Batman’s gallery of rogues is frequently called one of the best cast of villains available to any comic book character. Some iconic heroes really only have two or three credible threats to battle against, but just about everyone the Dark Knight has gone up against has been fleshed out with interesting backstories or a story arc that catapulted them into being a major antagonist.
But everyone’s well aware of Batman’s unending fight against the likes of the Joker, Two-Face, and Bane. Yet after this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, you might be wondering what other heroes he has clashed against over the decades. Or even better, what heroes he has fought against and won. Though not all the battles we’re about to get into are canon to Batman’s history, he actually does have quite a number of victories against other good guys. And sure, Batman’s infamous “prep time” factors into a lot of these, but that’s like criticizing a Superman villain for utilizing kryptonite. So get ready to be reminded why Batman has so few friends as we look at 15 Superheroes Batman Has Beaten.
15. THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
Speaking of Batman losing friends, this little incident is a classic example. We all know Batman likes to have contingency plans for everything (like some ever useful shark repellant spray), but most heroes limit their defense plans to their enemies. Batman is so guarded that he had strategies mapped out for taking out his own friends. And worse yet, those plans were actually put into action, taking out the entire Justice League at once.
Each member of the Justice League was subjected to their biggest weaknesses: fire against Martain Manhunter, liquid nitrogen to freeze Plastic Man, Aquaman being made Aquaphobic, Green Lantern getting blinded by his own ring, a vibra-bullet inducing seizures against the Flash, Wonder Woman getting trapped in virtual reality against an unbeatable opponent, and Superman rendered helpless by Red Kryptonite.
It was Ra’s al Ghul who actually utilized these plans by stealing them from Batman, but if Bruce had never concocted these ideas in the first place, the League never would have been made so vulnerable. Once the Justice League recovered, Batman wound up being kicked out of the group as a result of causing such a catastrophe.
14. LEX LUTHOR
Some of you are probably double checking the name of this article to make sure it did say “heroes,” but yes, Lex Luthor was a hero at the time this happened. Even if you haven’t been keeping up that much with the latest DC stories, you probably heard about Lex becoming the new Superman. That twist didn’t just come out of nowhere. Before he claimed the name of the strongest hero out there, Lex had already shocked readers with another uncharacteristic choice: joining the Justice League.
This particular beating happened in Robin Rises Omega #1 when Batman was trying to recover the body of his deceased son Damian Wayne. Some unwanted help arrived in the form of the Justice League, and Shazam inadvertently prevented Batman from following his son’s captors. In his rage, Batman began pummeling Shazam, though it seemed to hurt the hero’s pride more than his health. And right as Bruce was beginning to calm down, Lex, still being a bit of a dick even as a hero, couldn’t resist provoking Batman. Lex’s face became the next target for Bruce’s rage, and Lex fared far worse than Shazam, getting left in a heap on the ground. It was a cool moment, but more of a brief scuffle compared to some of the other wars on this list.
13. THE HULK
Battles between Marvel and DC characters are always going to be contentious, but when you introduce a character like the Hulk into the equation, people are definitely expecting shenanigans for the Incredible one to suffer defeat. The Hulk has battered around gods like Thor and Loki, so obviously Batman would have no chance in a straight up fight. But this is one case where Batman’s “prep time” is totally understandable, since anyone who goes against the Hulk without a strategy is just asking to lose.
Rather than try to overpower the Hulk, Batman utilized chemicals in the air that would render the Hulk unconscious if he inhaled them. The Hulk is no idiot though, and just attempted to hold his breath to avoid defeat, something he can do for far, far longer than any normal human. But sometimes you just can’t help but lose your breath, like when Batman kicks you in the gut. Once the chemicals got in the Hulk’s lungs, he went down for a nap and left Batman standing tall.
12. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Of all the heroes Batman has come across, the Ninja Turtles would have to be one of the more bizarre crossovers to imagine. But the story actually holds up pretty well, playing off the contrast of Batman’s seriousness and the more light-hearted nature of the Turtles. And of course, as is pretty much tradition whenever heroes cross paths for the first time, they had to have a fight due to a misunderstanding.
You’d think Batman would be at a disadvantage in a four against one confrontation, but even with very little knowledge about his opponents, Batman was just far better equipped and trained. The Turtles got the worst of the brief scuffle, being thrown about and knocked around until Splinter broke things up with a smoke bomb. But as these things tend to go, the heroes didn’t hold a grudge, and the Turtles actually wound up admiring Batman for how skilled he was at fighting.
Back in the ‘90s, when Spawn was still a big enough deal to mention alongside big name characters, there was a brief crossover between him and the Dark Knight. It was the typical heroes crossover that tried to be the best of both worlds by first having the characters fight and indulge the fantasy of seeing who was better, and later teaming up to stop a common threat together. It wasn’t that memorable, and oddly featured a Batman more prone to name-calling, particularly referring to Spawn as a “twit.”
