Maybe he has a vendetta against them. Maybe he just doesn’t like them. Or maybe they just can’t stop getting in the way of his fists. Whatever the reason, Batman has made a career out of fighting animals.
For the record, we do not condone beating up animals. However, we do condone watching Batman beat up animals (editor’s note: we don’t condone that, either). Whereas most of us would run from a rapid dog trying to eat us, the Caped Crusader jumps in fists first. He may not be the strongest of superheroes, but when it comes to knocking the lights out of wild beasts, none are more accomplished.
For simplicity’s sake, we’re limiting ourselves to actual animals. This means there’ll be no mention of the times Batman punched the Penguin or Robin. We’re also leaving out the likes of Killer Croc, Man-Bat and any other anthropomorphic adversaries, such as Ninja Turtles. It’s actually pretty astonishing how often Batman and animals go at it. Looking back, it would have been a lot easier, and quicker, to have made a list about the ones not punched by Batman. But where’s the fun in that?
Here are 18 Times Batman Just Had To Beat Up Animals.
18. When He Choked Out a Lion After Blowing Fire on It
We’ll start with his latest triumph over the animal kingdom in 2011’s Batman #31. The New 52’s Zero Year finds a young Dark Knight trying to stop the Riddler’s destructive reign over Gotham. Along the way he ends up in a makeshift parking garage coliseum with a pair of savage lions. As onlookers watch from above and the Riddler acts as master of ceremonies, Batman uses all his cunning, and a bit of brute strength, to overcome the beasts. To start, he slits the gas tank of a nearby car, fills his mouth with gasoline and, using his trusty Bat-lighter, spits fire all over the massive cats. He then lures one to follow him into the car only to reemerge with the singed lion hog-tied inside. Finally, ripping the bat emblem from his motorcycle, he takes a sizable chunk out of the remaining lions head and maneuvers onto its back where he expertly chokes it into submission. The Green Lantern uses his ring to kick small cats with cowboy boots, Batman takes large ones out with his bare hands and fire breathing. If there was ever any doubt who DC’s baddest-ass is, look no further.
Scott Snyder’s outlandishly epic retcon brought some good ole fashioned comic book-y fun to the New 52. But of the memorable moments he’s written, he singled this one out as his favorite. Batman has choked out a lot of animals. Going all the way back to the 40’s with Detective Comics #44, he infamously put a giant housecat in a full nelson. Not long after Bats dropped a saber-tooth tiger. Later in Detective Comics #612 he ended a ferocious issue long fight with a 600 pound Siberian tiger by strangling it with some Bat-rope. But of all those, we agree with Snyder that this one stands out as a culmination of Batman’s prowess to overcome his adversaries, no matter how wild or furry. Once again, Batman proves he’s the king of Gotham’s concrete jungles.
17. When He Shoulder Pressed a Talking Gorilla Strapped to a Bomb
Right from the beginning Bats has been battling animals. In 1939’s Detective Comics #31, he has a run in with a gorilla sent by the Caped Crusader’s first-ever costumed villain, the Monk. Batman flees from that gorilla not once but twice, and later gets lowered into a pit of snakes, which he also flees from. In the following issue he meets Monk’s den of wolves, which he momentarily stuns with a gas bomb long enough to run away again. Obviously Golden Age Batman hadn’t yet learned just how good he was at fighting animals.
Luckily, the World’s Greatest Detective would figure it out thanks to the Silver Age philosophy that “everything is better with gorillas.” As in most instances of Batman fighting animals, the details aren’t really all that important. In brief, Detective Comics #339 has a scientist develop a device that can transfer the abilities of one animal to another and we end up getting the super-intelligent Karmak the Gorilla. Karmak straps a bomb to his chest that will annihilate everyone in Gotham City except for himself (gorilla logic). When they meet, Batman gets right to it with a rapid fire succession of punches to Karmak’s hairy face. Then, in an amazing show of strength and a total disregard for the volatility of explosives, Batman twirls the massive gorilla around and flings him into a tree. He then somehow miraculously deduces that if Karmak is elevated off the ground the bomb will not go off (Batman logic). Batman presses the gorilla overheard and holds him there until, oddly enough, the bomb stops working. Victorious in both battle and physics, Batman throws the defeated beast to the ground.
