Batman’s Technology Is Falling Behind His Foes

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Batman has faced a lot of criminals over the years. He has also faced off against a few heroes too. He has managed this by always staying one step ahead of the pack. Batman has maintained his head start through a combination of advanced technology and advanced knowledge. But Gotham City’s own technologically advanced Unsanity Collective presents Batman with a simple choice: adapt, or die.



Batman has always been at the forefront of technological development. Batman, through his friend Lucius Fox and his ownership of Wayne Enterprises, has access to tools and gadgets that are lightyears ahead of what is on the market. His technology even outstrips that of most militaries. His skills and his training take him a long way. But Batman would not be able to do what he does without the edge he is given by the gadgets in his utility belt. The Unsanity Collective was first introduced in Batman 2016 #106 (by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles). This community of much maligned cyberpunk misfits is based around the idea that human society is crippled by emotional trauma. Their goal is to use cutting edge technology to rid humankind of the pain that is holding it back, freeing everyone to live their best lives. This has naturally made them some enemies. However, the threat that the Unsanity Collective poses towards Batman is existential. Because The Unsanity Collective’s own existence puts Batman in the position of having to leap far beyond what he is now, or risk becoming a relic of the past.


Batman Isn’t As Far Ahead As He Used To Be

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Batman has evolved a lot throughout the years. Many of the gadgets that he used in his earlier incarnations, and even his earlier Batsuits, would seem quaint next to those he uses today. Batman once used a simple rope to scale buildings, for example. Batman has always been a response to the era from which he hails. This concept has applied to both his appearance and his equipment. The Batman of today has remained as he is for a number of years now. But as technology and society develop, time is drawing near for Batman to evolve once again. The presence of The Unsanity Collective heralds this need for change.

Batman has always had to work hard to stay ahead of the era he occupies, technologically speaking. But as modern technology faces its own exponential leap forward, the leap Batman must take to maintain his lead risks transforming the character into something unrecognizable. The Unsanity Collective have upped the ante of communal technology. Their cool cyberpunk aesthetic and biohacker sensibilities are a big step forward aesthetically and technologically. They have raised the bar so high that Batman is going to have to jump that much higher to maintain his position. This is a multispectrum threat to The Dark Knight. In universe, it puts pressure on Batman. It isn’t easy to stay ahead of global technological development, even with a billion-dollar corporation at one’s back. And every step closer the criminal element gets to Batman, the more danger it puts him in. Out of universe, it raises its own issues. Batman is currently one of the most recognizable characters in popular media. The Unsanity Collective’s technological envelope pushing places Batman at a difficult cross road. The character can maintain his iconic identity and slip behind the cutting edge. Or, Batman can leap ahead in a way that changes core elements of his iconic presentation.

The Unsanity Collective’s influence holds particular significance for another aspect of Batman’s lore. Batman Beyond was an iconic addition to the Batman mythos. It lived up to the atmosphere of Batman: The Animated Series while giving fans a tantalizing glimpse of Batman in the future. One of the most important elements of Batman Beyond was its revised, technologically advanced Batsuit. The new suit wasn’t just a success because of its technological capabilities, it was also due to its futuristic appearance. The technological and aesthetic developments that were needed to make Batman Beyond stand out from Batman: The Animated Series are the same kind The Unsanity Collective’s presence is pushing. The Unsanity Collective appears almost as a bridge between the Batman of the current day and the Batman Beyond him. But bringing these two eras into such close contact raises some issues of continuity. With contemporary and future Batman now brushing up against one another, there is less and less room for Batman to grow without impinging on the unique elements of Batman Beyond. Terry McGinnis is, according to established timelines, due to be born next year sometime in 2024. If the current Batman is to continue adapting with the times, the franchise will end up overtaking the supposedly high-tech future of Neo-Gotham.

The Unsanity Collective Question Batman’s Values

Batman soaring through Gotham above party-goers in cover art for Neo-Gothic.

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Batman needs to keep ahead of more than just technology to maintain his edge. He also needs to adapt to the values of the society he is protecting. A community’s interpretation of criminality evolves through time just as its technology does. The Unsanity Collective themselves are introduced as a terrorist group. While it is certainly true that they broke a few laws. It would be hard to place them in the same league as other criminal organizations. They have resisted forcing their vision for humanity on society. They offer people a choice. Batman will have to embrace new forms of morality in order to keep up if society willingly revises its interpretation of good and evil. The Unsanity Collective prove that some elements of society are already making that choice.

The Unsanity Collective poses a threat to Batman in numerous ways. The most fundamental is their capacity to undermine the foundation of his being. The Unsanity Collective is based around the Mind Machine. A device capable of removing all of one’s memories and traumas, leaving only their skills and knowledge intact. They are then free to live a new life. Batman is one of the most broken of all superheroes. The trauma of his parents’ deaths still haunts him to this day. The Mind Machine could take that pain away. But that raises the question of who Bruce Wayne would be without that pain. Batman’s hurt is ultimately what has allowed him to help so many. Yet one has to ask whether Bruce Wayne deserves peace as much as those he helps to find it. There are no right answers. What the Unsanity Collective gives with one hand it takes away with the other. What is undisputable, however, is that their reason for being threatens Batman, whether they are allies, enemies, or something else entirely.

The Unsanity Collective has been a fascinating addition to Batman’s world. They have a sorely underrated potential to ask difficult questions and stoke the fires of evolution in Gotham. They prove that Batman is facing change in a way he hasn’t for many years. All that’s left now is to see who he decides to become.

The cover to batman issue 1

Batman

Batman is one of the oldest comic superheroes, with nearly a century of comics, TV-shows, films, and video games. The mild-mannered Bruce Wayne becomes Gotham City’s caped crusader, protecting it from villains like The Joker, Killer Croc, The Penguin, and more. Batman is also one of DC comics’ “Big Three” alongside Superman and Wonder Woman, and together the three help keep the earth safe as founding members of the Justice League. 

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