In comic book movies, we’ve gotten used to the huge storm of interest surrounding the heroes and the villains who will be in the film. But as recent events surrounding Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming have demonstrated, in superhero movies, it’s not just the people in the masks that fans are passionate about. Balancing a love life is also a part of the story of many heroes, so people have strong feelings about how those romances are portrayed.
We’ve already discussed Batman’s most interesting pairings with his enemies, but his romantic partners seriously make a list long enough to rival his gallery of rogues. If we covered each one in depth, this list would become a novella, so we’re going to mainly be looking at the women in Bruce’s life who have shaped some of his most significant moments, and had the lasting power to still be remembered even when the romance didn’t work out. If you’ve ever considered Batman a lonely person, that’s about to change, because he’s been with a lot of people over the years.
These are Batman’s 20 Best Romances, Ranked.
20. BAT GIRL
This romance ranks at the bottom of the list not because it’s not noteworthy or because no one remembers it. It’s at the bottom because many people wish they didn’t remember this relationship. Ever since fans first heard that Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon had a romantic history in Batman Beyond, people were confused and uncomfortable with it. Batman and his allies are often called the Bat Family for a reason– because they really are like blood relatives at times. Batman is a patriarch who has taken in youths to raise and train, adopting a young Jason Todd. Dick Grayson has even referred to Batman as his father. Barbara also came to Batman when she was young, looking up to him. How could Bruce look at her as a lover?
Well, in the recent movie adaption of The Killing Joke, we found out how. In one of the most criticized aspects of the movie, the first portion of the story shows Barbara being fixated on Batman, ultimately culminating in them fighting on a rooftop, which transitions into the two presumably sleeping together. Sure, Barbara is a grown woman at this point, but a lot of fans couldn’t get over her history of looking to Batman as a mentor. Plus there’s the awkward aspect of Bruce sleeping with the daughter of Jim Gordon, one of his closest friends. The awkwardness of dating within the Bat Family also makes a good case for why Kathy Kane, Batwoman, probably wasn’t great for Bruce either.
19. POISON IVY
As Poison Ivy, AKA Pamela Isley, likes to brag, no one can resist her. So there’s not too many DC characters who have encountered Ivy and not fallen under her spell. Her love spells have ensnared the likes of Catwoman, Superman, and yes, even Batman. It’s going to be challenge keeping track of the “romances” in Batman’s life that he doesn’t even want.
Batman and Ivy could never work for many reasons. Of course, there is the fact that her partners often fall for her against their will. And then there is the fact that kissing her is a quick way to an early grave, thanks to her poisons. But lastly, and most importantly, Poison Ivy only has one true love and it is not any human. She’s a plant lover first and foremost, so unless Batman ever becomes a sentient bouquet of flowers, he is not going to hold Ivy’s interest for any longer than he proves useful to control.
Honestly, the romance between Bekka and Batman shares a lot of commonalities with what has already been said about Poison Ivy, to the point that it almost feels like rehashing the same romance. But Bekka gains some points for originality since she’s not just some cliché temptress archetype, but actually has her powers due to being a New God. It just so happens that she is the New God of Love, so her powers as a deity basically include playing Cupid.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) for Batman, he wound up becoming partners with Bekka for a while as they worked to stop some of Darkseid’s plans. And, you guessed it, Batman couldn’t resist her. Unlike Poison Ivy, though, whoever Bekka’s powers seduced also affected her, meaning she couldn’t resist Batman either. And there’s not really much to say beyond that besides the fact that the two of them wound up having sex once as a result. A one night stand doesn’t exactly rank high for long-term romance.
17. BLACK CANARY
While some fictionalized relationships can be idyllic, it’s far more realistic for two people to have their ups and downs. And as anyone who has read All Star Batman & Robin knows, Black Canary and Batman have had a major down. Not in terms of their relationship being rocky, but more in terns of it being downright weird. The whole comic is considered a far cry from Frank Miller’s earlier excellent contributions to the Batman lore, like Year One, and The Dark Knight Returns. But one of the most infamous moments of the book is Batman possibly killing a bunch of criminals during a dock fire, and Black Canary apparently getting quite turned on when she stumbles upon the display. The two subsequently have sex in an alleyway, leaving their costumes on because “it’s better that way.”
