Any male character that runs around in spandex with his "Boy Wonder" is going to be the target of a few speculative comments related to his sexuality. But a new novel has taken the speculation a step further, "outing" Batman and Robin as a gay couple.
Released in English this July in the U.K., Erotic Lives of the Superheroes has been getting attention from British tabloids because in the novel, Batman is outed as a gay man. The story shows that Batman and Robin are an aging, bickering gay couple whose sex life has gone flat, and the dullness spurs Batman to pick up young men for one-night stands.
But Batman isn't the only superhero whose sex life is explored in the novel: It also imagines the erotic obsessions of characters like Superman, Mister Fantastic and Mystique.
Set in New York, the book was just released in English, but had been previously published in Italy in 2008. The book's author, Marco Mancassola, told The Independent that "Batman has always had a very dark side. And it shouldn't be a shock that my version of this character indulges in weird forms of fetishism and extreme sex.
"Narcissism is his inner abyss," the author said. "He let his only real love story miserably fail because he is in love with the mystery of youth — that inacessible, fleeting kind of spirit that he sees in the eyes of his young male and female pick-ups."
The Independent article points out that lawyers from DC Entertainment may not like the depiction, but the author said, "There was no intention to shock or offend anybody: Erotic Lives of the Superheroes is just an attempt at exploring the complex humanity of a group of characters."
Of course, speculation about Batman's sexuality has been common among comic book fans for awhile, with even Batman writer Grant Morrison admitting "he's intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay." Actor George Clooney, who played the character in the 1997 film Batman & Robin, has said he played the character as a gay man.
The book's staging of Batman as a gay man comes on the heels of actor Andrew Garfield surprising fans in mid-July with the question, "why can't Spider-Man be gay? Why can't he be into boys?"