Eng. 251- Online
December 8, 2013
Beowulf vs. Batman
It has been almost 70 years since Bob Kane created the dark, iconic superhero we all love, Batman (Batman). Batman has been portrayed in many different mediums such as comic books, cartoons, television shows, and several motion pictures. Over the centuries there have also been numerous translations of the epic poem known as Beowulf. There have been many books, graphic novels, and motion pictures made about this equally amazing hero. While there may be many similarities between these “superheroes”, there are also quite a number of differences. Beowulf happens to be an ancient warrior king while Batman is the crime fighting alter ego of a millionaire known as the handsome Bruce Wayne (Batman). They also have many similarities, such as they not only use their physical strength to fight evil, but instead choose to use their intelligence. Many people think of a hero as being perfect, but these two heroes are far from perfect. In fact you might say they are both flawed. Their imperfections make them two of the most beloved and interesting heroes of all time.
One of the greatest similarities between Beowulf and Batman is that they both fight evil monsters. Beowulf's monsters are more of a mythological species. The giant troll Grendel, Grendel's evil troll mother, and the treasure loving dragon, are all examples of the mythical creatures Beowulf defends his people from. Batman's, however, are humans made grotesque after experiencing terrifying disfiguring accidents. District Attorney Harvey Dent, also known as the famous Two-Faced, becomes scarred after having acid thrown on his face by a mob boss during one of his trials (Loeb/ Sale 291 - 294; Ch. 11). We also have the most popular and psychotic villain of all time, The Joker. The Joker falls into a huge tank of toxic chemicals that disfigure him greatly and leave him scarred with that famous smile we all have come to know and love (The Joker). Both Beowulf and Batman's enemies can be seen as physical demonstrations of mankind’s most common sins, lust and greed.
As stated in the opening paragraph, both Beowulf and Batman can be seen as flawed heroes. Both heroes’ show little concern for the safety of their companions and neither of their motives for fighting are entirely noble. During the events leading up to his battle with Grendel, Beowulf watches silently and does nothing as the ogre grabs one of his sleeping soldiers and eats the hopeless man. Even after watching his fellow soldier being eaten, Beowulf does not start fighting until he is seized by the ghoul. What if Grendel had snatched up another one of the Geats’ soldiers? Would Beowulf have allowed his life to be taken as well? Additionally, Beowulf is a glory hog. His primary motivation to fight is the power of winning. Beowulf does not kill Grendel or Grendel's mother just because they are evil, but also to gain respect and build a reputation. Beowulf also has a strong sense of his own mastery as a warrior. He orders his men to stay behind and wait while he goes off to single-handedly battle Grendel's mother. He does the same thing fifty years later before going off to fight the treasure-hoarding dragon. Beowulf accepts help from his nephew, Wiglaf, only after the dragon begins to win. Beowulf was an amazing warrior, but too full of pride to allow others to help him.
Another similarity between Beowulf and Batman is Batman’s lack of concern for his companions. Throughout his career, Batman had six different partners using the name Robin, all pre-teens or teenagers (Robin). These children served Batman in his crusade against crime until they quit or, in the case of Jason Todd, were killed (Robin). What can you say about a man who allowed six teenagers to put themselves in harm's way? Granted, each one had free-will and volunteered themselves to become Robin, but Batman could have refused their assistance and chosen someone much older, someone who had