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I Wanna Be a Superhero


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The new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, comes out on Friday and ever since Christian Bale walked by my desk on his way into the studio the other day — I've got Batman on the brain.

Today on the show we talked to E. Paul Zehr, associate professor of kinesiology and neuroscience at the University of Victoria, about whether or not a mere mortal could actually become Batman. Zehr has a book coming out in the fall on exactly that topic: Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero.

Bob Kane, who drew the character in 1939, said he purposefully designed Batman without superpowers. "Every person that doesn't have superpowers could relate to Batman a lot easier than they could to Superman — in other words you didn't have to come from another planet to be a superhero, " Kane told Fresh Air in 1990. "All you had to do was be born rich and build your body to perfection and have the urge to go out and fight crime."

Right, just that, easy enough ... or not. Zehr says becoming Batman would mean a ton of workouts, until your body resembled a decathlete's. "You could think of examples — Navy Seals where you have these guys with this extreme sort of deadly intent and training," Zehr says.

Becoming Batman certainly wouldn't be easy or cheap, but I'd like to think his abilities are realistic enough to give every little kid something to dream about.



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This American Life did a great story on a woman that trained herself to be a super hero.

Sent by Jenniffer | 11:44 AM | 7-17-2008

Bruce Lee did a lot of push-ups. Superhero?

Sent by P. Watt | 12:20 PM | 7-17-2008

In the comments on the show Mike Pesca said that it might be easier for people to relate to Batman because he's mortal as opposed to Superman who is not. This is a good point. On the other hand source material for the latest Batman movies, Frank Miller's awesome Dark Knight series, does an excellent job of humanizing both Batman and Superman. Superman especially as real issues to deal with -- not just angsty internal conflicts. Superman has an Achilles heel or two, but the more interesting thread is how Superman and Batman fit into the real world once they become more high profile. They have different ways of coming to terms with it which makes for some interesting conflict. So far the Christian Bale movies have done a good job of capturing Frank Miller's vision. Here's hoping it continues through The Dark Knight Returns which was far and away the best book in the series.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 1:03 PM | 7-17-2008

It's important to note that Bob Kane did not create Batman-- at least not by himself-- though he received sole credit for decades. The Bob Kane wikipedia article does a good job of explaining this

Mike Pesca makes a good point (as always, when he does he not add something interesting about any topic) that Batman, sans superpowers, is more identifiable-- but I always identified with Superman more. After all, a geeky guy with glasses who is clearly something more, something super, yet no one notices but himself seemed more realistic to me that some rich kid who dresses up like a rodent.

Keep the BPP, please!

Sent by Jon | 3:14 PM | 7-17-2008

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