Become Batman!

Do you have what it takes to become a superhero? Martial arts enthusiast E Paul Zehr investigates whether it's possible to become Batman...

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*The book 'Becoming Batman: The Possibility Of A Superhero' by E Paul Zehr - out now*

‘If we want to know whether it is possible for the average man to become a superhero then Batman is the perfect one to examine,’ says neuroscientist, author and martial arts enthusiast E Paul Zehr. ‘Unlike every other hero, he isn’t endowed with any special gift. There’s nothing supernatural about his abilities. He’s just a normal guy who is determined to better himself in every respect and he has tapped into the tremendous potential that each of us has.’ Here’s what it takes to become Batman.

It’s one thing having the skills to fight, but you need the poise and grace to perform flawlessly under pressure. The caped crusader can never, ever afford to lose, or else he dies. The high-level performance needed to defend Gotham City and himself without ever resorting to killing requires vast experience.

It would take three to five years to reach maximum physical capacity and six to 12 years to hone your ability to tackle multiple enemies. A skilled martial artist can defend himself against up to six thugs at once, but if this recurs over time injury is inevitable.

Based on the careers of UFC fighters and NFL players, Batman would be at his peak for two to three years. With luck, the maximum would be ten years – as long as his mere presence caused enemies to flee much of the time, so that he rarely had to fight.

You don’t have to devote your whole life to becoming Batman to reap the benefits of his example. If we are determined to stick with something and pursue physical activity for a purpose – rather than for exercise’s sake – we will become stronger, healthier, more successful and, ultimately, happier.

E Paul Zehr is a professor of neuroscience at the University of Victoria, Canada. His book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility Of A Superhero (£14, Johns Hopkins University Press) is out now. Go to for details.

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