EDIT!!!: Howdy new reader! I just wanted to inform you of some stuff before you read ahead or jump in on some discussion. I just wanted to clarify that my use of the phrase, “passing on the mantel,” is not meant in a permanent way. I, unfortunately, misunderstood the phrase. I clarify below in my argument that this is simply a temporary pass. I also wanted to make sure that everyone understands that this piece isn’t meant to specifically target Batman. I used him as an example of my overall point, and I think that (along with my title) has led to confusion. I take full responsibility of that. This is more so meant to be the discussion of letting new characters hold onto legacy mantels for a while. I explicitly state this below, but I wanted to put more emphasis on it. Thanks for reading, and I’m excited to hear your thoughts below!
I know this is a super touchy subject with some fans but try to hear me out and engage in some respectful back and forth within the thread after you finish reading.
I’m actually a pretty BIG supporter of letting mantels be passed on to different people. I think letting some characters take a break and allowing new perspectives to take on old costumes can lead to some dynamic stories. I’ll try to explain this thought process by using the mantel of Batman since it’s such a big deal in the universe. So, let’s talk about Bruce Wayne.
I know everyone loves him; it’s honestly hard to imagine Batman without Bruce. But the title of Batman has been held by him almost exclusively for 80 YEARS! Obviously, there are a few exceptions like when Dick Grayson took over for a bit; but in the grand scheme of Batman’s existence, it’s just been Bruce. I think it’s time to give him a break. That’s a long run for a character, and while I still love Bruce and think there has been some great arcs in recent history, I’m ready to take a moment away from him. I want to see a fresh, new perspective under the Batman mantel. I think letting someone new take on the mantel of Batman could lead to some incredible stories. How?
Well, Batman is an integral part of the DC Universe, but what would happen if a new character took up that name? What would happen if someone took on the responsibilities of Gotham City and the Justice League that comes with the title of Batman, but with a completely different outlook on life than Bruce? There’d be some interesting internal conflicts and could lead to some interesting change within the overall Universe. I’d LOVE to see someone like Luke Fox takeover. I think that’s an interesting character who can come at the Batman mantel and hold it with respect, but still bring something new. It’d be a lot like Terry McGinnis taking up the mantel in Batman Beyond. It also allows for some more diversity to be integrated into the core DC characters and can maybe bring in some new fans.
“But Omni!!! You’re changing a character who’s been established for years. I know Batman as BRUCE! If you want more diversity or different character types to be showcased as superheroes, why not just create completely new heroes and comic series all together?!!??” That’s a response I see a lot when I talk about passing on the mantel. I’d love to address it in two ways. 1.) From a story perspective; and 2.) A business perspective.
I don’t just want to see a new type of hero in the universe, I want to see a new type of Batman (or any hero). As mentioned above, I want to see the internal conflicts that comes with the responsibilities of Batman on a new character with different views of justice and heroism. How would Gotham change? How would crime and the way villains are handled change? It’s simply something you can’t do with Bruce under the mantel because his morals and way of justice is extremely tied to the character. Nor could you explore it with a completely new hero. This is why I think passing on the mantel vs. creating another Batman clone or a new hero for Gotham is so interesting from a story perspective. But, what about a business perspective?
Well, let’s be blunt. Batman sells. It’s much easier to sell a Batman comic than it is to sell a completely new hero and a completely new series. I would love to see new perspectives, character types, and diversity integrated within the universe. But it’s hard to do that with a new character because people tend to not give them the chance. But if people hear there’s a NEW Batman, well that’s a way to sell some new characters, perspectives, and diversity. It’s a way to make sure these interesting story possibilities are read.
Now listen, I’ve used Batman as an extreme example here because I think that’s the best way to amplify and discuss my points. I think because he is such a staple to the universe it could lead to some interesting discussions and story possibilities. But I’d love to see this implemented more broadly with other longtime characters as well. I think it’s nice to let these titles live on and to give the characters a bit of a break.
I know it’s scary to see change when it comes to things you love, but change is good in the long run. In the past, the passing of mantels has led to some GREAT additions to the universe and shaped it to be what it is today. Imagine what the DC Universe would be like had Alan Scott remained the only Green Lantern. No Hal Jordan, Jon Stewart, Kyle Rayner, or all of the other great heroes we’ve come to love. We wouldn’t even have OA nor all of the insane cosmic developments that are heavily integrated into the DC Universe. Or what about Robin? If Dick Grayson never moved on, we wouldn’t have Nightwing or Red Hood, or Red Robin, or Damian. The list goes on and on: Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle, Wally West as The Flash, Kaldur’ahm as Aqualad, Stargirl, Steel, and so many more characters would never have existed without a passing of the mantel. This concept has built the universe we know and love today.
I think we should maybe try to be a bit more open to letting these legacy characters of Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Diana Prince, or any of the big players to take a break from their mantels. NOT GO AWAY! Just take a break. Let them rest after decades of carrying the universe. Allow for some fresh new stories and a better DC Universe to grow. And then allow them to come back in a special way after a little bit. At the end of the day, you can always just go back and read the DECADES worth of stories from the same characters. Those won’t ever go anywhere.
Thank you for reading and hearing me out. I really appreciate. Feel free to respond to my points or create some new counter arguments of your own; and I’ll try my best to respond and engage as much as possible. I’d love to see as many different perspectives here as possible (so long as everyone’s friendly of course). And if you agree with me, let me know why. Are they for the same reasons or for some different ones?