Thankfully, that’s the low point of their relationship, and they do have some better moments. As part of the Justice League, the two dipped their toes into attempting a romance. The only snag was that Canary was still with Green Arrow at the time, which inevitably led to conflict within the League. Still, a love triangle is certainly more engrossing and more romantic than deciding to have a date lying in some dirty alley.
16. VESPER FAIRCHILD
For someone with a secret identity, you’ll quickly learn that Bruce has an odd fixation on getting with women who could expose his alter ego. Vesper is one of several women in Bruce’s life who worked in media, but unfortunately for her, her association with Bruce wound up hurting her far more than it did him. It already starts badly when Vesper confesses her love to Bruce, but he keeps her at arm’s length because he fears her learning his secret.
The situation gets worse for every involved as Vesper starts picking up on the trail connecting Bruce to Batman, leading to him to worry whether her job or her love for him will win out if she ever finds out for sure. But it’s Vesper who pays the biggest price, eventually losing her life at the hands of one of Batman’s enemies due to her connection to the wealthy crime fighter. This is a relationship that really just wound up hurting both people. And yet, Bruce has continued to date many other media types, including the more recent Charlotte Rivers.
15. JULIA PENNYWORTH
We’ve got to be honest, this one is more noteworthy just because of how amusing it is that Bruce Wayne would seriously date his own butler’s daughter. Julia Pennyworth is a grown woman and everything, so she’s absolutely entitled to make her own decisions, but you’ve got to think Alfred feels pretty awkward about the whole thing. But then, Batman had sex with his friend’s daughter on a rooftop, and Green Arrow’s love interest in an alleyway. Clearly Bruce doesn’t let prior friendships disrupt his romantic appetites. And this won’t be the last time we see this either.
Regardless, Julia didn’t even know Alfred growing up, so that does make it a bit more understandable that he wouldn’t be overprotective of her. She’s also quite capable of taking care of herself, thanks to growing up as a Resistance fighter in France. At first, she’s even disdainful of her father for being nothing more than a butler, but once she learns the truth about the situation regarding Batman, she becomes more eager to help and to get closer with Bruce.
14. LINDA PAGE
While not the first woman in Bruce’s life, Linda Page does have a history with him dating back quite some time. In comparison to the other women so far, Linda was far more ordinary. She didn’t have superpowers, she couldn’t compel people to fall in love with her, and she didn’t have some infamous back alley moment with Batman. She was just a rich woman who appealed to Bruce, and enjoyed helping the elderly on the side. And there’s nothing wrong with Bruce looking for that normalcy in his life. She was certainly a better fit for him than some others mentioned thus far.
And even though Linda wasn’t the original Batman romance, she was one of his first romances ever brought to a live-action audience. A few years after Batman’s comic book debut, the 1943 Batman theatrical serial was released, with Linda Page featuring. And while it’s a far cry from something as popular The Dark Knight, it does place Linda as a historic figure for movie goers.
13. RACHEL DAWES
In a bit of an odd move, when Christopher Nolan got his crack at the Batman franchise, rather than using one of Bruce’s many, many preexisting love interests for the new movies, he went and created the character Rachel Dawes. Dawn Golden is another romance from the comics who shares a lot of Rachel’s characteristics, so it’s surprising she wasn’t just used instead. But Rachel had the rare distinction of being someone Bruce knew from when he was a child, aso she already knew of all the baggage he carried from his parents’ deaths. That bond carried over into adulthood, with Rachel teased as a possible shoulder for Bruce to lean on and someone to turn to for romantic support.
