Superheroes and Marriage

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.

 batwoman-proposal

“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.

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Anthony Falcone
Anthony Falcone is a freelance writer living in Toronto and he is the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla. You should definitely follow him on Twitter.
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6 Comments

  1. excellent commentary. I agree wholeheartedly. Is this how its going to be? Sex and ultra violence in DC, but no marriage? How is this the lesson to younger generations? That marriage takes a back seat to going around in tights? Vigilante Crime fighting is not a profession, it doesn’t put food on the table, nor pay the rent, but this takes precedence over supporting and caring for a family? Defies any real logic, yet ‘comics’ are trying to be more ‘realistic’ nowadays…

  2. Well, this is the kind of thing that happens when your current audience is old and you don’t have younger fans to replace them with. These characters were never meant to age with us. They were meant to give the “illusion of change”. That way when we finally age out we are replaced with new blood and everything old is new to them.

    More people know these characters from movies and cartoons now and how many marriages do you see? Spider-Man is rebooted and the FF will be to.

    And can we please stop using cops and firefighters as examples? It’s insulting to compare vigilantes to cops and firemen. Vigilantes choose to operate on the fringe of society and have no safety net so it actually hurts your argument as to why these folks should get married.

  3. Sorry new to this, deleted my own post somehow. Let me try again.

    This is what happens when you have older fans with no new fans to replace them with. These characters were never meant to age with us. They were meant to give off the “Illusion of Change” and when we finally aged out we were replaced with younger readers and it was all new to them. Look at the movies and cartoons. They reach more people than the comics and how many marriages do you see in them? I see Mr Fantastic, but I think that the Spider-Man movie just got a reboot.

    And can we stop comparing Police and Firemen to vigilantes? It’s insulting because Vigilantes take the law into their own hands and live on the fringe of society, if anything it actually hurts your argument for marriage.

    Okay, hopefully that works and I don’t delete this thing by accident.

  4. Readers please note: I am not have a discussion with myself. There are simply many brilliantly named men in the world.

    I agree with you in that a comparison of police to vigilantes doesn’t work if we are comparing legal right to combat crime, but I think my comparison stands in this case for a couple of reasons. DC is basically saying that these people give so much to their job and their dangerous job takes so much out of them that they are incapable of having a relationship like a marriage. This, to me, seems like flawed logic because in the real world we have brave men and women who are police officers and firefighters and who are able to juggle a marriage and a dangerous job.

  5. Yeah but there is an entire support network in place to support people who are married to cops. People who are married to vigilantes have all the problems but none of the help. If you married to a cop you can talk to other people married to cops who know what your going through.

    Maggie has no one to talk to but Batwoman. Mary Jane had no one to talk to except Spider-Man. It’s a pretty lonely existence.

  6. I think that is an interesting point. In reality Mary Jane would probably have a friend in her life that she could confide in. One more trusted person knowing a secret identity would be a useful character and add depth to the store. It should be used more often (or in some cases, at all).

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