So good was this premise that it was adapted into Bat-Manga for the Asian Bat-market. Only this time the gorilla wears a cape, Batman gains ape-like strength and Manga Robin admits if he was a super-intelligent primate he’d probably try and kill all of humanity, too. Also, Batman gets to fight a gorilla… in Japanese!
16. When He KO’ed a Dog
Batman didn’t really come into his own when it came to beating up animals until the pages of 1941’s Detective Comics #52. This was around the time he was still detecting things, so he found himself on a murder case involving Genghis Khan’s ring and some racist Golden Age stereotypes. Also, a wild dog in need of a punch.
Remember that scene in The Dark Knight when a dog bites Batman’s arm and he throws it aside like a rag doll? Well apparently PETA wasn’t a fan. If you can believe it, at one time they had Batman on their list of animal-friendly superheroes because his cape was made of pleather. Apparently they had never read a single Batman comic; if they had, they might have noticed that the Caped Crusader’s been dropping dogs from the get go.
When 1940s Bats is attacked by the wild dog and it threatens to tear him to pieces, he lands a desperate blow that seems to trigger something inside him as if to say, “Whoa, I can punch dogs.” In the next moment, the dog leaps towards our hero and in a time stopping Neo-esque moment of brilliance, Batman one shots the dog in the head, sending him to the floor out cold. And with that, Batman was officially a puncher of animals. Sorry, PETA.
15. When He Kicked a Bear in the Face on Christmas
In 1977 the world was given a Christmas miracle in the form of Batman #285 when the criminal hypnotist Dr. Tzin Tzin (remember him? Us either.) concocted a Grinch-inspired plan to make everyone forget that it was December 25th until the following day, in essence robbing Gotham of its Christmas. Eventually the city recovers in time to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, but not before Tzin conjures a bear-demon and sends it to fight Batman in a Christmas tree. Now, Batman is no stranger to drop kicking large beasts, but doing so in an effort to save Christmas is insanely special.
We know what the holidays mean to Batman. So it’s no surprise that when he receives a call about something going wrong during the Gotham tree lighting, Batman’s all over it. When the Dark Knight arrives on the scene and notices a bear poking its head out of the tree, he takes it upon himself to show it the true meaning of Christmas with an epic kick to the face. The bear tries to swipe in defense and Batman puts it in a full nelson. The bear is only able to escape after the tree comes alive and its ornamented branches strangle Batman. It’s then revealed that the bear was a grizzly apparition all along, conjured up by Tzin Tzin. That’s neither her nor there, because the moral of this entry is Batman loves Christmas. And hates bears.
14. When He Pummeled an Albino Gorilla with a Steel Pipe
Because DC thinks comic readers have the attention span of a gnat and because apparently there are only so many gorilla-centric storylines out there, the aforementioned story of Batman defeating a super-intelligent talking gorilla was later repurposed into 1979’s Detective Comics #482. This time around a mad scientist transfers his mind into the body of a giant gorilla who for some irrelevant reason is albino. The story opens with Batman strapped to a gurney and the massive ape explaining that he wants to transfer his brain into Bruce Wayne’s body so he can be rich and travel more. Upon hearing this Batman almost cries (click here to see Batman actually cry), but he quickly regains composure because no gorilla’s going to take his money. He bursts free from his restraints and uses judo to escape. The gorilla chases after him and what follows is a classic Batman beat down.
After realizing his fists and feet alone won’t be enough to stop the enraged beast, Batman triumphantly rips a vent pipe out of a rooftop and uses it to savagely pummel the gorilla. Somehow, that proves insufficient, but luckily right as the albino ape is about to throw Batman off a building, a security guard walks by and shoots it in the back. So basically an innocent gorilla gets brainwashed, beaten with a pipe and shot dead all because some jerk scientist wanted to vacation more.
13. When He Fought Sharks Dressed as a Pirate and Zorro
With this entry we get two animal beatings for the price of one. The Dark Knight has a long and storied history of shark fighting. They are perhaps his greatest animal rivalry, other than bears, of course. Oddly, two of those instances involved him dressed in a costume. You know, other than when he wears a suit that looks like bat.
