he boys over at HowToBeADad posted their thesis “5 Reasons Why Batman Would Be A Better Dad Than Superman” with full knowledge of the reaction it would bring. They knew a few of us couldn’t let it slide. They knew we’d be forced to blog our counterarguments, thus driving more attention and traffic to their site. Moreover, they knew we knew they knew, and they knew we were powerless to resist. They are diabolical that way over there… one might say “evil geniuses.”
WHY SUPERMAN WOULD BE A BETTER DAD THAN BATMAN
1) Batman is nocturnal.
HowToBeADad presented this as evidence in Batman’s favor, but given a little thought it becomes pretty clear that on balance, this can’t be a good thing. Where’s Bruce Wayne for that class field trip? He’s in the batcave getting his lacerations stitched up and dislocated shoulder reset by Alfred. You want your dad to be there for your first T-ball game? Sorry kid. He’s sleeping right now because he’s been up for the past 72 hours chasing supercriminals.
Then picture this scenario from the Wayne household: You’re a 5 year old kid. It’s the middle of the night and there’s a violent storm outside. The power is out and everything is pitch black around you. You’re scared and you can’t sleep. Your sense of fear slowly turns to panic as the sound of the wind and the driving rain intensify outside your bedroom window. You stare into the inky darkness, unable to see anything, wondering who might be stalking you from impenetrable night all around. Suddenly a bolt of lightning, and in an instant, only inches away, the face of a man is harshly illuminated, looming morosely over you in your bed. How did he get there? How long was he hovering, silently over your sleepless body? Blinded by the sudden flash you reach out into the darkness, feeling … nothing. Another flash of lightning, and this time the figure is gone entirely — disappeared as silently as he came. When the flash dims you are left alone in the dark again, wondering what else happens in your room in the black of night when you are asleep. You stare into the void utterly alone as the sound of thunder finally reaches your ears.
Nocturnal dad. Yeah… not so great.
The father figure plays chiefly in the forging of the Man of Steel, so much so that Superman actually has TWO fathers to draw experience and guidance from. Batman has only himself. It isn’t much of a stretch to draw conclusions from there. When asked the question “Who would make a better dad, Superman or Batman?” far too many people confuse the word “better” with “cooler”. I’ll grant you, especially in today’s angsty, murky shades of gray times, Batman would be the cooler parent. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say he’s a more interesting character. But where Superman’s origin is a story of love and sacrifice – two crucial themes central to the experience of any parent – Batman’s story is one of tragedy, trauma and vengeance. In that light I ask you, which hero would you want your child raised by?
For crying out loud, Superman’s kids would have freakin’ grandparents.
3) Track record.
No need to dive too far into obscure canonical details about the backstories of each character. Certainly HowToBeADad didn’t feel compelled to adhere to any standards there. But you can’t discuss parenting competence of Supes vs. Bats without bringing up precedent. In the parenting department no doubt Bruce Wayne has vastly more parenting experience than Clark Kent. In fact, Clark Kent has had precisely zero children during his tenure as a superhero. So we can’t really draw on his past as in indicator for his skills as a parent. Not so with Batman.
In his 70+ years Bruce Wayne has been responsible four different wards, each of whom took on the mantle of Robin during his time spent at Wayne Mannor. Of those four…
…two have died.
Any chance you’re going to name Bruce Wayne in your living trust as guardian of your children, given the fact that those in his care have precisely a 50% chance of making it to adulthood?
I don’t think so.
Beyond all of that, as my final testimony I’d like to present a personal story:
This weekend UnDorkMommy took my daughter to a mother/daughter thing until very late, leaving the boys at home to fend for ourselves. After resisting naps all day, Episode VI went down early without a struggle, and Episode V and I found ourselves in the rare situation where we had the house (and the DVD player) all to ourselves. A little dude-time was in order.
Cognizant of the fact that I likely won’t be able to take a 4.5 year old to see the PG-13 “Man Of Steel” this weekend, I opted instead to show him the 2006, Bryan Singer movie “Superman Returns,” which ultimately comes across more of a sequel to the Superman movies my son has already seen. Granted, not a masterwork, but a crucial part of my son’s education nonetheless.
We snuggled under a big poofy blanket and munched on popcorn and salami slices (his request). Towards the end of the movie there’s a scene where Superman is watching his son sleeping peacefully in bed, coming to terms for the first time that he himself is a father. He looks down at the boy, who he only just learned is his own, and with a tear in his eye speaks to his sleeping son, paraphrasing the words his own father (Marlon Brando’s Jor-El) said to him.
“You will be different. Sometimes, you will feel like an outcast, but you will never be alone. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son.”
I haven’t watched that scene since having a son of my own. I don’t mind saying, sitting there snuggling with my boy, it got me more than a little choked up. Now my son is an incredibly empathetic child, and although he isn’t old enough to understand the complexities of a scene like that, on an emotional level he totally gets it.
There’s a quiet beat at the end of the scene when Superman puts his hand on his son’s sleeping head, as every dad in the world has done to his child. Just as I was fighting to keep my own composure, my son leans over to me and whispers “Daddy… I love you.”
You just don’t get that kind of thing from a Batman move.
Post Script – 24 hours later:
The debate has grown and taken on a life of its own. Here is a list of the relevant posts on the subject, all well worth your time:
Probably the most intelligent retort to the original premise… and it’s made by a woman (of course). Escaping Elegance made her position known (in defense of Superman) in her piece “Boys, boys… must we bicker?” but with an important addendum… Wonder Woman would likely do a better job than either of them.
After following the discussion, fellow dadblogger Eric Bolton felt compelled to tell us that we’re all crazy, and totally off the mark. He contends that as usual, the flashy 1st stringers get all the attention, when there’s another hero just outside the limelight (as opposed to emerald light) that deserves some consideration, with his post “Why Green Lantern is a Better Dad Than Batman AND Superman [Because No One Asked]“
Captain of Team-Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, this is Ron Mattocks’s response to the question at hand. “A Letter To Batman From His Son” examines the long term effects on a child raised by The Dark Knight. The results aren’t pretty.
Alan Kercinik, founding member of Team-Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, takes simultaneously an academic and viscerally emotional approach to the debate with his piece “6 Reasons Superman Would Be A Better Dad Than Batman”. As you might assume from the title, his feelings are pretty strong.
The original post from the boys over at HowToBeADad. Their blog is a traffic-generating machine, so they don’t actually need any more hits via links from piddly little blogs like this one, but it’s the original post that sparked the debate. To understand the stakes involved you must first read the buffoonery “5 Reasons Batman Would Be A Better Dad Than Superman.”