Batman IS a legacy character. In the modern sense of comics that is the best explanation of why such a loner and borderline psychotic control freak takes on a "Bat-family" that includes multiple sons (Dick, Jason, Tim, Damian) and a daughter (Barbara). He is building a network to continue his work after he is gone.
Actually, in the modern sense of comics that is not
the best explanation as to why such a loner and borderline psychotic control freak takes on a “Bat-family”.
First I have to explain the purpose of Robin in Modern Batman comics as I said I would. Robin often gets a bad rep from people. People often say that he is responsible for watering down Batman and such. I think that is true but that is also the whole point behind Robin. The jokiness and lightheartedness that Robin brings into the atmosphere around Batman is there to help Batman not cross that line and become the Punisher. This has been true about Robin since his very inception. In the Golden Age, the whole idea behind Robin’s creation was that Batman would no longer carry a gun to use in front of a kid and would be more responsible now that a kid is running on the rooftops with him. In the Modern Age, Robin puts emphasis on the fact that Batman is not the Punisher despite Batman being a dark and gritty character today. The reasons and motivations have changed throughout the years from dumbing down Batman comics to add depth to Batman and his no-kill policy but regardless of those two things, that purpose behind Robin has stayed the same. Robin is not fully
the reason as to why Batman has that level of self-control to not cross that line but he is a big reason nonetheless. He doesn’t always have to be there in the comics but his existence in the Batman mythos is very important due to that.
That being said, Bruce did not originally recruit his Robins so that they could take his place nor does he have control over them once they grow up and leave the nest. Dick Grayson’s origin has varied throughout the years from writer to writer but in most versions, Bruce adopted him in the first place because he could relate to him due to losing his parents as well and provided him with the comfort he needed (unless you’re reading All-Star
). Then a situation arises in which either Dick discovers Bruce’s secret or Bruce is put into a situation in which he has no choice but to reveal who he is (Bruce reveals it to him after saving him if we go by Dark Victory). Bruce then trains Dick to become Robin so that Dick could fulfill his desire of catching Zucco and fighting crime. Then came Jason Todd. Bruce took him in because he wanted to reform him. He did not want to see a kid like him go on to become the criminal, which is the direction Jason was heading (and unfortunately, Bruce failed to do so). Next came Tim Drake, who approached Batman after he deduced his identity and asked him to be his new Robin. Bruce didn’t even want a new Robin at that point until Tim reminded him of the whole purpose of Robin in the first place (which is, like I said, to keep Batman away from becoming the Punisher). Next came Damian Wayne, who Bruce didn’t even know existed until very recently in that Batman timeline. Damian became Robin while Bruce was “dead” and he stayed as Robin when Bruce came back (as a side note, the Bruce as Batman/Damian as Robin dynamic doesn’t really work since I can’t picture Damian keeping Batman away from crossing that line). Prior to Damian’s death, Bruce had him be Robin to essentially keep him in line and continue reforming him in the same way Dick was reforming him.
As you can see, none of the Robins were mainly recruited because Bruce wanted to train them so that they could be Batman one day. In the case of Dick and Tim, it revolved around Bruce giving them the training they sought. In the case of Jason and Damian, it revolved around Bruce trying to reform them for the better. The Robins – and the rest of the Bat Family as well – is free to do as they please once they grow older and leave the nest. They can stay by Batman’s side, leave Gotham to go protect another city, create another identity altogether, or even quit crimefighting altogether. They can do this because they are their own men. He did his job as a “parent” to the best of his abilities by providing them with what they sought and guiding them along the way. It is entirely up to them what they do from that point on. However, Bruce never intended to push them on the path of them becoming Batman. In fact, it was always the exact opposite of that. Deep down inside, Bruce’s greatest wish has always been for his sons to not
become like him. To not become a psychotic, obsessed, and paranoid demon in human form who sees the world through a very cynical lens like he does. This is excluding the fact that Batman is not very trusting of others and is too stubborn to pass on the Batman mantle in the first place. In the same way, both Dick and Tim do not have a desire to be Batman because they understand what it takes to be Batman. They understand that it takes more than just will. They know that they don’t have the insanity and obsession required to be Batman, which is what separates Batman from the rest of superheroes. Dick has even stated multiple times that he is too optimistic to be Batman. Jason does want to be Batman on the other hand, though he is the exception for obvious reasons.
