37

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. – Valorum Feb 18 '14 at 18:24
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    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
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    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
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    He doesn't need to be a Super.... <gruff voice>"because I'm Batman!!!"</gruff voice> – BBlake Feb 19 '14 at 13:47
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    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
28

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.. – Lobo Feb 18 '14 at 21:59
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    Batfishman! There is no idea so stupid that comics haven’t done it already. – Paul D. Waite Feb 18 '14 at 22:32
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    @PaulD.Waite - Spoken like a man who's never see this; cracked.com/… – Valorum Feb 20 '14 at 22:59
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    Actually I wish Christopher Nolan had figured out a way to work Batfishman into the Dark Knight trilogy. – Paul D. Waite Jan 14 '15 at 9:09
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    I like how they put the flames out by tossing the building into space, but didn't think about the whole "burning up on reentry" thing. – Kevin Oct 28 '15 at 17:57
19

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JLA:_Tower_of_Babel

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.

  • 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
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    Lex Luthor is Batman's arch-nemesis? Isn't that normally considered to be the Joker? – Stephan Feb 19 '14 at 11:21
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    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
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    I disagree. His "powers" are usually well grounded in what's realistically possible. That includes his powers of deduction and intellect. – Valorum Feb 19 '14 at 17:45
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    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
3

you don't need superpowers to be a superhero look at Tony Stark aka Iron man all he has is a suit of armor and yet he is part of the avengers. Both Batman and Iron man suits have a lot of technology that helps fight villians and save the world and gotham city.

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    I should down vote you for crossing Marvel and DC – giacomo casanova Jun 26 '15 at 1:09
  • I'll give this answer a +1 for the concept, but I'd like to see it expanded on. – Omegacron Jul 2 '15 at 13:18
0

We are quick to credit Captain America, Green Arrow, Iron Man and even Black Panther with superhero status but we seem to have a predispositionary opinion that Batman doesn't reach the qualifications of a superhero based off the claim that he doesn't have any SUPERpowers.

It's apparent that Batman has above average intelligence and arguably may have the title of the most intelligent member of the Justice League. He has planned and manafactured a contingency for every member of the JLA and is revered by his teammates to be the most dangerous member because of these plans. His preparedness, foresight, and overall intelligence can and is considered a superpower when applied to any other character. By the standards set forward by dictionary definition of superhero, Batman is a SUPER hero.

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    Green Arrow is the same as Batman, a costumed vigilante. Captain America, Black Panther, and Iron-Man all have something that augment(s)(ed) them above a normal human. – Jack B Nimble Oct 28 '15 at 17:25
0

Batman possesses no special powers so he's not a superpowered hero. But he has saved so many people and done so many incredible things that his "hero status" is super. Meaning that he is such a great hero that he is a super hero.

-1

Saying that Batman is not a superhero because he has not superpowers it's illogical.

Are there any human stronger or intelligent than Batman? If the answer is not, then obviously he has superhuman strength, right?

If you say that the above doesn't count as superhuman strength because that's not comparable to the strength of all the other superheroes, then I can apply the same argument and conclude that the only superhero is Superman (certainly nobody is stronger than him).

  • Batman is neither DC's strongest human, nor its smartest. He is, however the "World's Greatest Detective" – Valorum Aug 25 '16 at 21:08
-2

I don't read Batman comics and all that, but I know that Batman isn't really a superhero.

I don't think Batman really is a superhero cause he seems half dark and half light. He has no superhuman powers or anything either. I even searched for the definition for superhero.

superhero

a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman.

Yeah, he is very strong and all, but he has no superhuman powers, so he shouldn't be classifies as a superhero.

I don't even classify him as a hero cause he seems straight out evil to me...

It depends on your perspective of what a hero is to you.

-4

First and foremost Batman is a hero. He has a rigid set of morals, and he routinely places himself in danger for the sake of other people and saves countless lives not only on earth, but assisted in saving the whole of the DC multiverse on occasion. Examples of his clearly heroic qualities are; in Detective Comics #1, he chooses to save a little girl over catching his arch nemesis, the Joker, who he has a personal vendetta against, another is in The Dark Knight Returns where he inspires the people of Gotham, leading by example as the city is attacked. However can he be defined as a Superhero? Some would suggest the a lack of superhuman physical abilities or traits is what defines a superhero, which is an easy misconception to make, considering more conventional superheros like The Hulk or The Flash have obvious physical abnormalities. I however would argue that you can further and more accurately classify a superhero based on other essential and often overlooked criteria that really outline the fundamentals of the superhero status.

First of all, what is a superhero? What sets them apart from others? The word superhero was first used in the 1900s, when comic book heros were becoming popular, this gives us important context for the term, not just any hero can be a superhero, they must exist in a world where their real life fans would recognize them as a larger than life hero. For example: Harry Potter isn’t a superhero but Dr. Strange is. This is purely because one exists in a superhero universe and the other does not. Batman is among the most prominent figures in superhero comics placing him in a strong running for a superhero status and that their creator decides whether or not their character is a superhero . It is vital to note that the creators of Batman, DC comics, has stated that he is a superhero consistently. A quote from their website says “Batman is proof you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero”. DC is certainly a credible authority. It is them who helped define the classic superhero. Them saying that Batman is indeed a superhero should really take the highest authority given their status as the creator.

