For a while now I intended on writing a blog post in the “Nerdy Saturday” series* regarding superheroes and why do they need to conceal their true identities. But that’s too big a project for a casual comic reader like myself. I know that Marvel did a whole thing about it with the first Civil War story but I didn’t read the whole thing. It all comes down to each individual character and his/her/its own reasons for needing to keep their real identity a secret. But sometimes it seems confusing as to why particular characters do this in-story. It’s a well-worn comic convention that sometimes seems to be used only because it’s a well-worn comic convention.
For today, I really just want to focus on Batman, specifically the sixties television version (big surprise**). In some story lines in the larger Batman mythos it makes sense that Bruce Wayne would want to keep his crime-fighting activities a secret as Batman is regarded as a dangerous criminal by the public at large. Sometimes he’s used by the police but only as a last resort, as he’s technically a vigilante and thereby breaking the law by fighting law-breakers. But in the television show, Batman worked directly with the police, often repeating the fact that he and Robin are fully deputized agents of the law.
So why all of the secrecy? We’ve seen in the show that both Batman and Bruce Wayne are highly respected. Bruce Wayne’s mansion has been a target for crooks time and again, so it’s not like they’ll target his place just for revenge. The only reason that I can think of is it keeps the location of the Batcave secret. But that’s not really a strong point to make. Batman could still make it known who he is while keeping the location of the Batcave secret from everybody. They just may have to move it away from Wayne Manor.
It makes sense that Barbara Gordon would want to keep her secret identity as Batgirl a secret from her father. It even makes sense that knowing that Dick Grayson is Robin the Boy Wonder might give his Aunt Harriet a heart attack. But what does Bruce Wayne have to lose? With the location of the Batcave and Robin’s aunt he does have some reasons, but ultimately I can’t see how it would make any difference to his career as a crime-fighter. Even if the world at large can’t know, why not the chief of police?
The show was based on the comic books, and if the convention in the comics was established that he kept his identity secret, then the show followed suit. And of course, it’s all in good fun. But I have to wonder that if the show had continued past the third season if he would open up to more people.
*Yeah, I know, I’m late again. But at least this time I’m getting it done and out of the way first thing on Sunday morning. I do plan on writing a “Sunday List” later today.
**I realize that I’ve narrowed my “Nerdy Saturday” posts to just a few aspects of pop culture. It wasn’t until after I started this that I realized that I don’t have that many nerdy interests. At least, I don’t have extensive knowledge for that many. I became worried that I wasn’t going to vary the subject matter enough to have posts on this series. I decided that I’m going to willingly focus on the few things I know about for now, and hopefully pick up more information about all of these other comics, video games, etc. as time goes on.