Among universities in the Ivy League, there’s a constant battle to lay claim to the more illustrious and notable alumni. Harvard: “We’ve got John Adams and John Updike!” Columbia: “That’s nothing, we have Teddy Roosevelt and Oscar Hammerstein!” Princeton: “Is that all? Do the names Woodrow Wilson and Toni Morrison mean anything?” But now Yale has emerged with the ultimate trump card, a newly discovered alum who may be fictional, but who could beat up any of the other nerdlings that Yale’s rivals can dig up: Batman.
Most superhero alter egos attended fictional universities (Clark Kent is a Metropolis U. alum), but this month’s issue of Yale Alumni Magazine lays out — over the course of three essays — the case that Wayne was an Eli. In the first piece, author and graphic designer Chip Kidd, who is working on a full-length Batman graphic novel, cites the only two known bits of evidence about Bruce Wayne’s college years. One is a mention in episode 33 of the Adam West Batman TV series, in which Wayne’s great-grandfather not only wears a Yale football jersey in a painting, but is revealed to be the founder of the secret society Skull and Bones. However, this evidence is less than binding since it only proves that Wayne’s family went to Yale. Plus, it’s from the 1966 TV series, which any true Dark Knight fan considers a blight on the hero’s legacy and in no way official history.
However, Kidd’s second, crucial bit of evidence comes from the final page of one of the more famous Batman comics, 1974’s “The Night of the Stalker,” and it surfaced last fall during an exhibit about comics and the law at the Yale Law Library. Batman arrives on the scene of a robbery just in time to see thugs murder a couple in front of their young son. Distraught by the memories it brings back about his own parents’ murders, he rushes home to his study to weep. And on the wall of that study, keen eyes will find a Yale Law School diploma. (See inset above.) The writing on the diploma is fuzzy — it looks a little like “VIALE” — so the alumni magazine called up the cartoonist, Sal Amendola, in Brooklyn, and he confirmed that it was Yale. Amendola had been living in Connecticut at the time, and he reasoned that Yale seemed a logical match for Bruce Wayne (although he seems to have attended the little-known branch of “Yale University at Gotham”). Moreover, Amendola figured that even though Batman operates outside the law, Bruce Wayne would want a law degree to satisfy the needs of his dual personality as a “bleeding-heart liberal do-gooder” by day and a “vigilante conservative” by night.
With great power comes great responsibility, and the power of this discovery has led Yale to responsibly use it to poke Harvard in the eye. The mag’s third essay points out that while Yale Law School can claim Batman, Harvard Law School’s most memorable fictional alum is American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. And, says the mag, “Both Bateman and Batman were played by Christian Bale, but the resemblance ends there.”