Aug 12, 2008

Altered Egos

Reflecting on the Dark Knight not too long ago, I came upon an odd realization. As anyone remotely familiar with Batman knows, Bruce Wayne puts on a disguise and assumes the identity of Batman when he's fighting crime. But in Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne also seems to put on a false face to the public Bruce Wayne.

That public Bruce Wayne is arrogant, brash and brazen. Bruce is larger than life and has all the cars, money, women and power. So why, then, does he show humility and humbleness around his confidants Lucius, Alfred and Rachel? It's as though he's only able to be himself around those people.

Around high society, he's Bruce Wayne: billionaire playboy. Around the dregs of society, he's Batman. Around his friends he's just Bruce: a soft spoken man who just wants to make the world a better place. Which one is the real Bruce Wayne?

This got my mind running wild as I think I finally understood why it is I inherently like superheroes. You have 2 identities occupying the same body (usually, sometimes more like in the above example), but only one of them can be the genuine one. Consider this:

  • Does Peter Parker want to be taking photos as a journalist? Or does he want to be making headlines as Spiderman?
  • Is Bruce Banner more himself when he's suppressing his rage? Or when he unleashes it and becomes the Hulk?
  • At the end of the day, does Kal-el want to sit down to a nice quiet night as Clark Kent? Or does he find that boring and need to protect Metropolis as Superman?
Too many questions, not enough answers. And that's a big reason to why I'm drawn to it.

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