Even the best don’t stay undefeated forever. Manny Pacquiao, Rhonda Rousey; and the Caped Crusader, himself, isn’t immune to the taste of defeat.
As much as I love Batman (and believe me, I love him a lot), there’s no denying that the Dark Knight has suffered more than his fair share of losses. Sometimes, it’s against archenemies. Other times, it’s at the hands of his own friends. But regardless of who’s dishing out the punishment, it always stings to see the World’s Greatest Detective go out in a blaze of glory.
Still, as Batman fans, we have to be willing to take the good with the bad. That being said, here are The Top 9 Most Humiliating Defeats of Batman:
Let’s start off with the one people are most familiar with; the one that was recreated on the big screen in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises; the time that Bane broke the Bat.
Knightfall is a crossover that was published between April 1993 and August 1994, spanning the pages of Batman, Catwoman, Detective Comics, Justice League Task Force, Legends of the Dark Knight, Robin, Shadow of the Bat, Showcase '93 and Showcase '94.
In it, Bane is introduced into the Batman mythos, freeing all of the maximum-security inmates of Arkham Asylum. As Batman fought to recapture each of his vicious rogues one-by-one, he became weaker and weaker.
Once the Dark Knight had been pushed to his mental and physical limits, Bane made his move, attacking Batman at Wayne Manor, no less. In one of the most iconic losses of his career, Batman’s back was broken when the monstrous Bane lifted him up over his head and then drove his knee directly into the Caped Crusader’s vertebrae.
Some say since then, Bane has essentially been a one-trick pony. Nevertheless, he’s the one man that can truly claim that he broke the Bat.
Bronze Tiger (The Vengeance Vow!)
There’s a reason Batman turned to Ben Turner, AKA Bronze Tiger, to join his makeshift Suicide Squad in Tom King’s recent I am Suicide story arc – it’s because he knows just how capable he is since he lost to him first-hand.
In a story titled The Vengeance Vow!, Batman receives an anonymous tip about an incoming attack by the League of Assassins at the circus owned by Kathy Kane, AKA Batwoman. When Batman arrives at the scene, Kathy is already struggling against members of the League, including their newest member: Bronze Tiger.
Naturally, Batman steps in but finds himself defeated in seconds after Tiger delivers a swift, powerful kick to the Dark Knight’s sternum. Furthermore, when Batman recovers, he finds that while he was distracted, one of the other assassins killed Batwoman. Talk about adding insult to injury.
The Justice League of America (Identity Crisis)
Not all defeats are physical in nature. In fact, sometimes the most painful defeats are the ones that attack the psyche. In the case of Identity Crisis, that’s exactly what happened to Batman.
After the Elongated Man’s wife, Sue Dibny, was raped by the sadistic Doctor Light, several members of the Justice League of America (Hawkman, Zatanna, The Atom, The Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Black Canary) took a vote and ultimately decided to use Zatanna’s magic to alter the villain’s mind so he would no longer pose a threat to their loved ones.
However, when Batman learned what his teammates were prepared to do, he lashed out in anger, nearly attacking them all. That is until he was restrained by Zatanna’s magic and mind-wiped, himself.
It may not be the same as having your back broken or being outmatched by a more skilled fighter. Still, having your memory erased by the people you call your friends definitely qualifies as a defeat as far as most people are concerned.
Deathstroke (Deathstroke #8-9)
If you’re looking forward to seeing Joe Manganiello portray Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke, in Ben Affleck’s upcoming Batman solo movie, you’d better hope it turns out differently than when they went toe-to-toe back in the 1990s.
There wasn’t really a deep-seated rivalry between the two, and it wasn’t part of a truly epic story arc. It was just a case of Deathstroke the Terminator manhandling the Dark Knight all over the streets of Gotham, leaving him battered and bruised like few others could.
Darkseid (Final Crisis)
Longtime Batman fans know that the Dark Knight has one rule, and that’s that he doesn’t use guns (technically, it’s that he doesn’t use guns to kill, but let’s not split hairs). In any case, Final Crisis saw the Caped Crusader make a once-in-a-lifetime exception to this rule when he used a gun to fire a radion bullet at Darkseid. However, as Batman fired the bullet, Darkseid unleashed the powerful Omega Sanction, turning the Dark Knight into nothing more than a charred corpse.
Although he was believed dead for some time after these events, we would later learn that the body, which was discovered by Superman, was actually one of Mokkari’s Batman clones. As for the real Batman, the Omega Sanction actually transported him through time and space, and Batman would need to fight his way through history itself to return to present-day Gotham City.
Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia)
“You win.” Those are the words Batman utters to Wonder Woman after having his cape and cowl handed to him by the Amazon Princess in Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia.
After becoming honor-bound to protect a young woman named Danielle Wellys, Wonder Woman discovers that the girl is, in fact, a murderer (though it was seemingly in self-defense). However, since the act takes place in Gotham City, Batman feels that it falls under his jurisdiction to bring young Danielle to justice.
Unfortunately for Batman, Wonder Woman takes her oaths VERY seriously, and she subsequently delivers the beating of a lifetime to the Caped Crusader. Knowing that he’s outmatched and out-willed, Batman has no choice but to accept defeat and live to fight another day.
Superman (Superman: Sacrifice)
Batman and Superman have exchanged blows on numerous occasions. More often than not, though, the World’s Greatest Detective has a contingency plan in place that allows him to get the better of the Man of Steel. However, in Superman: Sacrifice, the odds are clearly in Superman’s favor.
After being mind-controlled by Maxwell Lord, Superman is tricked into fighting his fellow Justice League team members, believing that he’s actually going toe-to-toe with his most fearsome enemies. Fearing that Lois’ life is in danger, Superman blindsides the man he believes is Darkseid, beating him within an inch of his life. However, it turns out that it was, in fact, Batman that took the brutal punishment. If not for Wonder Woman intervening on his behalf, it’s very possible Batman wouldn’t have survived the vicious attack.
The Mutant Leader (The Dark Knight Returns)
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is arguably one of the most popular Batman stories of all-time. It’s also a story that sees the Caped Crusader suffer one of the worst beatings of his career at the hands of the Mutant Leader – the figurehead of Gotham City’s mutant gang.
When Batman decides it’s time to come out of retirement due to the threat posed by the gang, he takes the bull by the horns, attacking the gang on their own home turf. Accused of being a coward for using rubber bullets, the Mutant Leader eventually convinces Batman to fight him one-on-one.
Unfortunately, the aging Dark Knight finds himself at a disadvantage and is beaten quite decisively. Just as he’s about to be impaled by a crowbar, though, Carrie Kelley intervenes, creating a distraction that ultimately saves Batman’s life.
The Joker (A Death in the Family)
Sometimes, you don’t need to lay a finger on the Dark Knight to defeat him. Sometimes, the biggest blow you can deliver is to attack his family. The Joker is aware of this, which is why he knew exactly how to hit Batman where it would hurt the most in A Death in the Family.
While seeking out his biological mother, Batman’s second Robin, Jason Todd, is brutally beaten with a crowbar by the Clown Prince of Crime. Unfortunately, by the time Batman arrives on the scene, it’s already too late. Left lying in a warehouse in a pool of his own blood, a time bomb goes off, killing both Jason and his mother, and leaving the Dark Knight completely devastated.
It may not have been a direct attack on Batman, himself. Still, the death of Jason Todd is something that continuously haunted the Caped Crusader for years, right up until his eventual resurrection (because comics).