Batman is one of the most popular superheroes around for a very good reason. He demands your respect because he’s just so damn good at everything he does. And he didn’t get his abilities through some freak accident, mutation, or alien origin. Bruce Wayne got them the old-fashioned way: hard work, perseverance, and a demand for perfectionism–a razor-sharp focus for waging his one-man war on crime.
Given his intensive combat training and genius-level sleuthing skills, the Dark Knight Detective is one of the most formidable heroes in the DCU (or the world of comics in general), giving him a skill-set that dwarfs many of his superpowered peers. He demands a level of awe and begrudging admiration from his fellow Justice League teammates and even his greatest foes. And these attributes have made him a superhero icon for over 78 years and counting. He’s here to stay.
With that in mind, here are 15 things The Caped Crusader can do above and beyond his fellow costumed heroes.
15. Terrifies Criminals Even Though He Never Kills
With scant few exceptions, the Dark Knight has a strict rule he never breaks: he won’t kill. No matter how evil the villain, or the deeds they commit, he’s vowed to never take the life of a criminal, not wishing to ever cause the loss of life that happened when Joe Chill gunned down his parents in an alleyway.
Yet even with the knowledge that Batman won’t kill them, the criminal element in Gotham City are terrified of him, because they know that despite his pledge, he has no problem breaking bones, destroying illicit livelihoods, and using brutal interrogation techniques to achieve his aims.
Plus, no one wants to be scared in the dark by a guy in a Batsuit. In his first appearance (Detective Comics #27), Bruce Wayne ponders how to frighten his opponents: “They say criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible.” Then he sees a bat, and finds his muse. It’s been effective ever since (for the most part).
14. He Fights Wolves Bare-Handed
The 2006 miniseries Batman and The Mad Monk focused on the early years of Batman’s crimefighting career, while he was still developing/perfecting his detective techniques and combat skills. The latter was really put to the test when his vampiric villain foe the Mad Monk unleashed two ferocious timber wolves upon him.
Rather than tuck tail and run like any sane person would do, Batman decides to get into a fist fight with the vicious beasts, subduing one while the other mercilessly sinks his teeth into his flesh. In retaliation, Batman punches the wolf in the face repeatedly before pepper spraying it and eventually snapping its spine. Its one of the most visceral and grisly moments in modern comics.
We should also note that fearlessly battling the animal kingdom is a skill set that should definitely be included on Batman’s resume. He’s taken down gorillas, bears, and even battled sharks on several occasions (more on this in a bit), emerging unscathed time after time. This ultimately seems fitting, given that he’s named after an animal himself.
13. He’s One Of The Most Popular Superheroes (Yet Has No Superpowers)
When one thinks of superheroes, their superpowers usually come to mind. That’s the big hook to gain readers: Superman’s flight and strength, Green Lantern’s power ring, The Flash’s super speed…the list goes on and on.
Despite this, Batman remains one of the most popular and profitable superheroes of all time. And the Dark Knight Detective has only his intellect and superb physical conditioning–no metahuman gifts whatsoever. So why does a superhero with no powers capture the imagination of children and adults the world over?
Perhaps the mythology of the Caped Crusader speaks to our need for wish-fulfillment. None of us will ever be able to fly unassisted, but if we apply ourselves mentally and physically, maybe we all can have a little Batman in us. He’s empowering in that way, an underdog who speaks to truth and self-empowerment and is willing to stand up to anyone, no matter how omnipotent that power may be. He also just looks super cool. And has the best toys. The Batmobile is pretty sweet too.
12. He’s a Billionaire Playboy Who Doesn’t Have Any Fun
The murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents robbed him of his innocence. One violent act took away his sense of security and family, making his childhood merely a placeholder until he matured enough to become an instrument of justice. His reputation as a billionaire playboy is merely an illusion. His crime fighting pursuit is all-consuming, denying him of a rewarding personal life.
There is no “work hard, play hard” philosophy that other wealthy, womanizing superheroes like Tony Stark or Oliver Queen apply to themselves. Even when Wayne has a romantic fling, he rarely allows himself to enjoy it. There is a futility to it all. He fears that if he gets too close, tragedy will be inevitable (the finale of The Dark Knight Rises being the rare exception).
Wayne is also more generous with his finances than many in his tax bracket. His company, Wayne Enterprises, helps fund the charities created in his parents’ name, helping to educate and provide healthcare and education for the less fortunate. Bruce gives little thought to high-ticket items, except for the high-tech gear he uses to fight crime, of course.
11. He’s A Master of Stealth
Batman may lack superpowers, but he often seems to have a supernatural presence. And this is particularly true when it comes to his stealth abilities. We see this most often in his encounters with Commissioner Gordon, vanishing without a trace during their rooftop chats, but that’s only a minor example.
Perhaps the greatest testament to his stealthy gifts occurred in Mark Waid and Fabian Nicieza’s 1996 tale, Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare. In it, the team finds themselves powerless, while ordinary citizenry gain metahuman abilities. At first, they feel this is a gift to finally enjoy a normal life, but once they discover Dr. Destiny is behind the events, they set out to stop him.
