The comic book world is full of super powered beings that can do things that us mortal beings can only ever dream about. Many of them reaching a god like status, these beings not only have enhanced strength or speed but many of them can control the very elements around us. Not only this, but they can cross dimensions and even change time itself. However, in the very middle of all these gods stands a man. A single man that can match any of them, and that man is Batman.
Having no superpowers at all has never stopped the Dark Knight as he seems to be just as comfortable fighting the average criminal on the street as he is the overpowered aliens that hope to destroy us all. With so many superheroes out there, most fans will still choose the Caped Crusader as the ultimate hero. But we can’t forget that Batman is just a man and although he might be highly skilled and intelligent, he does have limits; many people seem to forget this.
So here are 15 times that Batman got his butt well and truly kicked!
15. Sergeant Branden
Batman has been involved in some truly epic battles throughout his lifetime. He has had to use every trick and skill he’s ever learned; push both his body and his mind to their full limits and sometimes even beyond, just to best his foe. Yet there are some battles that don’t seem worthy of the Dark Knight’s reputation and Sergeant Branden is one such adversary.
We start our list with a member of the Gotham City P.D. SWAT team. Sergeant Branden was known within the police force has favoring violent and extreme forms of punishment and he wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger whenever he saw fit. Branden also possessed a quality that a lot of people don’t seem to have in comic books – he doesn’t miss. So when he had Batman in his sights, Branden pulled the trigger and shot Batman straight through the chest. Of course the Dark Knight wore body armour, but he was injured by the shot and only managed to escape because the villain Hangman showed up and killed Sergeant Branden.
A strange crossover for both universes here and a crossover that didn’t do the Dark Knight any good. When two Gotham City boxers are murdered, Batman goes to investigate the crime and unfortunately for him comes up against the alien Predator. In a rare turn of events for Batman, he was completely unprepared for what he was to face and the alien hunter destroyed Batman with ease and almost cost the Dark Knight his life. The battle was so bad for Batman that a full body cast was needed after the encounter.
But of course, this is Batman. So after some recovery time, and some preparation this time, the Dark Knight seeks a final showdown with the Predator. After Batman’s victory, (barely and only with the help of Alfred and a powerful weapon!) The Predator commits suicide in the honorable way and Gotham is safe once again.
13. The Reaper
Back in the early days of Batman and in the story arc Batman: Year Two, a little known villain and fellow vigilante The Reaper showed up to teach the Bat a lesson. The Reaper was introduced as the anti-Batman. On a similar path to Bruce Wayne, The Reaper lost his loved ones to criminals and vowed his vengeance. Using a scythe as his weapon of choice, he took a very different approach to Batman and killed anyone he pleased. As the body count piled up, Batman stepped in to put a stop to The Reaper’s spree. Unfortunately for The Bat, the fight didn’t go his way and The Reaper’s superior skill and thirst for blood defeated Batman and he ran away.
Not quite knowing how to defeat him, Batman was forced to team up with the one man that he hated most in the entire universe; Joe Chill. The very man that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents. The plan works out better than Batman could have hoped as not only is The Reaper beaten, but Chill also gets killed in the battle.
12. Deacon Blackfire
Many villains choose to confront Batman with brute force, and then there are others that try to out think him in a battle of wills and wits. However, there was one time where a villain tried to defeat Batman by letting him destroy himself and it worked, sort of.
In The Cult, Batman is kidnapped, tortured, drugged and brainwashed by an underground cult lead by Deacon Blackfire. Blackfire and his army of homeless soldiers very easily and quickly capture The Dark Knight and force him to join them. Not only does Batman do that, but he also starts carrying a gun and he kills someone. Although Batman does eventually snap out of his trance, it does take him a while and he is left with the burden and the guilt of killing someone. If you can’t beat The Bat with force or cunning, then having him break his own rules and ethics is a sure fire way to beat him down, and Deacon Blackfire gets plenty of points for that.
Another villain here that was introduced as the anti-Batman. Although unlike The Reaper, Prometheus’s past and heritage mirrors that of Batman a lot more closely. Similar to Bruce Wayne, Prometheus’s parents were gunned down in front of him, only his parents were the criminals and they were taken out by the cops. This gave Prometheus a powerful hatred for the law, and like Bruce Wayne, Prometheus travelled the world learning new skills in order to train himself to the peak of human fitness and conditioning. Unlike Bruce, Prometheus wanted to develop these skills to take his vengeance on the law.
