The name “Batman” has always been associated with heroism but the truth is, it is not always the case. According to Movie Pilot, long before the DC character was created in 1939, the world already have Stephen Batman, an English author and translator; Ira Coleman Batman, an American politician; and John Batman, an Australian who was tagged as a “thief” and a town villain.
John was born in what is now known as Sydney back in 1801, to two recent English immigrants, William and Mary Batman.
In 1816, John became an apprentice to a blacksmith, and helped bring the man to justice for burglary. By 1821, John and his brother Henry found themselves travelling to Van Diemen’s Land (what is now known as Tasmania) and quickly established themselves as successful landowners. In 1826, John captured a notorious outlaw named Matthew Brady. Between 1828 and 1830, he became a specialist in hunting down people, and often killing the Aboriginal Tasmanian people.
He also became a key figure in the “Black War,” a guerrilla-warfare-filled conflict in which nearly 1000 Aboriginal Tasmanians lost their lives, Movie Pilot noted. He became a controversial figure due to his dealings with Aboriginal peoples in Van Diemen’s Land and Victoria.
According to the National Museum Australia, Batman’s neighbour in Van Diemens Land, artist John Glower said John was “a rogue, thief, cheat and liar, a murderer of blacks and the vilest man I have ever known”.
In 1830’s, however, he was hailed as a hero for his part in the war. He then founded a settlement on the Yarra River, which became the city of Melbourne. They also dubbed the area as “Batmania”.
John contracted syphilis in 1833. His health soon deteriorated and he eventually died in 1839.
Meanwhile, the real Batman hero, played by Ben Affleck, will return on the big screen when “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” hit theaters in March 2016.