Batman and the Batfamily: A Closer Look at the Ethics of the Caped Crusader


Kirstin Hayes, Perspectives Editor '22

The first time I remember seeing Batman and being intrigued was around 2014. I had been watching Justice League with my little cousin, Kaden, when he asked me if we could watch Batman: The Animated Series. Until then I hadn’t been paying much attention to the current show, but I decided that if this sweet child wanted to spend time with me, the least I could do was pay attention to his favorite show. What I didn’t know was that after watching this show, I would find myself fascinated by what I came to know as the “Batfamily” for the next 7-8 years.

Batman and Robin have much more complicated family lives than anyone who doesn’t know much about them would assume. Batman, Bruce Wayne, has actually had around four main Robins, all being his (adoptive) sons. Sequentially the Robins are Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Timothy Drake, and Damian Wayne. Each Robin has a unique background or origin story that then affects how they take on and handle the mantle of Robin. The concept of Batman and Robin is bizarre, and I think that is what has led me to be drawn to them for so many years.

The use of children as sidekicks is something that is almost entirely exclusive to DC Comics. In Marvel children are rarely, if ever, superheroes. In the case that they are, Spiderman for example, they are usually in someway biologically different or super-powered. Stan Lee, one of the most famous Marvel creators, famously disliked the idea of a teen or kid sidekick to these big heroes, so he tended to stray away from them. And it seems for good reason – the most common trope amongst DC’s young heroes is their eventual detest of their mentor or parental figure: Dick Grayson leaving Gotham to become Nightwing in Bludhaven or Roy Harper abandoning his childhood mantle of Speedy to become Arsenal after falling out with Oliver Queen.

A strenuous relationship between a hero and their sidekick is almost inevitable, plus there is a high mortality rate amongst young DC heroes. All of Batman’s Robins have died in one comic run or multiple. The most famous is Jason Todd’s death at the hands of the Joker, and his resurrection as the murderous Red Hood.

The way that children idolize Batman has been an object of my fascination for years. Personally, it doesn’t make sense to me that more people aren’t questioning the strangeness of Batman’s situation. Bruce Wayne dedicates several decades of his life swinging around Gotham dressed as a bat, all to “fight crime.” Over the years he indoctrinates several others with his stance on crime, comprising a team of mostly children. Not to mention the obvious class-centered issues that emerge from Bruce’s actions. He’s a billionaire who beats up everyone who he deems misaligned with his morals, but he doesn’t kill them. He could break every bone in their bodies, paralyzing them for life, but he never kills them. Because killing them would be considered, according to his standards, crossing the line.

When closely observing the dynamic duo, the issues of the situation became clearer to me. For years I was fascinated by the creators, trying to decipher why Bruce Wayne adopts children and makes them fight mentally ill individuals in need of psychiatric care on school nights. After all of these years, I still haven’t been able to find a reason, but I have learned far more about Bruce Wayne than the average person would be willing to.

It seems that Batman is something that could only exist in a fantasy world, but how unbelievable is it really? Boiled down to its basics, Batman is simply a man with a god complex and an incredible amount of disposable income. Not to say that I don’t enjoy reading the comics and watching the movies, but how shocked would anyone be if Elon Musk one day decided to don a mask and start a crusade against crime? And that is what both scares and intrigues me about Batman. ­­­­­



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