First appearing in Detective Comics #27 all the way back in 1939, Batman is a vigilante hero who has cemented himself as a figure of popular culture throughout the decades. With many different iterations of the Caped Crusader hitting the pages of comic books, as well as the big screen and the small, there is a lot of Batman history to indulge in if you’ve not already immersed yourself within the fantastical world.
Despite this, there are also fans who think that there’s often more to Batman and the world around him than meets the eye. In fact, these fans are so deeply involved in the Bat universe that they’ve come up with some of the craziest theories you’ve ever hear. While some may seem outlandish, others are highly plausible. However, they are all highly creative.
With all of this in mind, here are the 15 Insane Batman Fan Theories That Will Blow Your Mind.
15 Joker is a CIA Agent gone rogue in The Dark Knight
The late Heath Ledger is widely considered as the best version of the Joker that the DC Universe has ever seen. He took on the role of the villain in The Dark Knight, where one viewer picked up on the language and behavior of this Clown Prince of Crime, claiming that the Joker had to be a former CIA Counter-Terrorism Agent.
Whether he was betrayed or left for dead whilst on the job, the Joker survived against the odds, but went rogue to take revenge on those who had wronged him. In trying to gain revenge, he sunk deeper into his madness than ever before, using his skills and tactics to become one of the most feared criminals on the planet.
His make-up could be seen as war paint, while his bomb-making skills are the kind you’d only ever know if trained. Covert agents tend to be completely off the radar to aid in their missions, so this would explain why there’s no record of the Joker via background checks, and even the language Joker uses in TDK would suggest he’s been somebody of authority. This is certainly one to think on…
14 Batman’s villains each represent a different part of his personality
A fan-favorite theory that has been discussed for some time revolves around the villains that the Caped Crusader often goes up against. It believes that each villain represents different aspects of the vigilante’s own personality.
If so, are they therefore a representation of what Bruce Wayne could become, if not a crime fighter?
Two-Face represents how Batman could descend into madness if the pressure of a dual-personality became too much, while Mr. Freeze has learned to breeze through life without showing emotion, despite suffering tragedy with his wife. Penguin, meanwhile, is the embodiment of the corruption of money and fortune, whilst Joker represents everything that Bruce Wayne could have become.
So, while Batman faces an internal struggle against all of these aspects of his personality every day, he also gets into physically fight them on the streets. It may also explain why he’s often unwilling to kill off the Big Bads of Gotham City.
13 The nightmares of DCEU’s Batman’s are a result of exposure to Scarecrow’s gas
The most recent big screen version of the World’s Greatest Detective is played by Ben Affleck, who is the most grizzled and weary Batman we’ve seen-- especially upon his first introduction. As a man who has been fighting crime in Gotham City for decades, he’s clearly been through the ringer and, we can assume, has fought against many of the iconic villains in Batman’s rogues’ gallery.
One of these villains would be Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow; a man who creates an array of toxic gases and drugs to use on his victims, inflicting fear through any means possible.
If Affleck’s version of Bruce Wayne is one who has been exposed to Scarecrow’s poisons for any lengthy amount of time in the past, it could stand to reason that the nightmares we see him have in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are all a result of this exposure.
12 Bruce Wayne owns all of Gotham’s HVAC systems
This theory started doing the rounds as gamers began to notice something very strange in the critically-acclaimed series of the Arkham video games. Players observed that the vent systems that Batman goes through are unusually large, allowing such a stocky and muscular man to slide through them with ease.
This all starts to make sense if you come to terms with the fact that Bruce Wayne has actually bought all of the HVAC systems in Gotham, providing a size just above that of his body to Lucius Fox, or whoever would deal in fitting these vents.
Sure, he could have used the money to bring in a tighter police force, or to make Arkham Asylum impenetrable, so that he wouldn’t have a need to be sneaking through the vent systems of Gotham, but where’s the fun in that?
11 Batman has an older brother – the Joker
There are a number of different iterations of the theory that the Joker is Batman's brother, but, for sake of argument, we’ll imagine that this is true in Christopher Nolan’s world of The Dark Knight.
Though Joker is somebody who often lies, the movie hints that the villain is caught a little off guard when he notices a manthat reminds him of his father. The man is the civilian standing up to Joker when he takes over a ballroom full of innocents, and the last person to stand up to somebody in Nolan’s cinematography was Bruce Wayne’s father.
