Alternative versions of Batman

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Alternate versions of Batman
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)
Created by Bob Kane
Bill Finger
See also Batman franchise media

The following is a list of alternative versions of Batman from all media, including DC Comics multiverse, Elseworlds, television and film.

Comics[edit]

Canon depictions[edit]

Main article: Batman (set index)
  • Bruce Wayne is the original Batman. This is Batman's secret identity in almost all representations in other media.
    • The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh was an uninhibited alter ego that Bruce Wayne had constructed to protect himself in the event that his base psyche was under attack. This Batman claimed "I'm what you get when you take Bruce out of the equation..."
  • Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, becomes Batman after Bane breaks Bruce's back during 1993's Knightfall story. This identity is held by numerous characters within continuity, and a time after Valley's death it was taken up by a man named Michael Washington Lane.
  • Dick Grayson assumes the Batman identity after Azrael is forced to relinquish the mantle, prior to Bruce Wayne's return. He became the new Batman after Bruce's apparent death. With Bruce's return, Dick went back to being Nightwing.
  • Allied with reporter Arturo Rodriguez, Black Mask begins a campaign to discredit Batman during War Crimes. While Rodriguez slams Batman in the press, Black Mask commits a series of murders disguised as Batman.
  • Jason Todd reappeared in the Battle for the Cowl series. Dressed in a version of a Batman costume, he started to fight the expanding crime wave with little morality. Pinning a note to his criminal victims that he was the true and only Batman. He even built his own Batcave where he starved and tortured criminals to death.
  • Tim Drake has been depicted as a possible future Batman on several occasions: in JLA #8 and #9; in Teen Titans (vol. 3) #17-19 and #51-54; and in Superman/Batman #22 and #23, as well as donning the costume in Sins of Youth: Robin & Batboy. In Battle for the Cowl series he is dressed in a version of a Batman costume.
  • Damian Wayne has also been shown as Batman in a possible future in Batman #666. He is shown mentioning Bruce and Dick as previous holders of the title, and has a pet cat he affectionately named Alfred.
  • Terry McGinnis is shown to be the successor of the mantle in Batman #700. Damian Wayne rescued him as Batman from Two-Face-Two when he was held hostage as an infant. Two-Face-Two believed Terry McGinnis was one of a pair of twin boys who were the sons of billionaires rather than Warren and Mary McGinnis. Two-Face-Two transformed Terry into a miniature duplicate of the Joker with the deceased Clown Prince of Crime's toxin. Damian administers the antidote after he rescues Terry. Decades after the event, an elder Damian Wayne becomes the mentor of McGinnis, who became the new Dark Knight.

Alternative universes in modern continuity[edit]

The DC Multiverse consists of worlds outside DC's main continuity allowing writers the creative freedom to explore alternative versions of characters and their histories without contradicting and/or permanently altering the official continuity.

