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Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero Hardcover – Nov 7 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Hopkins Fulfillment Service (Nov. 7 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801890632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801890635
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


As a kid, I wanted to be Batman but always ended up more like the Joker. I only wish I could have read Dr. Zehr's fascinating book then, so that I would know exactly what it took to become a real superhero. -- Bradford W. Wright, author of Comic Book Nation

If you really want to become Batman, having a billion dollars in start-up funds and a subterranean lair is just the beginning. Dr. Zehr's thoroughly researched and thoughtfully imagined exploration into the real-life rigors of costumed crime-fighting shows just how DC Comics' Dark Knight—the original self-made hero—could realistically transform a mere human body into something no less than superhuman. Consider it required reading for anyone seriously contemplating donning cape and cowl. -- Scott Beatty, author of The Batman Handbook

When I walk, every once in a while someone notices they can't hear my footsteps. Do you know why? Dr. E. Paul Zehr knows. I'm training to become Batman. Most of the population wouldn't understand this . . . but beneath and entwined in the soul of many men is a-hero-in-the-making. Training for that moment that will, thankfully, never come. The moment when he must be a hero. The moment he trained for. They'll never hear me coming. In this book Dr. Zehr knows exactly what our giddy souls are doing. Here he tells our secret. -- Neal Adams, Batman Illustrator

About the Author

E. Paul Zehr is a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, where he is also a biomedical research scholar. He holds black belts in both empty hand and armed martial arts. For more information about finding your inner superhero, visit

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Awesome! I would have read another one or a longer version. There is so much I want to know. It has great content for someone who wants to be the bat
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By High Seas Harry on Dec 9 2011
Format: Hardcover
a good analysis of the functioning of the human body, but precious little about what would make Batman distinct. Very little in the way of comparison between conventional athletes, and Batman as depicted in the comics or movies. Basically, an introduction to the workings of a (anyone's) human body. The title was very misleading.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Au on March 10 2009
Format: Hardcover
Don't think this is a joke! Its NOT, I can tell you. Since I am on the way to become a super hero. You wanna know why? Then buy this book and check it out yourself. No matter you wanna become a super hero or super bad guy, you must check this book out!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 29 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Everything you need to know, plus... Jan. 3 2009
By rick33 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
...a whole lot you don't! I almost gave this book three stars due to it being (slightly) disappointingly dry, but added the extra one just for the sheer AMOUNT of detail in the book.

Really, it is too much, though. Admittedly, I haven't read it from cover to cover yet, but then again, I don't think I've ever read a text book from cover to cover. And that's what a lot of this is. Granted, the device of using the idea of "becoming Batman" is a great hook and one that I think can keep true fans (of Batman AND biology) on the line. And even though the focus of the book is on the effect of extensive training and the consequences of living the life of The Bat, Zehr does touch on TYPES of training Batman would most likely be realistically engaged in.

The book contains five Parts and a total of 16 Chapters. Since there is no "Look Inside" for this book yet, I've listed these below:

Part 1 - Bat-Building Blocks
Chapter 1 - The "Before" Batman: How Buff was Bruce?
Chapter 2 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Bruce's Twin Brother, and the Human Genome
Chapter 3 - The Stress of Life: Holy Hormones, Batman!

Part 2 - Basic Batbody Training
Chapter 4 - Gaining Strength and Power: Does the Bat That Flies the
Fastest or the Highest Get the Worm?
Chapter 5 - Building the Batbones: Brittle is Bad, But is Bigger Better?
Chapter 6 - Batmetabolism: What's for Dinner on the Dark Knight Diet?

Part 3 - Training the Batbrain
Chapter 7 - From Bruce Wayne to Bruce Lee: Mastering Martial Moves in the Batcave
Chapter 8 - Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: But What Was Batman Doing?
Chapter 9 - The Caped Crusader in Combat: Can You Kayo Without Killing?

Part 4 - Batman In Action
Chapter 10 - Batman Bashes and Is Bashed by Bad Boys (and Girls): What can he break without getting broken?
Chapter 11 - Hardening the Batbody: Can sticks and stones break his bones?
Chapter 12 - Gotham by Twilight: Working the Night Shift

Part 5 - A Mixed Bag
Chapter 13 - Injury and Recovery: How much Banging Until the Batback Goes Bonk?
Chapter 14 - Battle of the Bats: Could Batgirl Beat Batman?
Chapter 15 - The Aging Avenger: Could the Caped Crusader Become the Caped Codger?
Chapter 16 - The Reign of the Bat: Can You Really Become Batman and Remain Batman?


