The Dark Knight’s Daily Influence – How Batman’s Values Shape My Life

BatmanThe Mad Monk matt wagner 1

Never lose sight of what you want to be
Sylvester Stallone

When I think of a young Bruce Wayne whose parents were tragically ripped away from him in the dawn of life, I think of the kid who kept his resolve, who knew he had to do something other than feel sorry for himself.  He took his greatest tragedy and turned it into his greatest strength.

He took an event –the murder of his parents in front of his eyes- and turned it into a catalyst to rise up and be a better human being, when most of us would use it an excuse to do nothing and be nothing. Instead of wallowing in endless misery he channelled that energy into a force for good, to prevent other people from suffering the same fate as him.

Like Stallone, like Rocky, young Bruce never lost sight of his goals.  He never lost sight of what he wanted to be. That determination and drive was key a factor in his eventual metamorphosis into The Batman we all know and love.  That faith Bruce had in himself was absolute and unwavering.

As The Batman, Bruce Wayne doesn’t let his motivation slip or rest on his laurels. Each day he renews his vows he re-dedicates himself to his one man war on crime and injustice, righting wrongs and doing whatever he can to make a difference in the world.  That kind of dedication takes an iron will and discipline. It also takes compassion and love to spend your life in service of others, rather than just serving your own desires.

The Batman takes his personal desire and mixes it with the common good. In this way his personal desire and obsession is channelled into service for others and leads to an expansive world view, rather than a restrictive one.

There is debate about whether like Superman, does Batman see the light or the goodness in people? In response to that question I would ask “Why Would Bruce save anyone, if he didn’t think they were worth saving?”

I imagine Bruce saying something along the lines of “I stop the criminals from ruining the lives of the citizens of Gotham, what they choose to do with their lives is their business, not mine.”


Bruce was that boy with unrelenting determination who grew up to be not just a man but more than a man.  A shadow in the night, he became an idea.  An idea in the collective consciousness of Gotham City.  More than that, he exists as an idea and represents certain values and strengths that I draw upon in our world.

Batman is bigger than any one medium. Batman is bigger than any actor who portrays him on screen. Batman is bigger than any writer who adds to his adventures. One hundred years from now people will still be reading and telling Batman stories.

There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.  As an idea, Batman is immortal and will be around beyond our lifetimes, which is a little mind-boggling.  But look at Sherlock Holmes, the Man in the Iron Mask, Frankenstein, Dracula, or Dr. Who.  These characters have a power and resonance in them beyond what their creators ever imagined and live a life of their own, a power that speaks to many through the generations to entertain and inspire beyond the mere words or images on a printed page.

Forever growing and evolving into new forms and interpretations and reaching new audiences.  Such is the strength of a character like Batman.  You can put him in ANY medium and he works.  You can put him any genre and he works.  It’s one of the reasons I love the character of Batman, I never get tired of him  and I’ll be reading his stories old and new for the rest of my life.

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