Batman‘s done it all. He’s fought serial killers, meta-humans, ghosts, mobsters – you name it. He’s been in space and even traveled back and forth through time.
Batman is a superhero, but he’s also a vigilante. He’s actively breaking the law just by being Batman. It’s a line he chooses to cross, but there have been limits he put on himself; in particular, his strict no-kill rule. But there have been instances where Batman has broken even that restriction.
Many cinematic interpretations of Batman have portrayed him as a killer, much to the chagrin of hardcore Batman purists. Michael Keaton’s Batman didn’t seem to have a problem with killing, and ditto for Ben Affleck’s Batman. A certain amount of leeway could be given to Tim Burton’s films because they were the first “gritty” superhero films of their kind and certain changes needed to be made to get the film made at all. Fans were far less happy with Ben Affleck’s Batman killing in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
But what about the comics? Yes, it’s true that Batman has been kept as a non killer but has he never killed or crossed the line? It turns out that even Batman has made mistakes and succumbed to his darker urges.
Let’s find out which ones and why with our list of 15 Times Batman Completely Crossed The Line.
15. Child endangerment (times 5)
Who could forget the many Robins that have served alongside the Dark Knight? There have been 5: Dick, Jason, Tim, Stephanie, and Damien.
Fans may have gotten used to it, but it’s important to remember that these Robins were kids when they donned their capes and tights to fight crime. Batman trained them despite being fully aware of the consequences of his actions – or at least he should have been.
To be fair, Batman did it to give these kids an outlet for their rage and pain, but many would argue that he was misguided in his choice. A lifetime of fighting crime alone may have made him unable to fully understand the ramifications of such actions. Maybe it was the only way he could feel like a father leading the life he does.
Still, the repercussions were felt throughout the years. Jason Todd was beaten and blown to bits at the hands of the Joker, while Stephanie Brown was tortured and killed by Black Mask. Damien was another unfortunate casualty of war.
14. Tortured Penguin By Breaking All His Limbs
Batman has always been known for his harsh interrogation methods but not often has he crossed such brutal territory. In David Finch’s 2011 Batman: The Dark Knight comic series, Batman searches for his missing childhood friend Dawn Golden. She and Bruce grew up together, there’s even a tiny hint of romance there.
It seems like Dawn Golden was quite important to Batman because in issue #2 of the series he goes berserk on the Penguin when he finds out he was involved with Dawn’s disappearance.
He tries to do things “normally” by shouting and demanding the information from the Penguin, but Batman quickly becomes angry and proceeds to break all of the Penguin’s limbs.
It’s all drawn in brutal detail by David Finch. Luckily for the Penguin, Killer Croc shows up to knock out an unsuspecting Batman.
Yes, Batman has broken limbs before, like when he did it to the Mutant gang leader in Dark Knight Returns, but that was an actual fight! We can understand Batman’s desperation but it’s still uncharacteristically brutal for our Caped Crusader.
13. Killed/hanged a criminal
Yes, you read that right. Batman did indeed hang someone, and off of his Bat-plane no less!
It should be pointed out that Batman was fully willing to kill in his first few stories. He even had a gun very early on. This only lasted a handful of issues and Batman’s storied no-kill rule soon came into effect… for the most part.
The shocking act occurred in the pages of Batman #1 in 1940. A muscle-bound monster of a man happened to be driving in the wrong van at the wrong time. The culprits fully intended on releasing the monster on the unsuspecting public but still, what a way to go.
Batman gunned down the drivers of the truck and then released a rope from the Bat-plane and tightened it around the brute’s neck. A few short moments later, the Bat-plane can be seen flying away with it’s victim dangling lifeless in the air.
12. Fired Dick Grayson As Robin For Petty Reasons
Batman and Robin have been through a lot throughout the years. Batman became a stern father figure to Dick Grayson. Imagine having someone as messed up or badass as Batman as your boss/father figure? The pressure would surely eat you alive.
Dick Grayson/Robin excelled under that pressure for many years but, at times, it seemed nearly impossible to please Batman. As Dick got older he began pursing other interests, like school and the Teen Titans (a superhero team he joined in the ’80s). In the pages of Nightwing: Year One, Batman finds out that Robin is dividing his time with the Teen Titans and confronts him and basically fires him on the spot. Here’s what Batman said to the poor kid…
“This is a war, Dick. Robin is my second… my lieutenant. Anything less than total devotion to this cause is simply wasting my time. I’ll say it again… you’re fired, Dick. Get out of my cave.”
