Batman has fought hundreds of supervillians around the world. From Anarky to Zsazs, from Arkham Asylum to Wonder City, he’s fought alongside Superman, the Flash, Wonder Woman, and every member of the Justice League lineup.
But Batman has never fought leukemia.
On Friday the streets of San Francisco became the streets of Gotham City and gathered in support of Miles Scott, a five year old whose greatest desire was to become Batman for a day. Sponsored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, “Batkid” patrolled the streets of San Francisco in a remodeled Lamborghini Batmobile until a call from “Commissioner Gordon” came in with a crisis only a tiny superhero could solve. Tucked safely in his Bat Car-Seat, he rushed to the scene of the crime.
Miles was diagnosed with leukemia before the age of two and recently completed leukemia treatments, placing him in remission. A fan of superheroes, Miles loved Batman in particular. After only a few messages and tweets on various social media sites, what started as a few hundred volunteers for Miles’ big day as Batkid turned into 12,000 people from all over the country crowding San Francisco.
There are many Make-a-Wish campaigns for individual children, and all of their stories are moving and deserving of help. What made this particular campaign draw in so many volunteers, supporters and spectators? It is almost certainly the Batman element which – thanks to the resurgence of superhero pop culture – is now cemented in the public consciousness as representing all the ideals of heroism. That, when combined with a boy’s battle for his life, stirred something in people on a mass scale. If Batman himself were real (and as this event has shown, he kind of is), he would be proud.
And so thousands lined the streets to watch Batkid save a woman tied to train tracks (an explosive tied to her back created by the Riddler), cheered as he thwarted the Riddler in a bank robbery, rescued the Giants’ mascot from Penguin, and stood by as the mayor of San Francisco honored him with a key to the city (made of chocolate, of course).
Every day we are bombarded with news stories of murders, robberies, and politicians bickering over intangible issues. These stories leave us divided and bitter to the point that we are jaded and numbed by world events. Most people reading this article are old enough to understand that there are villains plaguing the world over: there is sickness, there is disease, and there is death. No one should learn this at five years old.
The fact that San Francisco became Gotham for a day is incredible, that thousands people from all over the country rallied to support one little boy is astounding.
And for this San Francisco is my hero. Because after all a hero, as Batman himself says in The Dark Knight Returns, can be anyone.
Even a city doing something as simple and reassuring as creating Gotham City around a young boy to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.