Given that Batman is just an ordinary man, he doesn’t have to worry about losing his talents, namely his stealth skills, and he takes out an entire military security force without making a peep. Superman and Martian Manhunter can’t hide their respect, noting “He never ceases to amaze me. I can’t even see him do you?” No sooner does Manhunter reply “no” when Batman gives them the all-clear.
10. He Made Wearing A Flying Rat Suit Fashionable
Whether it’s with or without a yellow oval, the Batman insignia is one of the most recognized logos in all of pop-culture. And its ubiquitousness has made the Bat-symbol extremely lucrative. It’s now a fashion accessory.
T-shirts, hoodies, socks, caps, undergarments, wallets, and backpacks–if there’s a potential clothing item or lifestyle accessory that hasn’t been brandished with a Bat-symbol, it’s only a matter of time until it does. And that’s not even taking into account other household items like lunch-boxes, plates, and glasses. Which is pretty amazing given its subject matter: they’ve made the image of a flying rodent into a marketable symbol that signifies awesomeness.
This makes Spider-Man merch Batman’s only real competition in the fashionable creepy crawly market. It’s fitting, really, seeing as how they’re the two most profitable superhero licensing properties in the world. Batman was first, however, making an animal normally associated with giving folks the creeps the epitome of coolness. It’s why Bruce Wayne chose the symbol in the first place. It’s timelessly awesome, with only minor stylistic variations throughout the years.
9. He Beat Up Captain America Without Superpowers
Now we know Captain America has had his clock cleaned on several occasions by those with superhuman abilities (or super-powered tech), but its a lot more impressive when an adversary not blessed with superpowers accomplishes that feat.
And that’s exactly what happened during the 1996 DC vs Marvel Comics miniseries when they got into an epic scrap (which was ultimately decided by fans via a write-in vote). Cap and the Dark Knight had an exhausting extended battle thanks to their superior fighting skills, which finally finished off in a sewer main.
Batman was able to gain the upper-hand in the dark, using his trusty Batarang to knock Captain America into the water. Rather than brutally finish him off, he winds up saving him from drowning (thus sparing Marvel from saying it was an overly decisive win between the two). Still, Batman was the ultimate victor against an opponent powered by super-serum. Not too shabby.
8. He’s Prepared…For Everything
They say preparation is the key to success…and this explains why Batman’s crimefighting crusade has been so successful. It’s all about regaining a sense of control that was taken away from him after his parents were murdered. He’s the ultimate control freak.
That’s why he obsessively gathers intel on all his enemy’s weaknesses (and friends, which we’ll get to later). That’s also why he has a utility belt equipped with a seemingly endless amount of gadgets, enabling him to get out of any potential situation (this was especially true in the 1960s Adam West Batman series). If you’re planning on getting the upper hand on Batman, good luck. He’s already ten steps ahead of you.
And remember when we mentioned he’s fought sharks on multiple occasions? The most memorable brawl occurred in 1966’s Batman The Movie, when he stopped an attacking shark by having, you guessed it, shark repellent bat spray handy. That Batman, always with a handy solution to avoid any possible catastrophe.
7. Survives Being Buried Alive (Multiple Times)
The fear of being buried alive is so pronounced that it even has a medical definition (taphophobia). The concept is a terrifying one for many, because in addition to the claustrophobia, the odds of surviving such a scenario are slim to none. Batman scoffs at such concerns, however, because he’s not only survived being buried alive once, but on multiple occasions.
The first time happened in 1981’s World’s Finest Comics #269. Waking up in his terrifying confinement, he uses every yoga technique he ever learned to contort his body and loosen the plate at the end of the coffin, using it like a shovel to dig himself out.
In the 2010 storyline Batman R.I.P., he’s buried alive again, a scenario further complicated by him being tied in a straitjacket and pumped full of drugs by The Joker. Nevertheless, he breaks free and bench presses his coffin to the surface. But wait, there’s more! In Batman: City of Light, he willingly buries himself alive to “let the beast within to emerge” and digs himself back out with renewed purpose. And in the 2011 graphic novel Batman: Noël, the Joker (yet again) buries him alive. He survived that too. You can’t keep a good Batman down, even when he’s six feet under.
6. He Can Survive In The Vacuum of Space For Brief Periods
You can be the most powerful person on the planet Earth, but without oxygen, you’re gonna die. Its one of the simplest and most important factors in, well, staying alive. But leave it to Batman to even put that basic scientific factor to the test in JLA: Welcome to the Working Week, a humorous miniseries (written by comedian Patton Oswalt) which looks at the day-to-day goings on at the JLA Watchtower.
In a training exercise that only a man dressed like a Bat would attempt, the Dark Knight holds his breath in the vacuum of space for 24 seconds until the Martian Manhunter wisely calls off the experiment (even though Batman bickers he could have held out longer), saying it was “dangerous and unnecessary.” One can always count on that wise alien to be saner than most humans.