Robin would go on to become Nightwing and never be Robin again. It turned out to be the best thing for both parties, as they went on to respect and appreciate each other more later on.
11. Planned to take down every member of the JLA
Batman’s paranoia and obsession with being as prepared as possible for any upcoming threat has gotten him in trouble many times.
One of the first times where the ramifications were really felt was during Mark Waid’s JLA: Tower of Babel story line. Batman agreed to join the JLA because it was the right thing to do. It also provided him a way to keep an eye on all of the superpowered members too.
Batman figured that there had to be a fail safe in case any of the team’s members went rogue, so he watched and studied them, figuring out a way to take each of them out if needed.
Turns out that Ra’s Al Ghul found out about these plans and stole them from the Dark Knight. Ra’s used them on the League and would’ve succeeded if Batman had not interfered to save them. Still the damage was done and the League’s trust in Bats was never the same.
10. Became Dependent On The Venom Drug
Batman, a drug addict? Well yes, so to speak.
Batman has always been just a man. A very powerful and determined man but, only a man. He didn’t have the speed of the Flash or the strength of Superman or a power ring to help him. This means that eventually, he would fail at some point. Hell, even the aforementioned heroes just mentioned have failed.
One of Batman’s failures drove him down a dark. In the Legends of The Dark Knights: Venom storyline Batman fails to save a young girl trapped under a 650 pound boulder. He becomes obsessed with her death and decides to try an experimental drug known as Venom. (This drug would later be used by Bane). The drug does the trick, giving him increased strength and stamina but it’s also terribly addictive.
It’s not long before Batman is craving a fix all the time and pretty soon, he becomes a full-fledged junkie. Batman eventually overcomes his addiction and sets out on a crusade to find the dealer and rid the world of Venom.
9. Didn’t tell Tim Drake That Stephanie Brown was alive
For those unaware, Stephanie Brown was briefly Robin when Tim Drake left the role. Batman ended up firing her due to her recklessness and to prove herself, she went after Black Mask solo. She failed, was captured by Black mask, and was tortured extensively.
Stephanie managed to escape and warn Batman of Black Mask’s upcoming plot but she eventually succumbed to her injuries and perished in the night… Or did she?
Turns out that Stephanie was alive and well and that Batman had suspected so all along. He claimed that was the reason that Stephanie never had a Robin memorial in the Batcave.
Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown had a very close relationship. They were certainly more than friends; they were in love with each other. News of her death hit Tim as hard or harder than it did Batman, so you’d think he’d want to know if she was still alive. The reasons for Batman withholding that information are his and his alone.
8. Forced Robin to eat rats
Here’s another entry that seems to absurd, but did happen. This cruel incident happened in the pages of Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin. Now you’d think that Frank Miller writing and Jim Lee drawing would make for an epic Batman story but no. It turned out to be one of the most polarizing and worst Batman stories of all time.
Some fans liked it but the majority were at the very least put off by it. It’s hard to believe that it was written by the same man who wrote seminal Batman work like Batman: Year One and Batman:The Dark Knight Returns.
Batman’s a sadistic jerk in the comic. One of his many weird moments came during Robin’s training. To toughen him up and see if he could make it as the Boy Wonder, Batman locked him in the Batcave with nothing to eat but live rats. Not only did Batman expect Robin to eat them, he encouraged it!
7. Dated Lois Lane right under Superman’s nose
There’s always been a bit of a mutual interest between Bruce Wayne and Lois Lane but most of the time she was in a relationship with Superman.
In Lois Lane #89, Batman/Bruce Wayne revels that he had been pining for Lois for several years but never acted on it. As it happens, Supes broke up with Lois and Batman pounced on the opportunity. They hit it off and eventually were married and had a Bat-baby. Of course, it’s revealed that this was only an imaginary tale and didn’t actually happen.
Lois Lane and Bruce Wayne did end up dating again, this time in the comic adaptation of Batman & Superman Adventures: World’s Finest by Paul Dini and Joe Staton. The story takes place before Batman and Superman really knew each other well but Batman still breaks one of the most sacred rules of the bro code. The relationship doesn’t last long, to the relief of Superman.