When you come to realize that an overriding theme of The Dark Knight is family-- and the only two without family are Batman and Joker-- it becomes clearer that the two could very possibly be linked by blood.
If Joker was cast out by his father – Thomas Wayne – as a child, it would be a pretty strong reason why he tries to take over Batman and Gotham City. After all, Joker doesn’t want to kill Bruce Wayne. In fact, he sees the pair as loners, which is something he says more than once in the film. Could this be out of brotherly love?
10 Bane respects Batman as an adversary in The Dark Knight Rises and tries to help him
Many fans who have watched Nolan’s final Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises claim that a theory suggesting that Bane is more of a hero than a villain actually has some ground. The theory says that, while Bane may appear to be a villain, he’s had “a plan” – something he consistently alludes to – ever since he first appeared on the big screen.
Bane went to extreme lengths to bring the Caped Crusader back into the spotlight, as he double crossed the League of Shadows in a bid to redeem Gotham City after Batman stepped into the shadows following the events of The Dark Knight.
He even broke Batman's back and forced him into the role of Gotham’s protector once more. Could this iconic DC villain in fact have been acting – albeit recklessly – in Gotham’s long-term best interests?
9 Batman kills the Joker in The Killing Joke
The cultural impact of the Batman graphic novel The Killing Joke is unrivalled, at least in the DC Universe. Written by Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore, the story is a pretty short one, but it is a tale that will leave you feeling uncomfortable throughout.
In it, Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon, forcing her to live out her days in a wheelchair, under the codename Oracle. Not content in his villainy, he then kidnaps her father, Commissioner James Gordon, and keeps him prisoner in a run-down amusement park, subjecting him to torture and forcing him to look at huge photographs of Barbara naked and broken following her shooting.
What follows is a tale of cat-and-mouse, as Batman does his best to bring Joker to justice, eventually getting his hands on the clown before offering him help, aware that one day the two may have to engage in a fight to the death.
An ambiguous ending follows, when the two laugh at Joker’s musings. The villain’s laugh however seems to be cut short, with readers theorizing that this is because Batman has snapped his neck out of panel. Perhaps the title is in reference to Joker’s final words.
8 Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s real father
Though we all recognize Alfred Pennyworth as Bruce Wayne’s valet and family butler, there are those who believe that his link to the young Wayne boy is something that runs a lot deeper than what’s ever been revealed.
In fact, if Alfred and Martha Wayne had an affair in the months leading up to her pregnancy, he could very well be Bruce’s real father. The reasons for him sticking around to care for Bruce following the Waynes’ slaying has always been a little loose, but what if it was because, deep down, he recognized the fact that he had to take care of his offspring?
The idea of Alfred arriving at Wayne Manor, straight out of the SAS and romancing Martha isn’t too hard to believe, and him being Bruce's father would certainly bring some weight to his strange devotion to ensure that Gotham’s vigilante always comes home safe. Surely anybody without blood ties would have given up by now.
7 Alfred is behind the slaying of the Waynes
Some fans go a step further with the "Alfred is Bruce's father" theory and claim that the Wayne family butler is the man responsible for both Thomas and Martha Wayne’s deaths. Fed up of living a secret life with Martha, some believe that Alfred was pushed to his limits and hired a hitman to take Thomas Wayne out. Unfortunately, in the struggle, Martha was also shot and killed, with Alfred left without his love.
Additionally, many who believe in this theory don't necessarily think that Alfred was having an affair with Martha. Instead, they claim that the butler had the two killed so that he could take control of the vast Wayne family fortune, using Bruce as his vessel to do so.
There’s no doubting the incredible bond that the two share-- thanks to Alfred’s help in raising Bruce and the fact that he is one of the few people who know Batman's secret identity. As an ex-SAS member, could he have been tying up some loose ends in order to take control and enjoy a life of privilege? It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.
6 Joker never kills the Waynes in Tim Burton’s movie
Back in Tim Burton’s original 1989 Batman movie, Bruce Wayne recognized the Joker as the man who had killed his parents back in his childhood. It opened up a can of worms for those who wanted the usual canon involving the regular crook who was behind the slaying, but what if this twist of fate never actually happened.
Instead, some fans came up with the theory that Bruce Wayne’s mental health had suffered thanks to countless battles, both physically and mentally. Could Bruce have falsely projected Joker into his childhood memory simply because of his dislike for the Joker, and everything the criminal stands for?
Chaos and devastation are themes that Bruce only ever had to deal with when his parents died, and Joker represents all of this.
