Is Omar Little the "Batman" of The Wire? This is fresh in my mind since last night I attended a panel discussion "The Making of The Wire" at the New York Times building, sponsored by the Museum of the Moving Image, where cast and crew discussed the epic HBO drama. (The panel included David Simon, Richard Price, Seth Gilliam, Clark Johnson, Wendell Pierce, and Clarke Peters.)
Back to my question, though. Omar, by his own admission, is "all in the game" whereby his life revolves around his participation in Baltimore's drug trade. From a law-and-order standpoint, Omar is a villain because he is quick to kill, steal, and sell drugs. From a heroic standpoint, however, Omar operates by a strict code: Stealing a line directly from Bunk Moreland, Omar says "A man's got to have a code." Omar never puts his gun on a civilian or non-participant in "the game." Omar flips out when the Barksdale crew breaks the longstanding sabbath ceasefire and nearly kill his grandmother on her way to church. For most of the series, Omar is also a vigilante driven by revenge -- revenge against the Barksdales for the death of Brandon Wright, revenge against Stringer Bell for setting him up, revenge against Marlo Stanfield for his attempted framing of Omar for murder, and so on. In addition to his vigilante status, he is also often working in cooperation with the Baltimore police, or doing what he can on their behalf as he lurks in the shadows of the drug corners pursuing his own agenda.
The portrait painted above, for me, draws some clear parallels to our friend Batman. Batman has an agenda of vengeance, though he operates by a strict code. That code generally means Batman only comes into contact with those who are willfully involved in "the game." Batman colludes with the police, but generally only on his own terms and, again, within his own code of conduct. (Omar is occasionally persuaded against his will to cooperate with the police, but more often than not, when the Baltimore detectives need Omar's help, they are forced to appeal to Omar's own sense of justice and morality in order to persuade him to do what they need him to do. Please recall the fucking brilliant scene between Omar and Bunk to illustrate this point.)
Like Batman, because of how he operates, Omar is often without friends, or friends he can trust, and he must live in hiding. Omar's headquarters, like the Bat Cave, are usually in abandoned row houses or tenements. Omar doesn't have an elaborate array of computers or gadgets, but he does have the best and biggest guns in town, and he usually travels by way of an unmarked vehicle (see point #3 of Gavin's primer on the Bat) such as a utility van or taxi cab. Omar also conducts his business under a cloak, whether it's something immediately evocative of Batman, such as his black duster jacket, or something more simple as a hooded sweatshirt. (Or sometimes Omar's disguises become more complex, like when he dresses up as an old man in a wheelchair in order to gain access to a Barksdale drug house.)
Additionally, toward the latter stages of the series, just saying Omar's name on the streets of Baltimore would incite immediate fear and chaos as small-time drug dealers would immediately run in the opposite direction or just throw their drugs into the street if they heard or saw Omar coming their way. How many crooks has Batman defeated simply by evoking his name or image? Both Omar and Batman learn to use their enemy's fear against them, usually to the point where all they have to do is arrive on the scene to decide the outcome.
And what about Omar's many sidekicks, or Robins? (See Gavin's point #5.) The death of his first Robin, Brandon Wright, is what first sends Omar over the edge. But Omar can't last long without a sidekick, so in subsequent seasons, he recruits "Brandon replacements" -- Dante, Renaldo -- who fill the same sidekick role, but never quite fill Brandon's shoes. And Omar's sexual relationships with his sidekicks further complicate his relationships with them. And we also learn that Omar, like Batman, usually has a plan to kill them all if need be -- see Dante.
The more I think about, the more parallels I begin to see. What did I miss?