  • Batman (Earth-Two) is shown to be the Golden Age Batman, with a life that parallels the modern Batman but with some significant differences. Born in the 1910s, Bruce Wayne eventually retires as Batman and becomes Police Commissioner. He marries Selina Kyle and the two have a daughter, the original Huntress, Helena Wayne. Finally, goaded out of retirement by a villain demanding Bruce Wayne (whom he mistakenly believes has framed him), he confronts the villain as Batman and dies in the line of duty. The Earth-Two Bruce Wayne's father Thomas Wayne is shown to have worn something similar to the modern Batman costume while Bruce was young, to entertain trick-or-treaters at Halloween, ultimately influencing Bruce's choice of alter ego.
  • Owlman is the Anti-Matter Universe Earth's supervillain counterpart to Batman. In this incarnation, Owlman's secret identity is Thomas Wayne Jr., the son of Gotham City Police Commissioner Thomas Wayne. Another version of Owlman resides on the new Earth-3 and is a member of the Crime Society of America. This Owlman and his team are analogues for the Earth-2 Batman and the Justice Society of America respectively.
  • On Earth-8, a version of Batman called "Bat-Soldier" is shown working for Monarch.[1]
  • The Tangent Comics version of the Batman is a knight who once fought King Arthur and was forced to atone for his sins, seeking justice through an empty suit of armor for all eternity. This version currently resides on Earth-9.
  • On Earth-10, Bruce Wayne is part of the "JL-Axis" and is a fervent Nazi enforcer.[2] He is named Leatherwing, and is a part of Overman's Justice League.[3]
  • On Earth-11, which is inhabited gender-reversed superheroes, an alternative version of Batwoman exists in place of Batman.
  • The Kingdom Come limited series depicts a Batman who, ravaged by years of fighting crime, uses an exoskeleton to keep himself together and keeps the peace on the streets of Gotham using remote-controlled robots. He is late middle-aged and wears an eerie grin. It is no longer a secret that he is Bruce Wayne and is referred to as the "Batman" even when he appears in civilian guise. This alternative Batman resides on Earth-22
  • Superman: Red Son depicts a Russian anarchist Batman, whose parents were killed by the KGB. His actual name is not mentioned in the story. Penciller Dave Johnson jokingly refers to him as 'Batmankoff' in his character design sketches. This alternative Batman resides on Earth-30.
  • The Batmage of Earth-33 is from a world of magic. His parents were murdered by the sorcerer Cobblepot who cursed him into his world of darkness, from which he made himself a master of the dark arts and an avenger of justice.
  • The JSA: The Liberty Files limited series shows an alternative Batman who is a covert operative of the government known as the Bat during World War II. This alternative Batman resides on Earth-40. While fighting against the vampire Batman of Earth-43 in Countdown: Arena #1, he is bitten and supposedly killed. Arena #2 reveals that he has turned into a vampire as well. He is killed in Arena #4 by Monarch.
  • The Batman & Dracula: Red Rain limited series shows an alternative Batman who becomes a vampire after fighting Dracula, with sequels showing the destruction of the remaining members of Dracula's family and Batman's descent into insanity and bloodlust as he destroys his old enemies; this reality was designated as Earth-1191 in the Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths hardcover. Following the creation of the new multiverse, a similar Vampire Batman exists on Earth-43. While the Red Rain Batman resisted his vampiric urges long enough to kill himself, the Earth-43 version has fully devolved into his bloodlust, plaguing the streets of Gotham City and killing and draining innocents as well as criminals.
  • On Earth-51, after the death of Jason Todd, this version of Batman killed the Joker and then proceeded to kill the remaining DC supervillains and usher in a golden age of peace. This Batman was later killed by Ultraman.
  • Thomas Wayne is shown to have become Batman in the altered reality of the Flashpoint series, after his young son was murdered in front of him.[5] The world of Flashpoint is an altered reality of the primary Earth in the DC Multiverse. Brian Azzarello, writer of the Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance mini-series, says of this version, "This Batman is older, and he's much more angry. He's not the brilliant detective. He's still a brilliant tactician. I think he's even called that in Flashpoint. But he's much more of a pragmatic individual. His motivations come from a different place, and how he acts on them. It's not what you'd expect from Batman."[6]
  • Li'l Batman appeared in Superman/Batman #51-52 (October to November 2008). He is from an alternative universe inhabited by childlike versions of the main DC Earth. In this universe, Bruce Wayne becomes Li'l Batman after his parents are pushed down by a bully (instead of being killed). Li'l Batman and the rest of the Li'l Justice League is brought to the main DC universe by Mister Mxyzptlk, who felt that the main Superman and Batman had experienced too many dark teams, and needed to "lighten up". After Li'l Superman is killed fighting Li'l Doomsday, Mister Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite return the tiny dopelgangers to their home universe.

Elseworlds and other versions[edit]

These depictions are set outside of the 52 canonical universes in the DC continuity.

