In Batman: Shadow of the Bat #16, part of the Knightfall arc, the supervillain Anarky has an intriguing insight into the Batman mythos:
He fights like a machine – disarming them first, taking no chances, revelling in his unique blend of athletic skill and brutal physical power.
He’s a monument in this city – something that was here long before there were streets and buildings and…
… and criminals.
Suddenly, I understand. The evil of Gotham City is all Batman’s fault!
He’s set himself up as a vigilante elite – a costumed hero who issues a challenge to all:
“Gotham is my city – take it if you can!”
Anarky is a a child genius and a well-intentioned extremist – he believes that governments and corporations put their own greed ahead of common individuals, and this is the cause of all wars and other problems of the world. His goal is to incite anarchy and free the commoners from the oppression of bad government. He tries to destroy Batman because he believes that the citizens of Gotham would be safer if he was not there.
As much as I admire Batman, I have to say, Anarky’s argument is on point – Bane comes to Gotham purely to take it from Batman and prove himself to the world. And his corollary that Gotham would be safer without Batman might even be true, but only retroactively. Now that the supervillains are already there, removing Batman does not help the citizens.
I think it is important to note that when Bruce Wayne created the Batman persona, he was not trying to fight supervillains. At first, Batman was a way to achieve justice in a broken system. He was created to fight the Mafia from outside the law, because the Mafia had too much influence over dirty cops and public officials. After his success against the Mafia, the criminal element of Gotham needed to step up their game in order to have any sort of success, thus the birth of the supervillains. Two-Face was a direct result of his success against the Mafia. The Joker was also “created” by Batman, depending on which origin you believe.
At that point, Batman could either quit and hope that things deescalate, or continue on and hope that things did not get worse. Since his mission was “Get rid of crime” and not “Get rid of the Mafia,” this is just one of the worst cases of mission creep ever. Nothing will ever eliminate crime altogether, short of removing free will, which would open up an even bigger moral can of worms.
What does that mean for me? Well, I do not plan to get rid of crime. Plus I have many more limitations than Bruce Wayne, so I do not think that mission creep will be as much of issue for me as it is for him. But in the end, there is only one thing I can do.
If I ever deviate from that plan, let me know!