“They put on a cape and cowl for a reason. They’re committed to defending others — at the sacrifice of all their own personal instincts. That’s something we reinforce. If you look at every one of the characters in the Batman family, their personal lives kind of suck…
Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, and Kathy Kane — it’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s also just as important that they put it aside as they know what they are accomplishing as the hero takes precedence over everything else. That is our mandate, that is our edict, that is our stand with our characters.” – Dan Didio
The above is a quotation from DC Comic Co-Publisher Dan Didio, during a panel at the Baltimore Comic Con, where he addresses the nature of why Batwoman can’t get married and by extension why it has nothing to do with homophobia. The basic premise is, of course, that these heroes can’t be married, gay or straight, because their jobs prevent them from having happy personal lives. While Dan is specifically talking about the Bat-Family, we can reasonably infer that this editorial mandate applies to other heroes. Indeed, several longstanding marriages no longer exist in the New 52, but is that editorial direction or could that be the result of implementing a reboot?
The reasoning of “she isn’t getting married because no one is getting married because their personal lives must suck” ends up being illogical and asinine when one spends any time thinking about it. Firstly, and I believe that many out there would attest to this, just because you are married doesn’t mean your personal life is all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. In fact, one might even say that having characters going through marital troubles would make their personal lives even more difficult.
The overarching concept of a hero giving his or her life to the cause is not a new one (that plot line was the driving force behind Spider-Man for years) but just because someone has a time-consuming, dangerous job doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t, or wouldn’t get married. Every single day police officers, firefighters, and members of the armed forces get married, and they do so knowing that their personal lives will be hard, but they love their partner and they love their calling.
This type of grounding in reality is what Marvel Comics did so well and how it set itself apart from DC at the outset. Having a flying man is fantastical. Having a flying man worried about his kids is relatable. It makes the reader care more about the characters because there is a connection and it allows the reader a greater suspension of disbelief because we can see the reality in the situation.
Editorial direction is fine; it is supposed to prevent Fabio Superman in one comic and Electric Superman guest-starring in a different comic, but when editorial direction seems illogical we need to ask why. Superheroes can’t get married because they can’t be happy just doesn’t work and DC has painted themselves into a corner with this reasoning.
What if a hero does get married in the New 52? And what if that hero isn’t Batwoman? Dan Didio has gone on record saying heroes can’t be married because they can’t be happy. So suddenly it will seem like the decision was anti-gay marriage all along; it was just disguised as an idiotic edict. Personally, I don’t think that the decision has anything to do with being anti-gay marriage. I believe Dan 100% when he says that marriage is off the table because heroes can’t be happy. But to implement such an illogical editorial choice that further alienates readers and caused an award-winning creative team to walk off a book? That doesn’t seem like a move which is brave or bold.