In the infamous and at the time, widely talked about, Batman #50, written by Tom King, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, finally have their wedding that they’ve been planning for several issues. Preceding this, we get a running collection of Tom King’s ever common prose, narrating two letters the two betrothed have written to each other. Our lovers each then ask a close confidant of theirs a personal question.
For Bruce, the question is “Can I be happy?” and it has since acted as a jumping off point for King’s current run in Batman following #50, with a deep exploration into Batman’s depression and whether or not it really is a defining part of his character. This article will be dealing with a few spoilers, so be warned.
The issue does not end with the two characters getting married, but with Selina leaving Bruce at the altar. This leaves Bruce going down a very dark path, with, hopefully, a light at the end.
Now, this is the path King is putting Batman down, but I am writing this article to ask a question that a lot of comic book fans probably asked in the wake of this issue. “What if they DID get married?” Now, at the time of writing this, I have no idea what direction King is going down and for all I know, this entire arc is going to end with the two getting married and living happily ever after. The nature of this is purely speculative and I have great respect for King as a writer.
With that disclaimer out of the way and some context established, I want to instead paint a different picture of the ending of Batman #50. The dawn has yet to come, Selina climbs up onto the rooftop wearing her beautiful dress, she walks over to Bruce, they say their vows and some beautiful lines about love and commitment, somehow tying it all together to Bruce’s own commitment to justice and how he’s prepared to put it second to his commitment to Selina, and she herself making vows to walk the line of justice, harkening back to her own question of character earlier in the issue: “Am I a hero?”
Now, I’d love to just follow this rabbit hole down to the land of fan fiction, but I’m still working on formatting that article. For now, I want to question the very possibility that Bruce and Selina can have a happy marriage, but not for lack of trying. Assuming that their love is true and eternal and they never stray or betray or lie, I still have doubts Batman and Catwoman can be married without disrupting every ounce of Batman’s status quo.
For historical context, I’m going to bring up that important question Selina asked, “Am I a hero?” and travel back to the 70s when DC’s rebooted Justice Society of America traveled to a parallel Earth that is now colloquially named “Earth-2”. For newcomers to DC lore, Earth-2 is how DC explained away the fact that modern-day continuity didn’t match up at all with old Golden and Silver Age comics (For one, Bruce Wayne should have been in his 60s by that point). This seemingly random group of heroes that I bring up ended up running into a now middle-aged Bruce Wayne, widowed with a twenty-something daughter. That’s right, widowed. According to some flashbacks later explored, Bruce Wayne ended up marrying Catwoman, who retired to be a housewife and socialite. Unfortunately, circumstances led to her being pulled back into crime, resulting in her death and driving Bruce into retirement out of grief. (Editor’s Note: Also coincidentally the basis of the setup for the 2002 Birds of Prey television series.)
Now, I am not insinuating Selina is destined to die a tragic death. I just feel having some historical context to the last time Bruce and Selina got married would be important. Another important point of history is that I keep referring to it is Bruce and Selina getting married, not Batman and Catwoman, which is a very big distinction from this current wedding. We don’t know exactly what Bruce’s married life was like in Earth-2, but in the original continuity that the Earth-2 takes its inspiration from, it was actually Bruce Wayne who would be romantically involved in Catwoman, not Batman. While this may seem like a pedantic nitpick, it’s very important when it comes to their marriage.
Selina doesn’t have a secret identity. “Catwoman” isn’t a persona she puts on to protect a secret civilian life she leads behind the scenes. She’s a notorious cat-burglar. If something happens to Selina Kyle, everyone and their mother knows it happened to Catwoman as well. This becomes important when you consider Bruce’s social life. If Catwoman starts dating Batman, everyone pretty much knows Selina is dating Batman. BUT, because Bruce Wayne is a “secret identity”, people don’t actually know that Bruce Wayne is also dating Selina Kyle. In Earth-2, this resulted in Selina Kyle marrying Bruce Wayne and retiring to his mansion, while Bruce continued to pretend to be Batman with no one none the wiser.
Think about the logistics of King’s Batman. The entity known as Bruce Wayne has no history related to Catwoman. Catwoman’s only public relationship is with Batman. And whether DC actually shows Bruce Wayne’s playboy lifestyle or not, they have continued to pay reference to it in comments on Bruce’s character. People still only see Bruce as a playboy bachelor who gets drunk at parties and crashes expensive sports cars. This is perfectly fine, let Bruce pretend to be this kind of person. But we also know Bruce is a devoted lover. If he’s going to be married to Selina, he can’t really be a playboy anymore. That’s also perfectly fine. I don’t see any problem with Bruce Wayne no longer being a playboy, but he’s going to have to find a valid reason for why he’s suddenly shifting his priorities.
One excuse could be he’s just getting too old to be chasing skirts and doesn’t want to live that kind of life anymore. But DC would never acknowledge Bruce is getting old. In spite of over eighty years of comics, raising four sons and two daughters, and just, being the father figure every kid dreams about (no? just me?), DC refuses to accept that their signature flagstone staple is getting old.
Bruce could just, stop playboy-ing, without an excuse, but again, that could bring unwanted attention, even if only for a short while. This marriage would leave so many breadcrumbs that it could sell the end of Bruce’s secret identity. Or DC could just ignore any questions and issues I have brought up, assume their marriage is just fine and dandy, and never bring up the elephant in the room.
There are more and more topics to think about when it comes to the marriage of Batman and Catwoman, from Selina’s journey down the path of a hero, to her relationship with Damian and possibly Cassandra. But this is as far down the rabbit hole as I feel comfortable diving down. Maybe later.