Batman, the Dark Knight, the crime fighting master who strikes fear into the hearts of criminals and hoodlums everywhere, the dreaded enemy of countless superpowered villains, and the butt of so many parodies and internet memes where he is at once an awesome icon and a joke at the same time. He has been around since the 1930s and has buried himself so deep into pop culture that people 100 years from now will still be making movies about him, and will probably be debated among philosophers of the future who will question whether or not he was a real person, a figure intended for the betterment of society, or a quick cash grab by a hack artist who just stole most of his ideas from other comics of the time and got away with it.
Black Panther, King and protector of Wakanda, wielder of mystical powers and technological wonders. Real name: T'Challa, a name so cool it might be T'Chilla. He is a king of a country with incredible wealth, and he's currently the hottest superhero out there with his own movie breaking box office records, and having some very serious influence onto black communities all over the world, which will mean it will likely achieve legendary status far sooner than most other hit movies.
People all over the internet have been debating for years as to who is the greater superhero. Most of the talk online has been about how Black Panther is the superior of the two. But I for one beg to differ, and because of this I will be playing devil's advocate and I will argue that for all of Black Panther's ability, Batman is still the superior superhero. So let's delve into the reasons why Batman is better than Black Panther.
15 Batman's tragic backstory
Tragic backstories are a dime a dozen in fiction. In fact, there is a trope called the 'Doomed Hometown' , in which the entire community of the hero is struck by tragedy. So when we learn that both our heroes, Batman and Black Panther, have their own tragedies, it doesn't surprise us. I mean can you imagine what it would be like to have a moody superhero who didn't lose his loved one to a mystical demonic force from another galaxy that wishes to devour the souls of all people.
So what is their tragic back-stories? Both lost parents. Batman's childhood story is famous when a common thug called Joe Chill (seriously, what is up with these comic book names? Is there a law that everyone needs to have a mind-blowingly awesome name?) murders both his parents for their personal belongings and then disappears. Black Panther lost his father to an international terrorist plot that killed a lot of other people.
While losing parents is no joke, Black Panther's own tragedy doesn't compare. His father was a king who was assassinated by a group of terrorists who had an agenda and a reason for wanting to do what they did, and T'Challa was an adult at the time. Batman lost his parents to a completely random criminal who wanted nothing more than their money, and some versions have it that they only left the safety of the theater or opera because young Brice was sick and needed to go, and he was accompanied by his parents, who were then shot by Joe Chill.
Seeing your parents die BECAUSE of your actions at such a young age is something likely far more horrific than what happened to Black Panther. So as far as back-stories are concerned, Batman is the winner here.
14 Batman works alone (mostly)
Black Panther is incredibly smart, and incredibly tough, but he also has an entire kingdom and numerous other people that are on-call for him to be able to get help whenever he needs it. He has teams of highly skilled scientists that work openly for him and are extremely well funded for the explicit purpose of finding the best technological solutions for Black Panther's crime fighting issues.
Batman on the other hand is different. He doesn't have an army of people, and while he did join the Justice League, he is still primarily the type of guy who works alone, or with the help of a very few, highly select individuals who will never betray him. This makes his job far more challenging and the stakes far higher than Black Panther's, and that's what gives him more appeal in my opinion.
13 Secret identities are more appealing
T'Challa and Black Panther are one and the same. Everyone knows T'Challa is the Black Panther in the same way everyone knows Tony Stark is Iron Man. These people's suits are not their secret identities. I'm not a comic book reader (I read about a dozen issues of Superboy back in 2000 and 2001, but that's the extent of my superhero comic frays. I was more of an Archie Comics reader...) but I absolutely loved the sheer casualness that Tony Stark had when he went in front of the news and just blurted out 'I am Iron Man'.
Batman, however, is a lot more discrete in his work. In some ways this is a lot more appealing, because it does at least allow for Bruce to have a bit of a (brooding) normal life while he isn't fighting super villains who just HAVE to target Gotham for some reason.
The fact that he can blend into the crowd and pass by thousands of people who have no idea that he's the man who saved their city and entire lives numerous times has a special feeling that just can't be described.
12 Batman is a man, Black Panther is super powered
One of the things that Batman has going for him is that he isn't super powered. This is very, very important because the whole appeal of Batman to many people is that, in theory at least, it is possible to become Batman. There is even a book titled Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero. The whole point of the book is that it examines, in great and highly scientific detail, whether it is possible or not to become Batman in Real Life. Short answer? It is possible! Long Answer? It's extremely difficult, you need to start from childhood, and you'll only be active at it for a couple of years at the absolute most. But still, the fact that it can be done is mind boggling.