5. He Has Contingency Plans to Take Down Enemies…and His Friends
As we stated earlier, Batman prepares for everything. And we mean everything. In addition to strategizing on how to take down all of his arch-enemies and other deadly threats, he does what some might see as a betrayal–he creates contingency plans against every one of his fellow Justice League team members (in Grant Morrison’s 2000 Justice League: Tower of Babel storyline).
Using his genius intellect, he develops brutally efficient ways to neutralize his teammates’ powers: he binds Green Lantern with his own power ring, makes Aquaman terrified of water, uses fire against Martian Manhunter, liquid nitrogen to subdue Plastic Man, virtual reality against Wonder Woman, and he even creates a weapon to give The Flash seizures.
His strategizing backfires, however, when Ra’s al Ghul steals his plans and takes down his allies. Needless to say, his fellow Justice League members were none too pleased with this, and they subsequently had his membership revoked. It’s not easy for Batman to have friends.
4. Immune to Mind Control (99% of The Time)
When you have one of the of sharpest intellects in comics, your mind is just as much a weapon as your fists. Batman’s keen intelligence has kept him on top of his game, which is important in a comic universe packed with metahumans with the power of mind control.
Thanks to his worldwide quest to gain training from the best masters of combat and deductive skills, he’s amassed a sense of willpower sharper than anyone else on the planet. This makes him practically impervious to any telepathic attack. He can also overcome just about any form of chemical serum or toxin designed to incapacitate his mental acuity. For just one example of his mental gifts, take his resistance to Manchester Black‘s psychic power to make one face their worst fears in Justice League Elite #11.
Now before you get in a huff in the comment section, we’re not saying his abilities to resist mind control work every single time. He’s been duped on occasion (Zatanna’s meddling in Identity Crisis comes to mind). But his batting average beats anybody else’s in comics by a country mile.
3. He Took Down Darkseid (Again, Without Superpowers)
Darkseid is one of the most powerful villains in the DCU. The tyrannical ruler of Apokolips isn’t just evil, he’s a God. Literally. Nonetheless, Batman has scuffled with the omnipotent megalomaniac several times and gained the upper hand. He even punched out his son Orion (also a god).
One noteworthy example of such awesomeness went down in the pages of Superman/Batman #12. After Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman travel to Darkseid’s hellish planet to rescue Supergirl, the Dark Knight engages in a brawl with the mighty despot. To help his odds of survival, Bats has an armored suit and (of course) a bulletproof tactical plan. He explains that if Supergirl isn’t released, he’ll blow up Apokolips. It’s a bluff, but Darkseid buys it. No small feat.
That achievement, however, pales in comparison to the events in Final Crisis. When Darkseid unleashes the Anti-Life equation to subjugate Earth’s population, Batman (who was shielded from the attack) springs into action, and uses a god-killing bullet to mortally wound him, leading to the supervillain’s eventual demise.
Unfortunately, the wounded Darkseid managed to kill Batman in retaliation, but in the world of comics, death never lasts forever.
2. He’s Beaten Up Superman on Multiple Occasions (Without…you get it)
By all assumptions, any match between Batman and Superman should end in the Dark Knight getting flattened. Failure seems certain. Yet he’s still standing after engaging in fisticuffs with the Man of Steel on many occasions. And while he hasn’t come out on top after every bout, he’s certainly held his own over the years.
Of course, this is rarely a fair fight: kryptonite is almost always involved (or in combination with a heavily armored suit, as in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), but like we said earlier, Batman plans for everything, including kicking Superman’s ass.
It’s a miracle that after all of these skirmishes, the two have managed to stay friends, or at least remain cordial towards one another. In the end, Superman has to respect Batman’s audaciousness and ingenuity. Maybe that’s why he told the White Martians that the Dark Knight is the “most dangerous man on Earth.” Even he is afraid of him.
1. Stopped An Alien Invasion By Lighting A Match
In the 1997 JLA New World Order story arc, the superhero team is faced with a grave extraterrestrial threat: a White Martian invasion. The group of invaders (dubbed The Hyperclan) manage to subdue every member of the team except Batman, who they mistakenly believe dead after they shoot down the Batplane.
This is the Batman, of course, and he won’t be inconvenienced by a plane crash, thank you very much. In fact, the result of the crash helps him hypothesize just how to stop the White Martians from enacting their evil plans.
He sets up a trap, leaving a note to clue in the Hyperclan to his location, and when they think he’s cornered, he simply strikes a match over some gasoline to end their reign of terror. When one martian warrior asks incredulously “what’s happening here…he’s only one man?!,” a weakened Superman replies that his friend is “the most dangerous man on Earth.” If the most powerful being on Earth knows a mere mortal outranks him in being a badass, who are we to argue?
Well that wraps up our list of Batman’s most amazing abilities! What other things do you think he can do better than any other superhero? Be sure and tell us in the comments.