What If Bruce Wayne Had The Abilities Of Kal-El?
Back in 1964, DC attempted to introduce a robust new villain that possessed the combined powers of multiple members of the Justice League; including Batman and Superman. His name was; “Composite Superman,” (personally I think that The BatMan of Steel is a far better name but that might just be me.)
Although an argument could be made for The BatMan of Steel being one of the most powerful foes that the Justice League ever faced on paper, he didn’t last very long. He was killed off just three years after he was first introduced.
DC have never really explored the idea since then, though it is an interesting one; what if Batman possessed the same abilities as Superman? Would that change him as a person? How would it affect his universe and those around him?
First and foremost, the question of Batman’s infamous, ‘no-kill rule,’ comes to mind. Although Superman doesn’t exactly have the same kill-count racked up as someone like Frank Castle, he has been known to take a life from time to time when he absolutely has to. Would destructive abilities like super-strength or heat-vision affect Batman’s stance on taking an enemy’s life?
Also, powers such as super-strength and flight have to come with an ego boost. If anybody was essentially a God amongst men, they would likely feel pretty untouchable. It has been said before in books like Superman: Red Son, that the world was lucky that Kal-El landed in Kansas and was raised by two good, humble people, rather than somewhere like Soviet Russia. However, Bruce has always had a darker personality than Clark.
Generally though, Bruce has always been proven to be a person who is perpetually true to himself. Although he has had his moments where he has gone slightly off the rails, – such as the Venom storyline where he became addicted to steroids or that time that he left the KGBeast to starve to death in Batman #420, – he is generally a decent person. This would lead long-time fans of the character to believe that he would remain true to himself and would therefore still essentially be the same Batman that we know and love.
Another thing that would inevitably shift if Batman possessed superpowers would be the dynamic within the Bat-Family. Batman has always been the clear-cut leader of the Bat-Family no matter the iteration, but if that leader could also use Godlike abilities, then it would put him even further ahead of his companions. Batman likely wouldn’t treat his crime-fighting colleagues any differently, but it is still an interesting notion to consider.
Finally, there is the more meta question of how it would change the way in which writers handled penning stories for the character. So much of what makes Batman great and unique comes from the fact that he has no real superpowers to speak of. Most other DC heroes can get out of most dicey situations far easier than The Dark Knight can.
Rather than flying away into the skies or throwing an enemy into the sun, Batman instead has to rely on his wits and ingenuity to get himself out of a jam. Most fans of The World’s Greatest Detective love this aspect of the character and to see it replaced by giving yet another character superhuman abilities would seem somewhat redundant.
The Batman of Steel has never really took off as an idea and Composite Superman hasn’t made very many appearances since the 60’s. This is likely because Batman and the rest of the DC characters work best the way that they already are. On one hand it is interesting to wonder, “what if?” On the other hand, DC have already given us a multitude of well-written characters that are already fascinating the way that they are.
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