For the past several decades, Batman’s characteristics have been pretty well defined. He’s stoic, remarkably intelligent, nearly unbeatable in hand-to-hand combat, and so on. However, there exists examples of this tried and true mold being broken, which most notably happens when Bruce Wayne’s Batman adopts the role of other DC Comics characters.
Admittedly, examples of this are rare, yet occur often enough to warrant attention. The Dark Knight has slipped into the shoes of Lanterns, demons, and Gods. What takes place in such instances? We’ll examine a few of them in the following article. Here are 10 Times Batman Has Been Other DC Heroes or Villains.
10 THE RED DEATH
The Red Death represents an evil version of Batman born out of Dark Nights: Metal, a series wherein Batman discovers DC’s Dark Multiverse. Fed up with the rate at which criminality continues to grow, the Bruce Wayne of Earth -52 violently merges himself with his Earth’s Flash. Afterwards, Batman becomes the murderous Speedster, The Red Death, and sets about killing off his own rogues gallery.
This version of the Bat has been in the news most recently due to its receiving a mention on The Flash television series. Such an Easter egg leads many to believe Red Death could be one of the show’s big villains in forthcoming seasons.
9 GREEN LANTERN
Batman has adopted the role of Green Lantern a handful of times. However, the most notable example features in the one-shot Elseworlds tale, Batman: In Darkest Knight. Published in 1994, this comic follows the basic tenets of Batman mythos, such as the murder of his parents. The largest shift occurs with Bruce Wayne’s becoming a Green Lantern, instead of Hal Jordan.
Desperately wanting to fight crime, Bruce begs for a sign about the best course of action. A sign arrives as a crashed alien vessel, where an injured Abin Sur relinquishes his Green Lantern Power Ring and gives it to Bruce. In one issue alone, Bruce proves an effective Lantern.
8 ETRIGAN THE DEMON
Batman & Demon: A Tragedy is a lesser known Elseworlds one-shot, written by Alan Grant and drawn by Jim Murray. In it, Bruce Wayne has for the last millennium shared his body with Etrigan the Demon. Because the two are bound, Etrigan takes over at night and becomes Gotham’s murderous Bat-like vigilante. Thanks to Bruce’s virtuous nature, however, Etrigan exclusively targets the worst of criminals.
Most interesting is this tale’s Jekyll and Hyde overtones. Bruce awakens with no recollection of his nightly escapades, and knows nothing of the demon within. Alfred secretly being the wizard Merlin who watches over Bruce makes this Elseworlds tale all the more memorable.
7 YELLOW LANTERN
Batman’s worn a variety of Lantern Power Rings, yet none are quite as mystifying as that which belongs to the Sinestro Corps. Batman has wielded the Yellow Lantern Ring on two occasions. One instance is brief, and takes place prior to the events of Sinestro Corps War when a ring seeks him out.
Another instance occurs during Forever Evil. Following Sinestro Corps War, Batman keeps a Yellow Lantern ring in his position, knowing such a tool will come in handy. In the fight against the Crime Syndicate, Batman dons the ring to fend of Power Ring, the Crime Syndicate’s villainous version of a Green Lantern.
6 THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS
DC’s Dark Multiverse spawned a few villainous versions of the Bat. Yet, none are quite as disconcerting as The Batman Who Laughs. Essentially, he’s Batman in Joker form. A hint of Bruce Wayne’s sanity still rests within The Batman Who Laughs, but the Clown Prince takes over.
This melding of the two occurs following a murderous rampage on the Joker’s part. Batman eventually subdues him, though not before Joker toxin begins infecting citizens of Gotham, driving them to madness. As luck would have it, Batman also becomes infected. His descent into insanity leads him down a path that sadly culminates in the murders of several Bat-family members.
5 WHITE LANTERN
During Brightest Day, Batman briefly wields a White Lantern ring. Deadman grants it to him, hoping the vigilante is worthy of replacing the Entity as bearer of the White Light. The ring rejects Batman almost instantly, as he is not the true successor to such power.
Though he only wears the ring for a few short moments, the Dark Knight receives a stunning white suit redesign, which mirrors that of the White Lantern Corps. His fleeting time in the role is a shame, especially since it would have been intriguing to see how his powers manifest with white life energy.
4 THE MURDER MACHINE
Technically, this Batman doesn’t turn into another DC hero or villain. Still, it can be argued that, to an extent, The Murder Machine emulates Cyborg. Earth -44’s Bruce Wayne has a familiar origin, yet everything changes once the rogues murder Alfred. With Cyborg’s help, Batman designs AI that aids him as Alfred did. AI Alfred, dubbed Alfred Protocol, is also built to protect Batman by any means.
Ultimately, the AI slays a number of villains and deems Batman unfit to protect himself. It overtakes Batman’s mind, then gives him a mechanical body with which Alfred Protocol begins ruthlessly killing. Even Cyborg falls to the AI’s cruelty.
3 THE DEVASTATOR
A version of Batman who injects himself with a Doomsday virus to battle Superman, The Devastator, like a few others on this list, originates from DC’s Dark Multiverse and resides on Earth -1. His desire to bring about Superman’s demise lies in Earth -1's Man of Steel becoming a murderous madman, going so far as to even killing Lois Lane.
While the Doomsday virus turns the Bat into a monstrous being, and ensures his victory of Superman, it doesn’t solely affect Batman. The virus is infectious. As it spreads the world over, no one is spared from transforming into monstrous, Doomsday-esque creatures.
2 THE DAWNBREAKER (DARK MULTIVERSE)
Batman with a Green Lantern ring is such a remarkable concept that it has to have happened more than once. The most recent telling of such a tale takes place during Batman: The Dawnbreaker. In the Dark Multiverse’s Earth -32, Bruce Wayne’s tragic story plays out as normal; somewhat normal.
On the fateful night of his parents’ murder at the hands of Joe Chill, a Green Lantern Power Ring appears before young Bruce Wayne. Wanting vengeance, he takes it without question. Despite the Corps’ strict rules against the use of lethal force, Bruce corrupts the ring and kills Chill. From then on, this version of Green Lantern ruthlessly patrols Gotham.
1 THE MERCILESS
The Batman of the Dark Multiverse’s Earth -12 is known as The Merciless, a barbarous war machine of a man. This version starts as a hero, fighting alongside Wonder Woman to strip the God of War, Ares, of his seemingly limitless power. The War God’s helm harbors much the power, which Batman removes during combat and dons, after believing Wonder Woman dead by Ares’ hand.
Batman’s turn to villainy occurs during this battle, once he puts on the helm. He slaughters Ares, and soon becomes corrupted by the dominance the helm grants him. As with other Batmen from the Dark Multiverse, The Merciless strikes down all who stand in his way, heroes and villains alike.