Another reason as to why he has a Bat Family is because of his desire to have a family despite knowing he will never have one due to his Batman career. Thus he subconsciously lets (and even attracts in some cases) people into his life as Batman in order to fill that void.
There is always the implied undertone in the better Batman/Nightwing stories that Nightwing is the heir apparent. It is a burden he does not want, but is almost haunted by. During "Knightsend," the best volume of "Knightsfall," Nightwing feels dejected and insulted that after Bane broke Batman, Bruce left the mantle to some random nutjob instead of himself. Tim Drake feels similarly, though he knows he is too young and inexperienced to become Batman. Nightwing ends up battling this metal monstrosity and Jean-Paul even says, "The Heir Apparent has come for his mantle" or something to that extent.
Then when Bruce Wayne is "killed" again, Dick Grayson really becomes Batman. And if you ask many comic book readers, Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin were some of the best Batman stories in years. The only reason Dick quit being Batman, which continued even after Bruce Wayne came back, was because DC wanted their New 52 Reboot to only have one main Batman character.
I already addressed most of this stuff what you just read above. The next few points are just add-ons to what I already stated.
Interesting that you source the Knightfall series. I was going to source it as well in my last post but did not want to overwhelm you with too long of a post. Remember what Bruce says to Tim when Tim asks if he should contact Dick to take up the Batman mantle while Bruce is recovering? “No, he is his own man” or something among those lines. This goes back to what I said previously. Not only does he believe Dick is his own man but he also doesn’t believe that Dick lives in Batman’s shadow. Nightwing is his equal. You would have to be below someone in the first place in order for you to inherit their mantle. Nightwing would not inherit the Batman mantle for the same reasons why Superman would not inherit the Batman mantle: Because the Nightwing mantle is fitting to Dick in the exact same way the Batman mantle is fitting to Bruce. And of course that he would be offended that Bruce did not even bother to contact him and ask him if he could fill in for him for a bit. I also never said that someone like Dick or Tim can’t temporarily fill in for Batman while he is injured or missing; just that no one can really permanently
replace Bruce Wayne as Batman.
Even while Bruce was “dead”, Dick did not want to become Batman because Nightwing is what suited him and he understood that no one can really permanently replace Bruce as Batman and do the job he does, though he did eventually understand that he is the best man for the job out of all the options available. Tim did put on a batsuit for a while but he believed from the beginning that Bruce was still alive thus he understood that what he is doing is fine because it was temporary.
For the record, I liked the stories with Dick as Batman and Damian as Robin. In fact, I believe the idea of having Damian as Robin only works if you have Dick as Batman, which is why I didn’t care for Damian anywhere as much when Bruce came back as I did when Bruce was “dead”. However, they never tried to shove down our throats the idea that Dick would forever stay as Batman. We knew from very early on that this was all going to be temporarily and that Bruce Wayne was stuck in the past. Also, let’s be realistic that Dick would have quit being Batman regardless of the New 52. The idea of two Batmans active at once couldn’t have lasted for so long. This analogy might sound silly but if the president goes into a coma and the vice-president takes over, what happens when the president awakens from the coma? Do they both remain as president or does the vice-president go back to being the vice-president? The latter is the most likely thing to happen even if the president has things to deal with in other countries (similar to Batman Inc).
Yes, Bruce Wayne always comes back and never permanently passes the mantle, but that is because this is the nature of comic books. They are never ever going to KILL or end Batman for good. So, Bruce Wayne will always be Batman. But that is the nature of the beast. But the better comic writers, including Morrison, recognize Batman is a legacy character and find clever ways to explore that in his confounds. Bruce Wayne's necessity for Robins can only be rationally explained as such.