Black Panther originally started out similar to Batman, a normal guy who is highly skilled, but that soon changes when he becomes a superhero with a super-powered suit on top of that. Without his powers he is still a tough guy, but he never goes into battle unless he has his suit and/or superpowers handy. Batman's faces more difficulty in battle and still succeeds.
11 Batman does not (allegedly) kill people
Black Panther isn't a blood thirsty guy, but he isn't beyond killing people, and he has been shown to kill quite a lot of people when he's out being a superhero. If you made the movie The Dark Knight with Black Panther, chances are likely the Joker would have been shot multiple times. It is not the most merciful or admirable way of working, but you can't argue that it isn't effective.
But Batman holds himself to a far higher standard, and as such it makes his job a lot more difficult, and that means he needs to be a lot more skilled at his job to do it properly. Batman's golden rule is that he never kills people. No matter what the circumstance, he will never kill anyone.
So when you have situations where it is the easy way to just shoot someone, Batman needs to find very different (and difficult) ways of subduing his enemies. Makes for a better story line and a nice story that doesn't need to end with someone being turned into red mist.
10 Batman's science beats Panther's science
Black Panther's science is one of those that can't be questioned on how awesome it is. Wakanda is your typical sci-fi kingdom with flying cars, advanced medical technology, and free, super reliable wifi for all. That being said, while on a pure practical level Black Panther's science does win, I think there is something to be said about Batman's technology and science.
For one thing, Batman doesn't have a team of dedicated researchers. Sure he owns Wayne Industries and that has divisions for everything from canned beans to cartridges, but the people who would develop technology that would be useful for Batman's needs can't know what they're really working for. He has to be a lot more discrete about what he does, and on top of that, the stuff that goes into his suit, at least as far as the Christopher Nolan movies are concerned, are very much based on real world science and real world materials. Which means that it is, at least in theory, possible to make a real life Batman suit.
Black Panther's stuff is cool, but is entirely sci-fi. For now anyway.
9 Batman doesn't need a magical material to win
Vibranium is the Unobtainum of the Marvel Universe. It is a super metal that has all the sci-fi awesomeness that scientists and engineers in the real world would absolutely love to have. Among the various cool oddities of his suit, Black Panther has Adamantium claws in his suit, that allows him to basically be like wolverine, except without the healing factor. With such a suit, he is a bulletproof, bombproof, cut-proof, but he can also cut anything he wants. All of this is made possible with the magic of Vibranium, a material that Wakanda is rich with.
But what does Batman have that matches it? Answer is: Nothing.
Batman's suit has changed a lot throughout the years, from the seemingly simple design of the 1930s to the 1960s, to a variety of materials throughout the years that offered the Caped Crusader a good deal of protection, but never to the same extent as Black Panther.
Yet Batman succeeds every time without it. Tell me this doesn't make Batman look good.
8 Batman has to do the really important stuff (mostly) alone
Black Panther has an entire nation's backing. Loyal and highly trained and equipped bodyguards, and other friends who are equally skilled or otherwise as determined as he is. In the more serious cases, he has entire superhero teams that have been assembled long before in order to team up on the big bad dude of the week(tm). While the challenge remains, you can't say that he didn't have backup the whole time, and that his team was highly organized from the very beginning.
However, when Batman fights his adversaries, whether they're individual supervillains who are extremely tough, or supervillains who also have a massive amount of unusually loyal henchmen, he has to fight them primarily alone, with maybe the help of a few non-super powered individuals. This makes the stakes far higher and the challenges far deadlier if he fails.
And in the event that he needs to take out a massive superpowered monstrosity where he does need help, help arrives in the form of adhoc assistance from other superheroes who happened to be there, like what happened in Batman vs Superman or the Dark Knight Returns.
7 Batman does more with less money
Batman's superpower? Well according to Suicide Squad it's that he is very, very rich. There's no question that Bruce Wayne is a superbly wealthy man. He owns Wayne Industries and has been ranked by Forbes Magazines (between super serious articles, they also post fun stuff like this. Also apparently they calculated the value of Scrooge McDuck's money bin...) as the third richest superhero with a net worth of $9.2 billion.
Not to talk down Batman here, but T'Challa beats him by a little over 90 TRILLION dollars. That's huge, and there was even a storyline where he used his wealth to crash the economy of entire countries.
But Batman has achieved a tremendous amount of heroism and done a lot with far, far less money. He didn't need trillions of dollars to develop his tech, but he did it with probably a few billions. Also this means he can't take losses like losing his Batwing, since that alone would have cost him a billion.
