Comic books have been around for a very long time, with superheroes having led the industry since the 1930s. Over the decades, there have been numerous incarnations and reboots of popular characters such as The Flash and Green Lantern, with legacy characters like Batman and Superman receiving updated origin stories several times over.
From the Golden Age to the Modern Age, comic books have become so perplexing that it is seemingly impossible to jump in without knowing where to start. That is why DC Comics has attempted to attract new readers with their hugely successful DC: Rebirth relaunch.
However, with the advent of the multiverse, via events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint, understanding the history of DC Comics and its characters has never been more confounding — and that has allowed for some outlandish fan theories to take root. Here are the 15 Craziest DC Comics Fan Theories.
15. Batman kills The Joker in The Killing Joke
Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s iconic one-shot graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke is arguably the greatest Joker story ever told, having not only profoundly impacted the Batman Family, but also the caused a seismic shift in the direction of Batman narratives going forward. When the novel released, there were numerous controversies — notably the treatment of Barbara Gordon — but one stuck out to longtime Batman fans in particular: Batman laughing with Joker at the end of the story.
While many see Batman at the end of his rope, simply laughing at the Joker’s joke, some fans believe the Dark Knight, in fact, kills the Joker — which is why it’s called The Killing Joke (something legendary Batman writer Grant Morrison agrees with). Despite overwhelming support for the theory, whether or not Batman does indeed kill the Joker is ambiguous, and something that remains elusive even in Sam Liu’s animated adaptation Batman: The Killing Joke.
14. The Joker is the God of Laughter
One of the biggest mysteries in all of comic book history is just who exactly is the Joker. His name, his origin, and who he was before he became the Clown Prince of Crime — these are all things that have perplexed readers since the character’s humble beginnings in the very first issue of Batman’s self-titled series.
Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke attempted a Joker origin story, which has since become canon in the DC Universe; however, the Joker says in the same graphic novel that even he doesn’t know his own origin for sure. Then, during the Darkseid War, when Batman sat upon the all-knowing Mobius chair and asked it what the Joker’s real name was, the chair revealed that there are three Jokers.
To account for the existence of three Jokers (the Golden Age, The Killing Joke, and New 52 Jokers), one fan theorizes that the Joker is, in fact, Gelos, the God of Laughter — someone who “laughs at those in pain” and “jeers at men and women dying.” There are numerous pieces of evidence substantiating the theory, but considering that Gelos could inhabit various hosts only further affirms the possibility.
13. Doctor Manhattan created the DC Universe
At the end of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s iconic graphic novel Watchmen, after being framed for the destruction of New York City and the annihilation of millions of people, Doctor Manhattan chooses to leave Earth to considering creating life in another galaxy. Among his various powers, Doctor Manhattan does possess the ability to create life, travel across dimensions, perceive time in a non-linear fashion, and reverse entropy, which all further proves a theory suggesting that Doctor Manhattan didn’t just create life — he created the DC Universe.
While the theory posits that Doctor Manhattan not only laid the groundwork for humanity, but also puppeteered human existence within the DC Universe, leading to a world with DC Comics’ famed superheroes. With the recent inclusion of Watchmen in the canonical DC Universe and the realization that Doctor Manhattan himself stole ten years from the Earth’s heroes, this theory is beginning to hold some weight. Interestingly, there is a similar theory that suggests Doctor Manhattan traveled into an alternate dimension and created us (humans), with the Watchmen comic being his scripture.
12. DC Comics (& Marvel) stories are being told by someone thousands of years in the future
It’s no secret that both the Marvel and DC Comics universes contain vast amounts of inconsistencies in their respective timelines. So many alternate realities, universes, and dimensions have been created to explain new characters, new stories, and act as a playground for new ideas that even the most devout of comic book fans are confounded at the very notion of the “multiverse.” This has led to several reboots and relaunches from both publishers. But what if there was a reason for all of that?
One comic book fan posits that there is a character, thousands of years in the future, who is essentially telling the adventures of the superheroes we know from these publishers. The existence of such a character (perhaps one of the Watchers in the Marvel Universe) would explain why characters like Batman, whose parents were murdered after seeing The Mark of Zorro in the early 20th century, is still relatively young in the 21st century. Time — especially our time — to such a character would appear elastic, much like the Medieval and Dark Ages are elastic to us.
11. Bruce Wayne’s life is fake
Following the story of The Man Who Falls (which served as an inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins), one fan theorizes that Bruce Wayne’s life as Batman is not real, but rather consisted of simulated fantasies controlled by the executives at his father’s company, Wayne Enterprises (similar to The Truman Show), with his trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth in on the ruse.
It has become an ongoing joke in comics that Batman can do anything because he’s Batman, but the fact is (and it’s pointed out in the early issues of the New 52 Justice League comics), Batman is simply a man without powers. How, then, is it that he’s able to come out on top of any situation, no matter who he’s facing? Perhaps it’s because each scenario is controlled by Wayne Enterprises.
