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There is no doubt that Batman is a hero, he saves Gotham (and the world) on a pretty regular basis. He's uncommonly strong and very very smart but to the best of my knowledge he has no "super" powers per se; he may be smarter and stronger than the average man but not beyond human limits.

The DC Comics website has this as their header;

DCComics.com: Welcome to the Official Site for DC Comics. DC Comics is home to the "World's Greatest Super Heroes,” including SUPERMAN BATMAN, ...

My question is; within the DC universe, what evidence is there to support the idea he is a super hero? Can a hero be called a super hero without possessing super powers?

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I thought it was quite a good question. –  Richard Feb 18 '14 at 18:24
I don't read Batman/DC Comics. Do average citizens know that Batman doesn't have super powers? There was a Batman: TAS episode where cops were describing seeing Batman, and they attributed everything to super powers. –  phantom42 Feb 18 '14 at 18:28
I think this is a good question, but one that will ultimately always come down to an opinion. –  FoxMan2099 Feb 18 '14 at 22:40
Yes. He is certainly a superhero. He has the superpower of immense wealth. He can literally throw gobs of cash at problems that to you or me are intractable until those problems evaporate under the incredible pressure of concentrated cash. Kryptonian? Pffftt... better hope Batman likes you, or you're going to he Super-Homeless-Man. –  John O Feb 18 '14 at 23:05
Oh dear... This question creates a precedent. Prepare for a whole slew of such questions! Is the Green Hornet a super hero? Is Zorro a super hero? Not to mention super villains. –  Mr Lister Feb 19 '14 at 20:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Webster Dictionary defines a "Superhero" as either;

1) A fictional character who has amazing powers (such as the ability to fly).

In the strictest sense, Batman isn't a superhero because he has no "amazing" powers (e.g. powers that are magical or pseudo-scientific) but depending on the canon source, he does regularly perform feats that are well beyond the abilities of normal humans.

His abilities rarely stray beyond the realms of reality. His strength, athleticism, stamina, agility, mental acuity, etc are impressive but his writers usually try to keep him from actually being superhuman.

On several occasions he does display superheroic powers, but usually as a result of science (in the form of "chemicals") or as a result of those powers "leaping" into his body...

Batman Breathing Under Water; Batman Human Fish

Batman with Superhuman strength after being struck by lightning; Batman Super strength

Batman swapped powers with Superman; Batman swapped powers with Superman

2) A very heroic person

Batman repeatedly performs acts of heroism, sacrificing his own life (or at least attempting to) on an almost weekly basis. He fights crime at great personal expense and has invested vast sums into developing computer equipment and crimefighting tools to aid the police and support the city.

I guess you can make your own choice which definition you think most closely relates to your question. Personally I err on the side of "yes".

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Writers of old comics were certainly jerks.. –  S S Feb 18 '14 at 21:59
He has been known to hold up 1,000 lb structures over his head and bench press over 650 lbs 10+ times with ease. These feats are 'amazing' feats because there are very few people who could do that and certainly non of the ones that can are a mere 6'2 210 lbs. In fact I would say its super-human for a man who's physical features are that of someone who is closer to 250+ lbs. –  xXGrizZ Feb 18 '14 at 22:04
@xXGrizZ - You have to give the writers a little bit of licence. He's abnormally strong but not outside human parameters. –  Richard Feb 18 '14 at 22:17
Batfishman! There is no idea so stupid that comics haven’t done it already. –  Paul D. Waite Feb 18 '14 at 22:32
@PaulD.Waite - Spoken like a man who's never see this; cracked.com/… –  Richard Feb 20 '14 at 22:59

I prefer the Wikipedia definition:

A superhero (sometimes rendered super-hero or super hero) is a type of fictional stock character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and dedicated to protecting the public

Batman does have a superpower - he just isn't as known for it as others with the same superpower.

Batman is a supergenius. In Tower of Babel, and the variant storylines from it - we see that Batman has a master plan to defeat virtually the entire JLA if he thinks they are stepping out of line. And his plan works, making Batman not only a superhero - but possibly the most successful super-villain in the DC verse.


Update on that: - part of Batman's contingency plans include notes on how to synthesize red kryptonite - a feat Ra's Al Ghul wasn't capable of alone and something which would normally be in the scientific know how of Lex Luthor. And Luthor is? A supergenius.

Also, Final Crisis - who is the guy who really defeats Darkseid? Batman. How? Planning and forethought. Defeating the universe's most powerful bad guy with a single bullet takes slightly above average intelligence.

OK, let's be honest here. I think we can at least agree that Batman's real power, if he has one, is that he is Crazy Prepared. This is generally true for all of his incarnations. Out of universe, we can blame this on lazy writing. In universe, we have to assume that Batman's intelligence is of such a high level to predict possible situations that he is clearly beyond normal human intelligence.

And... in response that this is not a "superpower", this is well preparedness that borders on precognition. This is not like a boy scout who remember to pack a canteen. Batman accomplishes things that most of the DC verse routinely fails at.

In order to do what he does, Batman has to be intelligent enough to predict numerous potential outcomes, weigh possible strengths and weaknesses of enemies and - as in the case of both Babel and Final Crisis, come up with strategies well in advance to make the outcomes occur. This is why Superman once called Batman "the most dangerous man in the world".

You don't get Supes saying that without having some amazing powers. Batman is a superhero, he's just not a metahuman - to use DC jargon. He's just as "powerless" as similar supergenius types like Lex Luthor (or Tony Stark). The key thing here is that while Lex and Stark are known as brilliant inventors, Batman is one of the most brilliant strategists in comic book lore.

That doesn't make him any less of a superhero.

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Supergenius? Really? So Sherlock is his nemesis or can become an ally? Deduction skills and training are NOT super powers. That is the point of Batman. He is a detective. Not a superhero. His parents being killed and leaving him money did not give him "Powers." His training and focus and fortitude gave him prowess, not alien or mutant power. I don't even like the character that much but still know he's just a man. By your faulty logic Stephen Hawking is a superhero. Even though he can't walk or speak. He could outsmart probably anyone, still... C'mon! –  Meat Trademark Feb 18 '14 at 23:29
Lex Luthor is Batman's arch-nemesis? Isn't that normally considered to be the Joker? –  Stephan Feb 19 '14 at 11:21
Fine, agreed - but traded up from Lex Luthor to Darkseid. In the classic comics, I could accept Batman as merely a detective with a really awesome belt. But in the current storylines? You don't go up against the entire JLA and entities like Darkseid with "deduction skills and training". Batman left the realm of "super cop / detective" long ago, when DC decided he had to always be around Superman. –  joshbirk Feb 19 '14 at 17:20
I disagree. His "powers" are usually well grounded in what's realistically possible. That includes his powers of deduction and intellect. –  Richard Feb 19 '14 at 17:45
The thing a lot of people tend to miss, or more to the point choose to ignore is that while Marvel heroes are grounded (somewhat) in reality, DC's pantheon are all larger than life. That's their draw, so while Batman is "just a guy in a bat costume" he's really not, no matter how you try and define it. Everyone in the DCU is super, human or otherwise. –  Monty129 Feb 19 '14 at 20:34

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