  • In JLA/Avengers, Batman appears along with his teammates in the Justice League, when they are made to fight the Avengers in the Grandmaster's cosmic game. While touring the Marvel Universe for the first time, Batman witnesses the Punisher killing a gang of drug dealers, and attacks him (the fight takes place off-panel). He later forms an alliance with Captain America after engaging in a brief fistfight to test his opponent's skills. Due to this alliance, he realizes the stakes of the game and loses it for the JLA. When the two universes are merged by Krona, the heroes are left confused as to what actually occurred in their reality; the Grandmaster clarifies by showing them the various tragedies that befell the heroes in their lifetimes. Batman, for his part, witnesses Jason Todd's death and his injury at the hands of Bane. In the final battle, Krona defeats the JLA with minor difficulty, before taking on a gathering of DC villains and losing.
  • In Batman: Book of the Dead, Bruce Wayne's parents were archaeologists who were on the verge of cracking open a major conspiracy involving an Egyptian bat-god who was erased from history. They are murdered before Bruce's eyes due to their discovery, and Bruce becomes Batman when he is inspired by the bat cartouche that the assassin was really after.
  • In Detective Comics #500: "To Kill a Legend!", the Phantom Stranger gives Batman a chance to save his parents by taking the mainstream Batman and Robin into a world where the Wayne Murders are about to happen again. Batman stops the murders of his parents in this world, but this act simply shifts the reasons this world's Bruce Wayne will become Batman; while before he began his training to avenge their murders, here he begins his training inspired by the example of his other self to eventually become Batman in defense of the innocent.
  • In Batman: Castle of the Bat, scientist Bruce Wayne creates and brings to life a patchwork corpse containing bat DNA and the brain of his father, Thomas Wayne. This Bat-Man escapes from Wayne's castle and starts attacking highwaymen due to the vague memories of Thomas Wayne's death. Wayne also patrols the highways, stopping thieves. Through the course of the story, the Bat-Man starts becoming more bat than man as the bat DNA starts to overcome the body.
  • In Batman: Citizen Wayne, the role of Batman is taken on by Harvey Dent after his whole face has been destroyed by an enemy. Bruce Wayne is a newspaper publisher who is highly critical of Batman and his brutal methods and goes after him when he actually kills the enemy in question, both men dying in the final battle.
  • In Batman: Digital Justice (1990), set in a futuristic Gotham City, the persona of Batman is taken on by James Gordon, the grandson of Jim Gordon. Following the death of his partner, Officer Lena Schwartz, James became motivated by the old newspaper clippings about Batman that his grandfather kept, and finds a Batman suit that Bruce had given to Jim as a souvenir.
  • In Batman: Golden Streets of Gotham (2003), Batman is Bruno Vanekow, a railroad worker whose parents die in a fire similar to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. He dons a bat costume and becomes a self-styled Robin Hood, stealing from the city's rich and powerful and donating to charity.
  • In Batman: Haunted Gotham (Feb-May 2000), Gotham City was taken over by the Dark Lords of Hell centuries ago. Bruce Wayne is raised by his parents to strike against them, and is joined in his quest by a skeleton named Cal and a sorceress named Cat Majik.
  • In Batman: Holy Terror (1991), Gotham City resides in a commonwealth of England, with Bruce Wayne a priest of the state church. He takes on the identity of Batman using a demon costume that resembles the classic bat costume, after learning that the church's Privy Council had engineered the murder of his parents.
  • In Batman: I, Joker (1998), the Gotham City of the future is ruled by a cult who worships Batman and his descendant, the Bruce. Once every year, there are challengers who try to usurp the rule of Batman, but even worse, this Bruce has people taken off the street and has them turned into Batman's old enemies complete with their memories. The newest Joker, Joe Collins, kept his original memories due to the efforts of the Bruce's surgeon, Doc Klibon, as a way of annoying him. Joe, along with his friend Marya, are freedom fighters trying to stop the Bruce until a friend of theirs turn on them. Joe finds the original Batcave, and taking a Batman outfit and the original Joker's gun, confronts the Bruce at his citadel. He spares the Bruce's life, but Marya, after being muted by the Bruce, kills him herself. Months later, the two are protecting Gotham City as the new Batman and Robin.
  • In The Batman of Arkham (2000), set in the year 1900, Bruce Wayne is a noted psychiatrist who runs Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Batman fills the Asylum's cells with criminals and as Bruce Wayne, he uses compassion in order to cure its residents.
  • In Batman: Scar of the Bat (1996), Bruce Wayne does not exist. Instead, Eliot Ness, inspired by the film characters Zorro and the Bat, dons a Batman-esque outfit and begins shaking down gangsters for information on the locations of illegal stills run by Al Capone. He is called Batman not only for his appearance, but for his use of a baseball bat in his first appearance, a nod to how Capone once beat one of his unfaithful underlings with a bat.
  • In Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual 2 (1994), a corrupt Batman, under the influence of Jonathan Crane, takes control of Gotham City and turns it into a police state. He then drugs Gotham's water supply as a means to decrease criminal activity. However, Anarky forms a secret resistance against Batman and Crane with an army composed of most of Batman's villains. When Anarky uncovers a secret plan to pump tranquilizer gas into the city water supply, drugging the populace to prevent crime, he unites the city's remaining villains to storm the centers of Batman's power and overthrow his tyranny. After Crane's manipulations are exposed, Batman confesses his crimes to the people of Gotham City, who then burn him alive inside Wayne Manor.[7] The story ends with a quote by Mikhail Bakunin: "(For reasons of the state) black becomes white and white becomes black, the horrible becomes humane and the most dastardly felonies and atrocious crimes become meritorious acts."[8]
