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Monday, August 04, 2008

Which Batman Villain are You?

On the theory that insight can be teased from any random meaningless thing in the world, I think the villains in Batman are useful objects of self reflection. What separates Batman from his arch nemesi are how they dealt with the tragic events in their life. Batman on the loss of his parents eventually chose the harder path, becoming a fighter of evil and protector of lost souls. Batman's villains chose the easier path when faced with tragedy.

In a way each Batman villain symbolizes a different path for running away from fear and pain.  So when we reflect on Batman's villains we are also exploring how we may let situations dictate who we become rather than making our own conscious choice of who we become.

Scarecrow - The Sadist

Operating from a position of trust and power as psychologist, the Scarecrow enjoys seeing people's mind snap. Abuses trust and uses fear to get what they want without concern about the consequences.

The Riddler - The Narcissist

Yearning to be caught, the ever calm and cool Riddler's obsession to be recognized as cleverer than everyone else was so strong he left self-incriminating clues that lead to his eventual fall.

Penguin - The Materialist.

Penguin tries to fill the hole in his soul with money and things. The hole was created by the bullying he endured as a child. Taunted mercilessly by his classmates because of his beak-like nose, bulbous belly, and ever present umbrella (his mom didn't want him catching a cold), the hole grew bigger and bigger. He thought wealth and power could fill the hole, but it never does.

Joker - Chaos

The Joker is an agent of randomness and chaos. In any interaction he could be a harmless clown or a soulless killer, yet we never know what motivates him. Money will not buy him. He can not be bargained with. He will not compromise. In that he is like Batman's evil mirror image, but with a sense of humor.

Catwoman - The Evil Twin


Batman and Catwoman have much in common. The both enjoy the Furry lifestyle and from a conventional perspective have questionable morals, but are basically decent and do good. The difference is Batman has a line he will not cross, and Catwoman does not. Catwoman is a version of Batman without the ridig self imposed control. She is corruptible, not afraid to commit crimes, and loves the thrill for the sake of thrills.  And that's why they can never be together.

Two-Face - The Extremist

Harvey Dent was an abused and schizophrenic child who hid his madness in fanatic devotion to law and order. After an injury deformed his face his madness flipped to a life of crime instead of the law. It was his madness, his unexamined extremism which was his essential character, not good or evil.

Batman's fight is our fight. He constantly struggles to keep Gotham safe from people who simply gave up and gave in. We also constantly fight the Gotham of our mind against letting fear and pain turn us away from our better natures. Batman may be a silly comic book, but there's a lot to learn from Batman too.

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