Queer-Coding, Bad-Bat-Takes, And Why The Joker Isn’t That Important to Batman

Content Warning for stereotypes built from homophobia and transmisogyny that are present in the Joker’s portrayal across the years.


joker post header
The art in this header is Alex Ross’s 2015 piece “Mind if I Cut In

“In some ways, the Joker is a dark reflection of who Batman is. The loss of Bruce Wayne’s parents could’ve driven him to that edge, to where he could’ve become the Joker himself. But instead, he fought against that. Batman’s trying to bring order to the world. The Joker’s trying to bring chaos to the world.”

—–Dan Didio, Superheroes Decoded, Part One: “American Legends”

If the word “camp” is applied at all to the eighties Batman, it is a label for the Joker. This sly displacement is the cleverest method yet devised of preserving Bat-heterosexuality. The play that the texts regularly make with the concept of Batman and the Joker as mirror images now takes a new twist. The Joker is Batman’s “bad twin,” and part of that badness is, increasingly, an implied homosexuality.

—–Andy Medhurst, “Batman, Deviance, and Camp”

Despite what many comic book writers, editors, and some comic historians currently, the idea that the Joker serves as Batman’s darker “other half” is one that hinges on incredibly modern interpretations on the character that go hand in hand with ham-fisted attempts to squash them into these roles.

It’s also, not very accurate.

Didio’s comments in the first half of Superheroes Decoded are, at this point, the party line. They’re part of this attempt to reframe the Joker as necessary to the Batman’s mythos to the point where neither character can survive without the other, framing them as codependent and lost without one another. While I can see some validity in that statement where the Joker is concerned, I don’t see the point in making heroes that can’t exist without that one villain to torment them.

I especially don’t see the point in making Batman one of those heroes.Read More »

[Book Review] The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon

the-caped-crusade-glen-weldonTitle: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture
Author: Glen Weldon (Twitter)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Genre/Category: Nonfiction, Batman, Comic Book
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Order Here: AMAZON  (PAPERBACK)| AMAZON (KINDLE) 

Note: This review was originally written for a graduate level course I took last semester where we had to write a review for a scholarly book that was related to our thesis. As this book actually inspired my current thesis project (about queer readings of a queer-coded Joker and the role that homophobia plays in these readings), I couldn’t pass up on the chance to review this book.


A regular panelist on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, Glen Weldon is probably the best author that could have ever been drafted to write a book about how Batman’s creation shaped the development of nerd culture and fandom as it exists right now.

His book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture seeks to put Batman into a certain cultural context, looking at the way that the character’s history has shaped generations of fans, comic and film creators, and the fans that would grow up to become these creators. Weldon looks at how, over the course of the past seventy-seven years, Batman and nerd culture have participated in certain cycles that alternated between “camp and cheery” and “grim-dark and gritty”.

In The Caped Crusade, Weldon approaches the heterocentric canon of Batman’s various texts through a perspective that only a gay man can bring to the table. In his close queer reading of Batman’s history, canon text throughout the decades, and the fan community (or fandom) that sprawled up around him, Weldon looks at how queerphobia shaped Batman’s trajectory and inspired hundreds of thousands of fans to eschew the very idea of a queer Batman while queer fans clung to the potential opened up for them by the subtext embedded within the character.Read More »

[Guest Post] Love, pain, redemption – Bruce & Dick in Nightwing: Rebirth.

This guest post comes courtesty of one of my dearest friends in and out of fandom, Yamini, who kindly allowed me to repost her brilliant analysis of Batman and Nightwing’s relationship in Nightwing: Rebirth. (This post is also available on her tumblr, so please reblog it from there if you want to share!


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… And Fate them forged a binding chain / of living love and mortal pain” is one of my favourite lines in JRR Tolkien’s Lay of Leithian; encapsulating the poem’s driving conviction that mingled love, pain, surrender, and redemption can form the foundations of the most important relationships we can have with other human beings.

I found myself thinking about it after reading Nightwing #8 (by Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor and Carlos Mangual) because love, pain, and redemption are so much a part of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, and how they relate to each other, and I haven’t read many comics that mediate on that as beautifully as this one (and hell, this whole arc) does.Read More »

“Holy Homosexual Batman”: A Reference List

Batman and Robin Boatride
Panel from Batman #13 (1942)

For my critical literary theory course during my first semester of grad school,  I did a final paper looking at applications of queer theory as it applies to textual and subtextual queer perceptions of Batman.

You know, because I just love a challenge and the fun of blending my fannish interests with my academic ones.

At the end of it all, I came up with “Holy Homosexual Batman”: Queering the Caped Crusader via Text and Subtext. It was almost thirty pages long and super in-depth to make up for the fact that my professor wasn’t a comic person and needed introduction to the genre’s history and culture.

It is, in a word, my baby.

I have so many plans for this paper that it’s ridiculous.

I mentioned from the start that I wanted to share my list of references for y’all to look at and purchase from if you’re interested in working out your own academic thoughts on queerness as related to Batman and Robin. So if you’re interested, continue on!

(Note that all of the links to Amazon are affiliate links so consider buying some books, y’all!)


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[Spoilers] Stitch Reviews BvS

(Featuring my bestie Robert holding the camera and making commentary.)

I watched Batman vs Superman today and okay, it really sucked. In my opinion. Obviosly.

This video contains serious spoilers for BvS, mispronounced names, me saying Scott when I mean Zack (Snyder), and a metric ton of cussing. Deal with it. It’s also unedited because after almost three hours watching that crapfest, I needed to get my anger at it out as soon as possible.

You don’t have to feel the same way that I do about this movie. You don’t. But if you come out of BvS like “this was the best movie I’ve ever seen”, I’m going to wonder what rock you’ve been living under. DC’s attempt at a cinematic universe isn’t dead in the water yet. Batman vs Superman will probably make BANK despite not making any sense and having a Lex Luthor who put me in mind of a caffeinated hamster.

But that doesn’t mean it was a good movie.

Because it’s not.

At all.

(And I’ve liked some bad movies in my time — remember Jupiter Ascending and the bees and the albino angel werewolf soldier? But okay I’d rather watch that Superman movie with Richard Pryor than BvS again.)

Robins: Individual Characters, Not Bruce Clones

robin characterization post 2We’ve all seen that one Shortpacked comic where Bruce is taking inventory of the Robins and he’s pleased with the ones that look like him and lowkey annoyed with Stephanie, the lone Robin that doesn’t. She’s the only individual among the Robins and the whole point is that Bruce prefers his tiny clones over her.

It’s hilarious, but at the same time, it’s just a joke. It’s funny because like four out of five “main” Robins have black hair and blue eyes and yeah, they kind of look like Bruce, but they’re so not like him.

The reality is that if you know anything about the Robins, you’ll know that they have very different personalities and varied characterizations. They’re written as their own people and sure, their Mission lines up with Bruce’s and they share many of his ideals, but good Robin characterization hinges on them being separate from Bruce. If you’re reading a book with more than one Robin and you can’t tell Jason from Dick in either looks or temperament, you’re not reading a very good comic.

The Robins are Batman’s partners, not clones.

Not aspects of his psyche.Read More »

My Favorite Robins

Originally posted back in 2012 on my now-defunct MissSynph tumblr blog. I’m reposting this (with a few updates) since it is Robin’s anniversary year. We’ve got so much to look forward to with Robin as a legacy character this year and I think there’s no better time for a repost about why I can’t actually pick my favorite Robin out of the ones we’ve been given.

Enjoy!


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