Batman doesn’t smile enough

It’s true. Read the comics, watch the multitude of movies about him, and Batman almost never smiles. He’s grim. He’s all dressed in dark clothes. He tries to instill fear in his foes.

Apparently, that just wouldn’t work if he were Batwoman. She’d be told to smile all the time.

It’s ridiculous, but that’s the latest controversy over the upcoming Captain Marvel movie — she’s a serious superhero who doesn’t smile enough.

Look at that. Maybe he’d find out where he is if he smiled more, or offered the snitch some cookies.

Now look at this Captain Marvel person. Terrifying.

Don’t get me started on that Wonder Woman movie. She seems to take the whole World War I scenario way too seriously. No wonder that movie totally bombed.


  1. Owlmirror says

    Of course, this is exactly one of those lose-lose scenarios. Because if she did smile and look cheerful, there would be complaints that she looks like a lightweight who doesn’t take what she’s doing seriously.

    Come to think of it, there is no expression she could wear on her face that wouldn’t be criticized by someone.

  2. unclefrogy says

    what is it about these guys anyway that they have so much trouble with women in these kinds of roles, a warrior woman was not unknown to the ancients, have they never heard of Athena?
    of course not they only know what they read in the comics and see in movies and watch on TV they are just semi-literate loud ignoramuses
    uncle frogy

  3. Gregory Greenwood says

    This obsession with the Captain Marvel character supposedly not smiling enough is profoundly weird to me. So, the character is of a more serious bent of mind, or is troubled with little to smile about, or is just focused and on mission in that particular scene, or some combination of the above – what of it? Why does it matter?

    Given the fact that those who go one about this sort of thing seem to mostly be men, and very much men cut from the cloth that tends to see any woman smiling at them as an automatic come on, is this about how ‘available’ they feel the character is supposed to be? That when a woman they consider attractive smiles at them they feel that they are somehow validated as (straight – the people doing the complaining seem to usually be heterosexual) men, and so feel threatened by depictions of conventionally attractive women who don’t constantly beam smiles around like high lux output searchlights? That doesn’t make a lot of sense when laid out and viewed with an eye not skewed by misogyny, but it seems like the kind of thing that might trigger some of the more volatile bro-flakes out there.

  4. Ragutis says

    I dunno, I see a hint of a smile there. A smile that says she’s not gonna take any of this misogynistic crap.

  5. magistramarla says

    We already have our tickets for next weekend. I can’t wait to see this one. I love it that we women have some powerful female leads in movies to enjoy watching. No matter what anyone says, I also love the new Dr. Who. I dressed as her at Comic con last fall. I’m 61, and this was my first try at cosplay. I really enjoyed it, and will most likely do it again.
    I think that it is wonderful to have strong female characters to emulate, and I’m glad for my grandchildren to see them!

  6. Ragutis says


    3 March 2019 at 3:50 pm

    I love it that we women have some powerful female leads in movies to enjoy watching. No matter what anyone says, I also love the new Dr. Who.

    That young women have these characters to look up to is amazing and its about damn time. But, also, as a pretty typical white guy who digs fantasy/sci-fi/superheroes, it is so goddamn refreshing. So many of the comics and books I’ve read over the years have had women as the “hero” or their equal… It’s great to finally see them more and more often on the big screen. I’m excited for Captain Marvel, but there’s also a Phoenix movie coming, Birds of Prey, and of course Star Wars Ep. IX. Maybe someone could take Heinlein’s Friday and stick a decent plot into it.

    There are just so many interesting female protagonists out there, let’s start seeing more of them and (giving girls people to look up to aside) inspiring young authors to create more or (even better) document the ones they encounter IRL.

    This came to me a while ago, might as well repeat it here… What would these idiots whine about if the Alien trilogy came out today? Guaranteed 9 of 10 have the DVDs on their shelf right now.