Rachel is a middling entry overall, because even Christopher Nolan apparently wound up dissatisfied with her effect on the story. She was played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins, but, after criticism for her performance, Maggie Gyllenhaal played her in the sequel. Maggie didn’t have long with the role either, since she became a victim of one of the Joker’s traps before the credits rolled. It’s hard to say she could have been a great romance for Bruce had she lived though, since she left him a letter explicitly stating she was in love with Harvey Dent and wanted to be with him.
12. JEZEBEL JET
They say opposites attract, but let’s face it, that only goes so far. You need at least some similarities to base a relationship on, and Jezebel Jet certainly had a lot in common with Bruce Wayne. Like Bruce, she lost her parents when she was a child, so she was in a position to understand Bruce’s grief induced by Joe Chill quite well. Another aspect that didn’t hurt was that Jezebel was also quite rich, so she was able to keep up with his luxurious lifestyle.
Unfortunately for Bruce, Jezebel was a bit too similar to him, and wound up having a secret identity just like him. Only hers was as an agent of the villainous Black Glove organization. Her plan to lure Batman wasn’t successful and, before she got another crack at it, one of Bruce’s other evil love interests put an end to Jezebel and Bruce—by decapitating her.
11. ZATANNA ZATARA
Zatanna marks another failed romance for Bruce, but not due to any issue on her part. Her more cheerful personality seems like just the thing Bruce could use in his life, and she’s more than powerful enough to defend herself, which is a huge plus for anyone dating a superhero. Zatanna doesn’t rank higher, though, because the magician and the Dark Knight never really amounted to much romantically over the years.
Zatanna made it clear that she wanted to get closer to Bruce and, based on the things he said, it seemed he too would have liked that. But when pressed on why he seemed to be pushing her away, Bruce told Zatanna that he cared too much about her to get closer to her, which is a pretty flimsy excuse. That clichéd superhero line might work for ordinary, vulnerable humans, but Zatanna is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC roster. Plus, we clearly see that Bruce has no problems letting his guard down with other women later on. This was just Batman being afraid to take a chance.
10. LOIS LANE
Jeeze, Bruce, really? Did he run out of other women in the world that he had to take an interest in Superman‘s longtime romance too? But maybe after nearly taking Black Canary from Green Arrow, he was already comfortable disregarding people’s relationship statuses.
Regardless, Bruce’s taste for journalists continued with his infatuation with the well-known Daily Planet reporter. And to be fair to Bruce, it’s not like he had to do much convincing to get Lois to give him a chance. They started dating and seemed to be doing well, but as always, Bruce inevitably has to get to the point where he tells those closest to him about his other persona. And Lois wasn’t a fan of that at all.
Lois obviously has tons of knowledge about what it’s like to date superheroes thanks to her time with Superman. And evidently she was ready for something different when she started dating Bruce, because once she found out he was Batman, she dumped him.
9. NOCTURNA/NATALIA KNIGHT
Before dating vampires became the cool thing for every teenager to do, Natalia Knight, later known as Nocturna, was the ghoulish-looking woman in Batman’s romantic life. She wasn’t a true vampire, though, and just had unnaturally pale skin and a sensitivity to light due to an accident which affected her physically. Still, it’s not hard to see what the writers were trying to evoke by pairing up this night-loving vampire-esque character with a guy who dresses up as a bat.
Her history with Batman began after an attempt at reformation from her previously villainous way. And for a while, it seemed like it might work out. The two became close, both emotionally and physically, and Nocturna even reached the point of suggesting marriage. Unfortunately, she also had a jealous ex who didn’t take it well when she rejected him for Bruce. Her ex wound up wanting her dead, and that kind of thing spoils the mood for the current relationship pretty fast.
8. WONDER WOMAN
Superheroes having romantic relationships with each other is pretty understandable. It has to be tiring keeping up the whole secret identity thing around a normal person who couldn’t be trusted with that information. Plus, there’s the power differential between most heroes and their ordinary human love interests. But maybe Batman went a little too far in the other direction when he started showing an attraction for the incredibly powerful, even by superhero standards, Wonder Woman.