  • In the Batman: Year 100 (2006) limited series, a story which takes place in the Gotham City of 2039, there is a mysterious Bat-Man running around Gotham. This Batman has been around since 1939, and it is never revealed who it is behind the mask.
  • In the Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham (Aug-Sep 1999) limited series, the roles of Catwoman and Batman are reversed, with Selena Kyle as a rich businesswoman who is really the superheroine Catwoman, and Bruce Wayne as the psychopathic murderer, Batman, who kills the rest of Catwoman's rogues' gallery just to eliminate the competition.
  • In JLA: The Nail, Batman operates in a world where Superman never existed, and as a consequence, superheroes are mistrusted and feared. As part of a plot by a corrupted Jimmy Olsen, the Joker kills Robin and Batgirl, driving Batman to murder him in full view of the public, discrediting him. Traumatized by the death of his partners, Batman is convinced by Alfred and Selina Kyle to aid the League against Olsen, after which he quits from the Justice League. In the sequel JLA: Another Nail, Batman is besieged by a demonic Joker who returns from beyond the grave to taunt him. With the help from the spirits of his deceased partners, Batman is able to defeat the Clown Prince of Crime once and for all.
  • In the Stan Lee's Just Imagine continuity, Wayne Williams is framed for a crime he did not commit who becomes Batman in a combination of Batman and Spider-Man's origin stories.
  • In Superman: Speeding Bullets, Thomas and Martha Wayne discover baby Kal-El's rocket ship and adopt him as Bruce Wayne. When he witnesses their death, he becomes Batman when he grows up. He gains an adversary in Lex Luthor, who becomes the Joker when he is disfigured in an accident.
  • In Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty, Bruce Wayne grows up with his parents, doing much of the training because he is uncertain what he wants to do with his life. His parents were saved from the robber by Vandal Savage, currently going by the name Valentin St. Claire, who has developed a fondness for the Waynes ever since the Wayne ancestor Sir Joshua of Wainewright successfully defeated him, impressed by their courage even as their defiance angers him. Vandal has a minion of his called Scarecrone to use fear to kill Thomas and Martha Wayne by scaring them into jumping off from their apartment. Bruce Wayne tries to find out who's responsible and why, but in order to protect his wife, Julie Madison, he decides to use a disguise, becoming Batman based on the bat-like armor worn by Joshua of Wainewright. Eventually he tracks down Vandal, fighting him in space. The two plummet to Earth, burning up on reentry, although Vandal, being immortal, is able to regenerate. This confrontation marks one of many confrontations between Vandal and the Wayne family, all of the confrontations ending with the Waynes dying young and violently after spending their last few days wearing a bat-themed costume, culminating in the twenty-fifth century when Brenda Wayne is able to leave Vandal drifting on the meteor that gave him his powers, which Vandal has been searching for ever since.
  • In Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #25, the trickster god Anansi creates an alternative timeline. On the fateful night, the movie Bruce had intended to see, "Zorro", was sold out, so they had seen a violent western. This had enthralled him. When the mugging occurs, the killer gets a glimpse of Bruce's enraged face and is stunned. Bruce grabs the gun and kills the man with it. The boy then grew up to become Paladin, a gunman who uses deadly force against criminals, and is hounded by the authorities because of it. Anansi later brings Paladin into the actual timeline, having him assist Vixen and the Justice League against Starbreaker.[9]
  • Multiple versions of Batman appeared in Superman/Batman issue #25 "Supermen/Batmen", whom come to aid the mainstream Batman. Among them are Man-Bat; the vampiric Batman; a shadowy, grim Batman; the 50's/Adam West Batman; the Dark Knight Returns Batman; the Golden Age Batman; the O'Neil/Adams Batman; the Zebra Batman; and one resembling Batman from Batman Beyond (though he's not fully shown).
  • In the Superman/Batman story arc "Absolute Power", the timeline of events is altered by the Legion of Super-Villains, who abduct Superman and Batman as children and raise them to be despotic rulers of Earth. Batman is eventually killed by Wonder Woman, who is a member of the Freedom Fighters in this reality. When the timeline shifts again, Batman is forced to witness the murders of his parents and opts to save them instead, erasing himself from continuity. Thus, Bruce Wayne grows up to be a contented man, although the absence of Batman has allowed Ra's al Ghul to take over the planet. Superman eventually convinces Bruce of his destiny, and they defeat Ra's and the Super-Villains.
  • In the 1980s limited series Hex, where Jonah Hex was propelled into a post-apocalyptic future, there is a Batman operating in New York City, enforcing a strict "no guns" policy throughout the entire city.
  • Batman appears in the fifth issue of the comic book continuation of the televisions series Smallville. He came to Metropolis to locate Joe Chill, who worked as Gotham criminal underworld's Intergang contact as well as Bruce Wayne's parents' killer before being killed by Mr. Freeze. The Wayne family also has a history with the Luthors, as Lionel Luthor attempted to recruit Thomas Wayne into the secret society Veritas at some point before his and Martha Wayne's death.[10]
  • In Joker, Batman is an omnipresent figure who makes several "blink and you miss it" appearances throughout most of the graphic novel. Batman ambiguously does not intervene in the Joker's gang-war with Two-Face. Towards the end of the graphic novel Two-Face begs Batman to stop the Joker, at which point all of the Joker's allies are quickly defeated. In a final confrontation the Joker criticizes Batman for ruining the illusion of being a monster with the show of his mouth which demonstrates a handsome man. Batman coldly replies that he does it to mock the Joker.
  • In Whom Gods Destroy, Nazis have never fallen. Bruce Wayne, inspired by the murders of his parents, is softened by attitudes of Superman. He puts away his dark costume and dedicates his life to public service. His path takes him from Mayor of Gotham all the way to the White House. Even after he retires he is a trusted ally and consulted for his skill and tactics. [11]

