Episode 39: Of Cowls and Fathers:Determining Inheritance and Destiny

Let’s try an experiment when it comes to writing. Rather than my usual background chatter of Sportscenter and whatever video game music interests me, I have decided to try something a little bit more fancy. I got this off a weird group in Facebook which normally just gives me jokes that make me qustion my sense of humor. This however got my attention because it wasn’t a giant troll and actually delivers on its promise to make you feel fancy. Instructions are simple: Just open the the following three tabs and let the sounds carry you elsewhere.  

1. http://www.freesound.org/people/reinsamba/sounds/18766/
2. http://endlessvideo.com/watch?v=HMnrl0tmd3k
3. http://www.rainymood.com/

Now back to actual writing. As I have mentioned before, I am working on this cool paper about Batman that may make it into an actual book. Going through old emails I noticed that the twenty or so pages of material I promised is due next Monday. I don’t feel too stressed out because this just has to be a damn good manuscript that has to go through an editor before I end up making further changes. Still, my name is going on this thing and academics love and strive to be published in order to stand a chance in the job market to come. I’m not even sure I may even see a penny from this but the whole having your name tied to the legendary caped crusader in a more official standing than the average blog post is certainly worth it.

My most noteworthy concern however is the fact that I don’t actually own that many comic books. I only have Batman: Year One which I have already written an earlier blog post about it. The majority of my material stems from the cartoons and movies about Batman. Still, I have been doing a lot of research on the subject: and by that I mean read a lot of Wikipedia articles and documentaries that talk about Batman. I must admit that my topic is an odd and ambitious one, to talk about issues of Paternity in Batman (actually mistyped it as Baternity, which sounds intriguing gotta remember that one for later) even with limiting myself to a handful of characters. My primary instinct of saying that this person has daddy issues due to being orphaned or whaever needs some actual critical background and examples. To help me get my head around this, here is a list of characters and some interesting moments that deal with fatherhood.

Bruce Wayne: aka original Batman:

His parents are Martha and Thomas Wayne, both were shot and killed by Joe Chill in most continuities. Bruce was a kid between the ages of six and nine when this happened. As heir to the Wayne estate, he is cast under the shadow of his father and many times calls out to him even in adulthood to ask whether what he is doing is right. There’s one particular episode of Justice League Unlimited titled “For the Man Who Has Everything” where a crazy plant traps you in a perfect dreamworld as it slowly eats you takes control over Superman, leading to one of the saddest moments ever, and attaches itself for a moment to Batman. He dreams of the night his parents were murdered but imagines that his father actually grabs the gun and beats the crap out of the mugger as a young Bruce looks on happy and proud. This shows that subconsciously he believes that had his father been stronger the trauma could have been avoided and that the need for Batman is a source of that strength to prevent such painful moments from happening again.

As Bruce grew up and trained abroad, he came to know various father figures. Various martial arts masters are mentioned and whenever one of them dies, Bruce takes a moment to mourn them. Rhas al Ghul gets thrown at there as well but I think that has more to do with the Batman Begins movie more than anything else. Upon his return home, Bruce’s butler Alfred Pennyworth acts as surrogate father to him and continues to do so throughout the years. In a few comics he will actually refer to him as dad. Another interesting father figure is that of Comissioner Gordon, though its more often portrayed as him being respectful to what may be the only good cop in all of Gotham.

Bruce in turn becomes a father figure to all of the Robins, the Batgirls, and a handful of other characters in the DC Universe. Dick Grayson became his ward/ was adopted and trained with him for years. Jason Todd, well he’s a weird case let’s keep going. Tim Drake still has something of a family but Bruce is more a father to him than anyone else. Barabara Gordon has this interesting conflict of having her father comissioner Gordon at odds with her father figure Batman while she struggles to be Batgirl and then Oracle. Bruce actually has a bilogical son, Damian which often fights with his “brothers” Dick and Tim. Due to crazy nanotech expirements by CADMUS, Bruce is also the father of Terry McGinnis, the guy from Batman Beyond.

