Baffled by Batman: Super, Hero, or Vigilante?

A debate that I have heard numerous times, where does Batman fall between these categories. I will start by clarifying that super can be knocked off the list immediately. Now I know what some may be thinking, “What about the time when he acquired Superman’s abilities, or one of the numerous lantern rings he wore, or when he comes out of a Lazarus pit, or when he can time travel?”

Yes I admit that he has been imbued with super abilities for a limited time in the past. However in general during the majority of his reign as the Dark Knight, he just simply has access to the funds to fuel his high to above average intellect and high level planning. So cry if you want to, I am not going to categorize him with any of those abilities.

One down two to go. Hero, is a tough one for me. In the world he prays on unrighteous to feed his need to self worth as part of what I would describe as survivor’s guilt. Under the cowl, Bruce [or Batman] fights what he determines as unjust by his own self fabricated rules and priorities, stopping anyone from hoodlums, street thugs, to “villains”. I only quote Of course I cannot deny that he saves the day or rescues the family that he could do for his own parents when a young boy.

Is it enough though for him to be idolized by the citizens of Gotham? They think so, but I am not totally convinced. Mr. Wayne enlist the help of young adults and children to follow him upon this caped crusade, often to the detriment over his or their own well being, sometimes resulting in life altering injuries or death. Is that a heroic quality to have? Due to a high level of intellect, casting judgement on everyone around you and sometimes treating them as if they are beneath you, is that heroic? Having your back broken, put into insolation, finding the strength to heal, get yourself out, come back to your adversary and defeat the man who is oppressing your city. Okay that last one is definitely heroic. This is what I mean, I struggle with how to classify Batman.

Vigilante, is something that I don’t believe has ever been denied by our masked crime fighter. He knows that he must circumvent the law to accomplish his goal and protect who and what he cares about. With a city like Gotham, there are numerous crime cartels, crooked cops, and two faced public figures that stand between the people and what is right. With so many rule breakers, of course Batman has to level the playing field in his own way.

My question evolves into does his vigilantism discredit his authenticity as a hero? Can he be held to the same standards that a fire fighter or EMT as a hero? That is not for me to say. What I will say is that I hope if a true hero sees someone in true need of help, they would not turn a blind eye because of a self imposed manufactured “rule” of society or the government. They would willingly come to that fellow human being’s aide first and foremost.

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