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Do Batman's parents need to be murdered?

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Solid SOAP

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Sep 18, 2011
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Not much more to the topic than that. In order for Batman to work as a character, do his parents need to be killed? Does he really need that function of his origin story, if any origin story at all? Can a Batman exist in a new universe with little/no back story as to why he's Batman and work?

I've been thinking about that recently and, well... I just feel like it's an unnecessary component at this point. BvS for example ham fisted it into the story, and look what it got us: Martha and a dumb weird scene where Batman ascends a well being picked up by bats.
 

Slayven

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Then what drives him?

Hey I am rich white guy using the least efficient way I have at my disposal to change shit.
 
Aug 22, 2014
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Yes. They were actually really bad people that did things like utilize child soldiers and drug/arms trafficking.







Note I made the above up so any spoilers is purely coincidental.
 

Slayven

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Since Batman is not real, his origin story can be whatever anyone wants. So yes, they can live.

What if Batman was a normal guy that got framed for a crime he didn't commit. In prison he vows revenge, but once released he doesn't have any resources. So he becomes a pro wrestler to fund his campaign of justice.
 

Inferno313

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Does it *need* to be? No, you could tell a Batman story without it. You'd have to have some kind of equally compelling motivation though. A character like that needs to be driven by something.

It's one of the defining traits of the character though, so I think it would be a hard sell to most folks. It would probably only really be accepted in some kind of alternate reality or "what if" story.
 

Lowrys

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It's such a fundamental part of his narrative, and he is such a well-known character, that yes, I think they do. Also, the argument that "He's a fictional character, so his background can be anything" is reductive and adds little.
 

McLovin

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Batman doesn't really work as he is now anyway. He indirectly killed many people just by letting the joker live, let alone every other villain.
 

Sir_Crocodile

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Yes, because it breaks him.

If he was sane he could fix most of the problems of Gotham as Bruce Wayne, because he is a genius billionaire.

But he's too set on being a personal instrument of vengeance for that.
 

nortonff

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I can't imagine Batman without his grief.
 

Penguin

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Not much more to the topic than that. In order for Batman to work as a character, do his parents need to be killed? Does he really need that function of his origin story, if any origin story at all? Can a Batman exist in a new universe with little/no back story as to why he's Batman and work?

I've been thinking about that recently and, well... I just feel like it's an unnecessary component at this point. BvS for example ham fisted it into the story, and look what it got us: Martha and a dumb weird scene where Batman ascends a well being picked up by bats.

No idea what the 2nd part of your post has to do with his origins.

It has given us plenty of great moments as well like the graveyard scene in Mask of the Phantasm or the play off of it at the start of Batman. Or the Brave and the Bold episode Chill of the Night.

But yeah, I mean aside from driving him. It also needs to show how corrupt and rotten Gotham has gotten. Begins did a good job of tying it into them actively trying to better the city and folks not wanting that.
 

Karkador

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Considering how often they want to deny his arc as a father with a family of his own (thereby resolving the whole murdered parents thing), I'd say the answer to that question is increasingly "No"
 

CazTGG

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What if Batman was a normal guy that got framed for a crime he didn't commit. In prison he vows revenge, but once released he doesn't have any resources. So he becomes a pro wrestler to fund his campaign of justice.

That would only work if you got Stan Lee to write it.
 

Inferno313

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Batman doesn't really work as he is now anyway. He indirectly killed many people just by letting the joker live, let alone every other villain.

That's an aspect of the character that does wholly work though. It's a major subtext and dramatic thrust of many modern Batman works.
 

Shake Appeal

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There's an older Batman story called "To Kill a Legend" where he gets a chance to save his parents in an alternative universe.

Spoiler: the Bruce Wayne whose parents live grows up to be Batman anyway.

Here's the relevant panel:

 
Aug 29, 2009
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Not GAF, lol
Yes

It's even brought up in Justice League (in one of the best episodes of the entire DCAU), that the concept of a "Batman" needs tragedy in order to fully develop into a hero.
 

Regginator

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Yes, it's essential. It's what has made him fight crime indefinitely. Nothing else than his parents' death would make him "snap" like that and become Batman.
 

Trojita

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I don't think BvsS should be used as a criticism for Batman's well established backstory. The movie just fucking sucks.
 

HStallion

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He's just going to be Tony Stark if his parents aren't murdered. He needs that drive in his life, it both empowers him to be the Dark Knight as well as crippling him in so many vital human areas. Its who he is and otherwise he just turns into another rich playboy and that isn't to say he might be a bad or good rich person but I doubt he turns into a superhero and if he did I'd expect something more along the lines of Iron Man than Batman to come about.
 

Matty77

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It's really his whole motivation and while I assume he would have done good in philanthropic ways I don't think he would have half cracked and dressed up like a giant bat to beat the shit out of criminals.

As for BVS that's shitty writers, not only is the origin well known but even incorporating it does not (and most would argue should not, myself included) excuse or justify the Martha bullshit, which I also don't blame on his origins.

Other adaptions have used it well, and it still has some impact in some media even though it's ingrained in pop culture.