This one was really more of a draw than an outright victory for either character, but Batman wound up getting the last word in his own way, and in a feud that saw the characters behaving as childishly as they did, Batman would likely take that as a win. Sure, Batman got hit about as hard as he dished it out, but only Spawn wound up with a lasting effect from this encounter. The issue ended with Batman getting in one last cheap shot on Spawn, flinging a Batarang in his opponent/ally’s face. The wound actually carried over into the main Spawn series where his face was now stitched up with a shoelace. They eventually tried to retcon the origin of the scar, but we all knew who put in on Spawn’s face.
10. GREEN LANTERN (GUY GARDNER)
People talk a lot about how Batman isn’t the same as other superheroes because he just relies on gadgets and planning, but when pushed too far, Batman has repeatedly proven to be capable of holding his own in some unexpected encounters. By which we mean delivering one mean punch. And hey, like Lex Luthor, this is another scuffle involving a Justice League member! (Jeeze, Batman sure takes out his teammates a lot.)
This time it was the Guy Gardner incarnation of the Green Lantern that suffered Batman’s wrath. And like Lex Luthor from earlier, it’s hard to blame Batman for his reaction. Gardner is notorious for his abrasive personality and had been rubbing other members of the Justice League the wrong way in his push to be taken seriously as a leader. So when Guy stepped up to Batman during an argument, a famous moment in comics was born when Batman clocked him. As the Blue Beetle repeatedly said in his astonishment, all it took was “one punch.”
Of all the characters on this list, few have clashed with Batman as often as Catwoman has. She has frequently fluctuated between his enemy and his ally as the two struggle to give in to their antagonistic side, or their attraction for each other. Among superheroes and supervillains it’s really not that uncommon to fall in love with someone you routinely battle.
The encounters between the two usually have an undertone of playfulness to them, like they enjoy each other too much to give it their all. But Batman is a pretty serious character, and his patience for games has run out on multiple occasions. One such incident took place in Hush, when Batman finally looked poised to kill the Joker, when Catwoman intervened to stop him. Without a second thought, Batman takes her down by attacking her in her gunshot wound from earlier. So this is yet another incident where Batman ended things with one punch.
Batman and Nightwing have clashed on a few occasions (maybe the latter still has some resentment about how his outfit as Robin looked), but Batman has typically showed restraint against his one time Boy Wonder. Batman has even lost to Nightwing before by refusing to carry on the fight while Nightwing was still willing. But with as long a history as these two have had, their fights have been numerous. And if there’s one thing you should have learned from this list by now, Batman is pretty good at ending disagreements with a good punch.
During Batman’s first encounter with the Court of Owls, Batman learns his assailants have special seals hidden in their mouths, and that the original Robin might very well have one as well. Bruce grew distrustful of his longtime friend, and could think of only one way to make sure Nightwing could be trusted—punch him in the face and knock out his tooth to check for a seal. Guess that’s what years of loyalty gets you. But at least Nightwing can say Batman had a productive reason behind the attack, unlike Lex Luthor and Guy Gardner’s quick dental adjustments.
7. CAPTAIN AMERICA
This is yet another Marvel hero to fall before Batman, and an Avenger at that. It won’t be the last Marvel mention on the list, either. But yes, long before Captain America was shocking and outraging comics fans on the internet by hailing Hydra, he had a little run in against Batman during the DC vs Marvel Comics crossover event in the ‘90s. And as if these two opposing sides doing battle wasn’t enough, readers got to vote on the outcome of many of the fights, meaning Batman has the fans to thank for this victory. Although it was hardly a resounding triumph.
Batman and Captain America were so evenly pitted against each other that neither was able to gain the advantage needed to put the fight away. Their battle stretched across hours and looked like it wouldn’t be slowing down. It was only their choice of battleground that gave Batman the win. Having wound up fighting in a sewer when the system began flushing, Cap was distracted long enough to be hit by a Batarang and knocked in. Of course, Batman is not a killer, so seeing that Captain America was on the verge of drowning, he rescued his adversary to put an end to the fight.
6. JASON TODD
We’ve mentioned the Hush storyline earlier, but we could hardly talk about that arc without bringing up the biggest change that resulted from the plot: the resurrection of Jason Todd. Except not really. But then yeah, really again. At first we were led to believe Jason was nothing more than Clayface posing as Todd, but later we learned Jason actually was part of this fight, albeit not the entire thing.
And though Jason Todd would eventually become a persistent threat to the Bat Family, during his initial return in Hush, he could still be thought of as a returning hero due to his days as Robin. After all, his anger at Batman was kind of understandable during this fight. But Todd was the protégé for a reason, and Batman proved there were still plenty of things the former Robin needed to learn to beat his one time mentor.
5. THE PUNISHER
Of all the Marvel crossovers Batman has appeared in, this one felt like one of the more organic ones to have the characters play off each other. Batman is a hero who lives by a code and who prides himself on not sinking to the level of the criminals he hunts. The Punisher can become nearly indistinguishable from the criminals he hunts, utilizing torture and lethal weapons to meet his goals to the point that many question if he can even be viewed as a hero. They contrast so well that putting them together is natural tension. Though they’ve worked together in crossovers, they are way too ideologically different to set aside their grudge. Both times, it came to blows at the end of their working arrangement.