Film and television[edit]

  • The Batman television series and 1966 film, starring Adam West, featured a campy version of Batman and associated characters, similar to the style of DC comics at the time of production.
  • Tim Burton's Batman was a combination of Burton's own unique film stylings and the gritty, darker interpretation presented in DC continuity at the time. After two films, Burton continued to produce the films, but was replaced as Director by Joel Schumacher. The films became known for their over-the-top production design and their dependence on star-power casting to draw audiences. Batman was characterised as incrementally more sardonic and frivolous throughout the series.[12]
  • Christopher Nolan's films are a reboot in the Warner Brothers franchise. Starring Christian Bale in a new continuity allegedly based on Batman: The Man Who Falls, Batman: Year One and Batman: The Long Halloween.[citation needed] This depicts Bruce Wayne as a confused and frustrated young man, incapable of dealing with the murders of his parents or the injustices of Gotham City, and spends seven years in self-imposed exile from Gotham during which time he lives on the streets and even commits theft (albeit from his own company), until incarcerated in a Chinese prison camp and then approached by Ra's al Ghul, from whom he receives the League of Shadows training which allows him to become the Batman. Batman is merely an idea used by Wayne to "spread fear amongst those who would prey on the fearful" (i.e. the criminals); he is not entirely able to separate the Batman persona from his own personality. Accordingly, Bale is only listed as "Bruce Wayne" in the credits of The Dark Knight. Wayne is dependent on Lucius Fox for supplying him with the fundamental tools, armor, weapons and vehicles needed to be "Batman" (this is in sharp contrast to the comics continuity, in which Lucius Fox is merely the CEO of Bruce Wayne's corporate holdings and Wayne himself has mastered the skills required to design and build his own equipment, armor, weapons and vehicles). The continuity includes:
  • Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go - Batman himself would not directly appear in the series, but there are a few references to him:
    • "Apprentice Part 2": After Robin tells Slade that he has a father, a swarm of bats fly across the screen. One particular building that Robin steals from is Wayne Enterprises (revealed after a fight scene).
    • "Go": Upon arriving in Jump City, a bank robber whom Robin pursues says "Hey, this isn't your town. Aren't you supposed to be with...", but is cutoff before saying Batman.

