Subversive vs. Sellout

Parenting is a minefield of controversy. We can let the womenfolk handle trivial issues, like whether to vaccinate, or make babies cry it out. We dads need to tackle the tough topics requiring steely resolve and a firm grasp of the facts. Today’s prediliction: Batman or Superman?

The occasion for this quandary is my son’s very first superhero action figure, acquired yesterday. My sister was cleaning out her basement playroom. So the wife and I cherry-picked all manner of superfluous puzzles, Hot Wheels, and crayons. But the prize was a five-inch Batman.

A boy’s first superhero sets in motion a series of preferences and decisions that will shape his worldview. It usually comes down to the Caped Crusader versus the Man of Steel.

For my childhood self it was an easy choice. I never much liked Superman. Everything came too easily to him. Sure it must be nice coming from your superior solar system with its awesome red sun. You come to Earth, with our crappy yellow sun, and of course you have super strength and you can fly and shoot laser beams from your eyes and bullets bounce harmlessly off your chest and fall at your feet like acorns. And who does Clark think he’s fooling with those non-prescription glasses?

Give me Batman any day. He has zero super powers, but must instead rely on his wits. He conditions his body, hones his fighting skills, and develops mission critical gadgets to give him a tactical advantage. I mean, what’s cooler: fighting crime with super strength and icy-cold breath?… or using grappling hooks and boomerangs? Duh.

Superman has his Fortress of Solitude, which is some sort of depressingly remote arctic masturbation lair. Batman has a state of the art, retrofitted cave, with forensics lab, analytic computers and en suite parking, bitches. And the Bat Cave has plenty of blinking lights and beeping consoles, so you know some next-level shit is humming in the background. And instead of commuting to the North Pole, Batman slides down a fireman’s pole, cleverly concealed behind a bookcase.

Even cooler for a mortal, Batman is strictly opposed to guns. Since his parents were shot to death, Batman built his vigilante creed around punishing senseless violence with principled violence. (I just gave myself the chills.) To paraphrase* Batman’s anti-gun rationale, “Even a knife can cut bread; a spear can pitch a tent; but a gun’s sole purpose is to kill.”

None of this is meant to deny the allure of other more nuanced superheroes, like Spiderman, Wolverine, or the most underappreciated hero of all: Aquaman. As in, “Oh hi, my name’s Aquaman. I talk to fish. Telepathically.”

The way I see it, two-thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by what substance? Exactly: water. And who rules the oceans? Right again: Aquaman. And he’s doing a bang-up job too, because besides some drug running, shark finning, and Somali pirates, people aren’t getting away with a lot of seafaring crime (BP oil spill notwithstanding). By comparison, Metropolis and Gotham City are freakin combat zones.

But all those other heroes come later. My son isn’t yet two. He knows nothing of Krypton, Gotham, secret identities or utility belts. He’s just going by first impressions. He appears to prefer the subversive Batman to that sellout Superman. It’s an auspicious start for a crime-fighter.

* I’d quote it verbatim but the original comic book is in my old room in my parents’ house. Blast!

composite featured image by extrastuff15 via flickr
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6 Responses to Subversive vs. Sellout

  1. Michele April 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    I’m laughing so hard that I have to cover my mouth to avoid waking sleeping bambinos. I choose Batman too. But wow… What a kick forward for Aquaman… Who knew!
    “And he’s doing a bang-up job too, because besides some drug running, shark finning, and Somali pirates, people aren’t getting away with a lot of seafaring crime (BP oil spill notwithstanding). By comparison, Metropolis and Gotham City are freakin combat zones.”

    But seriously… I think the Batman thing comes from my deeply rooted love of ‘bad boys’. Superman is just too damn nice.

  2. Amanda April 24, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    In our house, it’s neither. It’s Star Wars. I think my oldest just might know more about Star Wars than George Lucas. We have light sabers and blasters and…well, it all drives me insane because there’s no sound in space! (Hello, closet nerd). In true girl fashion, I find it all lame, but of the movies, I prefer the Batman franchise.

  3. JTP April 24, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Batman is THE hero to match. (I’ll give Iron Man a silver medal) No “mutant” powers. No “radio active spider bites”. No alien blood.
    Nope.
    He’s a pissed-off dude with issues to burn. (Did I say “issues”? Sorry, Bruce Wayne has a freaking subscription) Batarang. Utility belt. Bat mobile. Bat cave. Alfred. Full win. All stop.

  4. Venus May 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Ever since a boyfriend in high school let me borrow* Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Batman has been my definite fave.

    For G, however, I suspect he’ll be a Star Wars baby. Very soon I’ll introduce him to my Tauntaun sleeping bag, and the indoctrination will begin. ;-)

    *Borrow as in it’s still sitting in the bookshelf behind me, unlike his Sandman Chronicles which he hounded me about until I shipped them back to him. A man’s got to have priorities apparently.

    • Daddy Confidential May 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      Okay what is it with moms confusing super heroes with Star Wars? Totally different genres, people.

      It reminds me of a friend who used to give prospective girlfriends a litmus test. He’d ask which was their favorite Star Wars movie. He put the question to this one promising girl and she hesitantly answered, “Um… the second one?” And my friend thinks to himself Okay this chick’s cool. Encouraged, she then says, “Star Wars Two – The Wrath of Khan!”

      • Venus May 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

        HAHAHAHA. Ok, ok, I know that Star Wars is not in the same realm as comic-book superheroism. However, lacking any superhero fetish of my own, I resort to other pop-culture phenoms which geeks/nerds/men-in-general tend to worship and for which I share an affinity.

        Incidentally, The Empire Strikes Back *IS* the best of the three** by far.

        Also, The Wrath of Khan is seriously entertaining, not being part of Star Wars notwithstanding. Ricardo Mantalban was awesome, as was that icky Ceti eel. Corinthian leather, anyone?

        **I don’t count the new ones as even being part of the damn saga, thus my reference to three instead of six episodes.

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