5 Batman is the real villain in the DC Universe
Bruce Wayne is a man of considerable wealth. If he’s so intent on ridding Gotham City of crime, why doesn’t he simply invest in a better law enforcement for his city, with improved prison security and an entirely new and inescapable Arkham Asylum?
Could this be down to the fact that Bruce is obsessed with getting embroiled in fights? Beating up the bad guys and appearing to be the hero-- albeit a shady one that not everybody entirely trusts-- is something that Bruce may actually enjoy.
Instead of killing villains, he repeatedly puts them in the same place that they can escape from. Could this be because he needs them to survive and feed his addiction? Batman knows that his methods of vigilantism are ones that allow crime to remain so rampant in Gotham City, but this doesn’t stop him from using his own sense of justice.
There’s a very real possibility that the supervillains of Gotham wouldn’t exist without Batman-- so does this therefore make Batman the overall villain of the DC Universe?
4 The Taken movies serve as prequels to Batman Begins
This one is a huge stretch, but is a very interesting and fun concept. Liam Neeson is, of course, the lead actor in the Taken film trilogy. He also has the role of Ducard in the Batman Begins movie, which was Christopher Nolan’s first release within the Batman franchise.
One particular line Neeson’s character had in Batman Begins has piqued the interest of the most inquisitive fans, with Ducard remarking: “I wasn’t always here in the mountains. Once I had a wife, my great love. She was… taken from me.”
Notice the use of the word taken? Now zip back to the Taken movies and in particular, the third installment in the series. Here, Neeson plays former-covert operative Bryan Mills; a man who has already saved his family members on more than one occasion.
Unfortunately, in the final movie, his wife Lenore is killed, and Mills is unable to save her. Could he have changed his name, made a move to the mountains, and referenced Lenore in Batman Begins? It is hugely unlikely, but fascinating all the same.
3 Batman hires Robin to keep himself in check
While many appreciate the friendship that Dick Grayson, aka Robin, and the Caped Crusader share, some fans have theorized that the Dark Knight only ever brought the youngster on board as a weapon to fight if he ever plunged too far in the deep end.
We know that Batman has been in need of a sidekick on more than one occasion in the past, but that’s not something that he would personally ever admit when Grayson made his debut. What Batman has always done, however, is keep a file on all of the weaknesses of his friends in the Justice League in case he’d ever have to fight against them.
The only person who he doesn’t have a cache of weaknesses on is himself. This is because-- according to this theory-- Robin is his countermeasure. The sidekick is the one person agile and dedicated enough to exploit the Bats’ weak points if the time ever called for it. He is a mini Batman, if you will.
It’s a theory that makes a lot of sense and doesn’t interfere with any overall canon.
2 Gotham’s villains are hired actors to help a struggling WayneCorp
As we’ve seen in many iterations of Batman in the past, Bruce Wayne left Gotham for a number of years and, upon returning, had no interest in being a part of his father’s company. This theory suggests that Wayne Enterprises had been close to bankruptcy and was on the brink of destruction, but those on the WayneCorp board came up with an inventive plan to get Wayne back in the company.
They decided to hire costumed, amateur actors to act as the city's "criminals." By doing this, they knew that the allure of fighting crime would be too much for Bruce, and he would have to take to the streets. Why else would Batman never lose against such odds, and why else would the city’s most disgusting criminals be able to keep their lives, despite destroying the lives of so many others?
This is an elaborate scheme for sure, but one that is utterly believable…
1 Batman doesn’t actually exist and is merely a figment of Bruce Wayne’s imagination
Bruce Wayne is certainly not your average guy. He dresses up as a bat – the one thing that he had a fear of as a child – and runs around fighting crime in his city, constantly putting his life on the line, despite the fact that he witnessed his parents die at the hands of a crook.
What if this – aside from his parents being killed – is all a part of his imagination? Could a young Bruce have been sent to Arkham Asylum after he fell into madness following the death of his beloved parents? It’s certainly plausible.
In this theory, each of Gotham’s villains would represent a part of his fractured personality, as explored above, or personified versions of the staff members at Arkham Asylum. It would even explain why the Dark Knight has never been unmasked as Bruce Wayne, despite the billionaire being the only person in Gotham who could afford the arsenal of weapons and technology that the vigilante uses.
What do you make of our Batman fan theories? Can you think of any others that are more convincing? Let us know in the comments below!