Mixed Matrimonial Machinations in 'Batman #50'

A not-so-memorable marriage of Batman and Catwoman with memorable implications.

Batman #50
Tom King

DC Comics

4 Jul 2018


Superheroes are like young '80s rock stars at the height of their fame in that it's hard to imagine them settling down. Their lives are so chaotic, hectic, and prone to death/resurrection that just having an opportunity to get married is something few achieve. Even for those who make it that far, there are a great many forces working against superhero couples. Some are there before they even get to the honeymoon. Others pay a high price for even trying. Just ask Peter Parker.

If there's one superhero who is capable of beating those odds, though, it's Batman. He has no powers, a long list of personal issues, and a colorful history with multiple women. At the same time, though, doing the impossible without the aid of Kryptonian biology is one of his most defining traits. It doesn't matter if marriage is too challenging for most superheroes. He's Batman.

That's not to say the challenges he faces aren't daunting. Batman is no Wolverine, but he's no Superman, either. Batman is one of those characters who does plenty to attract women, but just as much to push them away. It's part of his mystique as the Dark Knight and most women won't tolerate that. Catwoman, however, is not most women. In the same way he's in a unique position to defy the traditions of superhero matrimony, Catwoman is uniquely equipped to both handle those rigors and thrive.

Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle may not share the same star-crossed love story that Superman and Lois Lane enjoy, but that only makes the prospect of their wedding in DC Comic's Batman #50 more meaningful. After the heartbreak in another recent wedding event in X-men Gold #30, a successful culmination feels necessary, if only to avoid starting a less-than-romantic trend in superhero weddings.

In many respects, Batman and Catwoman have much more going for them than Colossus and Kitty Pryde. These characters have a history that spans decades. At times, they go their separate ways, which helps them develop as individuals. Now, after all the excuses and complications, they have an opportunity to come together in a way that both solidifies their relationship and grant them generous tax benefits.

Once again, however, the promise of a heartfelt, tearful wedding full of joyous catharsis does not occur. Despite Batman being up for that challenge, finally taking that step into uncharted territories that so many superheroes and rock stars fear, the wedding doesn't go through. However, it's not Batman who calls it off. Catwoman is the one who ends it.

Like Kitty Pryde in X-men Gold #30, she waited until the last possible second to change her mind. Unlike Kitty Pryde, though, the story surrounding isn't heartbreaking. It even dares to leave a sliver of hope that there are other forces at work besides someone just changing their mind. What X-men Gold #30 failed to deliver, Batman #50 manages to salvage to some extent. It still comes off as a dramatic letdown, but Tom King puts some substance behind it.

The bulk of the story doesn't focus on the ceremony itself or the less-than-memorable way it plays out. Instead, King sets the stage by exploring the long road Batman and Catwoman take to get to this moment, utilizing imagery from multiple eras of Batman from a cast of artists that includes Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque, and many others. Within these memorable moments are insights that put Batman's feelings for Catwoman into a context that gives weight to the outcome of the wedding.

Batman is the world's greatest detective and incredibly skilled at reading people, specifically criminals. Catwoman is a criminal by most measures, but when he reads her, he doesn't see the same traits he sees in the likes of the Penguin, the Joker, or the Riddler. The same goes for Catwoman in that when she sees Batman, she doesn't react the same way most criminals do. She's someone Batman can't use his detective skills to define and he's someone who transforms the pain of childhood trauma into acts of heroism that put put him on the tip tier of the Justice League.

These insights establish how these two feel about each other. Nothing is assumed or overlooked. As a result, Catwoman's decision to leave Batman at the altar doesn't feel forced. There's no melodrama for the sake of melodrama. She gives a reason rather than an excuse, one that builds directly on the events of her clash with the Joker in Batman #49.

To some extent, Catwoman makes a valid point for keeping Batman single. Granted, it's a point the Joker practically shoves in her face beforehand, but it fits with how she feels about him and how she sees him. To her, a happily married Batman means he doesn't have that same pain that he can channel into being the Dark Knight. Marrying him means denying Gotham the hero it needs to survive.

It still comes off as callous because she waits until they're in their dressed in wedding attire to make her decision, but added context of her and Batman's reflections helps keep the narrative from collapsing. The build-up that begins with Batman's proposal in Batman #24 is not meaningless. That story is still intact, but the way things play out in Batman #50 really complicate things.

There are details within those complications, though, that leave the door open for some happiness, at least to the extent that's possible with Batman. There's a potential for tragedy but even though tragedy is one of Batman's defining traits, it can also be redundant. Rather than culminate the story of Batman and Catwoman's romance, Batman #50 promises to drag it out even more. For two characters whose love affair spans eight decades, that comes off as rather bland.

Even with the outcome, though, the fact that Batman and Catwoman make it this far feels like an accomplishment. Batman #50 is presented as a triumph that was decades in the making, but ends up being a prelude to even more strife. It offers powerful revelations for two iconic characters and reaffirms why they keep finding each other.

It doesn't undercut or subvert the merit of the superhero marriage, but it reveals how difficult such a union is. Colossus and Kitty Pryde find that out in the hardest, most shallow way possible in X-men Gold #30. Batman and Catwoman find that out in a way that's still part of a larger story in Batman #50. In that sense, there may still be hope for superhero weddings.

Related Articles Around the Web






Raashan Ahmad Talks With PopMatters About His Place in 'The Sun'

On his latest work,The Sun, rapper Raashan Ahmad brings his irrepressible charisma to this set of Afrobeat-influenced hip-hop.


Between the Buried and Me's Baby Pictures Star in 'The Silent Circus'

The Silent Circus shows Between the Buried and Me developing towards the progressive metal titans they would eventually become.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.


In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?


The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.


John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.


Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.


Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.


Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.


Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.


Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.


Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.