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How to become Batman (quora.com)
286 points by rpsubhub on Feb 18, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 77 comments

Pfft, no vision!

However, this thesis seems mostly sensible. I think the crucial answer is that the "Skillz" of Batman are attainable, and there is a reasonable proportion of people in the world with potential to attain them, BUT the problem of being Batman is not in the technology.

The problem, as highlighted, is that there is no role for Batman in our current society. Vigilantism is frowned on, and, practically speaking, having a secret alter ego that lasts only happens in the movies.

But the real problem is that Batman exists to solve a problem; Gotham has a massive crime problem, way beyond what we see in any major city in the world. And it is a city where number of crime bosses, criminal geniuses and psychopaths exist, and where they can act fairly freely.

Given a real life city with that setup, yes, Batman would stand a better chance.

> But the real problem is that Batman exists to solve a problem; Gotham has a massive crime problem, way beyond what we see in any major city in the world. And it is a city where number of crime bosses, criminal geniuses and psychopaths exist, and where they can act fairly freely.

Gotham was created for batman IMHO and not vice-versa. If someday batman dies, spiderman won't come from New York for load balancing. Why is that almost all the super-heroes have their arch-enemy in their nearby locality. They also share the same trait. For example spiderman villains are mostly mutants and nagraj villains are mostly snake which takes humanoid form.

> If someday batman dies, spiderman won't come from New York for load balancing

Dude, you can't cross the streams! (Marvel & DC)

Gotham is New York.

I thought Gotham was a fictional city.

Gotham is a nickname sometimes used for New York City, and while Batman's Gotham is based on NYC, it's not meant to actually be NYC as we know it.

Via Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotham_City

I've heard it said that Metropolis is NYC during the day; Gotham City is NYC at night. (Alone. In Central Park.)

> Why is that almost all the super-heroes have their arch-enemy in their nearby locality.

Well, it would be silly to have an arch-nemesis that lives on the other side of the planet where you are never going to bump into them...

> They also share the same trait.

Well, it would be silly if a character with super powers was battling a mere-mortal, or a god. I guess that is why I always had a problem with Superman vs. Lex.

Wow. Someone talked about Nagraj. Super Comando Dhruva is my fav and I think his villains are quite diverse in terms of powers.

The idea of Batman could work in somaliland (no government, lots of corruption, rampant crime). Mexico (drug war) would also work, or any other country with corrupt or non-existing police forces

I suspect you'd end up with the opposite problems in such places; i.e. too much lawlessness :) Kinda hard to be non-lethal when your target is surrounded by men with automatic rifles and little compunction about killing you (they are, after all, at "war").

I suppose it could work if you switched into more of a commando style hero; taking out the head bad guys of your own volition.

Punisher instead of Batman.

If you actually read up on Somalia you'll find that in many places they're actually doing just fine with no government. The places with problems are 1) the places controlled by the pretend government, and 2) the places where UN&co try to hand out aid.

And if you actually GO to Somalia you'll find that there are many places that are NOT doing fine.

When I read someone saying 'many places are fine', that seems to directly imply that most places are not. This isn't a counterargument. Is he actually wrong? He's certainly getting downvoted a lot and I hope it's not just because someone didn't like the wording.

I think the down voting is due to the perceived extrapolation of 'I've read a bunch of slanted online content and it seems that Somalia is doing great without any government oversight'...sure, so try living there and see how awesome no government can be.

Vigilantism is frowned on

Frank Miller directly addressed that point in "The Dark Knight" comic series. At one point Superman is remembering a past argument with Batman, and (semi-quote from memory):

"And then you laughed that scary laugh of yours. 'Of course we're criminals', you said. 'We have to be criminals to do what we do.'"

The real problem is a lack of moronic costumed super-villains with ridiculously complex plans that require a huge amount of money to set up and have almost no chance of making a profit.

not since the Dot Com boom anyway

What's most unrealistic to me is that Batman doesn't use lethal weapons. Good luck fighting armed criminals unless you have a kick ass body armor.

I'm not sure that's so unrealistic. Batman utilises "shock" tactics (i.e. appearing in the middle of a group before they can react). He also promotes a fear factor; where he is viewed as being generally invulnerable - which means criminals psychophysically expect him to be able to avoid/take/survive gunfire.

Then on the practical aspect he works at night or in the dark and has technological advantages (as well as ranged non-lethal weapons) over his enemies.

Speculating you could imagine he is pretty good at reading people and their reactions, and so has a rudimentary ability to avoid (not quite dodge) gunfire.

Sure, I think it is unrealistic that in, say, the films he avoids all the gunfire period. But it seems reasonable that he can avoid most of it with these advantages.

Such things are all possible in real life, but I expect you are right - you would end up shot.