It’s not like the two of them didn’t make for an interesting couple, though. Serving in the Justice League together, they obviously saw a lot of each other and had many of the same problems. Their attempt at a relationship really began forming in the Justice League cartoons, where they got as far as sharing a kiss. Both were reluctant to pursue things from there, though, due to their respective baggage, so the relationship fizzled out. Though judging by the trailers for the Justice League movie, it’s entirely possible we could see this romance rekindle.
7. SASHA BORDEAUX
While Batman is more used to the role of protector than the one being protected, Bruce Wayne is a little more vulnerable. There’s only so much Bruce can do in a crowd without the risk of exposing that he’s not the harmless socialite he pretends to be. That’s why Lucius Fox hired him a bodyguard, a woman by the name of Sasha Bordeaux. And understandably, Bruce was resistant to the idea out of fear that she would discover his night job. Which she did.
But rather than betray him, Sasha became an even more fierce protector of Bruce after knowing his value to the city as Batman. She even came to love him for his devotion to protecting Gotham. At first, Bruce was more interested in other women in his life, but eventually he was drawn to this partner who could understand the danger he faced. But it was also that danger that drove them apart, since it’s hard to focus on building lives together when you’re constantly having to worry if the other one will be alive following the next crisis.
6. JULIE MADISON
So some of you might recognize this name from Batman & Robin and immediately be wondering why anything associated with that movie would even be worth talking about. And if that were Julie Madison’s only contribution to the Batman franchise, you better believe she’d have been booted into a dishonorable mention section. But Julie is actually one of the most significant women in Bruce’s long romantic history. Her time alongside Bruce dates back almost to Batman’s first very comic book issue, with her debut coming in 1939.
In their original history, Julie was the first woman to break it off with Bruce because she didn’t know he was Batman, and she was sick of his inability to explain his absences for so often. She did get another crack at being with him in the New 52 storylines, but she lets him go once again after realizing his greater significance to the world as Batman. But even though this romance didn’t work out, Julie is still huge for Bruce’s past since she was essentially his first love.
5. VICKI VALE
For many fans, Vicki Vale was Batman’s first major love interest. Their history together goes back to the comics of the ’50s where Bruce dated the Gotham Gazette reporter. She was like his own version of Superman’s Lois Lane (which makes that earlier entry about Lois pretty awkward and odd). And maybe this is where Bruce’s seeming fixation on journalists all began. After all, he did have it pretty good with Vicki for a pretty long time.
Unfortunately for Vicki, she lost her status as Bruce’s classic flame as the years went by and his eye wandered over to new women in his life. She does hold the distinction of being in the first ever theatrical Batman full-length movie, playing opposite Michael Keaton. So even if she wasn’t the one for Batman to spend his life with, she’s left her mark on the legacy of the franchise by being introduced to many movie-goers as Batman’s first onscreen romance.
4. THE PHANTASM/ANDREA BEAUMONT
For the few of you who haven’t heard (in which case you’re missing out on a good Batman animated movie), The Phantasm is the masked alter ego for the woman Andrea Beaumont. Andrea is also one of the earlier lovers Bruce had during his career, and one of his more successful romantic relationships. But you know the story by now: something always goes wrong and ruins it for Bruce, who seems destined to be forever alone.
In this case, it’s criminals murdering Andrea’s father that takes her out of paradise right as she and Bruce plan to marry. Andrea is almost like another version of Jezebel Jet, in that she is affluent and seems perfect for Bruce, but then her alter ego comes out and splits them apart. Unlike Jet, Andrea’s Phantasm persona is really more of anti-hero– almost a female Batman. She doesn’t want to rule or destroy the world, just revenge for her slain family, You’d almost think that’d make her even more desirable to Bruce. Alas, after showing some ideological differences when taking down the Joker together, the Phantasm, and Andrea, disappear from Bruce’s life for good.