    Also, just to be on record, Jodie Whittaker is amazing as the Doctor. I hope we get to see Mandip Gill’s character grow more.

  7. rimmo says

    Fun fact – The batman comic that image is from tells the story from the Jokers point of view, as he sees things. He views batman aa a vicious bully who is terrorizing him. The joker sees himself as oppressed.

  8. billmcd says

    Rimmo – That image is from The Killing Joke, often considered one of the ‘essential’ Batman stories. It’s the story in which the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon through the spine, strips her, all while taking photos of her. Then he kidnaps Jim Gordon and tries to drive him mad (and it is implied that part of this process includes raping Barbara in front of her helpless father… and the later raping Jim as well).

    No, at no point in the story does he see Batman as a vicious bully who is terrorizing him. The story dives into the Joker’s possible origins, but then lets the reader know that not even the Joker is sure if that’s memory, or delusion. He’s trying to prove that he’s no worse than anyone else, that all it takes can be one extraordinarily bad day to drive someone into darkness. An inflection point of the story comes as Batman is navigating the funhouse hall of mirrors and Joker, on the PA, finishes up his ‘story’ and says that the world is one big sick joke, and asks, ‘So why aren’t you laughing?’

    He doesn’t see himself as oppressed… he sees himself as the only sane reaction to an insane world: go mad. And the story ends with the two of them having the conversation Batman had gone to Arkham in the first pages to try to have with the Joker… where Batman tells him that they need to end the cycle of escalation, or they’re going to end up killing one another. It’s very much a ‘hand in the darkness’ tale.

    Consider Bat’s words when he catches the Joker:
    “I don’t want either of us to end up killing the other, but we’re both running out of alternatives… and we both know it. Maybe it all hinges on tonight. Maybe this is our last chance to sort this bloody mess out. If you don’t take it, then we’re locked onto a suicide course. Both of us. To the death.”

    Those aren’t the words of an oppressor. Neither are Batman’s next words:

    “It doesn’t have to end like that. I don’t know what it was that bent your life out of shape, but who knows? Maybe I’ve been there, too. Maybe I can help. We could work together. I could rehabilitate you. You needn’t be out there on the edge anymore. You needn’t be alone. We don’t have to kill each other.”

    And even though the Joker refuses, it’s not defiant. It’s not the angry slap at that hand of someone who feels oppressed… it’s heavy with regret, with the recognition that when Batman is right. He thinks about it for a moment. He’s clearly lucid, and sincere in that regret.

    “No. I’m sorry, but… no. It’s too late for that, far too late.”

    So… no, that’s not some kind of ‘the Joker sees himself as oppressed’ story. It’s a story about both of them getting more desperate to try to reach the other. And ultimately, both recognizing the self-destructive nature of their relationship. Even if they can’t break out of the cycle.

    It’s kind of funny that an image from Killing Joke heads up this entry, though, considering the story ends with Batman not only smiling, but laughing with the Joker as the police arrive to take the Clown in, once again.

  9. rimmo says

    Billmcd – Ah, must have been thinking of a different story, I remember one where he’s crying that Batman won’t leave him alone.

    Killing Joke is of course an all-time classic! It really cements the idea that Joker and Batman have become emotionally dependent on each other, to find some kind of meaning to the world. Thanks.

  10. says

    It seems like it would be hard to fly under your own power and not be grinning like an idiot the whole time, especially when you’re aware that if you get momentarily distracted and hit a mountain at the speed of sound it’s the survey maps that’ll be in trouble, not you. That’s why I like that poster; it looks like she’s trying not to smile. “This is serious business. Keep the game face on. Stern. Be stern. Wheee! No. Serious.”

  11. bryanfeir says

    It’s also worth noting that the Joker’s plan failed: Gordon wasn’t broken at the end. Granted, you could make a case that his devotion to doing things ‘the right way’ was itself insane given the world he lived in, but in that case he’d been like that for a long while already.

    Heh, yeah, I can see that.