwood panel Barrowman, after much persuasion, finally admitted that he has been in substantive talks to portray the famous Captain for the May 2011film “The First Avenger: Captain America.”

Star Trek fans are anxious to see how J.J. Abrams reboots Star Trek. The first glimpse of the reimagined Star Trek universe will be seen in the comics. Newsarama.com reports that IDW publishing will “present an epic tale that leads into the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek movie due next summer. Abrams and screenwriter Roberto Orci will contribute to the comic book story, too.”

At Comic Con the creators of Action Comics, Superman, and Supergirl pledged to return these stories to their former glory. I09 reports:

Superman writer James Robinson admitted that part of that effort will include making sure that characters like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen will return to the versions everyone knows, instead of superpowered giant turtles fighting evil gods: “The [supporting] characters have lost their way a bit,” he said, before saying that Jimmy Olsen should be the third most important character in a Superman comic, after Superman and Lois. Johns agreed, and added that there are also plans afoot to use Lois more often: “If Superman married her, she’s gotta be the coolest woman in the world.”

The most important revelation from the panel may have come from new Supergirl writer Sterling Gates. When asked whether he will bring a more consistent characterisation to the Maid of Steel after an erratic few years where she’s been portrayed as confused, evil, stupid, slutty and almost continually unheroic, he said that he saw her as one of the strongest characters DC Comics has, and feels that she’s been mishandled recently. “Can we officially say that she’s not a slut?” Johns asked, to the applause of the audience. So, now you know: Supergirl isn’t a slut.

Supergirl apparently changed a lot since I last saw her in a comic decades ago. So she became a super-slut. Maybe I’ll have to check and see what I missed

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    TCG says:

    If anyone could meet all the training requirements to be able to do what Batman does, the person has to be GWB.

    After all, GWB apparently does not hold down a day job.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, it wouldn’t work. Bush does not like hard work, and being Batman looks like hard work.

  3. 3
    jokyr says:

    Yeah, if people are going to be comparing Batman to conservatism, they really need to think about what they’re saying, haha.  The movie itself states that he’s not a hero.  Even in the comics, the Bat’s job is seen as hellish and something that only makes the world around him worse.  Iron Man, another superhero sometimes put on the conservative side, also suffers this in the comics where every time he tries to get involved politics ends in disaster.  I would seriously doubt Christopher Nolan and many comic writers are trying to put forth some positive conservative message.  Ha.

    Oh, and even a few days ago I was pretty against John Barrowman being Captain America (for other reasons) but now I’m suddenly really hoping he makes the time for it just for the controversy and to make people realize that, hey, the messages in Cap’s comics are “freedom over security” and “freedom for everyone.”  I would also love it if Marvel just outright acknowledged the homoeroticism of the Cap comics.  The right wing brain implosion would be worth it. >:D

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