Becoming Batman

The Possibility of a Superhero

By E. Paul Zehr
(Johns Hopkins University Press, Hardcover, 9780801890635, 300pp.)

Publication Date: December 2008

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Description

Battling bad guys. High-tech hideouts. The gratitude of the masses. Who at some point in their life hasn't dreamed of being a superhero? Impossible, right? Or is it?

Possessing no supernatural powers, Batman is the most realistic of all the superheroes. His feats are achieved through rigorous training and mental discipline, and with the aid of fantastic gadgets. Drawing on his training as a neuroscientist, kinesiologist, and martial artist, E. Paul Zehr explores the question: Could a mortal ever become Batman?

Zehr discusses the physical training necessary to maintain bad-guy-fighting readiness while relating the science underlying this process, from strength conditioning to the cognitive changes a person would endure in undertaking such a regimen. In probing what a real-life Batman could achieve, Zehr considers the level of punishment a consummately fit and trained person could handle, how hard and fast such a person could punch and kick, and the number of adversaries that individual could dispatch. He also tells us what it would be like to fight while wearing a batsuit and the amount of food we'd need to consume each day to maintain vigilance as Gotham City's guardian.

A fun foray of escapism grounded in sound science, "Becoming Batman" provides the background for attaining the realizable--though extreme--level of human performance that would allow you to be a superhero.

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