Batman is one of the most formidable characters in comics. As Gotham's protector, the Dark Knight casts a long shadow over the crime and corruption-filled city, terrifying smaller villians and challenging the larger ones who relentlessly try to somehow beat the Bat. Every night, he suits up to take out those criminals with perhaps a bit of hope that, someday, Gotham will be truly safe. It's a big charge and an even bigger task and, as readers have seen for decades, a largely all-consuming one. It's also a situation that begs the question "is Batman happy"? According to writer Scott Snyder, the answer to that is yes.
Snyder, who has an extensive history writing the Batman character, took to Twitter on Tuesday to share that he is sometimes asked if Batman can ever be happy but that he feels like the character already is.
I get asked sometimes if batman can ever be happy, and the strange thing is that for me, he is. At least with being batman. He created a family, but more than this he’s dedicated his life to something he believes in. It's life lived in service of and sacrifice for an ideal. 1/2— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) October 1, 2019
"I get asked sometimes if Batman can ever be happy, and the strange thing is that for me, he is," Snyder writes. "At least with being Batman. He created a family, but more than this he's dedicated his life to something he believes in. It's life lived in service of and sacrifice for an ideal."
His demons come from doubts about batman's effectiveness, not doubts about his choice to be batman. Don't get me wrong, there are opposing versions I love, some are actually favorites, but that's the one I return to.— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) October 1, 2019
"His demons come from doubts about Batman's effectiveness, not doubts about his choice to be Batman," Snyder continues. "Don't get me wrong, there are opposing versions I love, some are actually favorites, but that's the one I return to."
Snyder is correct in that there are opposing versions of Batman and happiness. One could argue that Tom King's current run on the Batman title is one of them in which we see Batman and Bruce Wayne more as one character and we see that simply being Batman isn't quite enough for him -- there's no happiness in Batman after Selina Kyle leaves Bruce Wayne at the altar of sorts on their wedding day. Even the replise to Snyder's posts have some opposing views with more than a few suggesting that it's not happiness that Batman finds in his service. It's, depending on the take, contentment, purpose, or even solace.
It's the solace aspect that may be more in line with the character's general origin. If you know the Batman character then you know that this all started because young Bruce Wayne saw his parents murdered right in front of him by a criminal. There are many variations of that, but that's the core. The tragedy prompted Bruce to swear vengeance against criminals with him taking up the bat-inspired personna of Batman to do so. Vengeance isn't happiness and while one could pretty soundly argue that Batman has gone beyond vengeance to his role being one of purpose instead as he's evolved over the years, purpose isn't happiness either. It can contribute to feelings of happiness and fulfillment, but being happy is more complex than that -- just as Batman is more complex than his initial origin.
It's also worth noting that Snyder does specify that he feels Batman is happy "with being Batman". It suggests that Bruce Wayne himself may not be happy, but he is at least in a good place with the persona he's created. It still could be argued that it's more satisfaction than happiness, but emotions and motivations are as complex as the people and characters who have them. In short, your own mileage may vary.
Ultimately, that's what makes Batman such an interesting character. Batman is a complex character and that means that readers can choose for themselves in many respects what sort of Batman they believe in, the one that resonates with their own feelings and experiences. Even if Bruce Wayne and Batman aren't happy in everyone's reading, you can still be happy reading Batman no matter how the character is approached.
Now it's your turn: do you agree with Snyder that Batman is happy? Do you think that it's more a matter of satisfaction? Can Batman even be happy? Let us know your take in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @lifeinpolaroid to chat about all things Batman.