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Batman Doesn't Always Win and that's Okay

No matter how much you love the Dark Knight, it's okay to admit he isn't going to always beat his enemies. He won't hate you for it. We promise.

Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, is without question one of the most intelligent and skilled combatants on his planet. He may only be a human on a world that's full of super powered titans and deadly villains, but what's he's accomplished is well beyond what any ordinary human is capable of. He has a brilliant mind, has mastered over 120 fighting styles, and, of course, has the means and intelligence required to create some awesome equipment and vehicles. No matter how absurdly powerful a character may be, they should never underestimate the Dark Knight. That said, Bruce isn't infallible and he sure as hell isn't unbeatable. And you know what? That's a good thing.

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Now, before you jump to conclusions about the above image, let me give you some much-needed context. The Caped Crusader and Deathstroke just had a brutal fight and, in the next issue, Slade mentions he'll be feeling the hero's hits for awhile and would hate to fight Batman without his enhanced strength. Still, the point is that no matter how skilled, driven, and clever Batman is, he won't always be in a scenario where the odds are in his favor. Does he have what it takes to put up a good effort, though? Absolutely. But being unbeatable would be a joke and who wants one of their favorite characters to be a walking punchline? Sure, that works for a lighthearted character like Squirrel Girl, but lighthearted doesn't really come to mind when you think of Batman, does it?

We all love seeing our favorite heroes overcome impossible odds, but how do you expect him to grow as a character if he's always able to shut down a villain's plans or find a way to get the edge in every single physical struggle? It's not about who's standing when the dust settles; it's about what that encounter meant for each character and the story potential it produces. Having Batman suffer a big loss and then seeing what kind of a toll it takes on him and how he'll fix what he did wrong has so much more potential for a compelling story than having him just always topple whatever is in his way. Embracing Wayne's skill, equipment and mastery of prep time is always cheerworthy, but that's because those moments aren't frequent and, when they are presented, the creative team often goes big. Being forced to legitimately question how he'll recover and adapt after a defeat is engaging and really has the potential to showoff his strengths far more than just proving yet again he knows how to disable someone with a pressure point or can take someone out with an electric attack. You know, this is assuming the whole story is written well and his defeat isn't blatantly downplaying him.

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We all want to our favorite characters to win ("my favorite character can beat up your favorite character!"), but there's a blatant difference between being a Batman fan and being a Batman fanboy/fangirl. The ability to objectively look at a character's strengths and weaknesses is important. Who wants to discuss these things with someone if it's clear there's just no reasoning with them? Batman's great and it takes a whole lot to get the better of him, but defeating him is doable and has happened countless times in his history. To think otherwise is just being... well, silly. For example, Bane purposely made sure Batman was emotionally and physically defeated before stepping in to finish the job himself. Wayne's loss there isn't downplaying him and it's most definitely not embarrassing for any Bat fans. If anything, it's showing just how far he'll go in an attempt to keep the city safe. Even after all he's endured, he still jumped at this physically superior foe and gave it his all. Also, it showed just how far Bane will go in an attempt to take control of Gotham and how much he had to do just to wear down its protector. It wasn't a fair fight by any measure, but it spoke volumes about Batman's determination, produced a great comeback for him, and made us realize Bane isn't someone we should take lightly.

"But they make him unbeatable and that's so lame!" In a world that has people shooting heat vision from their eyes, having a phenomenally well-trained, intelligent and resourceful hero isn't all that far-fetched. I mean, how many times has Punisher overcome seemingly impossible odds after he suffered an insane amount of damage? A great example of embracing Batman's potential while also recognizing his restrictions took place in Robin Rises. The Dark Knight stepped into a highly advanced armor and went on an action-packed mission on Apokolips. He knew he'd eventually encounter Darkseid and, even though there's some cool panels that make it look like Batman's doing well, Peter J. Tomasi's script made it abundantly clear that, even though Batman is wearing one of his most advanced armors, he's still nothing compared to Darkseid. He knocked the titan around a bit, but when all is said and done, Darkseid wasn't even fazed by the attacks and it all relied on Batman's planning. If the hero stayed instead of escaping when he got when he needed to, there's no doubt he would have died.

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Batman gearing up and taking down insanely difficult challenges is always fun and reminds us why he's such a formidable hero. There are very few things he isn't good at, but to have him always be a step ahead of his enemies or overcome obstacles with no real trouble makes those big moments less exciting. Watching Batman -- one of the most skilled and clever heroes around -- suffer a defeat and find a way to rise above has so much more potential than seeing him always win, because it focuses on his determination and tactical mind. That's why it's great he has so many villains who can thoroughly test his mind and his body. Batman can beat a whole lot of opponents, but he doesn't always win and that's okay. Being defeated doesn't make him less cool or less impressive. Instead, it reminds us that he's just a human in a crazy world yet he has what it takes to push himself even harder so he can eventually save the day. I'd say that's far more badass than him simply always winning. Thomas Wayne said it best in Batman Begins. "And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."