Now don't let these zippy and fun chapter titles fool you. If you get this book you're in for some serious science. There's a lot of molecular biology, chemistry and good ol' fashioned science text book jargon. I'm not sure if the average person who is interested in "Becoming Batman" needs, or even wants, to know how the Cortical bone is made up of Osteon which apparently has something to do with the Haversian canal, but it's all in figure 5.1 on page 68 if you DO need it. I get the feeling the scientist in Batman would love this book.

Or, you could just pop in your "The Dark Knight" dvd again and scarf down some popcorn.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Becoming Batman Jan. 31 2009
By Robert Frost - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I love books that take topics that interest me and examine the science in them. This book is not, as I assumed, a prescriptive on how to become Batman but more a treatise on the feasibility of becoming Batman. Could a man really train and then operate in the way Batman is depicted in the comics and movies?

Dr. Zehr comes to the topic with suitable expertise. Not only is he a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology, but he has multiple blackbelts and more than 25 years of experience in the martial arts. If you are interested in the details of science, you will like this book. If a chapter on how metabolism works isn't your thing, you should probably give this book a miss.

The initial chapters look at the building blocks, for example, what kind of genes would Bruce Wayne have needed to inherit to feasibly become Batman? From there it moves into the training. Would Batman be more interested in strength or power? and what kind of training would be suitable for each? What kind of martial arts should he study? How much training is necessary to become an expert?

The last part of the book looks at the realities of operating as Batman, specifically the impact or repeated stress and injury to the body. How long could Batman operate?

I expected the book to spend more time on the types of things Batman does (i.e. swinging from buildings) - but that is a topic that is well covered in James Kakalios' Physics of Superheroes.

Although I felt that the narrative needed more energy, I did enjoy this book. Dr. Zehr did his research. He knows the science and he knows the character. If you've ever been curious about the possibilities of being a superhero, give this book a try.

Interestingly, there was material in the book that is directly applicable to my job. I can't wait to use this title as a reference, when the subject comes up!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great Book!! Jan. 18 2009
By mdk - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Becoming Batman is an excellent case study in the limits of human performance and will. This book is Great!, it is exactly what you would expect from an expert in science and martial arts. Even more, Zehr's writing demonstrates his joy and curiosity with the subject matter while he thoroughly educates his audience in a fun and engaging manner. This book is truly a journey of scientific discovery to understand what it takes to be a real superhero without superpowers. The depth is impressive; genetics, anatomy, biomechanics...too many to list and all which play a role in becoming Batman. This book challenged me to go beyond a basic view of my comic book superhero and now more than ever I appreciate what it takes to be Batman. Dr. E Paul Zehr attempts to give an educated answer to the question that any fan of Batman has wondered; Can someone actually become Batman? The answer is....???.well get the book I highly recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
It is possible to become a Superhero... June 7 2011
By Steven King - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Every child who has donned a cape and ran around the backyard has been asking the question, "Could I be a superhero?" Dr. Zehr answers this question with his detailed analysis of the possibility of becoming a superhero in Becoming Batman.

One of my earliest memories involving Batman occurred when I transformed into the Dark Knight for a kindergarten Halloween party. As I ran around in that "Adam West" style costume, one of the teachers remarked that my eyes were "perfect" for the mask. That level of authentication began a lifelong fascination with everything related to the Dark Knight.

Becoming Batman, however, requires more than simply donning the right type of suit.

Zehr, whose academic credentials trace from an undergraduate emphasis in kinesiology through a PhD in Neuroscience, brilliantly discusses the potential for someone to actually become a superhero. His writing is witty and informative, striking an appropriate balance between a pure scientific discourse and ample explanations to keep lesser trained readers intrigued. In addition to the neuroscientific development, Zehr infuses the text with historical reference to Batman by comic book and year. Such references are sure to satiate any collector of Batman memorabilia.

The narrative includes salient points about the requisite genetics, training, and realities which would accompany the life of one aspiring to be Batman. Zehr's development of the appropriateness of martial arts training stems from his own lifelong fascination with the martial arts and is a compelling analysis of the rigors which Bruce Wayne would have necessarily been exposed to perform as the Batman. A glance at the author's webpage reveals that his research interests revolve around how the nervous system controls movement - a fact that makes his analysis of the probability of becoming Batman seem plausible.

We see ourselves in the characterization of Batman because he is human, not an alien from another planet or someone who received his prowess by the bite of a radioactive insect. When Batman dons the bat suit the archetypal conquest of good over evil becomes possible. Maybe, such an aspiration is possible for any one of us.

Is there hope for those of us who have donned a costume to actually become Batman? The answer might surprise you - if you have the proper genetics; passionately seek your goal; and have enough time and money.

See more about Dr. E. Paul Zehr at [...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Heavy on the science. March 29 2014
By John R. Baxter - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fun book and very thorough. It spent far more time discussing human physiology and the science than it did actually talking about batman which makes the reading become rather dry and somewhat repetitive at times. Still a fun read though.