The theory is supported by the fact that Gotham Police uses the Bat Signal to call for Batman, which would allow for Wayne Enterprises to allow Bruce to play out his crime-fighting fantasies. This theory would also explain why Batman never loses his fights, why no one in the Batman Family really stays dead, and why Batman’s villains always return to fight another day.
10. Darkseid possesses medium awareness
Due to the massive popularity of Tim Miller’s Deadpool movie, most people now associate medium awareness — a character who acknowledges that he or she is a fictional character, part of a medium, also known as breaking the fourth wall — with the Merc With A Mouth. However, Deadpool isn’t the only character to possess the ability of medium awareness. In fact, one comic book fan has put forth some solid evidence stating that the supervillain Darkseid, the totalitarian monarch of Apokolips, also has possesses this knowledge.
Darkseid’s sole purpose in life is to one day rule the entire universe and enslave every race within it, including humans. Therefore, his greatest fear would be discovering that he is not only restrained by human writers (DC Comics), but that he is also subservient to their wishes, which is why he’s never conscientiously broken the fourth wall. Instead, he utilizes his power of medium awareness to benefit his goal of total domination. How else could we explain his ability to recall pre-Crisis and pre-New 52 events?
9. Flashpoint caused the existence of three Jokers
As previously mentioned, Batman (and readers) recently discovered that there are three Jokers in the DC Universe: the Golden Age, The Killing Joke, and the New 52 Jokers. While we don’t yet know how or why there are three Jokers, one comic book fan postulates that the three Jokers came into being as a result of the massive crossover event Flashpoint, which resulted the creation of The New 52 universe in 2011.
At one point, Barry Allen aka The Flash traveled back in time and prevented the Reverse-Flash from murdering his mother, thus establishing an alternate timeline. In order to fix the timeline, Barry went back in time again, except this time to prevent himself from saving his mother. In doing so, the new character Pandora appeared and created a new universe, combining the then-canonical DC Universe with the Vertigo and Wildstorm universes into one cohesive timeline.
Despite the fact that the Vertigo and Wildstorm universes were separate from the DC Universe, what if there was a Joker in each imprint? Then when the three universes combined, all three Jokers existed in one timeline. This could have happened for a number of reasons (which we may find out later), but this is, so far, the one theory that explains the existence of three Jokers.
8. Kyle Rayner was responsible for The New 52 reboot, not Barry Allen
During Barry Allen’s aforementioned trip back in time to prevent his mother’s murder, he inadvertently altered the history of the universe, which precluded him from becoming The Flash and the rest of Earth’s superheroes forming the Justice League. Of all the things that could happen in the universe, Barry saving his mother was the one act resulting in the future destruction of the world — which, in turn, was the cause of the formation of the New 52 universe. But what if it wasn’t Barry’s fault?
One fan theorizes that the New 52 universe was formed because of Kyle Rayner, not Barry Allen. First pointing out that, in the New 52, characters who were previously constants throughout time (such as Bart Allen and Booster Gold) were affected by the reboot, the theory posits that Rayner, the once final Green Lantern, perhaps inadvertently created the New 52 universe.
While the comic book fan lays out a compelling argument (which you could read about HERE), the main points are as follows: Rayner once became the omnipotent Ion and gained the power to alter time and reality. He used his powers to rebuild the Green Lantern Corps and modified the Lantern rings, which resulted in the creation of nine Lantern Corps. Interestingly, despite all of this happening prior to the reboot, Rayner’s actions carried over into the New 52 universe, thus suggesting he was responsible for the reboot.
The funny thing is, this might not even be the most out-there thing Rayner’s ever done.
7. Hal Jordan created Parallax while rewriting time in Zero Hour
Following the death of Superman, four temporary substitute Supermen appeared in the DC Universe, which led to the Reign of the Supermen! story arc in which Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern’s hometown of Coast City was destroyed by Mongul. Fraught with anger, Hal Jordan was driven insane and attempted to recreate the DC Universe during the crossover event Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.
While Hal Jordan was undoing the events of the DC world, thus causing rifts in the universe which allowed characters from alternate realities to appear in the canonical DC Universe, he went by the name Parallax. We later find out that Jordan wasn’t himself during the event, and was instead possessed by fear incarnate, who had previously been imprisoned by the Guardians on Oa.
The revelation of Hal Jordan being possessed by an ancient being irked many fans who felt the decision was DC Comics’ way of extenuating Jordan’s actions, thus diminishing the effect of his downfall. But what if, in order to alleviate his guilt, Jordan created Parallax during Zero Hour as an excuse for his actions? It would explain why Jordan still had doubts about what he was doing during the event, even though he was supposedly possessed by his monstrous foe.
6. Superman only has one superpower
Superman is not only one of the strongest beings in the DC Universe, but one of the most powerful superheroes of all time. He has superhuman breath, strength, energy, and senses, all of which are derived from our solar system’s yellow sun. His only weakness is radiation, specifically irradiated rocks native to his home world of Krypton. But what if that was all in his head, and he, in fact, does not have any powers whatsoever — other than telekinesis?
