I read that you don’t like the Justice League Unlimited ep. Epilogue. Maybe you have gone into it before, but why is that? I am a huge fan of the series, and never really had that much of a problem with it. Not defending it, just interested in your thoughts.
Basically, it undermines the entire Batman Beyond series, the events that brought Bruce and Terry together, their personal choices, and a central tenet of Batmanism, which is that with enough drive and training, anyone can become Batman. Or Batgirl. Or Batwoman. Or Batwhoever. Parts of the Epilogue story are interesting, but they don’t belong in the Batman Beyond canon, in my opinion, and it wasn’t really a satisfying ending for JLU.
The Batman (and Superman, for that matter) Family is about adoption, not genetic lineage. Alfred raises Bruce, Bruce raises Robin(s), and even when Bruce has a child of his own, he must adopt him, and later it’s the eldest adoptive son, Dick, who mentors Damian. As a boy who was abandoned by a lying, criminal, drug-abusing father (who I swear to God, dressed up as a clown for Halloween), the example of Batman and Robin felt like a mirror my own adoptive father’s relationship with me. (Shout out to Charlton Trippe! Master guitar player, avid hunter and fisherman, lifelong Sasquatch fan, and father of three grown children whom he still makes laugh.) You don’t need to share your child’s DNA to be a dad, and doing so sure as heck doesn’t make you one worthy of the title.
Anyway, my own daddy issues aside (let’s pretend that’s possible), genetics don’t create heroism. Choices do. Every good hero story tells you that we are who we choose to be. Of course there are genetic factors. My boy, internet codename: Field, is so much like me I’m sometimes not sure his mom got any chromosomes in there. (Just kidding, he’s just like her, too. I’m considering a maternity test anyway.) But he’ll be his own man, and it’s my parenting that has the most impact on his character, not sharing my genes. I’m teaching him to be sweet, silly, strong, smart, and suave. (I call it FiveS. I should write a book for kids on how to be super rad.)
This parentage-equals-fate sort of thinking always troubles me. I mean, it can work fine in stories, but more often than not, I think it takes away from the hero. It’s just Nazi thinking. Eugenics are gross, guys. It’s fine to think about the qualities you share with your parents, and I certainly feel those I share with mine, but you’re on this planet to make your own impact. Terry McGinnis didn’t deserve to have his life ripped out from under him for the sake of even further Bruce Wayne worship. Making Bruce his genetic father, and going so far as to have Terry refer to him that way, takes away from his real father’s legacy and the tragedy that spurned a boy who lost his dad to become Batman.
I love Bruce Wayne. And as someone who has spent a lifetime working with younger people because of his example of doing so, I think Epilogue cheapens his relationship with Terry rather than deepens it.
(BTW, there was a similar story to this a few years ago where someone tried to retcon it so James Gordon was, it turns out, not just Barbara Gordon’s uncle and adoptive father, but actually her genetic father due to maybe infidelity on his and his sister-in-law’s part? How in Bill Finger’s name does that help anything at all?)
Teach the young people you know to be amazing. Because they can be. Give them the tools and encouragement they need. They can be better than we were. Show them the truth, that the world is broken in so many ways, but dedicated people doing their best to help are making monumental differences over time. Batman is about hope, not fear. Bruce’s younger allies are both the result of that hope, and proof that it will carry on. There is nothing that gives me more hope than the next generation. Superheroes teach us to use all of our abilities to help everyone we can. Especially kids.
So let’s put them up on our shoulders so they can see the signal.