3. TALIA AL GHUL
This is one of the few more one-sided romances on this list. While Batman has attempted to trust Talia at various times, it has seldom worked out well for long and he’s usually attempted to move on from this romance. Talia, however, is a woman who doesn’t take no for an answer. Bruce has dated other female assassins, such as Penumbra, but Talia is here among the more notable because she doesn’t give up. Ra’s al Ghul wants a successor and has determined Batman to be the best fit, which includes giving the Dark Knight his daughter to have children with. Batman has rejected the League of Assassins as well as Talia, but he and Talia nonetheless wound up becoming parents to Damian Wayne.
The really messed up part of this relationship actually centers on how Damian came about. Depending on the story, Bruce and Talia’s son was either created in an artificial womb without Bruce’s knowledge or, going by the events of the animated film Son of Batman, Talia has even admitted to drugging and raping Bruce before unveiling Damian. Someone willing to ignore those kinds of boundaries definitely isn’t a woman Bruce should be looking to wind up with. She has even married herself to Bruce without his consent. Talia is seriously one of Bruce’s most unhealthy, yet enduring, love interests.
2. SILVER ST. CLOUD
Of all Batman’s non-superpowered lovers, he and Silver St. Cloud perhaps came the closest to working out of all of them. She shares a lot of qualities with women lower on this list, such as a personality that brought out the best in Bruce, and the funds to keep up with him socially and not have to depend on him. But, as has proven a difficult hurdle for several of the women in his life, she couldn’t cope with finding out that Bruce Wayne was Batman and that his life would be in constant danger.
Just when it looked like Silver would fall into that same pattern of Bruce’s other lovers, she returned to him and told him she cared about him too much to just move on. She decided she could accept him as Batman as long as she had him as Bruce Wayne. Bruce was elated that he had finally found someone he could trust completely, and even proposed to Silver. But of course, Batman rarely gets his happily-ever-after moment.
Bruce was even thinking of stepping down as Batman when he saw a new hero stepping up who could protect the world. He invited the newbie to meet him and Silver and to explain who he was. In punishment for daring to think of hanging up the cowl, the new hero revealed himself to Batman as a villain and immediately killed Silver.
HONORABLE MENTION: THE JOKER
Okay, so this isn’t a romance in the sense that the two dated or anything, but it’s such an underlying aspect of the conflict between Batman and the Joker that it has to be mentioned. This is one of the most storied rivalries in all of comics, and so much of it has to do with Joker’s fixation on Batman. As we’ve learned throughout their battles, the Joker doesn’t care about Bruce Wayne, and has even shown indifference towards any sort of master plan behind his destruction. Instead, the Clown Prince is obsessed with bringing Batman down to his level, getting him to abandon his moral code, and driving him to kill.
And though you might think the Dark Knight couldn’t be more disinterested in anything resembling romance with the Joker, just look at his refusal to rid himself of the Joker. Comic fans have frequently pointed out how there is blood on Batman’s hands for his refusal to permanently put an end to the Joker. Batman knows no criminal is more dangerous to Gotham and his loved ones, and yet some part of him just can’t bring himself to let go of this toxic relationship.
1. CATWOMAN/SELINA KYLE
The romantic tension between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne is one of the most frequently depicted dynamics in Batman’s life. Despite Catwoman’s appetite for stealing and her on-again, off-again forays into villainy, she clearly piques the interest of the Bat. Is her flirtation just part of her deception, or can Batman actually trust her and maybe even love her? Well, depending on the story continuity you’re looking at, we get some pretty definitive answers about that.
In stories like The Dark Knight Rises movie, Bruce and Selina apparently leave behind their masked alter egos and run away together. In some timelines of the comics, the two of them are shown to be married, and even having children together. Catwoman sits at the top of this list because she has proven to be one of Bruce’s most enduring partners, is one that fans have been receptive to, and watching the cat-and-mouse games of their budding relationship is always fun. Plus, she seems to be the only one who he can actually make it to the wedding altar with, and it looks like it takes nine lives just to survive being with Batman.
Who do you think has been the best woman Batman has had in his life? Sound off in the comments about which lover you think has been the best for Bruce Wayne!
You’ll be able to see more of Batman in Justice League, coming to theaters November 17, 2017.