10 Times Batman Was Essentially A Villain

Batman is arguably the most popular superhero in not just DC but all of mainstream comics. Nevertheless, the argument can be made that, despite his dedication to fighting for justice, the Caped Crusader isn’t always a hero. In fact, sometimes, his behavior more closely resembles that of the very criminals he vowed to war against after his parents were gunned down in the streets of Gotham.

Here are 10 times Batman was essentially a villain:

  1. Nearly Everything In ‘All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder’

    Taking place outside of main DC continuity, Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder is problematic for a number of reasons. Perhaps the easiest way to go about this is to simply list some of Batman’s most egregious actions from the miniseries:

    • He basically kidnaps Dick Grayson after the death of his parents
    • He verbally assaults Dick repeatedly
    • He tells Dick that if he’s hungry, he can eat rats
    • He has sex with Black Canary on a rooftop in front of a pile of burning bodies
    • He painted himself, Robin and an entire room yellow so Green Lantern couldn’t use his powers (this one was just weird)
  2. Nearly Everything Involving Stephanie Brown

    Having held the titles of Spoiler, Batgirl and even Robin, Stephanie Brown is certainly no stranger to the Bat-Family. However, the way she was treated by Batman, particularly in their earlier encounters, raised a number of eyebrows. Although Stephanie was dating then-Robin Tim Drake, Batman refused to allow him to reveal his true identity to her. Then, Batman tells her, himself, which causes Stephanie to feel betrayed. Eventually, Tim has to step away from being Robin and Stephanie convinces Batman to let her take his place. Soon after, on a mission in which Batman orders Stephanie to stay on the batplane, Stephanie breaks his orders in an attempt to save his life. Stating that he can no longer trust her, Batman unceremoniously fires Stephanie and tells her that her crime-fighting days were over. Later, it’s revealed that Stephanie faked her own death in order to give herself a fresh start, and although Batman was aware of this, he keeps the information from Tim, who was heartbroken at the loss of his love.

  3. When He Became A Fugitive

    When Bruce Wayne is framed for the murder of his girlfriend Vesper Fairchild, the only way he can clear his name is by revealing he was Batman, thus giving him an alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murder. However, he refuses to do this and instead escapes from police custody after he was declared guilty of the crime, becoming a fugitive and deciding he would completely give up his Bruce Wayne identity and only be Batman. Whether you’ve been framed or not, knowingly making yourself a fugitive certainly doesn’t sound too heroic.

  4. When He Endangered The Lives Of Children

    To be fair, this is one that Batman had done pretty much non-stop since 1940. There’s no denying that all of the Caped Crusader’s Robins are fully capable of handling themselves in the field. Nevertheless, the notion that Batman would willingly place teenage children – regardless of their fighting prowess – in incredibly dangerous situations where their lives are at stake is troubling, to say the least. In fact, nearly everyone to hold the mantle of Robin has either died, almost died or been believed to be killed while under Batman’s watch.

  5. When He Erased Dick’s Memory And Sent Him Back To The Orphanage

    World’s Finest #153, by Edmond Hamilton and Curt Swan, takes place on Earth-153, but even though that means it’s not in main DC continuity, Batman’s actions are still quite disturbing. Believing that Superboy was responsible for his father’s death, a young Bruce Wayne vows to get revenge and trains to become Batman. However, when Robin discovers his mentor’s hatred for the now-adult Man of Steel, he decides to quit. Batman responds by slapping the boy in the face and then using a hypnosis machine to erase his memories of his time as a crime-fighting sidekick. To make matters worse, Batman then sends the mind-wiped Dick Grayson back to the orphanage he adopted him from.

  6. When He Left KGBeast To Starve To Death

    The villainous Anatoli Knyazev, aka KGBeast, debuted in the “Ten Nights of the Beast” storyline by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo. Coincidentally, that’s also where the character’s story almost ended. After being tracked through the sewers by Batman, KGBeast finds himself cornered in a storage room. He challenges the Dark Knight to a fight to the death, but Batman instead locks KGBeast in the room and leaves him trapped there, presumably to die. This was in Batman #420, and we wouldn’t learn until Batman #439 that Bruce eventually called the police to have KGBeast taken into custody, but when they arrived, the villain had already managed to escape.

  7. When He Hanged A Mental Patient From A Plane

    In the Golden Age of comics, Batman was far more open to taking a life, and he wasn’t too picky about how he did it, either. In Batman #1, Hugo Strange creates a formula that turns asylum inmates into 10-foot-tall monsters, which he uses to terrorize Gotham. Taking to the Batplane, the Caped Crusader responds by mowing down Strange’s henchmen and monsters with a machine gun. However, one of the monsters receives extra special treatment, as Batman uses a Batrope to hang him to death from the Batplane. He then proceeds to fly high above the city with the lifeless corpse dangling below him.

  8. When He Launched Lord Death Man Into Space

    The Japanese crime lord known as Lord Death Man is perhaps most notable for his appearance in Batman Incorporated. Initially, he’s shot and killed by Jiro, who Batman was scouting to be the new Batman of Japan. However, the villain comes back to life on the autopsy table and begins a violent crime spree, which includes murdering everyone in the hospital and blowing up a bus full of disabled children. Due to his extreme sadism and his ability to resurrect himself, Batman sentences Lord Death Man to “a fate worse than death,” and has the Japanese Space Program launch him into the cold vacuum of space.

  9. When He Compiled Data On How To Defeat The Justice League

    Batman’s paranoia knows no bounds, and a perfect example of this is JLA: Tower of Babel, by Mark Waid and Howard Porter. In this story, we learn Batman has been keeping hidden records of the strengths and weaknesses of his allies, allowing him to create contingency plans to take each and every one of them down should they ever go rogue. However, those secret files fall into the wrong hands when they’re stolen by Ra’s al Ghul, who uses them to coordinate attacks on the entire JLA to prevent them from interfering with his latest attempt to reduce the global population.

  10. When He Built Brother Eye

    After discovering he was mind-wiped by his fellow Justice Leaguers in Identity Crisis, Batman’s paranoia became even more severe. So much so that he decided to build Brother Eye – a sentient satellite that allowed him to monitor and collect data on all of Earth’s known metahumans. However, much like Batman’s previous attempt to keep tabs on his fellow heroes, this one also backfired when Brother Eye was hacked by Maxwell Lord, who used the AI to coordinate attacks on the superheroes across the world by cyborgs known as OMACs. It was also instrumental in Alexander Luthor’s plan to bring back the Multiverse, making its creation arguably Batman’s most villainous act, despite his initial intentions.

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