Already explained the whole thing with the Robins. The following statements will also be just add-ons to what I already explained above.
First, let’s say for the sake of argument that Batman’s necessity for Robins is due to them training them to take up the Batman mantle one day. When you’re dealing with a legacy character, the one next in line for the mantle inherits it when the one currently holding the mantle retires and is too old to continue (assuming the one currently holding the mantle doesn’t die). Ignoring the fact that Batman is probably too stubborn and paranoid to trust the mantle to someone else and
the fact that Bruce is so obsessed with Batman that he would probably not quit until his very death, let’s try to estimate an age at which Bruce Wayne would most likely quit being Batman. Let’s say 60. Most incarnations of Batman in which Bruce retired had him retire around that age. It is a reasonable and realistic age for retirement too. So let’s say he will retire at 60. Pre-New 52, Bruce was 27 when he adopted Dick, who was 12. Post-New 52, Bruce was 30 when he adopted Dick, who was 16. So let’s say that there is generally a 15-year gap between Dick and Bruce. The age gap between Dick and Tim is probably around 7 or 8 years based on whatever references we have to estimate their age. Your entire argument is that Bruce spent 35 years (25 to 60) as Batman and trained Dick when he was young so that Dick could take over the Batman mantle at 45 only to be Batman for not even half the time Bruce spent as Batman? And if Dick retires at the same age, then Tim is meant to take up the mantle at around the age of 52/53 and be Batman for like 7/8 years? It would be completely illogical for Batman to have Robins for that reason. Heck, it would be more than that. It would make Batman look like a complete idiot.
Now let’s get into the whole conspiracy theory that the only reason why Bruce doesn’t pass on the mantle permanently is because DC won’t let him. As a side note, it’s funny how almost everyone only started throwing this around post-TDKR. It is almost as if people are trying to look for an excuse to defend Nolan
. Anyways, let’s take a look at actual legacy characters from the DCU:
– The first Flash was Jay Garrick. He was created in 1940 and lasted until 1952 when the JSA comic was cancelled. Then there was a 4 year gap and in 1956, the second Flash was introduced – Barry Allen. Barry was the Flash from 1956 to 1986, the year he was killed off. His sidekick, Wally West, took on the mantle and was the third Flash up until 2009 when Barry came back. Did they bring Barry back eventually? Yes, but it was because Barry was the Flash that most fans found the most interesting. DC still established the fact that Flash was a legacy character nonetheless. On top of that, they didn’t even establish the fact that nobody will ever surpass Barry as the Flash. Wally arguably surpassed him prior to him coming back. There was Flashes before him and there will be Flashes after him, some even superior to him.
2. Green Lantern
– The first GL was Alan Scott. He was created in 1940 and lasted until 1952 when the JSA comic was cancelled. Then there was a 7 year gap and in 1959, the second GL was introduced – Hal Jordan. Hal Jordan was the new GL from 1959 to 1994, when they turned him into Parallax. Kyle Rainer became the new GL after that up until 2004 when Hal came back. On top of that, there have also been other humans that were GL’s – John Stewart & Guy Gardner. Did they bring Hal back eventually? Yes, but it was because Hal was the GL that most fans found the most interesting. DC still established the fact that GL was a legacy character nonetheless. Much like Flash, there were GL’s before Hal and there will be GL’s after him, some even superior to him.
These are clear examples of legacy characters. The reason why Barry and Hal are brought back in the end is because those characters just happen
to be the characters that most people like the most out of all the characters to have held the mantle, but it is still established that they are
legacy characters nonetheless. It doesn’t just happen
that most people consider Bruce Wayne to be their “favorite Batman”. Batman was created out of the loss of Bruce Wayne’s innocence. He is a biproduct of Bruce Wayne’s scarred mind and exists in Bruce’s mind alone. Due to this, the comics have also established that no one would have the insanity and obsession required to be Batman in the first place, other than Bruce. The non-Barry Flashes and non-Hal GL’s at least held those respective titles for at least a decade or more. You’re comparing that to Jean-Paul Valley being in the batsuit for almost a full year and with Dick being in the batsuit for 2.5 years (real life time; not comic book time) out of the 74 years that Batman has existed. Even Superman had more replacements while he was dead, who is also not a legacy character. Both of those cases of Bruce not being in the suit are also cases in which we knew from the very beginning that this was all temporary, that Bruce wasn’t dead and that he was going to come back pretty soon. We didn’t fully know that when Barry died and when Hal became Parallax.