So understandably, Batman and The Justice League are his first targets. Prometheus targets The Dark Knight but not only does Prometheus have the skills he’s learned, he also has a helmet in which he can download the 30 greatest martial arts masters; this includes Batman. Needless to say, Prometheus gets to work taking out Batman and quickly works his way through the entire Justice League. That is until Catwoman has her say and with a swift crack of her whip to his gentleman’s area, soon puts Prometheus in his place.
10. The Mutant Leader
Age can be a cruel mistress and it catches up with us all. Even The Dark Knight isn’t immune to aging. So after the death of Batman’s latest protege Jason Todd, Bruce Wayne retires from his Batman role and hides himself away from the world. Years later Wayne decides the streets of Gotham have become worse and comes out of retirement to prowl the streets as Batman once again. However, now being in his 50s Batman isn’t what he once was and this is put to the test when a gang of mutants start causing trouble.
Relying more on his gadgets and technology, such as a tank-like Batmobile and plenty of rubber bullets, Batman takes out the gang of mutants. However, maybe wanting to prove that he is still the man he was, Batman takes on the mutant leader hand to hand. Needless to say, Batman takes one hell of a beating and is almost on the verge of death, but luckily a young girl named Carrie Kelley comes to his rescue and distracts the mutant leader long enough for Batman to escape.
With a multiverse as vast and diverse as DC’s, you’ll be forgiven if sometimes the timelines and cross-dimensional story arcs get a little confusing. Many may argue that the Final Crisis crossover story arc is one of those more confusing times. Focused on the powerful supervillain Darkseid, Final Crisis is all about how Darkseid can best DC’s finest and come out victorious. Crossing time and space, Darkseid finally gets his chance to win the day and put the heroes down.
Fighting off the likes of Superman, two Flashes and The Green Lantern, it’s actually Batman that comes face to face with Darkseid. During the battle, The Dark Knight does wound Darkseid, almost fatally. However, the cosmic overlord has several tricks up his sleeve as he out prepares and outwits the Caped Crusader and uses an Omega Beam to send Batman flying back through time where he can no longer affect or help to stop Darkseid. Although Batman wasn’t killed, sending him far away is a pretty effective way of defeating Batman.
Over the years there have been several villains that have gone by the name Clayface. However, the best and the one that did Batman the most damage is the original Clayface, Basil Karlo. Starting out as an angry actor who got the chop from the latest movie, Karlo donned a mask and the name Clayface and started taking his revenge on his fellow actors. That is until Batman stopped him and Clayface was put away. While Karlo was out of action, other people picked up the Clayface mantel, some of which were actually made of clay. So when all the Clayfaces came together to visit Karlo, he absorbed all of their powers and abilities and went out to get Batman.
So with his new powers, including some electrical trickery that he picked up, Clayface managed to defeat The Dark Knight and would have killed him if Mr. Freeze hadn’t come along. The two of them spent their time arguing over who should kill Batman. This gave Batman the time he needed to escape.
7. Red Hood/Jason Todd
As with Clayface, many people have tried to rule Gotham’s underworld using the Red Hood mantle. The original Red Hood would go on to become The Joker, but after him The Red Hood was used by Jason Todd.
As Batman’s second Robin incarnation, Todd was fitting into the role perfectly and picked up the ways of crime fighting with ease. That is until one fateful night in which Todd was brutally murdered with a crowbar by The Joker. Being resurrected in the Lazarus pit, Todd was reborn but he became emotionally damaged and returned to Gotham as the Red Hood.
Wanting to take revenge on The Joker, Todd kidnaps him and beats him half to death with a crowbar. When Batman shows up, Todd goes to town on The Dark Knight and leaves him bleeding on the ground. Todd then hands Batman a gun and demands that he kill The Joker. But Batman refuses and uses a well-timed Batarang to disarm Todd and set The Joker free. Needless to say, the Red Hood was not pleased with his former mentor.
6. Bronze Tiger
When it comes to hand to hand combat and a battle of martial arts, not many will argue that Batman is a master and one of the best in the world. Having spent so many years traveling around the world and training with the masters of the arts, it’s hard to find anyone better. That is unless you have someone who has trained equally as hard and with the same people. That is the case with the Bronze Tiger. Having no superpowers, the Bronze Tiger was not only trained by Ra’s Al Ghul but was brainwashed and became a member of The League of Assassins. There the Bronze Tiger surpassed Batman’s skill level and was sent to Gotham with The League to end Batman.
