What Culture wrote up a list of 10 ways Batman is ruining the DCU. By far the most telling I could find here were the following:
Batman is a versatile character that can hold multiple titles at once. Batman’s popularity means that the various Batman comics will sell. It’s the same for members of the Bat-family and their rouges gallery. However, this has led to an oversaturation of Batman and Bat-related comics – even to the extent that Batman will feature in a non-related comic to help boost its sales.
Using February 2020 as an example, DC published 85 new or reprints of classic comics over four weeks, and Batman appeared in 16 of them. That’s 18.8% of the published comics that month, which could be worse. In the same month members of the Bat-family appeared in ten comics with Batman villains also appearing in ten comics. That means Batman related characters featured in 36 (42.4%) of the comics published that month – almost half of DC’s entire output.
With Batman and other related characters appearing in nearly half of DC comics, it’s no wonder some fans are overwhelmed. The glut of Batman related titles is an intimidating prospect, even for seasoned readers.
In the past, Wolverine could also be considered an overexposed character up to a point in the MCU, what with his turning up in Bendis’ Avengers, to name a standout example. Among the Bat-villains alone, the Joker was too. There’s even the Bat’s presence in the Elseworlds series to consider:
Elseworlds comics can be some of the most critically acclaimed comics within the DC line up, stories like Kingdom Come and A New Frontier. They provide writers and artists with an opportunity to explore different aspects of a character or paint them in a light that readers would never see in the main continuity. With Batman’s popularity, he has been afforded many different Elseworlds titles to the extent that his stories have filled three omnibuses with the possibility for more to come.
[…] The issue, much like with DC’s publication line, is that Batman encompasses the majority of Elseworlds stories and leaves little room for other characters, outside of the trinity, to have an opportunity for an Elseworlds book. From DC’s perspective, it makes sense to publish mainly Batman Elseworlds as they have a higher chance to turn a profit. However, without the opportunity, other characters will not be able to shine without the chance at their own Elseworlds comic.
With comics like Nightwing: The New Order and Tales from the Dark Multiverse, there may be more opportunity for other characters to have Elseworlds comics. However, since then Batman has continued to dominate Elseworlds comics – with little signs of change.
Narrowing almost everything down to alternate takes on the same character leaves little room for creativity. Oh, and what about the Dark Multiverse?
As mentioned before the DC Multiverse is filled with various Batmen of all shapes and sizes, and if that wasn’t enough, there is an entire Dark Multiverse spawned from a Batman-inspired Dark God – not to mention the twisted Justice League inspired Batmen that attempted to colonize the Prime-Earth. Never before had the shadow of Batman been felt on such a staggering level.
Batman also overshadows a lot of other DC casts:
With Batman’s overwhelming popularity, he casts a long shadow over the DC universe. With the mountain of Batman titles and comic events surrounding the Caped Crusader, it can be difficult for other characters to take centre stage.
Outside of the core Justice League members and their extended cast, most DC heroes are relegated to mini-series or have their ongoing series cut short while characters like Batman run for 50+ issues despite the quality. Team books are the easiest way for readers to see lower-tier characters – such as in Batman and the Outsiders – as pairing Batman with lower-tier characters is more profitable than giving them a solo series.
Last, there’s the Bat’s domination of related media:
Warner Bros. holds Batman above all other characters as they see him as the most profitable character. No one can argue that Batman does not have a strong influence over outside media, as the DCEU demonstrated when he took the reins away from Superman – even killing him off to cement Batman as the centre of the DC movies.
Warner Bros. seems to believe Batman is the only character that audiences want to see, even though fans cry out for more heroes to receive their own films.
Batman has always been a hot commodity, even during the height of DC animation. There was an embargo on Batman related characters, which restricted the creators of the Justice League animated series from using members of the Batfamily and Batvillains. In the end, the restrictions made the series far more creative as they highlighted little known characters like the Question and Black Canary, making for some of the best episodes of the series.
The Bat embargo has even influenced TheCW’s Arrow, as they tonally mimicked the Dark Knight trilogy. Arrow was able to use Batvillains like Deadshot and Ra’s Al Ghul before they quickly had to remove them the moment Warner Bros. wanted to use them in a movie.
Batman’s influence over outside media can be both a source of creativity and frustration, as creators can over-rely on Batman as other characters fall into the background. Those background characters deserve the opportunity to take the next step, but the Dark Knight – for now at least – continues to stand in their way.
This is a definite concern. One could argue the overexposure of Batman and lack of faith in other characters, Superman included, risks sidelining much of the prospects at crafting a good story with sci-fi elements. After all, as was developed over many years, Batman usually skirts the sidelines of sci-fi as opposed to most other DCU heroes and series, particularly since the Bronze Age began, and in the past, when involved in a story with more sci-fi elements involved, was more likely to be cast in Justice League, or a team up from the Brave and the Bold with other DC cast members, and later the Outsiders. If this is how DC will continue making use of their properties, and they tool almost everything else in their shared universe to be as dark as Batman’s world, it will not bode well in the end, and only explains why they’re deteriorating in the long run.
I’m as much a Bat-fan as the next person, but my fandom doesn’t come at the expense of other DCU cast members and series like Superman, nor do I approve of darkening the storytelling angle of such series out of a quixotic delusion that the presumed audience for Batman will actually start to read those books as well. To make everything the same as Batman is to destroy variety, advocate political correctness, and invalidate any and every audience that recognizes why brightness and optimism do have value.
Originally published here.