6 Batman has faced tougher enemies
Batman and Black Panther have both faced some very, very serious opposition throughout their existence. But who faced the tougher enemies? This is not going to be a long discussion largely because of the fact that Batman fought (and defeated) the ultimate superhero of them all: Superman.
From what I've heard from comic book geeks, they hated the line 'you didn't have to go easy on me' in Superman vs. Batman because in the actual comic where this battle took place, he didn't take it easy on him. Batman won fair and square, and if that doesn't make Batman the better fighter than Black Panther, then nothing does.
5 Black Panther's concept was stolen from Batman
In the early days of Black Panther's comics, he didn't have superpowers, and vibranium didn't exist, at least as we know it. In fact, T'Challa was explicitly stated to have gotten his skills entirely through training and travel to learn things that would become quite useful to him. When he would be fighting various bad guys to defend Wakanda, and the rest of the world, from their villainous menace. All of this made possible by the fact that he is a wealthy individual.
It sounds familiar... it's almost like the concept for Black Panther was quite heavily inspired by a certain man who dresses as a bat to scare off criminals and strike fear into their hearts or something.
4 Batman was never defeated in a fair fight
Black Panther is tough, he has gone through hundreds, if not thousands, of battles and emerged victorious. So no one can say that he isn't a tough guy who cannot handle his own in the heat of battle. But what happens when T'Challa loses his super powers and gives up his suit to fight as a normal person with his still quite respectable martial arts skills? He doesn't just lose at one point, he loses in a way that jeopardizes his entire kingdom. That's really kinda dangerous.
Batman, on the other hand, doesn't have this problem. He had to learn how to fight without the use of superpowers or super strength. While he has been beaten by some enemies who had some kind of surprise advantage, like Bane in the Dark Knight Returns, when he comes back after rectifying that issue. He becomes a true creature of the night and defeats his enemies fairly.
3 Batman's reasons for fighting are personal
Black Panther fights bad guys, both small time and big time. But this isn't done out of personal reasons. The title of Black Panther is not one that is earned. Nor was it something he came up with on his own (which would make Batman's inspiration pale in comparison. Can you imagine a young T'Challa walking through the jungle, seeing a massive panther run at him and he barely escapes, only to say 'geeze, that was intense! Hey! I'll be a black panther, too!' Makes just seeing a bat fly by look silly).
The Black Panther is a title that is passed from father to son upon the passing of the previous title holder or something. The battles he fights are done for an overarching cause, one that may include personal reasons, but it didn't start as a personal thing. Whether or not T'Challa's father would have died in the international terrorist event that killed many national representatives, he would have become the Black Panther eventually.
This is not the case for Batman. His reasons for being and fighting are 100% personal. His parents were murdered by a criminal, one that was never apprehended by the police. This affected him so deeply that he never had a normal childhood, adolescence, or adulthood ever again. This type of drive makes a brooding hero so intriguing, and is likely one of the biggest reasons behind his enduring popularity.
2 Batman had to teach himself how to be a hero
T'Challa was born to royalty. This comes with a whole bunch of privileges, and expectations, that would not normally be given to the child of an American businessman. Even if that businessman is a literal billionaire. Because even billionaires don't necessarily groom their children to become superheroes and be armed with the latest in tech and other stuff. Most of them groom them to be able to run their business in the future.
So when Bruce Wayne decided to become Batman, he didn't have access to all the military training that would be readily available to a prince of Wakanda. He had to do everything himself. He needed to hit the gym hard in order to get in peak physical condition, he needed to study and apply his knowledge of forensics and science in order to become 'a master scientist' and the world's greatest detective. He had to travel the world, on his own time and his own dime in order to learn what needs to be done in order to become the most human superhero ever.
1 Batman is far more human than Black Panther
This is the big one, and it all ties to one factor: Batman's appeal is that he is the most human superhero out there. He has no super powers, no unusual powers or features or lifestyle (out of crime fighting) that really make him different from normal people. Sure he's a billionaire and has a huge business, but those exist in real life, too.
Black Panther is a great superhero, but that's the problem. No one can fully imagine themselves becoming Black Panther or Wonder Woman or any other superhero, except for Batman. Why? Because of the mythos that Batman became who he is entirely through training and self-determination and dedication. As I have mentioned earlier, there is a book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, which explores this subject in great detail and does conclude that, however difficult, it is actually possible to be a Batman type superhero in real life. It is not likely that it will ever happen, but it is theoretically possible.
His reasons for fighting are also completely human. His greatest enemy, the Joker, is simply the polar opposite of him. These, and more, are the reasons why Batman beats Black Panther.