Comics/Graphic Novels

What Batman Doesn’t Do

Jessica Plummer

Contributing Editor

Jessica Plummer has lived her whole life in New York City, but she prefers to think of it as Metropolis. Her day job is in books, her side hustle is in books, and she writes books on the side (including a short story in Sword Stone Table from Vintage). She loves running, knitting, and thinking about superheroes, and knows an unnecessary amount of things about Donald Duck. Follow her on Twitter at @jess_plummer.

Recently, Twitter blew up over a major news event in the ever-colorful world of Batman. I’m talking, of course, about the 26th anniversary of Batman Forever, originally released on June 16, 1995.

Haha, no, of course not. I’m talking about the shocking revelations exposed by a tweet from Variety writer Joe Otterson in which he screenshot a quote from his own article on subversive superhero media — specifically, his interview with two of the creators of the Harley Quinn TV show.

According to the showrunners, DC vetoed a scene in which Batman performs oral sex on Catwoman, via the remarkable argument that “heroes don’t do that.” (Or, to be more precise, heroes that DC wants to sell action figures of don’t do that.)

Naturally, merriment ensued across the always-frenetic Twitterverse. I highly recommend taking a browse through the hashtag #HeroesDontDoThat for some choice takes.

However, I couldn’t help thinking of other notable moments when DC has handed down diktats about what Batman absolutely does not do, and so I’d like to take this stroll down a hilarious branch of memory lane with you all. Shall we?

Batman Doesn’t Kill

Okay, everyone knows this one and it isn’t particularly funny, but as long as we’re talking about what Batman doesn’t do, I felt I’d be remiss if I didn’t address it. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that I’ve seen Batman v. Superman, and Zack Snyder must have missed that particular bit of obscure Batman lore that’s, oh, I don’t know, the most important thing about the character. Estimates range as to exactly how many people Batman kills in that movie alone (maybe some of the passengers survived in all the cars he, um, hit with his Bat-tank?), but Screen Rant has it at ten confirmed. Plus the tank.

Okay. So sometimes he bends the rules.

Batman Doesn’t Sit

I’m going to be laughing about this one on my deathbed. DC’s 2011 New 52 reboot was plagued by (among other things) many conflicts between creators and editorial, but one of the most memorable involved Paul Jenkins, who grew so frustrated that he stopped working with DC (and Marvel) entirely. Bleeding Cool interviewed him about this decision, and in the comments, he gave an example of the sort of editorial notes he was dealing with:

“I would like to relay an editorial comment that I received near the end of my time writing the Dark Knight New 52 series. In one scene, I had written that Batman is sitting on a rooftop during an intense conversation, close to a person who has been injured. The editorial comment: ‘We’re not sure you are ‘getting’ the character because it’s common knowledge that Batman never sits down.'”

Naturally, the internet exploded with both hilarity and many, many, many examples across Batman’s then-seven decades of history that depicted him sitting. Because honestly. The Harley Quinn writers even took a shot at it, because of course they did.

Hmm. Weird how none of the things DC has said Batman doesn’t do seem to be true…

That doesn’t even look comfortable, Bruce.

Batman Doesn’t Masturbate

To be fair, this one doesn’t just apply to Batman, but I have a whole theme going on here, so just go with it, okay?

Though people don’t often consider Neil Gaiman’s sprawling fantasy epic Sandman to be part of the DC universe, it was of course published by DC, and the early issues are very much embedded in the DCU. Back in 1991, Gaiman was asked if DC had any problems with an issue that depicted a serial killer convention, and he replied that the only word that they objected to was “masturbate”:

“It was explained to me that people do not masturbate in the DC Universe. Actually, that explains a lot.”

I confess that I cannot off the top of my head think of a DC comic that disproves this particular editorial mandate, but I’m unconvinced. Although I do agree that it would explain a lot.

Given that at least two of these three examples of past Batman Doesn’ts have been proved false, I suspect that we don’t have to pity Catwoman for her boyfriend’s bedroom performance, and can go back to pitying her for his personality. But it does seem fitting in our uber-violent, puritanical culture that DC doesn’t think they can sell a toy of a hero who is willing to perform oral sex on a TV show that is definitely not intended for kids, but has no problem with selling a toy of a hero who kills at least ten people in one movie.

Plus the tank.

However, if the stars have fallen from your eyes at this revelation, and you can no longer love Batman the way you once did, might I interest you in Green Arrow?

Batman who?

I guess some heroes do do that.