TL;DR: yes, they should die.
 

Altazor

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Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader kiiiiiinda touches on this during its conclusion. It's more of a meta-consideration about the Batman mythos and its different versions, though, but still.
 

LosDaddie

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I can only imagine that someone who hasn't read any Batman comics would ask this question.

Yes his parents need to die. They need to be murdered right in front of him. It's the entire reason he becomes Batman.
 

Slayven

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What if after seeing his parents killed young Bruce Wayne grabbed the gun away from Joe Chill and killed him?
 

ViewtifulJC

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I don't like this idea that Bruce Wayne hasn't given back to the city and that he's just some scared little boy using billions of dollars to beat up lower class crooks. There are decades of comics with Bruce Wayne contributing money to socially concerned organizations, hospitals, clinics, hell he's put money into Arkham Asylum to try and make that better. Batman is a fictional cartoon character for children, he can buy equipment for the Gotham High Football team and also buy sweet ninja gear. He has infinite money. There is no opportunity cost here.

And maybe you havent noticed, but most of Batman's problems are Batman sized. Donating to building better libraries isn't gonna stop Poison Ivy's giant plants or Ra's Al Ghul giant James Bond badguy satellite or Professor Pyg from using his doll-a-trons to release deadly viruses through Gotham City. He's an pulpy adventure character, that what he does. If you can't accept that, like if you just straight up refuse to accept the fantastical premise of this character, then you're not even attempting to meet the material at its own terms.

A Batman comic where a dude in a suit writes checks for 20 pages aint too exciting.
 

RockTurtle

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Yes, it's essential. It's what has made him fight crime indefinitely. Nothing else than his parents' death would make him "snap" like that and become Batman.

Yes

It's even brought up in Justice League (in one of the best episodes of the entire DCAU), that the concept of a "Batman" needs tragedy in order to fully develop into a hero.

Tragedy maybe. Mental trauma for sure.
 
Apr 18, 2012
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I don't like that it's referenced that much but yeah, it's necessary.
There are a bunch of alternate stories (including in the animated series I think) that explore the idea of Bruce Wayne's life with his parents still being alive. He always ends up as a copy of his father, a well-meaning rich philantropist. But he never becomes Batman without the shock of their death.

I like the idea of his parent's death as a starting point but I think that's all it should be. When the writers reference it too much, it kinda diminishes Bruce as a character. The way they did it in Mask of the Phantasm was ideal. It was a combination of their death and legacy, Bruce's flawed personnality and his failed love story with Andrea that created Batman and after that he moved on. The constant flashbacks to the pearl necklace are unnecessary and are a big reason I couldn't finish episode 2 of the Batman Telltale game.
 

Lunar15

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Different origin story, different character, in my opinion.

Maybe we just need less Batman. His origin story's getting old because we're getting way too much of him.
 

bengraven

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Spider-man's parents don't need to be killed - just one of them. There is zero reason that his aunt and uncle raising him defines him more than if his mom and dad raised him. He had a great upbringing from supportive guardians and it was the death of one of those guardians that drives him to become a hero instead of exploiting his powers.

He could easily have a mom and dad and his dad "Ben" dies.

Now the opposite could be said for Superman - it's important to him that his parents died and he was adopted. "Adoption" just isn't as important for Peter.
 

Slayven

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I don't like this idea that Bruce Wayne hasn't given back to the city and that he's just some scared little boy using billions of dollars to beat up lower class crooks. There are decades of comics with Bruce Wayne contributing money to socially concerned organizations, hospitals, clinics, hell he's put money into Arkham Asylum to try and make that better. Batman is a fictional cartoon character for children, he can buy equipment for the Gotham High Football team and also buy sweet ninja gear. He has infinite money. There is no opportunity cost here.

And maybe you havent noticed, but most of Batman's problems are Batman sized. Donating to building better libraries isn't gonna stop Poison Ivy's giant plants or Ra's Al Ghul giant James Bond badguy satellite or Professor Pyg from using his doll-a-trons to release deadly viruses through Gotham City. He's an pulpy adventure character, that what he does. If you can't accept that, like if you just straight up refuse to accept the fantastical premise of this character, then you're not even attempting to meet the material at its own terms.

A Batman comic where a dude in a suit writes checks for 20 pages aint too exciting.

He gave a black dude a jetpack and told him to protect ALL of Africa
 

Shake Appeal

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Different origin story, different character, in my opinion.

Maybe we just need less Batman. His origin story's getting old because we're getting way too much of him.
There's a lot more to Batman that is almost never explored. It's weird that, in what has been a decade-plus of some of the best Batman comics ever written (Morrison run, Snyder run), in other media we're still getting warmed-over takes on the Miller books.

If I see a string of pearls snapping in slow motion one more goddamn time...
 

BronsonLee

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What if Batman was a normal guy that got framed for a crime he didn't commit. In prison he vows revenge, but once released he doesn't have any resources. So he becomes a pro wrestler to fund his campaign of justice.

Stop stealing my backstory
 
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