When Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was released in the spring of 2016 it was widely criticized for its portrayal of Batman. Zack Snyder’s interpretation of the character was much different than the version who had appeared in recent movies, the one who had a severe disdain for murder and the use of firearms after witnessing both of this parents be gunned down.
Historically, though, the Caped Crusader hasn’t always had a big problem with killing people. In the early years, he would often throw his villains out of a window or snap their necks. As the character developed over time, the “never kill” rule was adopted and although it’s been adhered to quite often, it’s also been ignored on numerous occasions.
Even when Batman isn’t willing to cross the line and kill his villains, he is still capable of some pretty disturbing acts of violence from time to time, and in some instances, can sentence his villains to fates that are “worse than death.” Many of these acts will make you wonder just exactly what the writers were thinking when they came up with them.
Here are the 15 Most WTF Things Batman Has Done To His Villains.
15. Violence in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
The aforementioned version of Batman played by Ben Affleck in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was harshly criticized for his willingness, not only to kill people, but also to torture them in some pretty violent ways. He branded one man with the Batman logo and stabbed another guy with a knife before twisting it around inside the guy. The film’s warehouse scene is just one big violence fest. The Dark Knight forces men to shoot each other, blows people up with a grenade, and smashes a guy in the head with a crate – among other things.
After years of watching Christian Bale’s version of Batman constantly proclaim an unwillingness to kill (a rule he too occasionally broke) in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, it was pretty shocking for most people to see a Batman who seemed like he cared so little for the lives of his villains that torture and murder were regular occurrences for him.
14. Killed the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989)
The Batman portrayed by Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s 1989 film is often cited as being the most recent violent Dark Knight portrayed on the big screen prior to Ben Affleck’s version. In this movie, Batman allows Jack Napier to fall into a vat of chemicals, turning him into the Joker. The Joker then terrorizes Gotham City using a chemical that causes people to die laughing. After Batman rescues the city, the Joker takes Vicki Vale hostage in a cathedral where he meets Batman for their final showdown.
After the two struggle, the Joker tries to escape by helicopter, but Batman won’t let him get away that easy. He uses his grappling hook to tie one of the building’s gargoyles to the Joker. The weight of the gargoyle causes the Joker to lose his grip on the helicopter and he plummets to his death.
Prior to this killing, Batman also committed several other acts of violence in the film that people weren’t accustomed to seeing. He put a bomb in a guy’s pants, dropped a man from a bell tower, and used bombs and a flame-thrower from the Batmobile on his enemies.
13. Threw a man onto his own sword
One of the early instances of Batman using violence when it wasn’t absolutely unnecessary occurs in Detective Comics #37, after Batman rescues a man he hears screaming in an abandoned warehouse and winds up uncovering a gang of spies, led by Elias Turg. The men are planning to attack an incoming ship, but Batman is able to stop them and defeats most of the gang before doing battle with Turg. During their fight, Turg tries to kill Batman by throwing a sword at him, but Batman dodges it and the sword gets lodged in a nearby door. Now without any weapons at his disposal, Turg is prepared to surrender himself to the Caped Crusader and is clearly terrified as he approaches the hero.
Batman could’ve easily just accepted the man’s surrender and taken him to the police, but instead he chose to beat the man up and then toss him on his own sword, which goes through the back of Turg’s neck.
12. Threw two men into a trash compactor
Though much of Batman’s violence in comic books occurred in the early years, before the writers really had a true understanding of the character they were developing, things sometimes got pretty gruesome in later years too. 1990’s Detective Comics #613 features a story about a teenage boy, Mike Dell, who tags along to his father’s job as a garbage man, for a school project. While they are out collecting garbage, the workers are beaten up by men who work for a rival garbage company.
The skirmish is noticed by Bruce Wayne, who is on a nearby lunch date with Vicki Vale. That night, Mike secretly follows his old man to the junkyard, where he is once again confronted by his early attackers. Mike attempts to help his father and is shot in the chest before Batman finally springs to the rescue.
In the battle that ensues, the Caped Crusader sends one of the crooks flying into another and both men topple into a nearby trash compactor. Batman himself appears horrified at what he has just done, but it’s too late to do anything about it as both men are crushed to death instantly.
11. He crushed a group of Mongols to death with a statue
In addition to being much more violent, the early days of Batman also featured a lot of discrimination against Asian characters. This was during the height of World War II, so the comics writers didn’t mind writing stories where Batman wiped out some Asian people. One such instance occurred in Detective Comics #39. After a pair of millionaires are kidnapped, Batman uses clues and the help of Wong, the unofficial “mayor of Chinatown”, to discover that the Tong of the Green Dragon is responsible for the crimes.
