I Work Alone: Batman and Fatherhood in Modern Adaptations


The contemporary understanding of gender has changed drastically, and so has the character of Batman. While he has always been a complicated figure, he is even more so now, especially from a gender-focused viewpoint. Recent movie and TV adaptations tend to shy away from portraying Batman as a parent instead of simply a mentor, even though he has many children in the original comics. In this presentation, I intend to begin filling the gap in scholarship by examining how the relationship between Batman and his children is presented in modern adaptations in contrast to their original source material, as well as how the conversation surrounding gender in Batman narratives relates to the increasingly frequent appearance of his children.

In most adaptations, Batman tends to function as the epitome of the, “I work alone” mindset that is so common in American superheroes. Unknown to most, this is rarely the case in the comics these adaptations are based on. While it can vary from series to series, Batman has children, and many of them. As Batman is almost always portrayed as a complex hypermasculine figure of extreme no-nonsense attitudes, he is a popular topic in the conversations surrounding gender presentation in comics, including the work of Shannon Austin and Edward Avery-Natale. The omission presents an untapped potential: to understand gender in our times as hardly anyone tends to discuss the ways in which this conversation can be extended to the relationships Batman has with those he takes in and mentors, as well as what these changes tell us about fatherhood, manhood, or both, in the twenty-first century.