Does Batman’s Origin Story Stem from a Legendary 19th Century Mexican Bandito?

Lead Photo: Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Read more

Who would’ve guessed that Batman has Latine roots?

It’s a theory that has been floating around for years and one that was recently presented in a video produced by Nuestro Stories, a media platform created to tell the origin stories of the “cultural traditions, songs, sayings, places, foods, people, sports, nuances, notable achievements, and much more that collectively comprise Latino history and pop culture.”

Partnering with McDonald’s Spotlight Dorado program, Nuestro Stories produced a micro-digital documentary called The Latino Origins of Batman. In it, the DC Comics superhero is linked back to Joaquín Murieta, a legendary 19th century bandit who was born in Mexico and traveled to California during the Gold Rush.

Little is known about Murieta – and many historians dispute that he even existed – but the novel, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit, which was written in 1954 by a Native American author named John Rollin Ridge, has sustained the legend for years.

“So many tales have grown up around Murieta that it is hard to disentangle the fabulous from the factual,” said American historian Susan Lee Johnson.

So, how exactly does Murieta connect to Batman? Well, it’s said that Murieta, who was also known as the Robin Hood of the West, was the inspiration behind writer Johnston McCulley’s title character in his 1919 novel Zorro about an antihero, much like Robin Hood, who fought for the poor. Zorro, in turn, was the inspiration for the Caped Crusader.

“Nearly everything that Batman was known for was inspired by Zorro – the black suit, mask and cape, the incredible fighting skills, the rich playboy persona…” the narrator of The Latino Origins of Batman says in the video.

Whether Batman’s true origins are Latine, we’re still excited about the upcoming animated feature Batman Azteca: Choque de Imperios.