After finding Wong murdered by the Hatchet Man, Batman battles the villain while Robin secretly uncovers another clue, left by Wong. However, he gets captured and has to battle a Mongolian man in a sword fight. Batman arrives to help the Boy Wonder and during the ensuing battle, a group of Mongols charge towards Batman. Batman then manages to push over a large green statue, crushing all of the men to death. After his mass murder is complete, Batman fights off the group’s leader and frees the millionaires.
10. He pushed a man into a vat of acid
Keaton’s Batman allowing Jack Napier to fall into a vat of chemicals may not have been intentional, but it’s not the first time such a thing has occurred. In Batman’s first ever appearance, in Detective Comics #27, he is tasked with solving the murder of a chemical manufacturer, Lambert, with three of Lambert’s partners – Crane, Rogers, and Skyler – being the main suspects. After Crane is gunned down, Batman beats up one of his attackers and throws another from a two-story building. Next he rescues a tied-up Rogers from Skyler, who is revealed to be the main culprit. Skyler wanted to kill the men so that he wouldn’t have to pay out contracts he had previously agreed to.
During the confrontation, Batman punches Skyler so hard that he falls into a vat of acid and, unlike the Joker, there would be no returning for Skyler as a supervillain. For his part, Batman doesn’t seem to feel too bad about Skyler’s death, as he calls it a “fitting end for his kind.“
9. Gave Bootface, Bat Head, and other various injuries
During the 2012 “War of the Robins” storyline, the villain Terminus assembles a group of criminals as he tries to get revenge on Batman. This group featured several characters who had suffered injuries at the hands of Batman which left them permanently physically and/or mentally disfigured.
There was Bootface, a man with a permanent footprint on his face after a kick to the head from Batman. There was Bat Head, a man who had a Batarang stuck in his head which disrupted his speech pattern. There was also Scallop, a woman who had taken a shot from Batman’s arm spikes in her neck and through an ear, and Smush, three men who had been merged into one thanks to a chemical explosion caused by Batman and Robin.
The team’s plan is to exact revenge against Batman by going around Gotham City and branding people with Batman’s logo, but they ended up being defeated, in large part due to the help of the former Robins, and are sent to prison.
8. He crushed a drug dealer with a pile of cars
Another story of Batman killing someone in a junkyard occurs in Batman #425. This one involves an angry drug dealer, Jose Garzonas, who is out for retribution and takes Commissioner James Gordon hostage. Garzonas is out for revenge because Robin killed his son – a man who had committed sexual assault – by dropping him off a building. Batman arrives at the junkyard to confront the man and gets shot at by two men who end up killing each other after he jumps out of the way. After taking out several more men, Batman meets Garzonas who is prepared to kill him before Robin, who had been hiding in the Batmobile’s trunk, uses a Batarang to stop him. The pair of heroes then take down the rest of Garzonas’ goons while Gordon escapes.
Garzonas then chases Batman through the junkyard and onto a stack of used cars, which Batman topples over to crush Garzonas to death. After another gruesome murder, Batman then proceeds to lecture Robin about how there are consequences for his actions.
7. He kicked one man onto another man’s sword
Another instance of Batman targeting Asian characters occurs in Detective Comics #35. In this story, a man named Weldon informs Commissioner Gordon that he had received death threats from Hindu idol worshipers after a man named Sheldon Lenox sold him a small statue of Kila, the Hindu god of destruction. During the investigation, Batman uncovers a fencing ring in Chinatown led by a man named Sin Fang. During a battle with Fang’s men, Batman violently kills one of them by kicking the sword out of his hands and pushing him backwards onto a sword being held by another.
Perhaps it’s not a surprise at this point, but this isn’t the only brutal murder committed by Batman in this story. He later battles Sin Fang, who he discovers is really Sheldon Lenox, and in typical fashion for Batman of those early days, punches him out a window. This murder isn’t blamed on Batman, though, as it’s just chalked up to another victim being taken by the Hindu idol.
6. Tried to kill his fiancee’s father with the gun that killed his parents
In Batman: Year 2, the Dark Knight must contend with another vigilante, The Reaper, who bests him in their first battle. Batman then decides that the only way to defeat The Reaper is by doing something he hates – using a gun. He retrieves the gun used to kill his parents and plans to use it to get the job done. That’s not all, though. He also crashes a meeting involving a number of criminals to enlist their help.
Batman is forced to work with Joe Chill, the man responsible for the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but plans to kill him after taking out The Reaper. After a battle in which a number criminals are killed and The Reaper is thought to be dead, Batman takes Chill to the site of his parents’ death and threatens to kill him.
