Being fat Batman

BY CHRIS STEINKE | JUNE 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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After the NBA Finals — featuring arguably the greatest group of villains in U.S. sports history — fetched the highest ratings in more than a decade, the virtues of a powerful, polarizing antagonist became as evident to me as ever.

Now, I’m afraid that these metaphors may only connect logically in the comfy confines of my own mind and am sure that they will offend a considerable percentage of my readership, but here goes.

Let’s say that Batman resides and fights crimes in Iowa City. (Batman is the United States of America; Iowa City is the entire world.) The highlights of his crime-fighting career are liquidating The Joker (The British Empire), gunning down The Penguin (The Third Reich), and, er, icing Mr. Freeze (Soviet Russia).

Each of these enemies were threatening, cunning, and powerful. Every corner of his body and mind opposed them, and, more often than not, he was overmatched. In order for him to succeed in conquering each adversary, he had to operate at his absolute best — and often needed a little luck on top of that.

Over the span of these accomplishments, Batman established himself as a, if not the, premier power of Iowa City (though not without resentment from a handful of residents). But in the years following his feud with Mr. Freeze, poor Batman got bored. He grew complacent and fat, reasoning to himself that he can let himself go a bit, because after all, he is the friggin’ Batman.

One night, as fat Batman waddled about the outskirts of Iowa City, he was ambushed by a band of lowly drunkards. Of course, they were no match for Batman, even in his portly state, but they did manage to break his hand.

(Aside: Yes, a broken hand may be considered an offensive metaphor for the 9/11 attacks by some, but at least it’s close. My reasoning is that an injury like that hurts incredibly and does not permanently heal. A severed arm would be analogous to a nuclear bomb dropping on New England, and an earthquake causing New Jersey to break off into the ocean would parallel a surgical removal of an inflamed appendix.


Batman was fuming; he hadn’t been injured to this degree since his bout with The Penguin. After a hasty interrogation period, he concluded that the lead drunkard responsible (let’s call him “Ed”) for the order leading to his injury was hiding somewhere in the Slater dormitory.

For years, Batman wreaked havoc throughout the West Campus in attempt to avenge his broken hand and capture Ed. Morgan Freeman (the taxpayers) kept him armed throughout — willingly at first, hesitantly as Batman’s goals became unclear, against his will once he realized Batman had missed his mark and then out of necessity when the damage Batman had created was beyond repair.

Once Batman, responding to a report of marijuana use in the dorms, finally apprehended Ed (who was high and masturbating in a Rienow dorm room), the expense of his actions over the years leading to revenge were even more detrimental than the inciting injury.

Now, Batman is sick, he is depressed, he is injured, and he is poor. On top of all this, he must turn around and try his best to address the mess he has created throughout the West Campus, a feat that may occupy his foreseeable future.

Now what is Batman to do? How can he return to form as the undisputed power of Iowa City?

One might say he needs another enemy of the same magnitude as The Joker or The Penguin. A part of him wants to infiltrate the seedier parts of town, where he may find a handful of dangerous, evil people (Kim Jong Il, Muammar Qaddafi), but, at this point in his well-being, is it really in his best interest to invest the time, effort, and resources to address these ultimately minor criminals?

Or should he take the time to right his recent wrongs, get his finances in order, and nurse himself back to health so he is in a position to protect his city from ultimately profound and currently unforeseen dangers?

Until the aforementioned villains can seriously threaten the city, that Batman should worry about his own problems before addressing someone else’s.

You know, in the extraordinarily unlikely case that Catwoman (China/LeBron James), Scarecrow (the radical Islamists/Dwayne Wade), and Poison Ivy (North Korea/Chris Bosh), unite to make a legitimate international threat.

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