It’s quite a leap, but it’s certainly plausible that Superman could possess telekinesis without even knowing about it. If we accept that he does, in fact, have such an ability, it would explain how Superman has an array of diverse abilities, such as flight, the ability to carry a plane by its wing without the wing breaking, as well as his heat vision (to an extent). To explain his weakness of radiation, the theorist suggests that the radiation simply weakens his mind, thus preventing him from utilizing his abilities.
5. There are various classes of Green Lanterns
Over the years, there have been multiple human Green Lanterns: Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz — and while they each have their own unique qualities, they are all Green Lanterns, energized by the same power ring. As Green Lanterns, they are capable of creating anything that their will and imagination allows them to conceive. However, they have also each demonstrated unique abilities, such as Simon Baz healing his brother-in-law from brain damage.
Since the Green Lanterns are part of an intergalactic police force, perhaps, then, there are multiple types of Lanterns: tanks (people who lead the charge, like Kilowag), torchbearers (people who utilize powers from other Lantern Corps, like Kyle Rayner), and healers (people who can heal other people and Lanterns, like Simon Baz). This would also explain why there have been multiple Green Lanterns on Earth (in the same sector) at the same time.
4. Robin is Batman’s weapon against himself
Dick Grayson aka Robin the Boy Wonder was the world’s first superhero sidekick (who we believe to be the best of Batman’s sidekicks) but what was his true purpose? At the time of his inception, DC Comics editors used the character to — one — act as a sounding board for Batman, and — two — appeal to younger audiences who may or may not have been interested in seeing an adult (especially one in a bat costume) fight crime. But what if there was another reason?
Batman is the embodiment of true justice, and one of his greatest fears is turning evil. What if the true purpose of Robin is to prevent Batman from succumbing to the darkness? As demonstrated countless times, Batman is a virtually unstoppable force. He’s even able to defeat one of the strongest beings in the DC Universe (Superman) on a semi-regular basis. Accepting such a theory would explain why Batman trains kids, teaching them everything he knows, so that one day, if necessary, they could stop him from turning evil.
3. Faora is the Kryptonian descendant of Wonder Woman
In the early 2000s, DC Comics published a miniseries titled Superman: Red Son, which depicted an alternate reality in which Kal-L didn’t arrive in Kansas, but rather crash landed in a Ukranian collective farm, due to the rocket ship being delayed by a few hours, which would have accounted for Earth’s rotation. Later, Superman was unveiled as the secret weapon of the Soviet Union — but that isn’t the craziest part of the story.
The Red Son alternate reality doesn’t just change the origin of Superman, but also his homeworld. It’s revealed that Krypton is, in fact, Earth billions of years in the future, and Superman’s father, Jor-L, is actually the descendant of the Man of Steel’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, thus meaning that Superman himself is a member of the Luthor family. Assuming that other notable Kryptonians exist in this timeline, one fan suggests that Faora is actually the descendant of Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman.
2. Lex Luthor invented the cell phone
Most superheroes have an alter-ego, a secret identity they try to keep hidden in order to protect the ones they love. But when a crisis arises, they are quick to jump into action, changing from their civilian attire into their superhero uniforms. We’ve seen this happen countless times, and superheroes sometimes wear their superhero uniforms under their clothes. In fact, it’s commonly known that Clark Kent tends to wear his Superman outfit at all times, and continually used to use phone booths to change into his the uniform.
Although it’s a bit far-fetched, one fan believes that Lex Luthor invented cell phones, thus putting phone booth companies out of business, just so that Clark Kent would have fewer phone booths to change in. While this is one of the most outlandish theories on this list, it seems like something Lex Luthor would do. However, it’s worth noting that Lex believes Superman doesn’t have an alter-ego, since Superman doesn’t wear a mask (thus suggesting he doesn’t have as secret identity). Lex simply cannot fathom why would he choose to act normal if he had the powers of a god.
1. The real Superman died in 1988 and was replaced by the Sand Superman
Of all the fan theories on this list, this one compiled by Bleeding Cool writer DB Hughes is perhaps the most publicized and the only one to be directly refuted by Superman writer Walter Simonson. Nevertheless, the theory is quite compelling. It states that the real Superman died in 1988, and the Sand Superman — a sand doppelganger of Superman, who was created by synthetic Kryptonite exploding and irradiating nearby sand, which simulated Superman’s powers — replaced him as Superman until the New 52 reboot in 2011.
There is quite a bit of evidence to support the theory, such as the demon Blaze failing to kill Superman with her axe, despite the weapon being imbued with magical properties. However, there is also a bit of conspiracy involved, suggesting that the sudden release of Marvel’s Spider-Clone saga hindered DC Comics’ plans to reveal the truth of the real Superman dying in 1988. The theory is rather in-depth, so be sure to read the full thing HERE.
What’s your favorite out-there DC theory? Let us know in the comments.