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  • 12.06.10

Have Cowl, Will Travel Around the World: Batman Incorporated (Part 1)

DC Comics has just introduced the idea that Batman may go global (within the DC world, of course). What would truly international Batmen look like?

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“We’ve sidetracked the media that he has actually been financing Batman all these years,” Morrison explained of the long arc he’s written that has seen the Dark Knight plunge through time and space and have his mantle taken up by former Robin Dick Grayson. “He is the man behind the Batman, but he is not Batman.”
In doing so, Wayne is free to take his crime fighting international by building what Morrison calls a “global, international army of Batmen. Batman in China, Batman in Japan, Batman in Russia. Expanding the Batman brand to areas where he really hasn’t been before.”

Of course, as a naming geek and comics geek, I couldn’t leave this alone. Batman around the world? What is that going to look like?

  • Japan: バットマン Battoman
  • India: Batman
  • Brazil: Batman
  • France: L’Homme-Chauve-Souris (literally Bat Man)
  • China: 亻(man) + 蝠 (bat) 蝙蝠俠
  • Spain: Batman
  • Russia: Бэтмен
  • Mexico: Batman (Spider-man is El Hombre Arana–but Batman is Batman. Go figure)
  • Middle East باتمان (Batman)
  • Italy: Uomo Pipistrello (literally Bat Man)
Bat distribution around the world

So maybe Batman will just continue to be Batman around the world, since his comics are selling pretty well. But I also wonder if bats have the same meaning in other cultures. Batman is Batman because bats represent darkness, mystery, special powers, and silent attack; people also associate all bats with one particular type of bat, the vampire bat, and tend to view them as scary and creepy. Batman as a metaphor wouldn’t really work if bats were viewed as good-luck symbols.

So, given Batman’s global expansion, should he still be a bat-man? Next time I’ll look at the meanings of bats in non-U.S. cultures, and suggest some alternate animals for Bruce Wayne to emulate. In the meantime, your suggestions are welcome!

Batman Incorporated

Fun fact for today: Did you know that John Batman was an early and influential Australian settler? And that Melbourne was nearly named Batmania?

Laurel Sutton is a partner and co-founder at Catchword, a full-service naming firm.

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