Batman Depicted As Openly Gay In New Novel

Erotic Lives of Superheroes

It's an old joke: the Caped Crusader and his Boy Wonder sidekick are actually gay lovers. Many make this connection based on their close, ill-defined, not-quite-father-and-son relationship, satirized brilliantly in SNL's The Ambiguously Gay Duo. Sometimes, even Batman and Robin's artists and writers suggest romance between the Dynamic Duo and sexual innuendo, as you can see from this oft-memed photo. And let's not talk about Joel Schumacher's Batman and Robin, not because it features latent homoeroticism, but because it's just plain terrible.

Yes, people really love to suggest those two are involved. Count Marco Mancassola in that not-so-elite group—according to The Independent's Adam Sherwin, the Italian author's new novel Erotic Lives of Superheroes depicts Batman and Robin "as a bickering gay couple whose sex life has gone flat." But that's not all:

Homosexuality is just one aspect of Batman’s secret erotic life, according to Mancassola. He told The Independent: 'Batman has always had a very dark side. And it shouldn’t be a shock that my version of this character indulges in weird forms of fetishism and extreme sex.

'Narcissism is his inner abyss. He let his only real love story miserably fail because he is in love with the mystery of youth – that inaccessible, fleeting kind of spirit that he sees in the eyes of his young male and female pick-ups.'

Batman isn't the only character whose sexuality Mancassola explores. "[T]he novel imagines the erotic obsessions of Superman, Mister Fantastic and Mystique," writes Sherwin, "as their heroic abilities are dulled by the ageing process."

Erotic Lives was a big hit in Italy, and it's now available in the U.K., but whether or not the book will ever see the light of day here in the States—where Batman, Superman and the rest are considered icons—is another matter. I mean, DC Comics officially depicting Bruce Wayne as a homosexual is about as likely a scenario as Doctor Who regenerating into a woman. Though I have to say, I love Mancassola's response to the possibility (or, inevitability) comic book fans will consider his work unforgivable:

The author admits that there are some hardcore comics fans who 'can’t forgive me for what I’ve done to their beloved characters. This is true especially when it comes to Batman, who comes across as the least nice character of the book – egocentric, ridiculously vain, in some way ‘perverse’. But, actually, I depicted him that way because I love him. He is human. He embodies the tragedy into which contemporary society has transformed the fact of getting older.'

Overall, I like this concept. We live in a world where violence in comics is all too prevalent, yet sex and sexuality are only vaguely hinted at (Kelly Thompson wrote an excellent column on this very topic). Perhaps DC, Marvel and all the publishers out there will read this book and realize there are other human aspects about these characters they could explore.

So, who's going to read this book?

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Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs August 6, 2013 - 12:01pm

How is using the characters legal?

bachunderground's picture
bachunderground from DC is reading tea leaves August 6, 2013 - 12:03pm

I'd read it out of sheer curiousity. I don't have a problem with gay superheroes, nor am I stubbornly beholden to a single interpretation of a character. Fan theories are fun, even extensive/controversial ones.

Aaron Poehler's picture
Aaron Poehler August 6, 2013 - 12:04pm

I'm sure Marvel and DC will be quick to file suit based on their insistence that they own the joint trademark for 'superheroes', despite the word having long since passed into common usage.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs August 6, 2013 - 2:02pm

They won't sue based on the use of "superheroes." What matters is the author's use of DC's characters.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 6, 2013 - 5:24pm

It'd be worse if it was a Marvel character. Stan Lee had a mild panic the other day when someone told him the new spiderman was bisexual. 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig August 6, 2013 - 11:52pm

I was thinking what Bradley said...

I don't see this as particularly exciting or interesting, really. If DC comics started featuring sex more prominently in their comics and this sort of stuff came out, THAT would be interesting. This seems like the same kind of stuff you can find all over the internet if you really want to read about comic book characters gettin' it on.

Lucho Cruz's picture
Lucho Cruz August 7, 2013 - 12:18am

If you're interested in the under-explored subject of sex and costumed heroes--in particular where a character like Batman is concerned--then you ought to definitely consider checking out Joe Casey's recent comic book series, Sex (Image Comics). Aptly titled, the series focuses on a 35-year old Bruce Wayne/Batman-type who hangs up his tights and vows to get a life at the death-bed of his caretaker and trusted confidant, a female version of Alfred, who has recently passed away when the series opens. Though hetero, Casey's grief-stricken, sexually repressed Batman-type is ultimately more original than Mancassola's closeted homosexual cliche. Definitely worth checking out.   

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated August 7, 2013 - 6:01am

Legally he might get buy with calling this a parody, but I'm no expert.

Just sounds like more junk reimagining. He can't think of a way to have his own characters be interesting, so he wants too jump on the shock people into reading his work band wagon with doing stuff that doesn't remotely fit the character. Very cowardly writing. If he did something with a hint of bravery, like write about his own characters who are whatever, that might be interesting.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs August 7, 2013 - 9:18am

There's also The Authority as far as having a gay couple based on Superman and Batman. Also, The Boys.

Book wouldn't get the author or publisher in hot water if it never refers to the characters by name (or uses different names).