10 Times DC’s Batman Was Practically A Villain

Throughout his over eight decades in comics, Batman has proven time and time again he is one of the darkest, yet heroic, characters. Most versions of the Caped Crusader have a strict moral code that prohibits him from killing his many enemies.

While certainly admirable, that doesn’t mean Bruce Wayne strays from walking the line between hero and villain every night he prowls Gotham City. From his brutal ways of fighting crime to his questionable parenting methods, there are plenty of examples of Batman nearly doing wrong in order to do what he thinks is good.

10 His Constant Vigilantism

When Bruce Wayne first donned the cape and cowl, corruption ruled Gotham City. In order to do what he felt was right, he had no choice but to take the law into his own hands, which means in the eyes of the police he was technically a criminal.

The GCPD was as corrupt as the criminals before Jim Gordon took over as commissioner, so Bruce felt he had no choice but to take to the streets himself. Throughout his history, Batman has had a varied history with the Gotham police force, sometimes he sees them as allies while other times they are out to bring him in.

9 His Treatment Of The Bat Family

With Batgirl, Red Hood, Nightwing, and various people who fight as Robin, Bruce has no shortage of allies to join him in the field. But, with someone as dark and brooding as Batman, it is no surprise he may not exactly be father of the year. For instance, Bruce makes his allies go through rigorous and grueling training before they are even considered to fight alongside him.

Whenever they are given the okay to fight, they may as well kiss a normal life goodbye. While through no direct fault of his own, Batman has led many young people to their graves. Bruce Wayne may not show it, but he cares deeply for his adopted family, although he is often more drill sergeant than father.


8 The Entirety Of All-Star Batman and Robin

Frank Miller was key in reinventing Batman in the ’80s with classics such as The Dark Knight Returns and Year One. In 2008, Miller retold Dick Grayson’s story in All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder, and most fans agree the Batman shown in these pages is the opposite of what the Dark Knight should be.

Most versions are dark and unknowingly takes things too far at times. This one knows he is taking things too far and enjoys doing so. From recruiting Dick practically against his will to forcing him to eat rats to survive, this Batman has issues that stretch far past his parent’s murder, he constantly teeters on villainy and likes it.

7 Killing Dick Grayson

Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns has been celebrated as one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. The sequel, Dark Knight Strikes Again, was a much different story and art style when compared to its predecessor, and a much different Batman. One major twist was a Joker-like menace that was revealed to be a now insane Dick Grayson.

In a final confrontation in the Batcave, Batman spends much of the fight berating his former partner and with the way he talked to him, it is no surprise why Dick abandoned Bruce. The fight ends when Bruce drops Dick into lava, without thinking twice. Dick Grayson was one of Bruce Wayne’s closest allies for years, and he let him die without breaking a sweat.

6 Nearly Killing An Innocent Joker

The relationship between Batman and Joker is one of the most famous in comic history, namely because of how far Joker tries to push Batman. In the Hush arc, Bruce Wayne’s best friend Thomas Elliot is murdered, and he is sure Joker is responsible.

In a fit of uncontrollable rage, Batman confronts his nemesis and nearly takes his life in the streets. It is not until James Gordon intervenes that Batman finally eases on the assault. If Batman had gone through with it, his sanity would have finally slipped, as Joker had nothing to do with the death of Thomas.

5 Tower Of Babel

It is often said that one of Batman’s biggest advantages is his ability to be prepared for anything, although this almost cost the lives of the Justice League. In the JLA arc Tower Of Babel, Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins manage to nearly wipe out the Justice League. The only member of the League unaffected by the assault was Batman, who reveals to the team he is partially responsible.

Batman has the weaknesses of each member of the League saved on the Batcomputer in the event they go rogue. Talia al Ghul broke into the Batcomputer and stole the files, giving the League of Assassins the information they needed. This led the JLA to mistrust Batman, even though he maintained that he did the right thing collecting their weaknesses in the first place.

4 Kingdom Come

After years of fighting crime, Bruce Wayne realizes he can no longer physically handle the responsibility of being Batman, but he has no intention of retiring. Kingdom Come follows the fan-favorite DC characters in their later years, many of whom have retired. Bruce Wayne may not physically be fighting crime, but he is still in the battle.

From the Batcave, Wayne controls an army of robots that patrol the streets of Gotham looking for crime. While not exactly evil, removing the privacy and betraying the trust of the citizens of Gotham is just as bad in the eyes of many, including Superman. The big brother approach to crimefighting shows that Bruce has little care for the innocent people of Gotham, instead of focusing all of his attention on the scum.

3 Forcing Joker To Take Drugs

One of the best story arcs to feature the Joker in a main role is Batman: White Knight. In it, Joker actually regains his sanity and leads Gotham in a legal crusade against Batman. While actually being a functioning member of society, the method in which he got there paints Batman in a terrible light.

Knowing his nemesis is getting worse, Batman knows there are only two ways to stop Joker, cure him or kill him. After a particularly destructive chase through Gotham, Batman stops Joker and beats him mercilessly as his allies look on in horror. Batman produces a vial of pills, which he forces into Joker’s throat in front of the entire city, practically choking him in the process.

2 Leaving KGBeast To Die

When someone messes with the Batfamily, fans can rest assured Batman will hunt them down and take them out. When KGBeast nearly kills Nightwing, Batman makes it his mission to make the would-be assassin suffer. The two titans finally clash, and KGBeast nearly beats The Dark Knight. In a last-ditch effort filled with rage and desperation, Batman fires his grappling hook point-blank at the beast’s face, breaking his neck.

KGBeast lies bleeding in the snow, begging for Batman to send help. Batman says he will have no problem finding who hired him on his own and leaves KGBeast to die. While anybody understands why Bruce did this, it isn’t exactly heroic to leave a beaten and possibly paralyzed man to die alone, although most agree KGBeast is lucky that’s all that happened.

1 Letting Joker Live

For most variations, Batman’s one rule is he refuses to kill, under any circumstances. This seems like a noble stance unless the result is a madman who kills and causes mayhem purely because he finds it funny. The Joker usually has no endgame, he only wishes to push Batman to his breaking point, and he will hurt or kill anybody to do so.

Even when Joker seemingly kills Jason Todd or paralyzes Barbara Gordon, Batman still lets him live and places him in Arkham, only for Joker to escape and do it all again. Batman knows that if he kills, he will cross the line he balances on every night and will be no better than Joker. Many wonder, however, if letting Joker lives causes more lives to be lost than if he just finished him off.

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About The Author

Donnie Smith Jr. (108 Articles Published)

Donnie has been writing for as long as he could hold a pencil and has studied film for even longer. He loves films of all sorts, and has a more than decent knowledge of them, although horror is where his expertise lies. While able to critique with the best of them, he prefers to look at things in a more positive light.

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