In an Elseworlds story from Detective Comics Annual #7, we meet 17th century privateer Captain Leatherwing and his trusty first mate, Alfredo, as they do battle against the Laughing Man. In a plot to discover Leatherwing’s hidden Bat Cay, Laughing Man conspires with the feline-esque Captain Felina to gain Leatherwing’s confidence by having her jump into shark infested waters. Trick or no trick, pirate Batman never misses an opportunity to fight a shark. So impressive is this rescue, that he not only boots a shark in the face but does so while removing the woman’s dress because “it’ll drag her under.” As both climb safely aboard his ship, pirate Bats gets an eyeful of petticoat and, for good measure, Alfredo shoots the shark in the face.
This wasn’t the only time Bats saved someone while dressed as a swashbuckler. In the more canonized Detective Comics #828, Bruce Wayne is attending a costumed fundraiser at sea as Zorro when a friend unexpectedly falls overboard into shark infested waters. Bruce dives in and, with one arm basically behind his back, fights off two sharks simultaneously. The reason this is such a memorable moment is because normally when we see Batman pummel animals he’s wearing a mask. But here, we finally get to see his expression beneath the cowl, which turns out is complete apathy, as if fighting sharks is the most normal of things. Which we guess for Batman, it is.
12. When He Snapped the Jaw of an Animated Crocodile
If anyone believed that Batman: The Animated Series was going to be just another ho-hum kids show, they got a big surprise with its sixth episode, “The Underwellers.” In it, Batman investigates a series of crimes by “leprechauns” who he later discovers are orphaned children living in the sewers under the control of the Sewer King. Basically, it’s Oliver Twist meets Peter Pan meets Batman’s fist.
When Batman makes his way to the Sewer King’s underground lair and finds it occupied by dirtied homeless slave children, he gets pretty angry. The Sewer King, equally as upset over the intrusion, unleashes his pet crocodiles on the Caped Crusader. After calf roping one of the crocs and smashing another with a dinner bell, the Dark Knight stops a third just as its about to chomp down on him… and nonchalantly breaks its jaw. As the crocodile goes limp, the Sewer King screams in anguish, which is exactly how parents everywhere reacted when they realized their kids were watching a show about a superhero murdering animals, all to the playful sounds of an upbeat classical score.
11. When He Killed One of His Own Bats with a Dart
Most of the entries on this list are the result of wild animals threatening either Batman, someone close to him or Christmas. Like the time he skewered a shark because it was about to eat Alfred. Although we might not like it, that shark had it coming. But this, this is just straight up crazy.
Before Batman started leaving ominously placed Batarangs as his calling card, he thought it would be a good idea to send bad guys actual bats that he had killed. In 1941’s Detective Comics #43 we see this in action when he throws a bat attached to a dart through a crooks window. Geez, even the Joker just used a simple playing card.
The implications behind all this are frightening. Like the fact Golden Age Batman keeps a collection of bats hanging around so he can later kill them. Or that he was standing outside the crooks apartment stabbing a living bat to death with a dart just so he could scare them. An act that wasn’t even necessary because he had already terrified them by having his massive shadow appear on the wall. As far as Gotham’s bats must have been concerned, the Dark Knight could not start mass producing Batarangs fast enough.
10. When He Had to Prove His Identity by Mauling a Bear
Everyone knows that superheroes and bears are natural enemies. Whether it’s Punisher punching a polar bear in the face, Wolverine cutting a grizzly’s arm off, the Avengers getting smothered by bear hides, Green Lantern getting used by a stuffed teddy or the Hulk smashing a bear to death as it flees a forest fire, they don’t get along very well. But of them all, the Caped Crusader and bears have the most complicated history, which is probably why the Flash once used Slammer Slam, the man-fighter boxing bear, to prove Batman was Batman.
