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Batman and Catwoman's Wedding Has Always Been About The Journey, Not the Destination

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Analyzing the complicated courtship of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.

Warning: this article contains full spoilers for Batman #50!

Tear down the garlands and put away the confetti, Batman #50 has made it official: there won't be a Batman and Catwoman wedding after all. Emotions are, justifiably, running high but the truth is? The lack of actual matrimony taking place in the extra-sized wedding special isn't as dire or as damning as it may seem. In fact, the actual wedding part of the wedding special was the least important part of the story. The critical component of "Batrimony" has always been the journey rather than the destination.

Of course, that's not to say the destination hasn't been the loudest. When Bruce and Selina were first engaged, there were a few big questions raised over and over again. Will it last? How will it fail? What will happen to undo it? As comic readers, that's how we're typically primed to think, not in "ifs" but in "whens." Comics have a complicated relationship with permanence and major changes so it was really only natural for the loudest and most pointed conversation around a wedding for Batman -- a first in the character's modern history -- being about whether or not it could last.

Unfortunately, the focus on what would ultimately become of the end result only served to clutter the bigger picture: the thorough interrogation of what, exactly, makes Batman tick. For the last year, the same question has been posed again and again in various forms: can Batman be happy and still be Batman? The actual marriage has only ever been one piece of the puzzle.

It hasn't always been obvious, to be sure. It took even Selina herself 20-some issues to earnestly confront the idea that Batman's happiness may or may not be detrimental to his heroism. In issue #50, she uses that epiphany -- at least, in a letter she's writing to Bruce -- as justification to leave him at the altar. She doesn't want to be the person who "kills" Batman by taking away the engine of trauma that drives him. But her actions tell a different story. En route to the ceremony with her friend (frenemy?) and witness Holly Robinson, we see Selina start to truly process what heroism even is to begin with. Does being the person who "saves" Batman make her a hero? Does she even want to be a hero? Is it, or has it ever been, her responsibility to rescue Batman from himself? What's the endgame for this marriage anyway?

Meanwhile Bruce has an equal but wholly opposite realization. Unlike Selina, it's not hard to venture that he's always been aware in one way or another that his isolation is a major part of his strength -- he's been doing this for a long time -- but in Bruce's letter we see him start to grapple with the fact that his happiness isn't actually going to come from any wedding ceremony. For the first time since the proposal, Bruce is teetering on the edge of an epiphany: if he wants to be the man who "will always try to love Selina better," as he writes in his letter, he's going to have to save himself. He's going to have to the one who "moves beyond the trap" and becomes "undefined." That work is on his shoulders and no one else's, least of all Selina's.

Simultaneously, it's important to note there’s a lot of narration that may or may not be completely reliable. Bruce and Selina's letters are part revelation and part performance -- a thread that's been worked into their relationship from the dawn of the Rebirth era. It's difficult, as always, to tell exactly where the masks begin and end for either of them, the same way it's difficult to tell what is actually true in their individual recounting of their history together. There's a lot to unpack. It's murky and muddled and tricky to sort -- but at the end of the day, it's the exercise of trying to sort it that has made the past year of Batman comics worth it. There are questions being posed that don't have answers -- that wouldn't have had answers, even if rings had been exchanged. The wedding itself has never been the lynchpin of Selina and Bruce's love story. Batman writer Tom King tweeted that "Batman 50 is not the end. This is a 100 issue story documenting and celebrating the love of Batman and Catwoman," which means that the real work is still to come.

Exit Theatre Mode

Be sure to check out IGN's review of Batman #50, as well as the new Catwoman #1 that spins out of the events of that issue. And we've also got a breakdown of everything that happened in Batman #50, including an explanation of that crazy final page.