In the case of Knightfall/Knightsquest/Knightsend though, the entire message of that book was that only
Bruce could be Batman. That was why they had someone else in the suit for a while. It was to prove a point.
In other mediums where endings are allowed this becomes more explicit.
In "The Dark Knight Returns," Bruce Wayne fakes his death and trains the little girl and an army of freaks in the sewers to become an army of Batmen. Why? Because they will continue on his good work in his name. Is it a bit dark and mean spirited how this version of legacy is realized? Yes, but that's Frank Miller for you.
In Batman Beyond, which you acknowledge, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have the advantage to end their story with Bruce Wayne passing on his legacy to Terry McGuiness. And it is just a kid off the street who makes Batman his own, until the years-later retcon in an episode of Justice League Unlimited reveals that he is like some half-clone or some such nonsense. Ignoring that, within the confines of the show and its film, Terry becomes Batman because Bruce Wayne needs someone to carry on his work and like Dick and Tim, there is something about Terry that Bruce sees himself in. Not unlike....
John Blake. Like Dick, Terry, Tim in TAS, etc. Blake is an orphan who shares Bruce's anger. Bruce sees something of himself in John Blake and at first lets him do small tasks while he carries the big load (not unlike how Batman treats his Robins). But there is an eye on him as being a potential successor.
The stories you sourced are both examples featuring Bruce still being around. Bruce is still present doing the work post-Dark Knight Returns and in Batman Beyond, he is just now doing it through other people because he is older. Regardless, the mind of Batman is still there because Bruce is still there, as is the obsession, paranoia, and insanity.
Terry is not Bruce’s clone; he is his biological son. I know this isn’t related to the main topic but I had to clarify that.
Being an orphan does not equate to being a potential candidate for Batman. Terry wasn’t even an orphan in the first place; he was a reformed criminal who wanted to atone for his sins. Bruce saw a level of anger in Dick and Tim (in TAS) that he shared which is why he adopted them. However, as I already stated, they are different from Batman and lack the insanity. What separates Bruce from everyone else is what he did with that scarred mind and anger. Instead of curing himself with comfort and professional therapy, he used it to create the monster that is the Batman even if it meant that he would be becoming even more insane and would have to abandon his humanity. None of the Robins have done that, which is why they are far more optimistic and are not insane (same thing applies to Blake). Bruce made sure that they wouldn’t become the monster he is while he and Alfred raised them. Saying that John Blake has so much in common with Bruce because they’re both orphans is a simplified and black-and-white view of what Batman is. There is so much more to what created Batman than just being an orphan. It was being there to see his parents die, for once. Blake assumingly did not have to experience that. And even then, there are still many things that would separate him from what Batman is.
Speaking of Dick being Batman, it is far more in-character for Bruce to let Dick be Batman than it will ever be for Bruce letting John Blake. Bruce only entrusted Dick with being Batman after personally training him, raising him and then working with him for years. Blake is a guy that Bruce has known for literally less than an hour in the TDKR timeline (they have less than 10 minutes of screen time together) and he not only inherits the Batcave but receives no training whatsoever nor does Bruce keep an eye on him once he leaves. He gives him the mantle then just leaves. It is the equivalent of a driving teacher putting the keys to his car in his new student’s hands on the first day and telling him to go learn while he is out with his wife. The execution of the ending is just as poorly done as the concept of the ending itself, perhaps maybe even a bit worse.
It is a major aspect of the source material. It is just one that you want to ignore.
It sadly isn't. It is just one that some people think/choose to believe it is there.