In 1976’s Action Comics #465 Lex Luthor uses scientific trickery to turn the Flash and Batman into 10-year old children. (At least this time we didn’t get Bat-Baby.) Long story short, when they meet up with Superman in a field, the Man of Steel is understandably suspicious and makes the pre-pubescent heroes prove their identities, which in the case of Batman means beating the crap out of bear that the Flash stole from a circus. As we said, Batman’s hatred of bears is common knowledge, so this test makes perfect sense. The second he’s confronted by the beast the young Dark Knight turns into a wild man, attacking with a veracity that scares even the bear. Even better? How after defeating Slammer Sam, mini-Bats strikes a Captain Morgan pose on the animal like a tiny boss. This is easily the most efficient and thorough takedown of a bear ever, and the Caped Crusader was only 10-years old at the time. Say he isn’t Batman, we dare you.
9. When He Kicked a Killer Falcon in the Face
In Detective Comics #395, Batman tries to stop a married couple from killing a Mexican government agent. The couple have been growing a hidden orchard of flowers that provide immortality, but also have the added side effect of making you go totally insane, which is a no no in Mexico. Batman finds their secret garden only to get dosed with the flower’s toxins and start hallucinating. Adding insult to injury the couple release their killer falcons on the Caped Crusader, who can’t tell if they’re real or not. (Hint: They’re real.)
Granted, Batman thought he might have been imagining them at the time, but that still doesn’t mean he needed to so violently decimate the birds. Or did he? They are after all killer falcons and while Bats is tripping, the birds try to eat him alive. Real or not, Batman’s not going to let a stupid bird get the better of him so he starts kicking them in the face. Leaving nothing to chance, the Dark Knight then bundles one of the falcons in his cape and swings it as hard as he can against a concrete pillar. That’ll teach you to get Batman high.
8. When He Punched a Charging Horse in the Head
Not all of Batman’s fights with animals end badly. As part of the New 52’s Death of the Family story arc, Batman #16 shows the Caped Crusader entering Arkham in pursuit of the Joker, recently reunited with his dismembered face. The issue plays out as a stroll through some of Bat’s best rogues until he finally ends up in an electric chair in hopes of saving the Bat-family. But before all that comes to fruition he is confronted by a mob of freed Arkham inmates fitted with flaming swords in the prison stables (though not before passing by a runaway horse that’s on fire). Batman takes on the entire group, trouncing them so all that remains is a single inmate riding atop a medievally equipped horse. Thus setting up one the most powerful Bat-punches we’ve ever seen.
Just how powerful? Batman stops this charging horse by punching it in the face so hard that they become friends on the very next page. That’s how powerful. That over with, Bats and his now faithful steed ride through the rest of Arkham Asylum. At least for a little bit. Soon after, Mr. Freeze gets the jump on Bats and freeze rays his new hoofed friend into a solid chunk of ice. Mr. Freeze then pistol whips the horse, shattering its head into hundreds of frozen bloodied pieces. Ok, so maybe this one also ended badly, but at least Batman didn’t kill the horse. And that feels like progress.
7. When He Punched a Charging Bull in the Head
It’s pretty clear that Batman likes punching things in the head. At the very least, he’s exceptionally skilled at doing so. Don’t tell him otherwise/don’t try and prove he isn’t/prove it otherwise. He’s kind of bull-headed that way. Which is ironic, because when Dr. Darkk tried to do that very thing in 1971’s Detective Comics #232, Batman punched a bull in the head to prove his point. Well, actually he did it to rescue Talia al Ghul and himself from imminent horn gorging danger. But you get the point. Don’t think Batman won’t punch a bull in the head to prove a point.
This issue is notable for being the first appearance of Batman’s most lethal femme fatale. While hunting down Darrk, a member of the League of Assassins, the Caped Crusader is taken captive, rendered unconscious by an onslaught of bamboo sticks and whisked off to a Buddhist monastery, where he awakes unmasked and being tended to by Talia. She too has been taken captive over a feud between the doctor and her father. Soon they find themselves at the center of Darrk’s twisted idea of sport – with Talia tied to a pole in the middle of a bull fighting arena and Batman left to choose between fleeing to save himself or staying to protect her from an angry two ton kill-crazed bull.
