Did Zack Snyder Draw A Picture of Batman Going Down on Catwoman? An Investigation

Experts are split on whether Zack Snyder drew this, but I desperately want to believe.
June 23, 2021, 2:35pm
An image of Batman eating out Catwoman with red question marks on top of it.
Image Source: Zack Snyder (we think?)

Over the weekend, director Zack Snyder—a man who Mr. Magoo'd his way into having control over the cinematic presentation of DC Comics for many years and is an avowed fan of Batman—posted an image of the Dark Knight performing cunnilingus on Catwoman. Since that time, I have not known peace. I must know who drew it.

Like the two women at the counter of the coffee shop where I bought the iced coffee that was necessary to begin this investigation, I am so desensitized to pornography involving cartoon characters that at first this image barely registered. The necessary context is that, apparently  in response to the ongoing conversation about DC's decree that Batman canonically doesn't eat pussy, Snyder, who once directed a movie called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and was for a long time as in control as anyone else was of DC lore, posted a drawing of Batman going down on Catwoman. He captioned it "canon." I guess!

As time went on, theories began to emerge about who drew the image. Snyder fans—and to be clear, he is a divisive figure in the multiple fandoms oriented toward and revolving around various DC brands—propose that he, personally, drew it. A major aspect of this theory is that Snyder didn't provide any information about the image when he posted it, at all. The image doesn't even have a signature. Running it through a reverse image search yields nothing from before Snyder posted it. The drawing seems to have appeared from the ether.

Representatives for Snyder didn't respond to requests for comment, leaving Motherboard unable to put the question of whether he drew this image of Batman satisfying his longtime love interest and occasional fiancé with his own hand. A Motherboard review of footage from the DVD extras of Watchmen—a movie directed by Snyder that I definitely saw in theaters and remember absolutely none of—suggests that Snyder is a talented draughtsman, and may well be capable of having drawn this image. We cannot definitively establish, though, whether or not he did so by putting the question directly to him, and so had to turn elsewhere in search of answers. 

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Logically, there are only so many options here. It's possible that, as some fans are beginning to think, Snyder drew it himself; it's also possible, though, that it's a panel from an existing comic book or a piece of fan art, whether preexisting or commissioned personally by Snyder.  Roy T. Cook, a professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota who specializes in the aesthetics of popular art, told Motherboard that it seems unlikely that it comes from something DC published.

"If this were from a comic, it would certainly be well known given its content, and hence would have been identified by fans or scholars by now," Cook said. "So it’s almost certainly a custom piece of art."

In theory this would narrow things down some, but the sheer ubiquity of Batman-related pornography means that there are still too many images to anyone to sift through. On the pornographic website Rule 34—named for the humorous "rule," which functions with the force and power of a basic law of physics, that anything that exists will also have porn of it on the internet—there are more than 400 images with both the tags "Catwoman" and "Batman." The image Snyder posted can be found there, but was only added after he tweeted it, and notes Snyder's tweet as the original source. It is not hard at all to find an image of Batman eating out Catwoman. Finding one that no one has ever seen before is much harder.

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It's possible to inferentially establish that this image is unique to Snyder, whether as something he commissioned or as something he had unique access to and chose to put on the internet. The question consuming many fans, though, is the one of whether he personally drew it. Experts in comic book art doubt that he did. Both of the comic-art brokers that responded to Motherboard's requests for comment said that they definitely don't think Snyder drew it. Details noted about the art style offer food for thought.

"I would say that [Frank] Miller is most certainly an influence/inspiration for the style of the image Snyder tweeted. Dark Knight Returns and all. Gritty stuff," Douglas Gillock, vice-president of the comic art brokerage ComicLink, said. (He was referring to the writer/artist whose mid-80s Batman comics set the tone for all the many, many grim and bleak interpretations of the billionaire who does kung-fu at muggers that have dominated pop culture for decades. Miller's Batman comics have been critiqued as fascistic but could also be read as brilliant parodies of fascistic excess; complicating the question is Miller's later-career turn toward things like a comic where Batman murdered Muslims to avenge 9/11, which was rejected by DC and subsequently repackaged as Holy Terror, a comic where a thinly-veiled Batman stand-in murdered Muslims.)  "I would also say that I also see some David Mazzucchelli here. He was an artist that was also influenced by Miller. He did the art on the Batman: Year One run, which Miller wrote. Pretty sure that is where that particular iteration of Catwoman's costume came from in the modern era too. A similar version was used for the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm Batman animated series."

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Gillock's interpretations seem correct. Notably, the outfit that Catwoman is wearing in the image that Snyder tweeted is purple—the color used in most Miller versions of the character—while many popular depictions of the character have her wearing black. It also features cat ears, which not all of her costumes have; this design was favored by Miller and used not only in Year One, but in a special wedding issue of Batman written by Tom King—a renowned comic book writer who spent much of his run on Batman making it canonical that Batman and Catwoman fall in love and get married with the insistent energy of a Livejournal poster embroiled in a shipwar—and featuring a Miller drawing of Catwoman wearing this exact costume. 

Snyder's Miller fandom cannot be overstated. He directed 300, based on the Miller graphic novel. He recreated scenes from The Dark Knight Returns in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in exactingly specific detail, even where it made no sense to do so. Like Miller, Snyder has used his work to promote and exult in vaguely fascist iconography. (Unlike Miller, for Snyder the appeal seems to be mostly aesthetic.) Snyder's fandom for Miller is so intense and specific  that the details in the shading, the coloring, and the costumes depicted in the image of Batman face down in Catwoman's super soaker pussy stand out as ones a fan steeped in Miller's work would not only appreciate, but commission or create, if they were able to. Especially on Selina's legs and head, the specific way that the image is shaded looks a lot like the way that Miller draws Catwoman. In both Snyder's tweet and the image from King's Batman, the shading on Catwoman's suit consists of black swirls and circles. (Miller's image is a lot more stylized than what Snyder posted, though, with Catwoman's spine curving exaggeratedly, like an actual cat's would.)

It should be noted that one thing we know about Snyder is that he's a passable artist, at least from the storyboards he's released for a few of his films. According to a profile in Bloomberg, he studied painting for a year before transferring to film school. It's difficult to tell, but when I look at this blurry screenshot of one of Snyder's sketchbooks where he shows off a drawing he did of Watchmen's Silk Spectre kicking a Nazi in the back of the head, it kinda looks like the same general body proportions as Catwoman as she's getting eaten out by Batman. In particular, both Silk Spectre and Catwoman have pretty sturdy thighs, though comparing a fully colored and inked image to a sketch is not going to yield conclusive results.

Zack Snyder's sketchbook

Image Source: League of Mayhem

DC, several art history professors, noted Snyder enthusiast Armond White, and Tom King did not respond to requests for comment. In absence of their authoritative input, as well as Snyder's, it seems Motherboard will never know for sure whether Zack Snyder spent the weekend drawing Batman eating box. But my friend and film critic Nadine Smith pointed out something important to me as I discussed this mystery with her: With any other director, this wouldn't even be a question. Snyder's fandom for comics, which somehow is for the exact opposite things about the genre that I admire, is nevertheless deep and powerful to the extent that he forced a major studio to release a four-hour uncut version of the Justice League fanfiction he filmed at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. He's always expected to do the most, and could not surprise anyone by doing anything that demonstrated the depth of his passion.

"If anyone else posted it, we would probably assume they just found some fanart," Smith told me. "But like, Snyder would."