Indeed, using only a few of those tactics...

"A retired Indian Gorkha soldier recently revisited those glory days when he thwarted 40 robbers, killing three of them and injuring eight others, with his khukuri during a train journey. He is in line to receive three gallantry awards from the Indian government." [http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_deta...]

A single individual accomplishing these things and utilizing these tools and tactics is not realistic. A movement of many individuals all using the same "brand" could work.

Interesting idea. Perhaps there should be a cadre of several thousand of these people, trained to subdue criminals in a non-violent way, but with access to lethal means when absolutely necessary. Ideally, they should be distributed throughout the city in various secure bases. The best part is that the very presence of such a force might be a powerful deterrent to crime. They could all share the same branded uniform, perhaps with a special color and insignia.

Just as long as the movement isn't subverted into a vehicle for revenue from petty infractions and an excuse to harass underclasses.

"The Battalion" would be the only appropriate name.

Perhaps many individuals all posing as a single individual, with the majority involved acting in support roles.

It's starting to sound eerily like Anonymous, actually.

This came up in Batman Beyond a lot.

"Is he the original Batman?"

"No way, he'd be a hundred years old!"

"Maybe he's immortal..."

It seems like a number of superhero comics (which I am lacking in citations for) have focused on the idea of the superhero as more a symbol rather than a person. Any worthy successor can pick up the mask/costume/cape and continue fighting crime in the name of Fooman, and thus Fooman becomes a legend rather than a single person. In the words of The Sandlot, "Heroes get remembered, but legends never die."

The Dark Knight had an interesting take on this with the impostor Batmen in the beginning using guns, and the real Batman showing up to stop them. (There's something to be said about culture and intellectual property in there too, but that's for another day). I'm sure there are plenty of other good examples as well, but my knowledge of superheros is rather sparse as I was unfortunately never that big into comics.

That scene in The Dark Knight is adapted from a storyline in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. If I recall the original, Batman's retirement makes people sufficiently nervous that a gangs of young kids dress like him and do their own crime fighting. The original Batman has to clean up after them as well.

You got some of it wrong, in fact: The gang that existed while Batman was retired was the Mutants, a completely horrible gang of sociopaths and sadists (Miller is not one for subtlety) lead by a monstrous beast of a man (again, Miller not subtle). Their actions force Batman out of retirement and, once Batman defeats the Mutant gang leader in front of his gang, certain elements of the gang restyle themselves as Sons of the Bat and go after other criminals. Again, though, they're still horrible violent sociopaths and sadists, and Batman has to spend some time cracking their heads together.

So you got a number of the main points right.

> Perhaps many individuals all posing as a single individual

Zero Hedge's Tyler Durden.

What you are describing is actually happening in the current Batman arc (in the comics) - Batman Incorporated:


Stand Alone Complex ..

having a secret alter ego that lasts only happens in the movies.

Really? How did you get your estimate for the number of people with long lasting alter egos that nobody knows about, for comparison?

You forgot one requisite. The motive to be Batman: some life altering tragedy.

> Vigilantism is frowned on, and, practically speaking, having a secret alter ego that lasts only happens in the movies.

Banksy is the Batman of the New Generation.

The original question has a link to a Scientific American that explores the same idea:


I like this quote:

  How many of us do you think could become a Batman?

  If you found the percentage of billionaires and multiply
  that by the percentage of people who become Olympic
  decathletes, you could probably get a close estimate.


Apparently there should have been approximately 2 dinosaur Batmans (Batmen?)

The plural form of Batman is "Batmen." "Batmans" is the present tense of the verb "to Batman."


As mentioned in the article, the book "Becoming Batman":


(Man, that's an ugly URL)

this book is about 30% material about Batman, 70% "this is how X body system works"

Wasn't there a woman on This American Life who tried to become as close to a real life superhero as possible?

EDIT: Found it. She calls herself Zora. (Which is the name of a character in Powers.) http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/178/s...

There are a fairly large number of "real life superheroes," actually (http://reallifesuperheroes.org).

None of them have magical superpowers that let them control the tides or have Adamantium skeletons, but hell, it's something. My particular favourite is Life: http://reallifesuperheroes.org/wiki/index.php?title=Life

Wow. I found this account of her: http://www.audiojournal.com/zora.html

She sounds amazing; having achieved an amazing amount (academically a PHD by age 21!). The rest of "The List" is mad.. weapons, vehicle training, politics, history, herbology, various extreme sports.

She did not get a PhD by age 21. She "completed the coursework," which is meaningless. I completed the coursework necessary for a math PhD by age 18 (two years ago), but I am still writing my thesis, which is the important and intellectually significant part; anyone can take classes.


"Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad."

— Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash)

Good lord that quote resonated with me when I first read it! (and, it seems, with young men everywhere)

Ironically, I think I'd already come to the realisation that I couldn't (which is where that quote is heading in the book) much earlier than 25 as a result of martial arts training!

Perfect reference.

I suppose it would be possible to learn faster than by just going the official route. Does Batman need a detective license? I think not.

I wonder if there are cases of people leading batman style lives. Or even maybe Dexter style lives (going about dishing out illegal justice in their spare time).

One thing that comes to mind is from a movie I saw (maybe smoke signals?), where the native american tribe (living in modern times) had a traditional role of some people disguising and teaching other people a lesson.

As for the signalling problem, maybe something could be built with modern technologie (SMS, mobile internet, social networks).

In fact today I had this thought, fueled by paranoia: what if your child was abducted, but could send one last distress call. I suppose police wouldn't be able to block the roads in time to catch the abductor, but what if by a snowballing flash mob effect, all people would take to the street and blocked all roads until police would arrive? It would be a kind of distributed batman effect...

Umm there is something else - most of the crooks in Batman seem to be burning some midnight oil studying and practicing - right down to the ordinary mobster level.

So a real Batman in real world, where criminals are not all competent in many fields (except crime OFC - at least when Batman is around) could get by with lots lower skills.

Also a lot of skills overlap... Take this guy for instance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnClWxkcS4g) I guess that he has quite some of necessary skills to be a batman. Come to think of it - MOSSAD operatives probably are quite a representation of actual "batmen" - with tech and all :).

I wonder if the money that Batman spends to fight crime could be used more effectively in other ways. Batman is essentially a guy who uses his millions of dollars to fund his private war against criminals of Gotham city. If he used the same money and time to educate kids, invest in rehab programs or create community programs he might be able to get more done than what one man can do in the night. But it probably doesn't have the same kick you get out of beating up criminals.

In the comics, Batman does all the crime fighting and Bruce Wayne does all the charity work. So he tackles things from both sides of the coin.

Asking him to give up Batman would be like asking a city to give up their Police Force and just rely on schools to teach kids good morals.

Yeah that isn't nearly as entertaining a comic book :)

The real question is why you would want to be Batman when Iron Man has so much more fun...

This man just shattered all our dreams.

Never be afraid to share your dreams with the world, because there's nothing the world loves more than the taste of really sweet dreams.



My biggest niggle about Batman is how he'd get to and from the scene, particularly roads near his house. Locals would see the batmobile on the same road repeatedly. Lovers in the bushes would see/be squashed by the car pulling into the tunnel. Word would soon get around.

maybe there's a road network after the tunnel. That network is still on his land and lead to multiple exits, villages, highways. Another idea is to have surveillance sensors around the exit (IR, microphones, proximity sensors ) so that he'd know there's someone

But I think the biggest problem is when he's on the road. The batmobile gets noticed and it's easy to get blocked in traffic, or have a crowd around the batmobile when he finds a parking spot.

The green hornet solution is a much more practical. Get a vanilla-looking car, then add high-tech sensors, weapons, and defensive solutions in the car.

Very entertaining and funny, but could people please stop saying "Quora is different because of the crowd and it's serious and bla bla bla"?

I have to say, my first reaction on reading this was "Quora? You see that thing you're jumping over? I hate to break it to you, but that's the shark."

It's kind of inevitable, isn't it? Atrophy rules the web, just as the rest of the universe. I don't know what their business model is, but I imagine that advertising will play a big part. In order to scale up ad revenue, they'll need to scale up traffic, which means scaling down quality.

When did HN jump the shark?

Well, they let me sign up so it must have happened already.

keyboard kill for you

Quite simply, it's Alfred's station that makes Batman's efforts appear seamless. Alfred offers Batman wisdom, advice, an ear for consultation, and most importantly, he picks up Batman in the Bentley, when he's hurt, so he doesn't end up in ICU.

Moreover, in this scenario, our real-life Batman fails to become buddy-buddy with the police chief. That's a critical step.

One could still become a Kick Ass though.

Boy, I'd hate to ask them how to become Harry Potter.

Damn it, if I had known when I was 18!

OTOH, I guess since the common opinion is that most bad guys are boring drug dealers, it's fair to say that if there are people inquiring about how to be Batman, there probably are ones interested in becoming one of his arch-enemies (which is probably less difficult, too :)

Batman for Wallstreet criminals?

Um, you really think you could be anonymous in today's day and age? In the United States? That's a big false premise in Batman, how no-one can seem to figure out who it is.

Law enforcement would hate being made into fools, they'd seize your assets and put you in Gitmo as an example (I wonder how many more presidencies that will be kept open).

Why not Bruce Wayne?

Woah...talk about a buzzkill

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