12 Things No Batman Movie Can Agree On
15 mins read

12 Things No Batman Movie Can Agree On


  • Batman is a loner crusader for justice, but he also has allies and teams that play important roles in his story outside of Gotham City.
  • Batman’s lack of superpowers makes him a realistic character, but stories that embrace his unrealistic side also offer fresh narrative possibilities.
  • Batman can be seen as a troubled, self-righteous vigilante with a penchant for violence, but he’s ultimately a selfless hero who fights crime wisely.


    Batman has starred in so many different DC movies, shows, and comic books that a definitive version of the Dark Knight is difficult to define. Since his debut in 1939’s Detective Comics #27, Batman has been known for his wealth, gadgets, brooding personality, thirst for justice, and lack of superpowers. However, some versions of Batman have presented very different takes on the hero, ranging from realistic portrayals all the way to the supernatural.

    Batman is quite a dynamic character, as he can be just as grounded, heroic, young, and vulnerable as he’s unrealistic, morally gray, experienced, and superhuman. Sometimes Batman is struggling to deal with crime and corruption in the grimy streets of Gotham City, and sometimes he’s defeating Darkseid himself on a far-off planet with the help of the Justice League. Every actor who has played Batman in live-action has explored the character from a unique angle. Therefore, when describing the key characteristics that define Batman, certain aspects may divide fans of the Dark Knight.

    12 Batman Is A Lone Wolf Hero

    Live-Action Batman Sidekicks Robin and Batgirl in DC Movies

    Batman’s crusade for justice makes him a lonely character, as he can’t maintain personal relationships as Bruce Wayne or as the masked vigilante. Relationships only distract him from his heroic goals and can result in more pain for everyone involved, as shown in the Death in the Family comic book storyline, where the Joker kills Jason Todd; in The Dark Knight, where Joker kills Rachel Dawes; and in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the DCEU’s Robin is implied to have died years before. Most Batman movies have focused on this side of the character, with Batman’s only allies being Alfred Pennyworth and James Gordon.

    However, Batman’s allies and teams have been an important part of his lore since as early as 1940’s Detective Comics No. 38, which marked Robin’s first appearance. Batman has developed a fatherly bond with all Robins since then, and he has mentored other members of the ever-expanding Bat-Family. Outside Gotham, Batman has also found a sense of community in the Justice League — a team where his intellect and wisdom shines over most metahumans’ superhuman abilities. Live-action movies have mostly overlooked this aspect of the character, but comic books and animated shows have explored it thoroughly.

    11 Batman Is DC’s Most Realistic Character

    Batman in the DCEU and the Dark Knight Trilogy

    Batman’s lack of superpowers tends to pull him into the more realistic side of the DC Universe. He’s a character that relies on his wits to defeat similarly grounded villains in a city that’s more populated by gangsters and terrorists than by aliens and monsters. Grounded Batman stories like the Dark Knight trilogy fulfill the fantasy of real-life human beings taking matters into their own hands by fighting evil without the need for fantastical enhancements. In order to maintain the suspension of disbelief, they have also set the expectation that peak human capabilities are Bruce Wayne’s limit.

    But focusing exclusively on Batman’s realistic portrayals is quite restricting. Batman stories that don’t worry about breaking the illusion of realism have the freedom to explore new villains, fight scenes, character dynamics, and even Batsuits that grounded adaptations cannot. For instance, villains like Mr. Freeze and Killer Croc are inherently unrealistic, but they offer fresh narrative possibilities that are often overlooked. Likewise, Ben Affleck’s cloth-like Batsuit make less sense than a heavily armored Batsuit, but it provides a breath of fresh air from most other live-action costumes.

    Related: Robert Pattinson vs Christian Bale: Which Batman Had More Realistic Gear?

    10 Bruce Wayne Would Solve Gotham’s Problems By Using His Money A Different Way

    Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton Batman and Batcave

    An argument has been made that Bruce Wayne would help Gotham more if he stopped dressing up as a bat and beating up criminals at night, and instead invested his massive wealth into the city. By improving the economy, reducing inequality, and championing mental health, Bruce Wayne could theoretically stop Gotham’s supervillains before they get the chance to appear. He would be reducing violence without getting his hands dirty in the process.

    While this argument is completely valid, many Batman stories outside the big screen have proved that Bruce Wayne’s altruistic efforts have no effect on Gotham. The city has become so corrupt at every level that the reason why Bruce Wayne has adopted the Batman persona isn’t only due to his personal quest for vengeance, but also because it’s the only way he can make a difference. In the stories where Bruce Wayne is a known philanthropist, it’s usually his nighttime job beating up criminals that truly have a positive effect on the city.

    9 Batman Is A Regular Human, Yet He’s Virtually Invincible

    Batman's Unrealistic Survival Scenes in DC Movies

    Part of Batman’s appeal is that he’s a regular human who thrives as a hero by skill and determination alone. With no superhuman abilities to speak of, Batman’s intelligence and resourcefulness not only helps him defeat a variety of supervillains, but also the Justice League themselves. Bruce Wayne is so smart that he has a contingency plan for every situation and a plan to defeat every opponent under any circumstance, even if that entails going toe-to-toe with Superman. The only condition is that Batman needs the appropriate “prep time” to get ready.

