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Batman keeps vanishing a lot, how does he do it?

We've seen him do this in a desert (and even snag a child with him) with lots of smoke, on a train station with almost no or little smoke, in rooms without windows (2), on top of buildings a lot (2, 3) (even buildings that seem taller than other building around it), in rooms with open windows, and even in strange places and on ground. Flash can't seem to figure it out(1, 2, 3) and even Superman has trouble (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). It seems to elude Bane also (1, 2).

How does Batman simply vanish into thin air or smoke in some cases. Assuming he isn't doing this or this.

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    I could understand how it would work if Bats wore only the Lycra jumpsuit, like Daredevil. Backflip off the building, no problem. But you'd hear that big cape rustling if he made any sudden moves. – Kyle Jones Jan 26 '14 at 3:21
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    +1 for thorough research and references. – Mr Lister Jan 26 '14 at 7:38
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    "Everyone always assumed Batman vanished when he was nowhere to be found. Little did people realize he was simply really good at hide and go seek." – Neil Jan 27 '14 at 14:31
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    @PaulD.Waite Comics actually (not just one comic), I could include the references somewhere, I have many more of them. – Secko Jan 27 '14 at 16:37
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    @PaulD.Waite Batman: In sequence: Batman: The Return #1, I, Vampire #5, Detective Comics #815, Azrael #27, JSA #31, Outsiders v3 #50, Swamp Thing #7, Batman Confidential #53, The Dark Knight v2 #3, DC Two Thousand #1, Man of Steel #3, Superman Batman Secret Files & Origins 2003, Action Comics v2 #12, Batman v2 #20, The Dark Knight v2 #7, Batman: The Long Halloween #1-13 – Secko Jan 30 '14 at 15:20
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Batman disappears by taking advantage of human nature and human assumptions about what is possible the same way a stage magician might. Batman's ability to disappear is more a skill of misdirection than of supernatural capacity. While it may appear to be almost a magical power, he is a student of human nature and takes advantage of preconceived notions to make himself "disappear".

Misdirection and Distraction

  • In almost all of your examples, Batman takes advantage of having wide areas where it can be challenging to figure out which way he disappeared (rooftops and windows are great for this). Being an extraordinary acrobat doesn't hurt either allowing him to "hide in plain sight" by using shadows people simply don't consider capable of cloaking a man. The train yard scene could have easily been one of those.

  • In enclosed spaces, we are forced to presume a pre-configured escape route. Smoke, loud spaces, and other distractions make it easy to disappear from people who simply don't know enough about him to realize what happened.

  • In many of the DC continuities, Batman was trained by Zatara (a stage magician who happens to actually be able to do real magic) and he uses this timing, this knowledge of human nature and the preconceived notions people have about what is possible, to give the illusion of disappearing, even from people such as Superman.

Preparation

  • Batman is a tactician, first and foremost, so he tends to choose circumstances which allow him quick entry and exit and more than likely has already chosen at least three different ways of "disappearing" from anyplace he has had the time to study and prepare for. An illusionist fools you because you believe you understand what is happening and he has already set the stage for you to be misdirected.

  • Preparing to "disappear" from people like Superman requires both timing, circumstance and a conveniently positioned lead-lined wall or bio-masking technology (which he has used to mask his heart-rate and respiration from superhumans, Superman in particular). More than likely, Superman if he were really motivated, could find a cloaking Batman, but if Batman really wanted to hide from Superman, he wouldn't ever appear in person due to the expected difficulty of hiding from a man with an entire battery of super-senses.

Preconceived Notions (Psychology)

  • How often when people are looking for a person, do they think to look up? Batman takes advantage of that socialized two-dimensional thinking. Most importantly, he has conditioned people to believe he has supernatural abilities. He maintains this mystique in order to keep people off-guard.

  • Hiding from the Flash, in your example isn't actually that difficult, because he "disappears" while the Flash is resolving his crime-fighting action. If you notice, the Flash looks through the building at superspeed but only looks as if the Batman was limited to movement on the ground. A line to a nearby building might be all Batman needed to avoid detection AND appear to magically disappear. He could just as easily hide in the shadows, choosing a position where the Flash's superspeed scan (which is still just a really fast open-doors, look-inside kind of thing) and simply hidden better than the Flash could find.

Looking at your two humor examples may have more truth to them than you may think. What stops him from doing exactly that? People are easily fooled by stage magicians because unless you understand the trick, you believe the magic. Batman is simply a better magician than most and makes it his business to know when the best time to "disappear" in any conversation. More than likely he engineered the conversation so he could time it just right.

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    Regarding - "Looking at your two humor examples may have more truth to them than you may think." Actually I'm not ruling that out, I said "Assuming he isn't doing this or this." It's an assumption, it can go both ways. I didn't think it canon to say "assuming he is". Besides, that was the part in my question that ruled out the possibility of giving an answer based on Batman "hiding like a dummy and waiting somewhere near, but out of sight". – Secko Jan 26 '14 at 3:32
12

Thaddeus has got this pretty well covered but I thought this might help;

Batty Exit

The short answer is that he waits until people aren't looking and then leaves. He's got a black cape so he may be hiding in shadows, he may have jumped off a building or he may have gone straight up using a concealed rope.

1

In the Tim Burton movie he uses vials of chemicals that, when broken, create a smoke screen to distract everyone while he uses his grappling hook to get away.

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