The Dark Knight writes his thesis

Jesse Carey

Jesse Carey
Jesse Carey

This is my last column of my first and last year here at the Collegian. I’m going to take this space to talk to you all about a matter of some urgency. I’m going to talk about Bruce Wayne’s college career and mark out a hypothetical path for the fictional character, one that ends not in Mr. Wayne’s creation of Batman and a distinguished career of kicking delinquency right in its stupid face, but rather, one that ends with Mr. Wayne entering the world of academia and getting his doctorate.

Before I begin, I must add that it was not easy pinning down Batman’s existing collegiate career. Only vague mention has been made of it in the comics and movies, and there are contradictory facts about where he attended college. It seems that Mr. Wayne attended Yale or Princeton, a fact that for obvious reasons is bitterly contested on the Internet by members of the two schools. Because I’m writing a hypothetical future for a fictional character, I’m just gonna go ahead and say that Mr. Wayne attended Princeton.

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In the comics, Mr. Wayne attended college only briefly before dropping out to pursue other dreams. Can you imagine a 19-year-old Bruce Wayne, standing cold and silent on the fringes of a house party? Can you imagine Bruce Wayne at one of those freshmen orientation activities where you have to say your name and one fun fact about yourself, just glaring at the resident assistant until the RA awkwardly moves on to the next student? It’s really no surprise that Bruce Wayne dropped out to pursue a life of crime fighting and occasionally romancing Catwoman. It was a life that he needed, but did not deserve. The time has come for us to give Mr. Wayne the life he deserved, but didn’t need.

Luckily, he’s a comic book character, and no other medium is as suited for an alternate history of Bruce Wayne. Comics are notorious for starting parallel universes and alternate dimensions in which the normal history of the hero is ignored in favor of a different narrative.

It would not be without precedent for a run of comics to illustrate Bruce Wayne’s alternate history of a man with an advanced degree. Incidentally, you could title that run “The Man With the Advanced Degree.” Another plus of this alternate storyline is that it erases Bruce Wayne’s one superpower: his great wealth. A doctorate from an accredited university doesn’t come cheap. A Bruce Wayne without all of his money is a far more compelling figure, a noble man reduced to eating Ramen and egg-based dishes.

Academia is well-suited to Mr. Wayne, as Bruce is renowned for his intellect. It makes sense that this intellect would be used in pursuit of a doctorate, probably one in applied physics or something equally brainy.

This run would be excellent because it would show a different side of the man formerly known as the caped crusader, like Bruce Wayne meets “Animal House.” Picture a tanked-up Bruce using his gadgetry to play hilarious tricks on some tightwad dean, or playing quad golf with Alfred as his caddie. It’s a can’t-miss premise.

Finally, this run of comics would solve the major problem with the Batman universe. The existence of Batman is tied with the creation of super-powered enemies. From Joker to Two-Face to the Riddler, most of Batman’s best villains only exist because the Batman has created a space for super villainy, inadvertently or otherwise. This raises several profound questions. Is the presence of Batman a good thing or counterproductive? Is he fighting crime or simply engendering it?

Bruce Wayne as an academic neatly solves all of these nasty complications. Instead of having to deal with evil masterminds holding Gotham hostage, Bruce would have to deal with scarier foes, in the form of hostile peer-review boards, the normal bureaucracy of colleges and the predatory threats of Sallie Mae. It’s time academia got a hero. It’s time that Bruce Wayne got his degree. Class dismissed.

Collegian Columnist Jesse Carey regrets only that he didn’t publish something sappy on Upworthy before he graduated, and can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @Junotbend.