You may have seen a sad news story about Lenny B. Robinson, a Maryland man who impersonated Batman to bring joy into the lives of children. Many referred to him as “The Route 29 Batman,” as he could often be seeing driving his Batmobile down this road, including when the police pulled him over and the moment was caught in a video that became viral. Several other news source have properly eulogized him, but I found it worth pausing to consider this legacy.
A few years ago, I wrote about the phenomenon of men in our world dressing as the hero of Gotham. I suggested that perhaps the greatest thing that makes someone Batman is tragedy, citing specifically the example of Zoltan Nohari, a man living in poverty, hoping to help the police in Slovakia.
But pondering the death of Robinson, I wondered if Batman’s defining characteristic is the exact thing that Robinson brought into the world: hope.
As Batman said to Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight Rises:
A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.
Robinson’s visits to sick children at hospitals surely provided a similar degree of help to the simple and reassuring act described above.
This also recalls how Gordon eulogized Bruce Wayne at the end of the Dark Knight trilogy, when another character suggests that the city of Gotham will never know who really saved them: “They know who it was; it was the Batman.”