Confrontations and exchanges of virtue ethics: A study of dialectical friendship between Batman and Superman in comic books

Authors

ดร.มนัสชัย อำพลพีรพันธ์, ผศ.ดร.จเร สิงหโกวินท์

Published

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics

Abstract

In the superhero genre, there has arguably not been any heroic partnership that is more oxymoronic than that of Superman and Batman, for both characters simultaneously are ‘enemies’ with opposing ethics and ‘best friends’ who trust each other with their lives. As such, this study applied a mixed methodology based on the Dialectical Theory of Friendship (DTF) and Critical Narrative Analysis (CNA) to analyse communications, images, and implications of Superman-Batman relationship and identify it as a reflection of friendship and ethical exchanges between American men. Purposive samples of 96 (74.21%) comic books from a total of 128 issues of Superman/Batman and Batman/Superman were analysed. The quantitative results show that the protagonists exhibited ‘expressiveness’, ‘judgment’, ‘affection’, and ‘freedom to be dependent’ patterns in communication, thereby revealing openness and directness in friendship. The qualitative results highlight that the protagonists used these patterns to create an intimate bond instead of destroying it. This study expands upon literature in the superhero genre. It argues that the Superman-Batman dichotomy embodies the image of postmodern heroes who seek mutual relationship despite ethical differences; the belief that may solve or lessen socio-political issues and polarisation in real life.

(2564). Confrontations and exchanges of virtue ethics: A study of dialectical friendship between Batman and Superman in comic books. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, x(x), 1-24.