Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight
by Travis Langley
-One reason that Bruce Wayne is my favorite superhero because he could be a real guy. And this book describes what would cause a spoiled rich kid to dedicate his life to fighting crime by wearing a bat suite.
-Author Travis Langley says, “Where superman drew his might from Earth’s sun, Batman found his in a city’s darkness.”
-Langley describes the Tim Burton version of Batman in 1989 as being more about transformation rather a big strapping “Arnold Schwarzenegger” like man.
- That's why Burton’s Bruce Wayne is socially awkward and eventually sits at home alone in the dark until the Bat-Signal flips on.
-Kevin Conroy (the voice of the animated Batman) says, “He became Batman the instant his parents were murdered. Batman needs Bruce, however hollow that identity feels to him from time to time.”
-It’s interesting to think that Bruce Wayne is a façade. Batman has to pretend to be the billionaire socialite even though he is truly obsessed with fighting crime.
-Langley describes grieving stages where some people enter denial when a loved one dies. Instead, Bruce Wayne gets mad, and vows to stay mad and avenge his loved ones. For people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD, the longer the trauma the greater the impact. Young Bruce Wayne sitting in the gutter with his dead parents for an extended period of time, seeing news footage of their death, and answering police questions would have lengthened the strain.
-Why doesn’t Batman kill the Joker? Is it possible that Wayne is just as mentally ill as the Joker is? Langley says, “He dominates his anger. It does not run wild with him. If it did, he’d have gotten himself killed or he’d have beaten the Joker to death long ago.”
-In Christopher Nolan’s Joker, there is no depth. The Joker does not pretend to be anyone else. He has no alter ego.
-Christopher Nolan modeled Bruce Wayne off of Teddy Roosevelt’s life. Roosevelt grew up rich but sickly and also endured the tragic deaths of some of his family. As a result, he embraced a tough lifestyle as a rancher and fought against injustice.
-The moment his parents are killed, Bruce Wayne dies. He is, at that moment, Batman even though he has not thought of donning the bat suite yet. Langley says, “His mission already defines him like music defined the child prodigy Mozart.”
-It’s interesting that Wayne chooses a creature that he fears as his model. In Batman Begins 2005, he enters the bat cave that he fell into as a child and stands amongst a swarm of bats. He stands with his fear. Langley says, “He stays with the fear until he calms down and sees that he’s okay. For however long it takes, he stays planted right there.”
-Wayne goes through the 3 steps of the hero’s journey: Departure (leaving Gotham), Initiation (training), and Return (coming back to Gotham).
-What I like about this book is that it explains what drives a man to take on the criminals of an entire city with no desire for reward or recognition. It also calls into question the mental health of Bruce Wayne.
-I’ve always loved the Batman, but before reading this book I never considered the fact that dressing up like a bat every night was strange. But then again, normal people never really make a difference in the world.
-Bruce Wayne’s drive reminds me of a quote by Jack Kerouac (many people think this is a Steve Jobs quote),
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits. The rebels. The trouble makers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. And while some may see them as the CRAZY ONES, we see GENIUS. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world ARE the ONES WHO DO.”