Picking up from yesterday, let's talk about Batman v. Superman. The purpose of this conversation isn't "who would win in a fight" (because the answer is obviously Superman...it would literally last about .2 seconds) but which superhero, in fact, is better. There's many factors to consider, so let's take it one at a time. Today's subject: Batman.
Making his debut in 1939, just a year after the original Superman arrived on the scene, Batman began as a slightly darker version of the Original hero. The character lurked in the shadows, carried few gadgets, and wasn't afraid to kill if the situation called for it. From the very beginning, Batman was defined not only by his own skills, but by the villains he encountered. The Joker, in fact, was the lead in Batman's very first issue, predating even Robin by year.
As with all comic book characters, Batman has gone through many iterations over the years. There were the wacky and campy adventures of the 1950s and 1960s, the children's TV show, the return to a darker tone in the 1980s, capped off by Tim Burton's 1989 film and an early 90's animated series. Since then, the hero has gone through his big/bold/bulky stages of the 1990s before finally returning to what he always was...a detective with a side of brutality.
While Superman was the "favorite" superhero for decades, Batman has been at the top of the list in many people's minds for years. Ask many people why the Dark Knight is their favorite, and they'll say thing like "he's just a regular guy, you know? He doesn't have powers or anything, he's just a person, but a superhero too. And that's really cool!" They have a point; Batman has no powers at all...he's just super rich and can (somehow) afford to not only pay for all of his gadgets, caves, guns, cars, planes, boats, and science, but also pay to keep the contractors who worked on them quiet. He's also apparently a super genius "detective" (a fact glossed over in many recent publications) and is able to fight like a ninja...despite wearing 50 pounds of armor everywhere he goes. Just a regular guy? Maybe in the 1930's when some rope, flash powder, and a cool car were all you needed, but these days, his existence is just as preposterous as Superman's alien origin.
Where Batman truly succeeds is in his rogue gallery. It's no secret Superman has a small list of villains while the Caped Crusader has a far more colorful cast of characters to fight. In fact, many (if not all) of Batman's films are popular because of the villains, because the main character is so muted.
In the end, I can see why Batman is "more popular"...people see him as something more "real" that could fit our world today (despite how flawed that logic is). Maybe people don't want to accept the idea that sometimes there's a form of hope beyond human interference. Maybe he's the hero we deserve...but perhaps not the one we actually need. For that, we need to turn to...