Many years ago, a friend explained something to me that I had never considered before, but which struck me as obviously true as soon as I heard it: "Secretly, we all want to be Batman." And indeed, I think every man in America -- and some women -- have fantasized about being Batman. Which makes sense, because most of us are just ordinary people living ordinary lives, while Batman is a superhero.
Granted, he's not particularly super, at least in terms of powers. He doesn't have any superhuman abilities, he can't fly, or lift a truck, or shoot laser beams out of his eyes, or call lightning from the sky or restore a sense of sanity to American politics. Batman's power is basically being filthy rich.
And I think this is why we can all imagine being Batman. Much as some people may be inspired by Superman, we know we are not aliens from the planet Krypton. And much as some people may be inspired by Spider-Man, we know that staging a musical about him may have been a terrible idea, but also that we are never going to be Spiderman -- even if we do get bitten by a radioactive spider.
I'm not sure why radioactivity always seems to be the cause of so many superpowers. I'm pretty sure that in real life, being bombarded with radioactive waves will give you powers like headaches, vomiting and cancer.
Not particularly super. And the whole bitten by a radioactive spider thing still makes no sense to me. I always wondered, if a radioactive
Nonetheless, I could totally envision myself as Batman. And an exercise regimen consisting mainly of walking to the fridge is no barrier to me or anyone else imagining ourselves single-handedly thwarting an airplane hijacking, which you know because you've imagined yourself doing it too.
I didn't always want to be Batman, though. Previously, my favorite superhero team was the X-Men. I couldn't really empathize with a leader who could shoot lasers from his eyes, or a giant Russian man who could turn his skin into metal, but I became a fan of the Beast because he was basically a hairy nerd who wanted to quote Shakespeare and read books while everyone else wanted to make things explode, so I empathized with him a lot.
And the thing about Batman is, filthy rich is actually a pretty good superpower, relatively speaking. Certainly it's a better superpower than they gave to The Penguin, whose superpower seems to be crippling deformity.
But honestly, if right now someone offered me a choice between a billion dollars and the ability to shoot lasers out of my eyes and have metal claws of death extend from my hands, I'd take the money in a Barry Allen.
Moreover, Batman doesn't have the "fatal weakness" that so many people seem to have; there is no Batman kryptonite. Superman's kryptonite is kryptonite, which seems a little cliche, but at least it doesn't occur naturally on earth. I feel really bad for the Green Lantern, whose kryptonite is the entire color yellow, making him the only superhero who can be defeated by a school bus, a goldfish, or a banana.
So I guess it makes sense that we all want to be Batman. Just, y'know, not the old Adam West one.
Seth Brown is a local humor writer and author of "From God To Verse." His column appears same Bat-time in the Transcript, and same Bat-channel on RisingPun.com.