Created in the 1930’s by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Bruce Wayne, also known as Batman, is one of the best characters to come out of comic books. In fact, Batman has become one of the biggest characters in popular culture in general, expanding past his original art form and becoming a cultural force on his own. There are movies, comics, television shows, video games, and everything in-between that center around Bruce Wayne trying to fight crime in Gotham City with just his wits, his mitts, and his infinite and endless wealth. He’s become the shorthand for the grim and gritty hero, while still having plenty of family-friendly sci-fi adventures when the need arises. He’s usually seen one of the absolute paragons for good in the super hero universe, a true source of inspiration. He’s usually even considered to be one of the biggest and best signs of virtue within the world of super heroics.
But that doesn’t mean he’s blameless. Bruce Wayne is definitely not a saint. In fact, Bruce Wayne has actually done a lot of pretty horrible things to his enemies, his friends, and anyone who happens to get in his way. And sometimes, sure, there’s a good reason behind these terrible acts. But he’s also got a tendency to just do ridiculously petty and evil things to the people he calls his friends. Even his so-called family isn’t safe from his destructive tendencies and problematic decisions. Here are fifteen of the absolute worst things Bruce Wayne has ever done to the people he says he cares about.
15. Bruce Wayne Left Another Hero To His Demise
You may not have heard of him, but Blue Beetle has had a long history. A brilliant inventor who utilizes the same kind of gadgets and skills that Batman perfected, Blue Beetle became a mainstay of DC comics for decades. But by the mid 2000s, Blue Beetle had transformed into nothing more than a joke. Most heroes ignored him and his thoughts, and treated him like something of an afterthought. No one did this more brutally than Batman, though, during a story where Blue Beetle was trying to uncover a conspiracy built against the heroes of the world. He brings all his findings to Batman, who just straight-up ignores him and tells him to get the hell out of his cave. So, Blue Beetle does, and then promptly gets shot right in the face by the guy putting together the conspiracy in the first place. Bruce feels bad about it later, sure, but it’s not like he ever builds a memorial to him or anything.
14. Batman Messes With Green Lantern Constantly
Out of all the Justice League, Batman has a historically rocky relationship with the Green Lanterns. There have been multiple Green Lanterns over the years, but a lot of them have ended up having problems with Bats. With Guy Gardner, it makes perfect sense to hate him because, well, Guy Gardner is the worst. Batman punching him out with a single hit isn’t anywhere near the insanity that he dropped on a different Green Lantern, though. In All Star Batman & Robin, the Justice League decides to investigate Batman and make sure that he’s not totally nuts. To this end, they send their potentially most powerful member, Green Lantern, also known as Hal Jordan, to check on him. Green Lantern’s powers don’t work on the power yellow, so Bruce proceeded to paint everything, INCLUDING HIMSELF, canary yellow and wait for Green Lantern with some lemonade. Because if he’s going to be a jerk, at least he’s going to be a hilarious jerk.
13. Bruce Wayne Refused To Kill A Man, Then Proceeds To Kill LOTS Of Men
The Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy was a massive success that also managed to be a spiritually faithful adaptation of the Batman comics. For the most part, the films take great strides in presenting a Batman who doesn’t want to kill, and refuses to allow murder when he can prevent it, except for Batman Begins, which manages to have quite a few murders throughout the run time. The worst one comes early in the movie, when Bruce is still training with the ninja assassin group known as the League of Shadows. He’s instructed to murder a criminal, and can’t bring himself to do it. When the ninja assassins take offence to this, Bruce finds himself brawling with the lot of them and setting off a Rube Goldberg-esque series of events that results in everyone else dying, including the guy he refused to kill in the first place. Bruce, you are terrible at not murdering people.
12. Batman Kept A Mute Hunchback In His Basement For Years
Despite the common interpretation of Batman as a singular and lonely figure, he’s picked up quite the family over the years. It’s actually one of the most important things about the character. Even when he feels alone, he still has friends and family he can rely on. With that focus on supporting characters, the Batman mythos has introduced lots of amazing, deep characters, as a result. Then there’s Harold. Harold is a technically gifted mute hunchback that Bruce ended up saving from servitude to a criminal gang. To thank Bruce, Harold started building and working on the tech that Batman uses to fight crime. But the weird part (seriously, this is the weird part) comes when Bruce decides to just keep Harold in his basement 24/7, working away on little boomerangs that look like bats so Bruce can throw them at mental patients. It’s an extremely weird place to go with Batman comics, especially when characters like Nightwing show up and have no idea that Batman was keeping a man with a disability in his basement.
11. Bruce Wayne Fired His Father Figure
At the center of the Batman mythos as a whole is Alfred Pennyworth, his faithful but sarcastic butler. Introduced as a joke detective character, Alfred shifted into a pivotal role in the ever-expanding Batman story. Almost every version of Batman has Alfred at the center, but one of the best comes from the Christopher Nolan films. His role as the surrogate father to Bruce was played up over the films, with Michael Caine presenting a warm father figure that proved to be the only person Bruce Wayne could really connect to. But when Bruce starts pulling himself apart to fight Bane in Dark Knight Rises, Alfred tries to keep him from endangering his life by revealing he destroyed a breakup letter Bruce’s childhood friend and love interest wrote in the previous movie. Within seconds, Bruce fires the man he’s known for his entire life, and tells him to get out of his house. Come on, Bruce! That man raised you! What the hell?! We get that you’re mad, but your first thought shouldn’t be, “Nah, I hate him now.”
10. Batman Almost Trolled A Seventeen-Year-Old To Death
There have been lots of Robins over the years. Some grow up and move on, while others die in the line of duty. The worst fate probably belongs to the fourth Robin, Stephanie Brown. And considering that one Robin was beaten with a crowbar for eight hours, that’s saying something. Steph was a teenage hero before this, going by Spoiler and fighting alongside the third Robin, Tim Drake. She even ended up dating Tim. But when Tim quit being Robin to appease his Dad, Bruce brought Stephanie into the red and green. Unfortunately, Bruce’s perfectionism and lingering anger over Tim’s departure shaded his treatment of Steph. He often kept her out of fights, and then berated her for it. He pushed her to the point that she decided to impress him by enacting one of his plans to bring down crime in Gotham. But it spiralled out of control and led to a city-wide gang war, and mob boss Black Mask captured Steph. He tortured her for days until Batman saved her. The wounds were too much, and she was declared dead not much later. Bruce admitted at one point that he was taking out his anger on her and treating her too harshly. Sure, it turned out she faked her death, but jeez, Batman, she got tortured because you decided to mess with her.
9. Bruce Wayne Got Batgirl Pregnant
This one has made the rounds, but it’s because it happens to be one of the most exceptionally horrible things Batman has ever done. It’s impossible to talk about his bad acts without mentioning this. So, there are a LOT of possible futures to the current DC continuity over the years. One of them, a comic based on the 90s cartoon Batman Beyond explored the final grievance that separated Nightwing from his former mentor, Batman. Upon his retirement from Robin, Dick Grayson decided to relocate to Gotham’s neighboring crime-cesspool, Bludhaven, He adopted a new crime fighting identity, Nightwing, and left his old life behind. This included his girlfriend, Batgirl. She found solace with Bruce, who apparently didn’t seem bothered to be sleeping with his ward’s ex-girlfriend. Later, Dick returned to Gotham to try and win Batgirl back, and even proposed. The problem? She was already seven weeks pregnant with Bruce’s child. It ended with Bruce and Dick getting into a fist fight, juxtaposed against Batgirl trying to fight crime and suffering a miscarriage. Wow, Bruce. Wow. And that’s not even the worst thing he’s done to Robin, but that’ll come up later.
8. Batman Tries To Kill Superman A LOT
So, okay. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was a real movie, and it has to be dealt with as such. That doesn’t make it a good movie, or any less rage-inducing, but it deserves to be considered as a part of the Batman canon. And in this one, Zack Snyder introduced the world to a Batman that was so ready to try to kill another superhero. Namely, Superman. In this version, Bruce Wayne saw the effects of Superman fighting Zod in a major city firsthand on the civilian population, and grew to fear the alien. But his paranoia fuels him more than reason should allow, to the point that Alfred thinks he’s gone too far. He even has weird nightmares/flashbacks/flash forwards to the image of an evil Superman, provoking him to build weapons only built to help him murder another superhero. For someone who swore against killing, that seems like a crazy decision. Not even a plea for reason and compassion stops Batman from immediately trying to kill Superman. And the crazy part? This isn’t the first time Batman has tried to kill Supes. It’s not even in the first 100 times! Batman constantly wants to kill Superman, and it’s a weird call for him to make.
7. Bruce Wayne Hurt His Fiancée
You might know Kevin Smith best from his indie comedy Clerks or his nerd podcast, SModcast. Those are both great places to see his form of honest comedy on display. But to Batman fans, he is sort of a horrible person forever and ever, all thanks to one comic. In Batman: Widening Gyre, Batman ends up reuniting with his socialite ex-girlfriend, Silver St. Cloud. They reunite, and get engaged. She tries to deal with Bruce and Batman being part of the same whole, and finally comes to terms with it. At this point, Batman starts straight-up “gaslighting” her. He turns cold and harsh, and actually attacks her. He assumes she’s a trap or robot, and to try and force out a confession, he literally grabs her by the hair and slaps her in the face. He apologizes right after and hugs her, which does not make any of that okay in any way, shape, or form, by the way, Bruce. But it’s okay, she dies at the end of the issue at the hands of a super villain. Out of sight, out of mind, apparently. And somehow, that’s not the worst thing in this comic. But that’s a story for another article.
6. Batman Brainwashed Robin – After Slapping Him
One of the very first Elseworld stories (a DC term for stories set in an alternate universe outside of the main comics canon) actually came in the 1950s. And it also happened to be one of the first times that Batman straight-up ruined the lives of everyone else. In this world, Batman is convinced that Superman actually killed his father, and dedicates himself to killing the man. Meanwhile, he adopts Dick Grayson and mentors him into becoming Robin, just like the main comics. Unlike in the main comics, though, Robin finds out that Batman is intending to murder Superman. He tries to convince him that Superman is a good guy, but gets slapped for his trouble (sad moment, great meme material sixty years later). Deciding he can’t trust Robin, Batman decides to erase his memory completely and just drop him off at an orphanage. And that’s it for Dick. He’s left with no memory of the last six months at an orphanage, while Batman gets himself killed trying to kill Superman.
5. Bruce Wayne Kind Of Killed Alfred Once. Okay, Twice. Okay, A Lot.
Gotham has been a surprisingly fun television series, chronicling the early days of Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon in a city slowly filling up with supernatural monsters and criminals in the years before Bruce became Batman. The show has done a good job of exploring the events that helped turn an angry young man into a caped crusader. But that doesn’t mean this Bruce Wayne has always been the best guy in the world. At one point, the young Bruce is introduced to the world of the League of Shadows and Ra’s Al Ghul. As a final test of his dedication, little Bruce is instructed to murder Alfred with a sword. Which, yeah, he totally does. Sure, he was hypnotized. But that isn’t even the first time he’s gotten Alfred almost murdered in this show already! Alfred better get a good insurance plan, otherwise this just seems unfair.
4. Batman Almost Murdered The Justice League
It’s a common trait for Batman to be a pragmatic strategist, and it makes sense. He’s established as the thinking man in a world of super powers. He has a plan to beat everyone. It’s just that his schemes to take down his fellow heroes have been abused relentlessly, and happen to be terrifying. Both the comic Tower of Babel and animated film Justice League: Doom see his plans for the other heroes stolen and used by the villains the League fights. And these strategies manage to range in terms of horror. Sure, some are as simple as shooting Superman with a kryptonite bullet. Others are tailor made to mess with the other heroes, like blinding Green Lantern or forcing Wonder Woman into a heart attack-inducing rage. But some are just horrifying. Look at Plastic Man, a shape shifter who has his body frozen and shattered, conscious the whole time. There is also Martian Manhunter, who is dosed with magnesium and lit on perpetual fire. By the way, fire is his weakness. Really, Batman? Wow.
3. Bruce Wayne Is A Deadbeat Dad
Batman has a certain weakness for the ladies. But one relationship ended up leading to more than just a one night stand with the caped crusader. Talia Al Ghul (the villain of Dark Knight Rises and the daughter of Ra’s) slept with Bruce during his formative years, and actually got pregnant from the experience. Keeping it a secret from Bruce, she raised their son – named Daiman – as a murder ninja, because of course she did. She eventually turned him over to his father, and the two did NOT get along. Batman turned out not to be great at the whole fathering thing, at least at first. He was confrontational, aggressive, and overall dismissive of Damian. Sure, they form a relationship down the line, but it takes a long time for Bruce to really become a dad in any sense of the word. His bad parenting tactics even end in some people being directly murdered by ninjas!
2. Batman Created Skynet To Spy On His Friends
The world of DC comics manages to have every kind of story, hero, and villain in it. It’s part of the beauty of this world in which literally anything can happen and you can run into anyone. It’s not surprising that an evil army of robotic monsters tries to claim the lives of the Justice League at one point or another. The surprising part is when you find out how and why that monster exists. See, after he gets his memory wiped by the Justice League, Batman got very paranoid and built a robotic guardian for the planet. It almost immediately went rogue, and tried to eliminate superheroes across the planet. It even tried to murder heroes and turn their corpses into awful cyborg monsters that could chase down the remaining heroes around the world. And it all started because Batman was mad at his friends. Thanks for the apocalypse, Bruce.
1. Bruce Wayne Is Consistently Awful To All The Robins
Seriously, not a single Robin has gotten through their career without Batman doing something awful to them. These are children recruited into a war against crime, and yet Bruce thought it was important to mess with them all at some point or another. Dick Grayson was the first Robin, and he had to deal with Batman faking his death on multiple occasions, and not always because Dick needed it or wanted it. Jason Todd was the second Robin, and beyond the whole “getting murdered by the Joker” thing, Bruce almost killed him in a rage following a particularly dangerous dosage of the Scarecrow fear gas. Tim Drake got himself assaulted by multiple versions of Batman and almost beaten to death by two of them. Even his biological son, Damian, has felt his wrath. At one point, Bruce almost drives a sword through him, which really isn’t going to win him any father of the year awards. Bruce Wayne can’t even be expected to be halfway kind to his family figures. So, wait, why do we consider him a hero again? This sounds like super villain talk.
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