What ensues is a master class in fighting animals. Batman first decides to name the bull Ferdinand, because he likes to make his animal beating more personal. He then uses his cape to distract the beast and, as it runs toward him, delivers not just any punch but a “king-sized Sunday punch.” With the bull sufficiently stunned, Batman mocks it by calling it a hamburger (because Batman eats hamburgers made of bull) and lures it into charging Darrk’s onlooking henchmen, giving Batman enough time to rescue Talia. It’s awesome for all parties involved. Well except for the bull. He tragically gets killed by the henchmen. Burgers anyone?
6. When He Maced a Shark
There are plenty of reasons why the original Batman TV show is still fun, which is why we’re looking forward to Adam West and karate master Burt Ward reprising their iconic roles in the upcoming 60s inspired animated movie. Known for its camp silliness, the series is a touchstone of the era, culminating in 1966 with the near flawless Batman: The Movie. Everything anyone ever loved about the show was compiled into that one film, with one very special addition: an Adam West eating shark.
Why the Caped Crusader is hanging from a rope ladder is irrelevant. All that matters is Robin is a horrible pilot and Batman has the most resilient leg ever. After Robin dips him into the ocean and the Dark Knight comes out with an effing shark chowing down on his leg, Bats starts wailing on the fish’s rubbery skin in every which way possible. Robin finally proves useful when he quits piloting the Batcopter to hand Batman some Shark Repellent Bat Spray (never leave home with it). Batman maces the shark in the eyes, mouth and everywhere else he can until no hole is safe. Eventually the shark decides this is just not worth it and lets go. Batman, astonishingly unharmed, continues on his way.
West’s Batman is no stranger to going up against wild animals, but this is a whole new level of Batcamp. It might not be one of his best all around movie moments, but it’s certainly Batman’s best animal fighting movie moment, and possibly the best animal fighting moment of any movie or TV show. Ever.
5. When He Threw a Wolf Against a Wall, Twice
Remember Monk from Batman’s first run in with animals during the 30s? Well in the 2006 miniseries, Batman and the Mad Monk, the vampire villain returned in a reimagining of their initial meeting, only this time Monk was throwing a whole new breed of beast at the Dark Knight. Instead of cowardly fleeing the wolves like he did the first time around, modern day Batman’s response was a little more, shall we say, hands-on.
Batman tries to enter the Monk’s stone castle. A pair of blood thirsty timberwolves attack and he manages to wrangle the first one into submission. The other sinks its teeth into the Dark Knight’s thigh, leaving Batman no other choice but to repeatedly punch it in the head, pepper spray it in the eyes and then distract it with his PETA approved pleather cape long enough to grab it by the hairs and forcefully whack it back and forth against a stone wall. For the grand finale, Batman mercilessly snaps its spine. Don’t ever say Batman wastes second chances.
4. When He Lit a Bear on Fire and Rode it Off a Cliff
Detective Comics #440 begins with some hillbillies breaking into Gotham City’s version of the Playboy Club to kidnap a waitress and ends with Batman killing a bear. Basically, Batman’s life in a nutshell. If by 1974 the Dark Knight’s reputation as an animal beater hadn’t spread throughout the bear community, it was about to like a fire in a drought.
As the story goes, these inbreds hillbillies are the waitress’s brothers, and they’ve come to bring her back home to serve as a sacrifice in fending off the curse of Ghost Mountain. Batman saves the day but not before meeting the curse face to face – a giant angry man-eating grizzly bear. The World’s Greatest Animal Killing Detective deduces that because the beast is badly scarred and burned, it must have been driven to its murderous ways by humans. But instead of taking pity on it, Batman beats the bear with a chain, pushes it into a fire and mounts the grizzly so he can force it off a cliff where it plummets to its death on the rocky shore below. Suffice to say, bears learned a valuable lesson that day.
