Batman Fandom: By Kristina Sossa

Ever since 1939 Bruce Wayne, the billionaire socialite of Gotham City, has been kicking ass and taking names, creating a fandom around the world. Not only does Batman have over hundreds of comics, he also has numerous graphic novels and a plethora of television shows and movies that keep the fandom going through the years. Recently, The Dark Knight Trilogy, directed by Christopher Nolan, has revamped the franchise making it a darker story that draws in a new crowd of fans while keeping the diehard fans around. Smartly, Christopher Nolan has stuck true to the graphic novels the movies are created around, unlike the director of Iron Man or Superman, which makes those Batman super fans happy. Last year during Halloween I saw more girls dressed as Batman than I could count, which goes along with the idea of the false stereotypes that Jenkins discusses. Granted these girls were more than likely bandwagon fans, they are certainly not the stereotypical fan who is socially estranged or living in their parent’s basement. Let’s not forget the who go all out for Comicon though, those people are awesome.

But sometimes a revamp of a franchise is not enough for the fan because the movies or readings do not go as they would like them to go, which leads to fanfiction. Jenkins points out that most fanfiction writers are actually women, who are writing to empower the female role in the franchise. The most popular Batman fanfiction, especially for women writers, is about the romance between Batman and Catwoman. I believe we see most of those stories as just love stories not only because women fans want to see the two together but also because Catwoman is already a powerful female character so there is no need to improve her. I personally love Catwoman because of how independent she is. She takes care of herself and while she is in love with Bruce Wayne, she does not require any help from Batman and sometimes even goes against him. She is neither evil nor good, it depends on the situation and how the outcome will benefit her. She can be seen as one of the working class women who Hooks talks about in Feminist Class Struggle because in real life Selena Kyle is lower class. In The Dark Knight Rises we see how tired she is about how her life has not become easier then she sees all these rich women who have it so easy, which relates to how high class women “gained greater access to economic power..” (Hooks, 109)  To some women, Catwoman is seen as a symbol of Feminism symbol in a male world of comic books.

In her early stages of her comic career she had more risqué outfits, but as Christopher Nolan reinvents her in The Dark Knight Rises we see her dressed in a more appropriate, but still feminine and feline, outfit. By the way, Catwoman’s solo movie was horrible, that’s one that needs to be redone.

CatwomanHB

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With so many fans around the world  it is hard to believe that all of them are the heterosexual people, so homosexual fans have created slash/fiction about Batman and Robin and also Batman and the Joker. Batman and Robin have homoerotic stories because of how close they are as a dynamic duo, but I thought Batman and the Joker was more interesting because even in the comics they have a connection where they are total enemies, yet they need each other. In the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, we see the Joker has lost his horrifying charisma because he believes Batman is dead. He needs Batman to truly be himself. So fans already see a connection between the two and take it a step further into a homoerotic story.

Just because Batman is such a popular franchise with millions of fans, does not mean that it does not have its anitfans. They are just extremely hard to find. I stumbled upon a funny  video by Honest Trailers, they have a few other Batman ones but I felt this was the most relevant, and they are sort of like the antifan. According to Springer, the internet has made the anitfan more prominent in society as seen in this video. I would say this is a more light hearted antifan because they do criticize every place the movie went wrong, but they do not use profanity against the franchise or its fans.

Batman is one of the world’s most famous superhero and has created a fandom like no other. With this fandom comes the poachers who feel the need to continue the story on their own terms because Batman is not intimate with Catwoman enough or they do not even want Batman and Catwoman to be together, the Joker needs him. Lucky for them they do not have raging antifans like some other icons of pop culture. There will never be a last Batman comic or movie because it will constantly be updated and hopefully they do not mess anything up or they will have  millions of angry fans.

Sources:

Screen Junkies. “Honest Trailers- The Dark Knight Rises (Feat. RedLetterMedia). Online Video Clip. Youtube. Youtube, 4. December. 2012. Web. 14 November. 2013.

Hooks, Bell. “Feminist Class Struggle. “Feminism is for everybody: passionate politics.” Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2000. 105-111.

Jenkins, Henry III. “Star trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching”. Critical Studies in Media Communication. National Communication Association, 1988. 85-107. Print.

Springer, Kimberly. “Beyond the H8R: Theorizing the  Anti-Fan.” The Phoenix Papers, Vol.1, No.2. Ed. J. Holder Bennet. Denton: FANS Association, 2013. Print. 55-77

CatwomanHB. JPEG. Batman.wikia.com. Web. 2013

071812-tdkr-anne-hathaway-lead-340. JPEG. news.instyle.com.2011. Web. 2013

Tremblay, Kaitlin. “Caught In Between Good and Bad: Catwoman’s Feminism | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources.” Comics Should Be Good Comic Book Resources RSS. Comic Book Resources, 11 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/08/11/caught-in-between-good-and-bad-catwomans-feminism/>.

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2 comments

  1. Batman is one of my favorite superheroes; it’s definitely interesting to read about his fandom and his characters in a feminist analysis. I particularly like how you touched on Catwoman as a character, though. I agree that she is a good character, especially as a feminist role model. The unfortunate thing is how oversexualized she is in a lot of different types of media. In the video game ‘Batman: Arkham City’ for instance, she has a serious cleavage issue going on and it’s too bad, since she’s a good character with an often good personality.

    It’s also interesting how non-prevalent you say Batman haters are. It’s such an agreed-upon success, I think, much like Marvel’s The Avengers that the only place I can think of haters would arise from would be within the comic world, like Marvel fans that don’t like DC properties. But really, who can hate Batman? He’s an absolutely amazing character.

  2. Your analysis was great, Kristina. I had to admit that I am only a more recent fan of comic books and of movies based on comic books because my fiance is a diehard fan (he’s more interested in Marvel comics, especially Thor). Since he’s a nerd about these movies, I’ve also learned a lot about them. For the next Batman vs. Superman movie, Ben Affleck has been casted as Batman. This is not going over well with much of the diehard comic book fans. They’re going so far as to petition against this casting.
    http://www.change.org/petitions/warner-brothers-remove-ben-affleck-as-batman-bruce-wayne-in-the-superman-batman-movie
    Here’s another anti-fan of Ben Affleck in the Batman movie.

    Like you said, the fans of comic books are very passionate about depictions of the comic books. They want the movies to be VERY close representations of the comic books.

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