Batman Is In Purgatory

Sometimes, when watching shows or playing games with my younger brother (the guy what I did the Chrono Cross let’s play with), we’d come up with fan theories for various oddities in the show, almost exclusively bizarre and tonally inconsistent and sometimes contradicted by later developments in the show, which would lead to them becoming ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to paper over all the issues (some of the best parts of that let’s play were when we were doing this, although tragically a lot of our best work in the area happened in the recordings that were lost).

This leads me to one of my favorite dumb fan theories we came up with: Batman is in purgatory.

Batman the Animated Series

As the image has hopefully made clear, we are talking about the Animated Series Batman. Other Batmen may or may not be in purgatory. Now, “[character] is in purgatory” is such a tired fan theory that it has a trope named after it, and that’s kind of the joke, but there are some fishy things going on in TAS Gotham and “it’s secretly purgatory” was the laziest answer to explain them away.

In the second episode, the Joker turns Gotham Observatory into a cannon. No one seems to notice. How did no one notice that a fully functioning observatory was converted into an artillery piece? Does nobody work there? If they’re in purgatory, then the answer is no. The observatory itself is in Gotham because real-world Gotham has an observatory, but no one who works at the observatory is in purgatory. The observatory remains in good condition because that’s its state in real world Gotham, which purgatory mirrors except when directly altered by its inhabitants.

Over the course of the first few episodes, Batman repeatedly takes actions that should kill the goons he’s fighting, but through all manner of unlikely contrivance, they always survive. In an early episode, Batman throws a goon off a roof without even looking, but the goon just happens to hit an awning that breaks his fall and survives. Does Batman know where every awning in Gotham is? How could he have thrown the goon so precisely as to know he’d hit the awning ten-ish stories below, and that it would break his fall successfully? If they’re in purgatory, the answer is that he doesn’t have to care, because the genius loci of purgatorial Gotham can’t let anyone suffer a fatal injury. Since they’re all already dead, such injuries would not kill them, which would make it obvious to them that they’re in purgatory, which is against the rules.

And of course, why are there so many crazy supervillains in Gotham? Is this one city some kind of magnet for psychologically disturbed criminal masterminds? If they’re in purgatory, the answer is yes, because they’re all here for doing terrible things but being insufficiently in control of their mental faculties to be condemned to Hell for it, so instead they battle with Batman. Because the insanity defense is apparently pretty much bulletproof in the court of Saint Peter, they remain in purgatory until they can redeem themselves and enter into Heaven, since no amount of blatant villainy will condemn them to Hell.

Everything makes sense. Which is, y’know, why purgatory theories are dumb. They can be used to explain literally anything, which means they’re only any good as a joke. I’m not even sure I wanna call the joke a good one.

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