3. When He Elbowed a Leopard in the Mouth
The 70s were an exceptionally lucrative time in animal beating for Batman. We’ve already seen seven separate instances from the decade, and now get our eight with 1971’s Batman #232 thanks to one of the most influential team in comics, writer Denny O’Neil and penciler Neal Adams (creator of the most bonkers Batman story ever told). This issue is best known for being the first appearance of Ra’s al Ghul, and also the first time that Talia al Ghul expresses her love for the Dark Knight (seeing a man punch a bull will do that). It’s an excellent comic in its own right, opening with Robin getting shot and Ra’s al Ghul’s strutting into the Batcave declaring he knows the Dark Knight’s secret identity. But it’s not until after Ra’s enlists the Caped Crusaders help to save Robin and his captured daughter, that they find themselves in the underbelly of Calcutta and things truly get wild.
As Bats enters a back-alley building looking for clues, a ferocious leopard leaps out. Batman being Batman catches the leopard’s jaw with his elbow. He then adeptly wrestles it to the ground, placing the snarling beast in a…. hold. With the animal right where he wants it, Batman reaches into his trusty utility belt and administers a dose of sleep inducing leopard repellent to safely subdue the agitated jungle cat. Just kidding, he snaps its neck.
2. When He Killed a Shark Using Handcuffs
In one final installment of Batman-fighting-animals-during-the-seventies, O’Neil and Adams bring us “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” from Batman #251. The Joker has just escaped and is on the hunt for the former members of his gang that ratted him out. Batman arrives just in time to stop Joker from finishing off the last name on his list, now a senior citizen confined to a wheelchair. The Joker has his victim poised over a giant shark tank and agrees to let him go if Batman takes his place. The Bat abides and, after being handcuffed, is pushed along with the man into the tank by Joker. Thankfully Batman is the original MacGyver. He skillfully subdues the shark using only his handcuffs, snaps its neck and then breaks the glassed tank with the old crook’s wheelchair, saving them both and totally screwing the shark.
The Dark Knight’s thoughts throughout this whole ordeal are pretty confusing. First off, we’re not sure where he’s coming from by thinking this is his most unprepared fight (does he not remember when he was dropped in a bull ring without even handcuffs like two years ago?). Or that he’s never met a sea predator in its own element? One, a tank is not a shark’s “own element” and two, in Batman #4 from 1940 he literally gutted a shark with a pirate sword in the open seas. All that aside, how telling is it that while Bats is fighting the shark he is entirely indifferent over what will happen to it. “Maybe I’ll snap it’s spine… or something.” Or something? Seriously? You’re jacking up a shark with all your strength using a metal chain, what other possible outcome is there? Obviously, Batman could care less. Another day, another stupid shark death. Whatever. Who’s next?
1. When He Punched a Bald Eagle in the Face
In Batman & Robin Adventures #4, the Penguin pretends to take hostages at the Gotham City Zoo in an attempt to keep the cops at bay while he frees all of Gotham’s caged birds. We feel like we should hate the Penguin for this but it actually all sounds pretty noble. We keep waiting for him to reveal his true motives, like the birds have been trained to poop on everyone, but nope, he’s just trying to save some birds. Of course Batman calls him a lunatic and tries to stop him, which obviously he does, because he’s Batman. When the Penguin unleashes his two pet bald eagles, Batman, without missing a beat, punches one right in the face. The worst part? While battling the two eagles and slamming them into a glass case, he pleads, “you claim to love these animals, Penguin. So don’t make me hurt anymore of them.”
In the end, Batman helps authorities get nearly all the birds back in their cages because no animal is going to be happy on Batman’s watch. Penguin is captured and sent to jail for sixty years without the chance of parole in the harshest punishment ever dished out for helping birds, and in one final touching moment, we see him in his cell fondly looking at photos of some of the birds still flying free. But don’t worry, Batman will get those too. The issue is a swan song to the theme of freedom – Penguin’s attempt to bring freedom to caged birds everywhere and Batman’s freedom to destroy them.
We’d like to say this was the first time Batman slapped around bald eagles, but there’s Detective Comics #67. In a similar setup, the Dark Knight and Robin have captured the Penguin and, when he calls upon his avian friends to help, the dynamic duo merrily go about smashing the birds with their fists This allows the Penguin the opportunity to flee and Batman the opportunity to get his daily dose of animal cruelty.
Seriously, has anyone ever been so willing to punch a bald eagle? Or any animal for that matter?
Did we miss any other times Batman went mano a mano with an animal? Let us know know in the comments.