Batman and the Justice League make a cameo in the tie in comic Teen Titans Go #45. He narrates Robin's origin in #47 and views Titans Tower at the end of the story.

  • The Batman features a new animated Batman set outside DCAU continuity. This series features very different versions of most characters and antagonists previously unseen in or outside of comics.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold features a lighter Batman, teaming up with other heroes. This show even has various references to 1960s TV series, including a flashback of Thomas Wayne voiced by Adam West.
  • In the Birds of Prey television series, Batman is viewed as a myth or urban legend, having mysteriously disappeared from New Gotham, leaving his daughter Helena Kyle and Barbara Gordon to defend the city.
  • Young Justice (TV series) features Batman in Season 1 as sending the Young Justice team on covert missions and in Season 2 left Earth with the Justice League to answer crimes against the galaxy while being under the control of Vandal Savage.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Countdown Presents: Lord Havok and the Extremists #3
  2. ^ Countdown to Adventure #4
  3. ^ Final Crisis Secret Files
  4. ^ Countdown #21
  5. ^ Geoff Johns (w). Flashpoint 1 (May 2011), DC Comics
  6. ^ FLASHPOINT Presentation: BRIAN AZZARELLO on BATMAN @ Newsarama
  7. ^ Alan Grant (w), Tom Raney, Joe Staton (p), Tom Raney, Horacio Ottolini (i). "The Tyrant" Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual 2 (1994), DC Comics
  8. ^ Bakunin, Mikhail (September 1868). Federalism, Socialism, Anti-Theologism (Speech). Geneva. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  9. ^ Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #33
  10. ^ DC Comics
  11. ^ "Whom Gods Destroy" #1-4 (1997)
  12. ^ George Clooney Interview http://www.clooneyfiles.com/press/interviews/int010.shtml