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Noun: A benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers.
By its very definition, a superhero is someone who possesses something extraordinary.
These extraordinary powers give superheroes a place in American legend, helping to shape our ideas of right and wrong, good versus evil. As a part of our culture, superheroes have entertained us while highlighting the continuous struggle for a prosperous, free and safe society. Some superheroes can fly, some can teleport or shapeshift, some have superhuman strength. However, a hero doesn’t have to possess something superhuman in order to be a superhero. That’s why I have always liked Batman. Batman has the very human powers of capitalism and ingenuity, and harnesses them to a degree which makes him heroic.
Every American is born with the superpowers that Batman has. Yes, he was born into privilege but every American was. Being American is being privileged. Yes, Bruce Wayne was born into wealth- wealth which was created by good old American capitalism. Wayne Enterprises began as a small family business, and they built it into a prosperous company. Each generation invested in growing the company and, by the time Bruce Wayne took the helm, was a multi-billion dollar corporation.
Capitalism then, gives Bruce Wayne the financial resources to be Batman, but there is something else required: ingenuity. Bruce doesn’t just look at what is available and try to make it work. He finds needs and works with others to create products which meet those needs. He does not accept the status quo, he imagines something better and innovates to makes it happen. Batman was born ordinary, but chooses to make a difference. That is what makes him a hero.
One of the ways in which Bruce Wayne chooses to make a difference is through his position of chairman of The Wayne Foundation, which funds scientific research and helps to provide facilities and training for it to take place. This foundation is also the umbrella under which The Thomas Wayne Foundation (foundation for medicine and medical help) and The Martha Wayne Foundation (a patron and supporter of arts, families, education, and tolerance) operate. As chair of the Wayne Foundation, Bruce Wayne also gets to keep his finger on the pulse of Gotham City, and that informs the work that he does as Batman.
When the Batsignal reaches the sky, Batman has to be ready for anything. Have you ever noticed that Batman’s utility belt has everything he could ever need? He has everything from night vision bat- goggles to bat darts. He is ready for everything because he is an innovator. He is prepared for the future because he dares to think beyond the possible and make it happen.
Isn’t, then, the story of Batman the American dream? A family that builds a business which succeeds, employs more people, gives back to the community and innovates to make things the best they can be. On the side, with little fanfare, these “superpowers” are used to better the community. I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t like to fly, but every American can be like Batman, and that’s even cooler.