It is no surprise that with the release of the next Batman movie, The Dark Knight, only days away, the number of stories focusing on Gotham’s hero is increasing. The latest concerns a book written concerning the likelihood that Batman could actually exist, and what the toll on the human body would be after a career like Batman’s.
Written by E. Paul Zehr, associate professor of kinesiology and neuroscience at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and a 26-year practitioner of Chito-Ryu karate-do, the book, entitled ‘Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero’, gives a fun and realistic look in to whether it would be possible to become Batman.
Scientific American, having caught wind of this book, recently interviewed Zehr, and quickly summed up his work.
Questions such as “How long would Bruce Wayne have to train to become Batman” and “What effects would all that training have on Bruce Wayne's body?” result in answers that do not totally dispel the idea that someone could become Batman. And though from the disclaimer at the beginning of the interview saying it is an edited transcript of the interview suggests we’re not getting the full story, it does add another weight in pile for Batman being the most realistic of superheroes.
There have been dozens of variations on how Bruce Wayne came to be Batman, and the Christopher Nolan film Batman Begins seems to have been the most realistic so far. Zehr points to the seven years that Wayne trained in the movie to get to becoming Batman as completely necessary. The less likely time spans of anywhere between 2 and 5 in the comics seems much less likely. Zehr notes that the conditioning needed to get the body to a point where it can do what Batman does and take the punishment that he does, is definitely not an overnight thing.
A less realistic part of the Batman mythos is his uncanny ability to fight up to 10 or more people at once. Zehr figures that a more realistic number is 2 or 3, but he does remind us that it is hard for a lot of people to simultaneously fight someone. This is why some of the better and more realistic Batman fights where he ends up with a dozen bodies laying around him, see them fighting him in 2’s and 3’s, so as not to get in each other’s way. This seems to be a more likely and realistic outcome.
Zehr’s book comes out in October of this year, released by the John Hopkins University Press. And though the idea of Batman isn’t overly likely, Scientific American does finish with the question we all want to know:
How many of us do you think could become a Batman?
If you found the percentage of billionaires and multiply that by the percentage of people who become Olympic decathletes, you could probably get a close estimate. The really important thing is just how much a human being really can do. There's such a huge range of performance and ability you can tap into.
Posted by Josh Hill
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