It feels like we’ve lived with the “Does Batman perform oral sex?” discourse for a million years now, because this is the internet and that’s how time works. It felt that way, perhaps, when Justice League director Zack Snyder eventually weighed in with... let’s say declarative artwork that Batman does indeed do what superheroes should. But now, the image the director attached to his statement is suddenly no more.
Much mockery about the Dark Knight’s intimate proclivities with Catwoman was made last week in the wake of a Variety interview with the Harley Quinn animated series’ co-creator and executive producer Justin Halpern. He alleged that executives at DC and Warner ruled out a season three sequence of Batman (voiced by Diedrich Bader) going down on the series’ version of Catwoman (Sanaa Lathan) by saying “heroes don’t do that.” A few days later, Snyder weighed in with all the subtlety one would expect of a director bold enough to release a four-hour cut of Justice League: posting art of Batman performing oral sex on Catwoman on Twitter. “Canon” is all Snyder added, because really, a picture paints a thousand words, does it not?
The tweet sat, for all to gaze upon in shock, for the best part of a week. People laughed (she’s seemingly fully clothed), people bemoaned, Motherboard ran an investigation to ascertain if Snyder himself illustrated the piece or commissioned it (alas, the results were inconclusive). But today, Snyder’s tweet was struck with a DMCA copyright claim, removing its attached image. The tweet itself has remained up, albeit with the image replaced with Twitter’s standard copyright dispute warning. Snyder hadn’t tweeted since the original post on June 17, until today; first advertising the 4K home release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and then sharing an interview he conducted with the music podcast Straight Up.
But who forced Snyder’s Twitter to be scrubbed of this salacious Bat-imagery? No one seems to know. As Motherboard’s investigation concluded, ascertaining whether Snyder drew the piece himself or simply commissioned it from an artist was inconclusive, but if Snyder had either illustrated or commissioned the piece—Motherboard’s investigation noted that reverse image searches on the art drew no posts from before Snyder tweeted the art—then presumably neither he nor the artist he commissioned it from would file a claim against him.
Presumably, the claim comes from Warner Bros.—either from the studio itself or directly from within comics publisher DC Comics (which of course owns the rights to both the titles and characters of Batman and Catwoman). It’s also possible that the studio hired a third party to perform DMCA takedowns on its behalf—as Twitter’s policy on copyright claims states, copyright holders may use outside agents and services to file claims to the platform—or that Warner Bros. uses an automated system to detect any perceived infringement to take down claims.
Requests made by io9 to Zack Snyder, Warner Bros., DC Comics, and Twitter about the removal of the artwork have gone unanswered as of publication, but the director himself chimed in on his preferred social media platform of choice, Vero, simply screenshotting the request with the comment “If I Advance.”
We’ll update this post with additional commentary from the parties in question if and when we receive it, but given what we know of Warner Bros.’ squeamishness to portray Batman with any semblance of sexuality in the past, it would seem Snyder’s former collaborators at the studio aren’t willing to let him have the last laugh this time around.
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