6. Created The OMAC Project To Spy On Every Superhero
Apparently the Tower of Babel story line taught Batman little about the dangers of mistrust and paranoia. In the OMAC Project, Batman helps to design a system that was intended to spy on every superhero/metahuman. The program actually uses human hosts to carry the surveillance technology. The tech can be activated at any time and the people are completely unaware of even having it in their bodies. But that’s the tame part.
The wild part is that the tech can transform them into remote-controlled superhuman beings if need be. The villainous Maxwell Lord takes control of the tech and all hell breaks loose soon after.
Worst of all, Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) tried to warn Batman (and just about everyone else) that this could happen only to be blown off. Blue Beetle gets to the bottom of it on his own but it costs him his life.
5. Put Lord Death Man In An Endless Cycle Of Death And Rebirth
Lord Death Man is a somewhat obscure villain for casual readers. He hails from Japan and has the ability to never stay dead. In one of his most famous encounters with the Dark Knight, Lord Death Man meets “a fate worse than death.” Writer Grant Morrison dug up Lord Death Man and used him in his first major story arc in the pages of Batman Inc.
Their cat and mouse game comes to an end in issue #2, where Batman corners Lord Death Man and decides how best to deal with him. The most typical way of preventing a madman who can never die would be to toss him in jail and throw away the key, but evidently that wasn’t enough for Batman.
4. Killed Random Criminals In The Cult Mini Series
Jim Starlin was a big name in the ’80s thanks to his work on The Death of Captain Marvel and Dreadstar. He went on to write some important stories for Batman, like Death In The Family.
Another such story is Batman: The Cult. It’s quite a dark and messed up tale. Batman investigates a cult leader (Deacon Blackfire) who is recruiting society’s downtrodden to start his own army. Batman ends up getting captured, drugged, and brainwashed into becoming a member of Blackfire’s cult.
Batman and the rest of Blackfire’s hordes go on nightly raids to prepare for the “purification” of Gotham. On one of these raids Batman ends up shooting a random street thug to death. Batman was on hallucinating at the time and had absolutely no control over his actions.
3. Sleeps His Arch Nemesis’ Daughter
As we mentioned before, a life time of crime fighting can get pretty lonely, but to get involved with your adversary’s daughter? That’s definitely not advisable, but they say you can’t help who you fall in love with.
Ra’s al Ghul is one of Batman’s greatest foes. A man with noble ideals but twisted morals, Ra’s has a deep admiration and respect for the Dark Knight and had always hoped that Batman would be his heir. He’s also been quite supportive of his daughter (Talia) getting together with Batman. His methods are way too extreme for Batman, which will put these two at odds forever.
In Batman: Son Of The Demon, Batman gives in to his desires and has one night of passion with Talia. It’s discovered later on that she becomes pregnant and gives birth to a boy (Damien). The boy grows up with his mother and is trained as an assassin in the League of Shadows. Batman doesn’t learn of Damien’s existence for several years.
2. Leaves The K.G Beast To Die In A Locked Room
The writer of Batman:The Cult also penned this tale, entitled Batman: Ten Nights of The Beast. It pits Batman against a foe unlike anything he’s ever faced.
The KGBeast is Batman’s physical superior in nearly every way. Batman even admits it to himself after seeing the Beast in action. The Beast is also totally devoted to his mission and he is willing to go to lengths that Batman typically won’t go to. This leads to a compelling finale.
The set up leads you to think that Batman and the KG Beast are going to have the duel to end all duels but the unexpected happens. Batman analyzes his opponent and comes to the conclusion that he doesn’t need to beat him with his fists, and he instead leaves him in a locked room where no one will ever find him. Batman essentially leaves knowing that the KG Beast will die of starvation.
1. Burned Criminals Alive And Slept With Black Canary
We already spoken about the atrocity that is Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin, but we’re going to talk about it again anyway.
If you thought acting like a jerk and feeding Robin rats was bad then get a load of this. There is a point in this story where Batman manically springs into action against some random criminals and takes things a bit far, to say the least.
Batman decides to ignite the entire crew of thieves on fire and beat the hell out of each of them while they writhe in agony.
Black Canary shows up as this is going on. For some reason, the acts of senseless brutality turn her on, and ditto for Batman. They then proceed to have sex among a symphony of screams. What more is there really left to say…
Can you think of other times when Batman completely crossed the line? Share in the comments!
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