In the Deadly Knights story, the Punisher gets a punch in on Batman and proves he doesn’t have Batman’s one punch KO power. When the second punch comes, Batman tosses the Punisher aside and informs him the first shot is the only free one he’ll get. The Punisher chooses to back down rather than carry on the altercation.
The more decisive encounter between the two came in the prequel story Lake of Fire. The Batman of this story was actually the Knightfall iteration of Azrael, so you’d think maybe he’d get along a little better with the Punisher. But if anything, it’s worse. And the Punisher is totally confused by it just like in Deadly Knights because he truly can’t see how him and any iteration of Batman are on different sides. But this alliance also came to blows, and after Azrael’s suit proved bulletproof, the Punisher began taking damage and explicitly realized that he couldn’t win this fight. Left with no alternative, the Punisher used one of the Jean-Paul Valley Batman’s smoke bombs to distract his opponent and retreat.
4. GREEN ARROW
These two are another duo who have had a few scuffles throughout their history, but for this one we’ll focus on the altercation with the most definitive outcome – the one where Green Arrow dies during the battle. “But Batman doesn’t kill people,” you say. That’s true, but it was actually Superman who delivered the fatal attack. Yes, we’re talking about the Batman/Superman comics where the two iconic characters actually abused their abilities and became oppressive dictators. Nobody ever said Batman would always be the good guy on this list.
In issue 14 of the series, Pretenders to the Throne, we see how devastating the two heroes could be in a world where they used their powers to control others rather than protect them. Batman offers the still good-hearted Green Arrow up to Superman as a birthday present, and the duo proceed to beat the hell out of their ally from another timeline. Initially it looks like Superman gets taken out of commission with a Kryptonite arrow, and Batman flies into a rage wherein he batters down Green Arrow in an alley. Green Arrow stabs Batman in the chest with an arrow, but the latter is too incensed to let up his attack. Had it continued, Batman likely would have gotten the kill himself. A recovered Superman decides he wants the honor, and reduces Green Arrow to ash with his heat vision. So the icons of DC can share credit for this victory.
After Batman appeared to be permanently retired following his crippling encounter with Bane, it was only natural that Bruce decided to pick a successor to his mantle. There were plenty of viable options available, the most obvious of which being Robin. Instead, Bruce chose Jean-Paul Valley to step into the role, which was as surprising to Bruce’s allies as it was to readers. But for a while, doubts appeared to be misplaced, and Azrael was effective at eliminating crime. And then he got a little too effective.
Batman’s big rule is he doesn’t kill, so when Azrael started ending lives, the healed Bruce Wayne had to speak up. Azrael wasn’t really in the mood to listen at first, so the original Batman had to knock some sense into his would-be successor. A fight broke out between the two, and after the original Batman prevailed, Azrael realized he had gone too far in his methods and would seek to redeem himself. His intentions were good as a hero, but he was no Batman.
These two have fought so many times that you knew it was going to be on here, but were probably just unsure which story we’d be going with. Batman fought Superman in Hush when he was under Poison Ivy’s control, but he more survived that fight than won it. And of course they fought in the immensely popular Dark Knight Returns, and people would debate who actually won that fight since Batman wound up getting what he wanted, but he was also the one buried in the ground (temporarily).
So we’ll have to go with the most recent, and perhaps most decisive, battle that the two DC icons had: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Yes, the movie was extremely polarizing for many viewers, but we’re not here to talk about who liked it or disliked it. This is about the outcome, and this time, Bruce’s gadgets prevailed. When the two heroes finally clashed, Superman was left lying helpless while Batman stood poised with a Kryptonite spear that could actually kill his opponent. It was only mercy that spared Batman’s hand after he learned Superman’s mother has the same name as his own mother.
1. THE BAT FAMILY
We started off on a bit of an abstract definition of “beating” someone, and we’re finishing the same way. But honestly, Batman’s obsessions are such a big part of who he is, and the cost others pay for it is so heavily discussed, that it would feel like an omission to leave events like this off.
We all know Batman and the Joker have an almost co-dependent relationship. And a frequently spoken of subject is how many people is Batman allowing to be hurt by continually letting the Joker live. Readers, other heroes, and even the Joker himself question what the Joker has to do for Batman to decide the cost is too high. That very question has been the topic of numerous storylines.
There’s of course the iconic Killing Joke story arc that sees Batgirl paralyzed, or the death of Robin in Death in the Family. But in more recent years there was also the Death of the Family plot that saw the entire Bat Family subjected to torture at the hands of the Joker. Though physically none of the heroes were as badly harmed as in those earlier stories, mentally their trust in Batman had been damaged. They thought their true identities had been exposed to the Joker and that they might never be safe again. Each of Batman’s friends had to be wondering how much Bruce was endangering their lives by keeping the Joker alive. And what’s more, the characters pulling away from Batman emotionally in the end of the story mimicked what many readers had to be thinking: who was more to blame for them being attacked: the Joker, or Batman?
What’s your favorite encounter with another hero that Batman has had? Share it in the comments, and let us know about any good ones not listed here!