Using more objective authorities: the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a superhero as

Definition 1 “a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also :an exceptionally skillful or successful person”

Dictonary.com also defines superhero as

Definition 2 “a hero, especially in children's comic books and television cartoons, possessing extraordinary*, often magical powers.” *Extraordinary- Going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary

As you can see a universally accepted authoritative dictionary and therefore the english language as a whole wherein the term superhero derives from, first defines a superhero to include a fictional hero that is an exceptionally skillful or successful person. Batman is undoubtedly successful in what he does. He is a multi-billionaire and has a vast array of knowledge on building gadgets that more than compensate for his lack of abnormal physical qualities; a prime example being his brilliant synthesization of red kryptonite, a substance that acts contrary to green kryptonite, Batman was able to rationalize that he could overpower superman to the point that he snaps; the synthesization and Superman’s destruction was something Ra’s al Ghul, a powerful being with other obvious superpowers, was unable to do by himself in the Tower of Babel storyline, a story that I will reference often as it portrays Batman's power in direct comparison to other accepted superheros. Batman has in fact been listed as one of the top 5 most intelligent people in the DC world. Batman has even been shown to best most every other conventional superhero in his universe, which should should even place him even a notch above the average superhero. Batman has also transcended multiple supervillains that conventional superheros were powerless to stop. This is evident in Batman’s defeat of Darkseid, one of the most powerful being in the DC universe, in the confrontation Batman mortally wounds Darkseid with a radion bullet allowing himself and the rest of his superhero team, the Justice League, -in which he is the founder thereof- destroy Darkseid. There are no convincing arguments that definition #1 of a superhero doesn’t apply to Batman.

In definition 2 extraordinary talents are stressed. Extraordinary means incredible but not outside the realm of nonfictional possibility, simply above what is customary, and Batman is clearly not customary even by standards of other superheros. He does thing that a regular human being cannot do, with or without Batman’s wealth. Applying this second test of superhero, it cannot be ignored that Batman possess extraordinary physical talents such as acrobatics, master martial artist, weapon proficiency, stealth, and marksmanship. But Batman’s truly extraordinary powers lie in his cognition with skills of deduction, intellect and foresight. Batman’s preparedness and foresight borderlines precognition, which is undoubtedly a superpower no matter how one personally defines superhero. When these skills are combined with his already peak physical condition and skills, he is truly a force to be reckoned with. Batman’s super genius and incredible foresightedness is predominantly displayed in Tower of Babel storyline, as well as the variant storylines from it, in it we see that Batman has a master plan prepared to defeat virtually the entire JLA (Justice League Alternate Universe), if he thinks they are stepping out of line. Additionally, his plan works, making Batman not only a powerful superhero but possibly the most successful super-villain in this alternate DC verse. Super-villains, it should be noted as in the case of figures like The Joker or Doctor Doom, are considered super based on 1) the scale of their misdemeanors and 2) the fact that they battle a superheros counterpart. If one’s definition of super is based on the scale of his heroic traits as it does in the case of the supervillain counterpart, Batman would definitely qualify for his part in, on occasion, saving the whole of the DC multiverse in multiple other comics. I would draw attention to Batman equipment, much of which he made mostly himself using his formidable technological knowledge. Using this equipment he is able to compensate for his lack of more traditional physical powers; Batman has also on occasion used magical, supernatural, or extraterrestrial weapons that he obtained himself. He got his equipment not from a freak accident but from his own self exertion; he is self-sufficient. To those who are objective to the fact that Batman is unrelatable due to his exceptional wealth putting him in the top 1%, I would clarify the issue by asking; does his use of his wealth not justify his wealth, and furthermore, does he not deserve his wealth? Batman uses his wealth to create materials and advance his knowledge, used to enhance his performance in stopping innocents from getting hurt; which is his priority further confirming his hero status. Truly heroic qualities, even super heroic qualities. Batman is not the only superhero to wield immense wealth and cognition as powers, fellow confirmed superheroes such as Professor X use their cognitive, not physical, abilities to fight or commit crime.

The thing that I would consider to be the most inspiring or heroic part about Batman is his relatability. He is on the surface a regular guy who is super by means of his own hard work. He pushed passed crippling loss to protect other people and if that doesn’t make a person super, I don’t know what does. Batman is a favourite of the public in this way, landing him on many Top Ten Superhero lists, key word being superhero. The fans, those who build up these characters, have, as a majority, dubbed Batman to be a superhero, he is afterall in the same league as superheroes, in comics and movies. To deny that Batman is a superhero in this sense would be denying the reality that he is an aspirational role-model to many people who might be less inspired by the superheroes who were given their powers with no real conscious effort or by another method that is in someway unattainable to them. So go ahead and crush the dreams of a generation because of your own narrow-minded, uninformed decision. Because maybe Batman is a superhero to them.

To summarize, a superhero can be defined in many other ways, a supernatural physical power, a hero to a wide group, someone with exceptional skills, a positive role model, or going above and beyond normal human limits. Batman can qualify for many if not all of these criteria which leads to the unequivocal conclusion that Batman is indeed a superhero and fully measures up to this title. As we open our eyes to the broader definition of superheros we may make a more concise understanding to the nature of these fictional characters that have come to be enjoyed world round.

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    No offence, but this answer suffers from severe formatting issues and lacks a basic usability. As such, I couldn't even be bothered to read it. Please take some time to format and construct this answer so as to highlight the important points. – Möoz Apr 10 '18 at 3:34
  • Oh sorry. I wrote this out on a document and them juct copy/pasted it. I'll be sure to modify it. – Taylor Bissett Apr 11 '18 at 13:48

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