Once in Gotham City, Batman, along with Batwoman, faced off against the Bronze Tiger and with one swift kick, the fight was over. That’s right, the Bronze Tiger planted one kick square in Batman’s chest and the Dark Knight was down. Batman was in such pain from the kick that he could do nothing but watch as the Bronze Tiger stabbed Batwoman.
Batman may well be at the peak of physical fitness as well as being one of the most intelligent people around, which makes him one difficult foe for the criminals of Gotham City. However, as great as Batman is he is still only a man and his humanity limits him. So what would happen if you took all of Batman’s strengths and enhanced them with a super serum? You would get Deathstroke.
Slade Wilson joined the army and quickly made his way up through the ranks, impressing his superiors so much that he was selected to join an experimental program to make super soldiers. The serum worked and Wilson soon found himself with greatly increased strength, speed, stamina and endurance. Not only that but he can access about 90% of his brain which makes him a tactical genius. Since then Slade took on the name Deathstroke and became a mercenary and assassin for hire. Batman and Deathstroke have faced off several times and more times than not, Deathstroke has come out on top.
4. Lady Shiva
Many characters within the DC universe claim to be the best assassin or martial arts expert around. Whether it’s Deathstroke, Ra’s Al Ghul or Batman himself, they all have a good claim for the title. However, there is one master that has them all beat hands down and that’s Lady Shiva. Even Batman has admitted that Shiva is the most dangerous and skilled assassin on the planet. So much so that after Bane broke Batman’s back, he went to Shiva for help and to re-train him to beat Bane.
Like many of the assassins for hire, Lady Shiva doesn’t have any superpowers, but what she does possess is a martial arts skill level that can’t be matched by anyone. Batman and Shiva have faced off a few times and Shiva always comes out on top. Batman maybe stronger and loves to use his gadgets, but Shiva’s skill is so great that she still beats him. She even managed to take out Batman and Nightwing at the same time. The only reason that she’s never ended The Dark Knight is because Robin is usually waiting in the wings to distract her so Batman can escape.
3. Wonder Woman
There have been many arguments and discussions over the years about who is the best hero in the DC world and who would beat whom in a fight. Superman and Batman have faced off several times over the years and usually The Dark Knight comes out on top. Of course, that’s only with the help of some well placed Kryptonite and the fact that Superman never really tries to kill Batman. Unless you count the Sacrifice story arc in which Superman is mind controlled into thinking his friends are his enemies. In that case, Superman destroyed Batman.
But away from the Batman/Superman dance, what about Batman and Wonder Woman? That question was answered in Wonder Woman: Hiketeia and it was no contest really. When Wonder Woman is bound to protect a woman, she doesn’t realize that the woman in question has murdered some people. So when Batman goes to investigate, Wonder Woman must choose between her sworn oath and the law. She chooses her oath and confronts Batman. The fight doesn’t go well for the Caped Crusader and that is one question that has well and truly been answered. Wonder Woman wins with ease.
One of the most famous defeats Batman ever suffered was against Bane. Bane spent his childhood and much of his adulthood in prison having to deal with the punishment due to his father being a revolutionary. This made Bane a little angry at the world, so after he escaped the prison he went looking for mayhem and came into the path of Batman.
Because Bane uses a super venom that pumps him up and makes him incredibly strong, many people think that Bane is just a muscle guy. But he’s not. With brains to match his brawn, Bane set up a string of perfectly executed traps in order to get Batman where he wanted him. One of these traps was to cause a prison breakout at Arkham. This meant that Batman would run himself ragged chasing all the bad guys at once. He then heads off Batman at Wayne Manor and confronts the exhausted Batman. The fight is swift and Bane is in complete control as he slams Batman against his knee and breaks his back. This put The Dark Knight out of action for a long time.
1. The Joker
Number one on our list is the clown prince of crime himself, The Joker. Although The Joker could never go toe to toe with Batman and win, he does however beat Batman on a regular basis. The Joker may be a frequent inmate at Arkham Asylum but that isn’t a bad thing in The Joker’s mind. Nor is being on the receiving end of a Bat fist from time to time. The fact is that The Joker is just chaos pure and simple. He doesn’t have an overall game plan nor does he particularly want anything. Except to cause Batman as much pain as possible, which he does.
The Joker’s most notable victories over The Dark Knight are not physical ones but emotional. He beat the second Robin, Jason Todd, to death with a crowbar and crippled the then Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, and has killed and hurt countless other innocent people. These acts hurt Batman far more than any physical fights could. The Joker knows how to hurt Batman more than anyone else and he’ll never stop.