Alfred Pennyworth:

He serves as a father to Bruce once he was orphaned. In the webcomic Batman and Sons, he actually gets a Father’s Day card. What makes Alfred interesting is that he also helps out all of the Robins. THis leads many to think that since Bruce takes the role of a father to these young sidekicks, then Alfred becomes a maternal figure for them. It makes sense when you consider that he does all the housework and does a lot of consoloing when training, missions, or whatever take their toll on the characters.

James Gordon: Already talked about him during my Year One post but there a few more things worth discussing. The most recent movies focus on his relationship to his son, James Jr. The cartoons have him as the father to Barabara Gordon. In the comics, this gets pretty messy,You see, James is older than Barbara and in some continuities they have her as his second child. Post Crisis, they made so that Barabara is actually his niece, whose parents where killed in a car accident and she was named after her Aunt Barbara, i.e., Gordon’s wife. Then it turns out that him and his wife get divorced, she takes James Jr. somewhere else and he keeps custody of Barbara, whom he later adopts. FYI: James Jr. later comes back as psychopath and almost kills his dad (and this is why I love serials).

Dick Grayson: Parents were trapeze artists and were killed by mobster Tony Zucco. Depending on the writer, he can be nine years old, sixteen, anywhere in between or weirdly a young adult thanks to Batman Forever. In any case, it’s implied that he was older than when Bruce’s parents were killed. Also, since they were acrobats that performed without nets, the idea of them dieing was not as farfetched as the tragedy that struck the Wayne family. In some versions he trains for years under Batman before becoming Robin, in others, he dons the cape and mask in a matter of days after being taken in by Bruce. Still, the idea is that he was older whent he started being a crimefighter than Jason, Tim, and especially Damian. The idea of becoming Batman is eventually too much for him and he strikes out on his own to become Nightwing. Later on he would take the cowl and temporarily become Batman but he serves as an older brother and father figure to all the folowing Robins; though, in Jason’s case that would end up with a pretty deadly rivalry.

The Joker:

I only mention him because in the Heath Ledger personification of him he would begin his “do you know how I got these scars speech” with the figure of his father. Sure he’s insane and is the quintessential example of a multiple choice past, the fact that he places an abusive father as responsible for his appearance is certainly interesting.

Thomas Wayne:

Father of Bruce Wayne. Usually described as a medical doctor or surgeon. Some versions have him being a really nice and loving dad. In others he is more focused on his patients and his work than his family (sound familiar). Still he is a man that stands for a greater good for society as a whole. One comic books has him driving around when he encounters a weird light. When he investigates, it turns out it’s a probe sent by Jor-El (Superman’s actual dad) as he is investigating planets and choosing which might be best for his son. Thomas actaully talks to Jor-El and his asked about this, to which he replies almost word for word what Marlon Brando will say at the beginning of the Superman movie as to how humans are flawed but that they have potential for great things. Thomas would then reverse engineer the probe and use to give Wayne Enterprises a great Technology department.

Perhaps the coolest thing I found about Thomas Wayne is that in some versions he would dress up as a bat and punch criminals in the night. This is taken to the extreme during the Flashpoint series. The basic plot is that Flash runs so fast in order to try and stop his daughter from being killed that he accidentally makes a parallel world where Bruce was the one who died that night. Thomas is grief stricken and uses that anger to become Batman, although he is a lot more violent and wiling to kill. It is later revealed that Martha Wayne’s sadness drove her to madness and that she is The Joker of that world. Flash would actually talk to both of them about the real world and How Bruce is doing. Martha is actually horrified that he has become Batman and all the suffering that he has to endure and commits suicide. Thomas is sad but writes a letter to his son, and helps Flash restore the time flow, thus erasing his own existence. Bruce would actually get that letter and is inspired to become a better father and focus more on his family than on his crusade for justice.

One thought on “Episode 39: Of Cowls and Fathers:Determining Inheritance and Destiny

  1. […] resounds in me. A long time ago I wrote about the concept of paternity in Batman (which you can read here) but I feel that many of essays points were once placed in the realm of fiction. So let’s […]

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