The Reaper, still alive, arrives and shoots Chill first and then battles with Batman, who discovers that The Reaper is really Judson Caspian – the father of Batman’s fiancee, Rachel. Shortly thereafter, The Reaper falls to his death. Distraught at the news about her father, Rachel breaks off her engagement with Batman and becomes a nun.
5. Launched Lord Death Man into space
Unlike other villains, the man Batman dealt with in Batman Incorporated, Lord Death Man, couldn’t be defeated simply by throwing him into a vat of acid, tossing him out a window, or crushing him with a foreign object. Having appeared in earlier comics as a Japanese villain in a skeleton costume with the ability to use yoga to fake his own death, Lord Death Man returned in these comics with a new ability – bringing himself back from the dead. He puts his powers on display by resurrecting himself in the middle of an autopsy and killing a bunch of people in a hospital.
After finally being defeated by Batman, Catwoman, and Jiro Osamu – the double of Mr. Unknown, who he had earlier killed – Lord Death Man is not allowed to escape again. Batman is determined to get rid of him once and for all, and sentences him to a “fate worse than death” by tying him to rocket and shooting him into space for all eternity.
4. Left the KGBeast to starve to death
The “Ten Nights of the Beast” storyline spanned four issues, Batman #417-420, and featured a Cold War-themed character, the KGBeast, who was sent by the Soviet Union to the United States, Among other things, part of the KGBeast’s mission is to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. The beast is able to outsmart Batman on several occasions, in one instance even chopping off his own hand to escape, before the pair meet in the sewer for their final encounter.
Here, Batman is able to lure his enemy into an abandoned room and, rather than beat up the Beast and tie him up until the police arrive, Batman chooses a simple method to ensure that the Beast will not escape again. He locks the room with a steel door and walks away, leaving the KGBeast to starve to death. It was such a cold and callous act that a later writer of the comic would try to undo it by having Batman return to unlock the KGBeast, only to find that he’d been able to escape.
3. Disintegrated Ra’s Al Ghul
In Batman Annual #8, the Caped Crusader agrees to a “duel to the death” with Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s Al Ghul was in possession of a weapon that could kill anyone by using his space station to expose them to the red sunlight, provided they drank a chemical which he was putting in their drinking water. Per the terms of their duel, both Ra’s Al Ghul and Batman would drink the chemical and the loser of the fight would be exposed to the sunlight. However, Ra’s Al Ghul is able to escape the battle and leave the space station. Little does Ra’s Al Ghul know, Batman had previously made his escape craft controllable by remote. Batman then uses the remote to fly the craft towards the red sunlight, instantly disintegrating his enemy.
As Talia Al Ghul begins sobbing, Robin looks on in horror at what has just transpired, exclaiming, “but Batman… you’ve killed him!” Despite his horrific act, Batman isn’t so sure that Ra’s Al Ghul is dead for good and walks away asking, “Have I, Robin?”
2. Set men on fire and then hooked up with Black Canary
Frank Miller’s version of the Dark Knight in the All Star Batman and Robin series was not well received, as it too featured a more violent and profane Batman than people had become accustomed. One of the biggest examples of this occurs when he goes down to the docks to aid Black Canary in stopping a bunch of criminals from stealing a shipment of bleach. Batman pours the bleach all over the men and then sets them on fire. As if that weren’t enough, he continues to beat up the men while they are ablaze, with Black Canary watching on, aroused by his violence.
Rather than put out the fire and tie up the men until they can be apprehended by police, Batman and Black Canary then proceed to make love on the docks with their masks on – “it’s better that way” according to Batman – while the men continue burning to death around them.
1. Hanged a man from the Batplane
Perhaps the most cruel act ever perpetrated by the Dark Knight occurred in Batman #1. After Hugo Strange injects men suffering from mental illnesses with a serum to turn them into monsters, one of these men is being driven into town where Strange plans to rob a bank. Then Batman attacks in his Batplane. He shoots the truck driver with the plane’s gun, causing the truck to crash. Once the monster falls out of the back of the truck, Batman wraps a noose around the guy’s neck and hangs him from the Batplane until he strangles to death. The Caped Crusader then flies off with the man’s lifeless body hanging below as he proclaims, “He’s probably better off this way.”
What makes this act even more cruel is the fact that earlier on in the story Batman too had been injected with the serum and developed an antidote to cure himself. He could’ve tried the same antidote on the monster, but instead chose to kill him before he could even harm anyone with a method that’s guaranteed to make anyone wonder: WTF?
Are there any other WTF things Batman‘s done to his enemies that spring to mind? Share them in the comments!