Happy new book day, everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Welcome to the beginning of the second six months of this Batman column. Awhile back I asked a popular question: is Batman a Marvel character trapped in the DC Universe? The Internet reacted favorably. This seems to be a popular line of thought, being as even Joss Whedon has joked about it during press conferences. Today, I wish to propose a few thought experiments to determine what Batman might actually be like if he were a Marvel character.
To begin, this doesn’t seem like a very new question in Nerd Culture. Back in 2001, DC actually thumbed its nose at Marvel by putting out a series of stories where they allowed Stan Lee to reimagine most of their major characters as he would have created them. He created a black Batman named Wayne Williams (in keeping with his alliterative naming gimmick) who had more in common with Peter Parker than the original Bruce Wayne. A far cry from a billionaire playboy, Williams was the son of a murdered police officer who swore vengeance on the criminal who took his father from him. Using his knowledge and connections, Williams was able to put together enough of a costume and gadgets to make the Batman comparison legitimate. This iteration of the character actually sounds pretty interesting. I wish DC had done more with him than simply treat him as something to dangle over Marvel’s collective heads as some sort of publishing rivalry joke.
Further, some might argue that there already are characters in the Marvel stable who seem inspired by Batman, and that is certainly a valid point. But are any of them true analogues of the Caped Crusader? Let’s look at a few.
The Internet has already had a field day making all sorts of comparisons between Batman and Tony Stark. Certainly, some things stick—they are both billionaires with very public lives, both are CEOs of their respective family companies (most of the time), both seem pushed into the superhero life, and both are non-powered superheroes who rely on their intellect, wealth, and technology to put them on even footing with godlike peers. In terms of personality, the comparisons tend to dry up; where Stark is a joker and a partier, Bruce Wayne is taciturn and pugnacious.
Personality, methods, and appearance do make the leap when looking at Moon Knight, however. Marc Spector’s cape and cowl, gadgets, and little throwing moons reminiscent of Batarangs all beg comparison, but it is primarily a cosmetic one. Though he also calls the night home and is fairly brutal in his dealings with criminals, Moon Knight is far more mentally unstable than Batman has ever been shown to be. In fact, in recent years, he has been widely defined by his schizophrenia and the advantages granted by having his skill sets divided up among several personalities.
Personally, I believe one of the closest comparisons that can be made with Batman in the Marvel Universe lies with Danny Rand, better known as Iron Fist. Though he possesses mild supernatural powers, he is a billionaire martial arts master defined by early personal tragedy and a desire to fight crime at the street level. Further, and though a looser comparison, he is also a team player, having a rich history of working at Heroes for Hire with such fellow street vigilantes as Luke Cage and Misty Knight.
If questions persist, I may return to this topic in the future. For now, though, what do you all think of the history and comparisons I was able to put together here? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @quaintjeremy. Don’t forget to check out my personal blog, quaintjeremy’s thoughts. If you have indie comics work you’d like reviewed, I’m your guy. Feel free to drop us a line.
My numerous comic picks for this week:
Batman Eternal #13
Grayson #1 (potential review forthcoming)
Earth 2 #25
Moon Knight #5
Thor: God of Thunder #24
More on Batman next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. See you all then!