Batman is better because he doesn’t need any superpowers.    
No, Superman wins because Batman can
’t fly.     
But Batman is just cooler.

Does anyone else remember those childhood debates? I wasn’t a big comic book reader so my introduction to the world of superheroes was through television—namely, the 1990s hit series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. To me, Superman was unbeatably better than Batman.

Years on, and many comics and Hollywood productions later, a new battle is being waged in the superhero universe. It is the war over which of these comic book protagonists can be the wokest. And in the woke wars, Superman is winning by a mile.

Earlier this month, DC Comics revealed that the Man of Steel is in fact bisexual. The Guardian reports that in an upcoming comic, Superman’s alter ego Jonathan Kent will embark on a same-sex relationship with a friend called Jay. Jay is a reporter who provides care and support to Kent after he “mentally and physically burns out from trying to save everyone that he can”.

This comes after a host of other alterations to the mysterious man from the planet Krypton. The Guardian also reports that “recent issues have seen him protesting against the deportation of refugees, stopping a high school shooting and trying to put out wildfires that were the cause of the climate crisis”.

But the wokeness doesn’t end there. Superman is ditching nationalism in favour of borderless utopianism. According to Variety, his mission statement will no longer be “Truth, Justice and the American Way”, but rather “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow”.

On the heels of these changes, one of the artists who works on Superman at DC Comics has quit, saying the company is ruining its characters. Colourist Gabe Eltaeb announced his exit on a YouTube livestream last week. “I’m finishing out my contract with DC. I’m tired of this s***,” he lamented. “I’m tired of them ruining these characters; they don’t have a right to do this.”

Actor Dean Cain, who played Superman in Lois and Clark, has also expressed his disapproval at the direction DC Comics is taking the character. He has labelled it “bandwagoning“ given how many other comic strip heroes have “come out” as LGBT in recent times.

“Robin, of Batman and Robin, just came out as bi or gay recently and honestly who’s really shocked about that one?” Cain quipped. “I had some thoughts about that a long time ago.”

But Superman’s newfound sexuality, says Cain, is not brave or groundbreaking at all. “Brave would be having him fighting for the rights of gay people in Iran where they’ll throw you off a building for the offence of being gay … or fighting for the rights of women to attend school and have the ability to work and live, and boys not to be raped by men under the new warm and fuzzy Taliban. That would be brave.”

“There’s real evil in this world today, real corruption and government overreach, plenty of things to fight against,” he added. “Human trafficking, real actual slavery going on … it would be brave to tackle those issues, shine a light on those issues. I’d like to see the character doing that. I’d read that comic.”

Bravo, Dean Cain. You’re still my hero, even without a cape.

Meanwhile, it seems that Batman has taken Dean Cain’s advice. The trailer for 2022’s The Batman was also released last week, and it’s anything but woke. True to the Batman franchise, it looks more like a crime thriller than a comic book movie.

Played by Robert Pattinson, Batman appears grounded, gritty and far more concerned about tackling the entrenched corruption in Gotham City than he does about his feelings. It looks like there will also be a spectacular chase sequence with a decidedly not carbon-friendly Batmobile.

Without a question, Superman wins the woke wars. But in a real battle, the way things are trending, I’d far rather have Batman in my corner.

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate...