Batman’s most important character trait is that he doesn’t kill. It’s what makes Batman Batman. It’s as important as the fact he wears a cape and cowl, drives the Batmobile and fights the Joker. There are many times Batman has killed, but it’s still relatively rare. Batman’s moral code makes him the most interesting comic book character of all time, and if you take that away he’s not intriguing or even a hero at all.
If Batman kills left and right is he really any better than a murderer like The Punisher? Sometimes when Batman kills it’s in an Elseworlds story that isn’t cannon, sometimes it’s in an alternate timeline, and sometimes it happens in film because the director doesn’t pay attention to the character mythology.
It has also happened in early Batman comics before the character was thoroughly fleshed out. Not only has Batman killed, but he has even used guns to do so. Here’s a look at 15 times Batman has killed. Do you think Batman should kill, or is it important that he maintains his moral code of doling out justice and not exacting vengeance?
15. Shoots a driver in The Dark Knight Rises
More than any other Batman film series, The Dark Knight trilogy made a point of making it obvious that Batman doesn’t kill. Batman’s moral code played heavily on his conscience throughout all three films, but there were many occasions where Batman became a hypocrite and killed people.
In The Dark Knight Rises he even kills henchmen. Maybe Batman didn’t quite have a handle on how to operate the weapons on his new hovercraft “the Bat”, because he shoots the driver of a semi right in the head. The driver slumps over and goes careening off an overpass with Talia al Ghul in the passenger seat.
9 Throws a goon down the bell tower in Batman
Tim Burton was the first to introduce a violent and murderous batman on the big screen, and little has been done in any Batman movie to make The Dark Knight true to his comic book counterpart. No director who has made a Batman movie after Burton has completely fixed his mistake, and some (Snyder) even made it worse.
In Batman, Michael Keaton’s Batman confronts The Joker at the top of a fantastical and unrealistic multi-story church. Before he reaches the top he kills one of Joker’s henchmen by wrapping his legs around the goon’s neck and tossing him down the bell tower to his death.
8 Attaches a bomb to a goon in Batman Returns
In Batman Returns, Batman doesn’t just kill, but he also gets a sick sense of pleasure from murdering criminals. Batman Returns features multiple brutal homicides by Batman. In one scene he attaches a dynamite bomb to a rotund member of the Red Triangle Gang and kicks the henchman into the sewer.
The resulting explosion makes it absolutely impossible for the gang member to have survived. Even worse is the fact that Batman gives a snarky smile right before killing this villain. Batman shows he is a sadistic serial killer in Batman Returns, rather than a hero. Batman was crazy in Batman, but in Batman Returns he takes his madness to a whole new level.
12. Kills Professor Zoom in Flashpoint
In the DC Comics miniseries Flashpoint, Batman doesn’t hand criminals over to the police. Instead he kills them with brutal vengeance. His is a borderline alcoholic, runs a casino empire and uses guns. However, this isn’t Bruce Wayne. This is an alternate timeline where instead of Bruce’s parents being killed, Bruce was the one gunned down in Crime Alley.
So, Thomas Wayne becomes Batman instead after the death of his young son. In the animated film based on the comic, he shoots Professor Zoom right dead center between the eyes so everything can go back to normal. Killing Zoom meant the timeline was corrected and Bruce would be alive instead of his father.
7 Kills goons with his Batmobile in Batman v Superman
Zack Snyder made no attempt to have Batman in Batman v Superman be anything like the Dark Knight’s comic book version. Sure, Ben Affleck did a great job with what little he had to work with, but in Batman v Superman, Batman kills more than in any other movie.
The worst of it comes in a scene where Batman is chasing after a group of Lexcorp goons in his Batmobile. He drags one car for blocks and then made it crash on top of another. The Batmobile lands right on top of a van and there are explosions all over the place. When all is said and done, only a couple of henchmen make it back to Lexcorp, which means the kill count was in the double digits.
6 Makes KGBeast explode in Batman v Superman
Batman has once killed KGBeast in comic book continuity (that out of character murder was later retconned), and he did the same thing in Batman v Superman. When Batman saves Superman’s mother Martha he is faced with the decision of having to kill her captor KGBeast.
Instead of finding a way to save Martha without murdering, Batman instead goes on a homicidal warpath which includes making KGBeast explode by pointing another criminal’s gun at the gas tank of KGBeast’s flamethrower. It’s a path of collateral damage and other kidnappers are killed in the process, too.
9. Doesn’t save Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins
The whole point of Batman Begins was Bruce realizing that he won’t resort to killing. He won’t kill a thief that was captured by the League of Shadows and he won’t kill his parents' murderer, Joe chill.
At the end of the film, Batman has a choice to save Ra’s al Ghul and prove to him that he will abide by his rule to not kill. However, Batman decides that rather than saving Ra’s al Ghul he will just let the train crash and let him die. He may not have directly killed Ra’s al Ghul, but refusing to save him is really not any different. He let him die, and he is still responsible for Ra’s’ death.
8. Lets Joker fall to his death in Batman
In The Dark Knight, Batman would not stoop to The Joker’s level and kill his greatest nemesis. However, that’s not how things ended up at the end of Tim Burton’s Batman. Instead of letting Joker escape or finding a way to bring the Clown Prince of Crime to justice, Batman wrapped his grappling hook around Joker’s leg and tied it to a gargoyle.
The force from the helicopter lifting Joker causes the gargoyle to snap off. Joker could not sustain the weight of the concrete and fell to his death. That meant that Jack Nicholson could never reprise his iconic role in a Batman sequel.
5 Burns a goon with the Batmobile’s jet engine
One of the most brutal murders Batman has committed on film happened in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. The movie features Michael Keaton’s Batman was killing members of the Red Triangle Gang left and right. One gang member met a terrible fate when he was burned to death by the jet engine of the Batmobile. That’s the way this psycho version of Batman rolls. He not only kills criminals, but he does it in a horrific blaze of fire and violence.
4 Knocks a goon into a vat of acid in Detective Comics
Early on in Detective Comics and the comic book series Batman, the Caped Crusader was known to kill quite often. This was before the character's moral code had been established and the no killing policy that is so integral to the character was adopted.
In the Golden Age, Batman once knocked a criminal into a vat of acid. In fact, the criminal was instantly killed and did not survive the dip in the chemical sludge like the Joker did.
3 Kills nearly every criminal he encounters in Batman v Superman
Even if the criminals the DCEU escape the direct wrath of Ben Affleck’s Batman there is still a very high probability they will end up dead in the end. This new Batman brands criminals with a bat symbol.
It is implied by newscast in the film that this marking burned into their skin is a death sentence. If you are branded with the bat symbol other inmates in prison will kill you.
2 Hangs a crook from the Batplane
Batman has changed a lot over the years, and when the character was first created by Bill finger and Bob Kane he was somewhat different from the iconic interpretation of the character we know today. The costume looked similar, but at first he wore purple gloves and even drove a red car. Batman’s famous archenemies and Batmobile came shortly after Batman was introduced in 1939.
Batman’s moral code of not resorting to killing for vengeance didn’t come until later either. In an early issue of Detective Comics, he even hung a criminal by the neck from his Batplane. Not only did he commit a terrible act, but Batman even opined that the criminal was better off dead anyway.
1 Brainwashed into killing in Batman: The Cult
In the comic book miniseries The Cult, Batman broke his no killing rule after being heavily drugged and brainwashed by a sinister cult leader by the name of Deacon Blackfire. Blackfire is convinced that the only way to eradicate crime in Gotham City is to murder as many criminals as possible.
It’s a stance that Batman doesn’t agree with, but the mind altering substances and starvation lead batman to do things he never thought he would be capable of when facing off against criminals. He guns down a man using a machine gun.
2. Vampire Batman eats people
There have been many bizarre interpretations of Batman over his nearly 80 year history, but one of the most strange versions is vampire Batman. It’s fitting since vampires and the Batman are both creatures of the night. In the animated movie Justice League: Gods and Monsters, Batman is not Bruce Wayne.
Instead he is Kirk Langstrom, who you may know as the Batman villain Manbat. This vampire version of Batman must feed on humans to survive and he directs his insatiable thirst for human blood at the criminals of the world. Batman has been portrayed as a vampire multiple times. In an episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold, he became a bloodsucking demon and even tried to kill the Justice League International.
1. Kills Two-Face in Batman Forever
Batman Forever took the Batman film series in a different direction. Warner Bros. felt that Batman Returns was too dark, so Batman Forever had a lighter tone that was somewhat similar to the 1960' Adam West Batman show. However, even though the movie was more light-hearted, Batman still killed.
Throughout the movie Batman reprimands Robin and warns him not to seek revenge for the death of the Graysons. Robin abides and doesn’t kill Two-Face. Still, at the end of the film Batman ends up killing Two-Face by throwing coins at him. This makes Two-Face lose his balance and fall to his death.