    One problem with Batman’s human relatability and unbeaten status is that they’re mutually exclusive. Batman can either be interesting due to his nature as a vulnerable human or due to his invincibility, but not both at the same time. There’s also nothing wrong with stories that embrace Batman’s shortfalls and unfair advantages. For instance, Batman survived a bomb exploding on his face in The Batman and healed from a broken back in record time in The Dark Knight Rises, but he was ready to die while fighting Doomsday in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

    Related: How Batman Escaped At The End Of The Dark Knight Rises

    8 Batman Used Guns And Killed At Some Point In His Career

    Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck's Batman Killing Scenes

    Batman is also known for his no-gun and no-kill rule. After witnessing his parents’ murder by a criminal with a handgun, Batman promised not to use lethal force, even against the most ruthless of criminals. Instead, Batman often sends his enemies to the authorities or straight to Arkham, where they’re kept away from the rest of society.

    Yet, the exact point when Batman refused to use lethal force isn’t entirely clear. Batman used to cause some gnarly deaths in his earliest comic book appearances, and despite sticking close to Batman’s famous no-kill rule, live-action DC movies have featured a disproportionate amount of deaths directly caused by Batman. While Batman’s DCEU skills are infamous, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and Christian Bale’s Batmen also killed without remorse more than once in their respective franchises. Bale’s Batman alone killed at least 17 people during the Dark Knight trilogy.

    7 Batman Is Always One Bad Day Away From Becoming Another Gotham Villain

    Batman and Gotham's Villains in Live-Action DC Movies

    Bruce Wayne’s struggle to cope with the death of his parents led him to the questionable endeavor of fighting crime all by himself. His secret, sleep-deprived double life, his obsession with justice, and his brutal approach to vigilantism make him an especially eccentric hero. In fact, Batman’s troubled soul makes him quite similar to the enemies he fights: they’re all self-righteous, broken people who fight the world they believe has abandoned them. Hence, Batman seems closer to becoming another Joker than he thinks.

    Related: Which Live-Action Batman Has The Most Villains?

    But as much as Batman resembles his villains in many ways, there’s also the fact that most Batman foes are extremely manipulative. For instance, Heath Ledger’s Joker plays with Batman’s mind to convince him that they’re two sides of the same coin who are fated to become one and the same, cleverly disregarding his own senseless cruelty. The main reason Batman hasn’t become another Gotham villain is his innate morals. Like Superman, Batman needs more than one bad day or one major tragedy to sympathize with his villains’ unethical worldview.

    6 Batman Cannot Be Lighthearted Or Have A Sense Of Humor

    Dark Batman and Funny Batman in DC Movies and Shows

    Batman’s stories are naturally inclined to have a dark and gritty tone. Every part of his lore is dark, from his bat-themed suit and gadgets to his personal journey. Batman’s war on crime is a serious matter, and the hero’s no-nonsense attitude is only reasonable given the deadly nature of his enemies. Most live-action Batman Batsuits have also been an all-black to accompany his appropriately gloomy fictional world.

    However, Batman’s lighthearted side is just as important. Shortly after Batman’s comic debut in the late 1930s, more than three decades’ worth of campy and colorful Batman stories shaped the character’s history. The 1960s Batman TV show and movie took the Caped Crusader to A-list status in live-action, and subsequent lighthearted interpretations like Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies and the animated The Brave and the Bold kept Batman’s fun side alive even through the rise of the character’s dark reinventions. Even dark Batman portrayals in the comics have also featured Batman’s dry sense of humor at certain points.

    5 Someone Else Was Behind Joe Chill’s Murder of Batman’s Parents

    Joaquin Phoenix and Jack Nicholson as Joker in the Batman Movies

    It’s common for reimaginings of famous character’s stories to revise their origin and add new twists. For example, Tim Burton’s Batman and Todd Philips’ Joker both linked the Joker to the death of Batman’s parents. The Waynes’ murder is so essential to Batman’s lore that it serves as a blank check for writers and directors who want to take the story in a fresh direction, and their death at the hands of a regular thief seems like a crime that hides a deeper truth behind it.

    But the fact that an ordinary criminal caused Bruce Wayne’s Batman identity to be born is also a widely explored angle. In many stories, it’s Joe Chill’s careless — or even accidental — pull of the trigger that motivates Batman to fight crime and try to avoid similar tragedies. Batman simply understands that tragedy can be painfully straightforward sometimes. For these versions of Batman, exacting revenge on Joe Chill and similar low-level criminals serves no purpose. Instead, it reinforces their no-kill philosophy.

    Related: Who Killed Bruce Wayne’s Parents In The Batman? The Mystery Explained Fully

    4 Batman Doesn’t Kill Because It’s Counterproductive

    DC Movie Villains That Batman Killed

    On the topic of Batman’s no-kill rule, the exact reasoning that drives the Dark Knight’s refusal to use lethal force is often debated. Some movies suggest that Batman doesn’t kill because he believes it would make him as evil as his enemies, while others suggest that he wouldn’t be able to stop, or that he doesn’t want to relive the painful memory of his parents’ deaths. Whatever Batman’s personal motivation is in each film, it’s true that killing would set a negative example for any new vigilante who could draw the wrong conclusion from Batman’s violent methods.

    3 Bruce Wayne Is The Mask, Batman Is The True Self

    dcu-batman-future-affleck-pattinson-need-both large

    Although it’s clear that Bruce Wayne came up with his Batman identity to impart justice on Gotham, his obsession with crime-fighting raises questions about who he identifies the most with: the rich playboy or the dark vigilante. Considering how much time and effort he spends on his Batman activities in comparison to his daily life, it could be said that Bruce Wayne is just a facade to keep everybody around him oblivious to his true identity as a one-man army. However, it can also be said that Batman is an unhealthy coping mechanism created by Bruce Wayne to find his life a purpose. This dichotomy varies depending on each movie.

    2 Batman Has A Toxic Relationship With Robin And The Bat-Family

    Titans Robin in the DCEU's Batman v Superman

    Batman certainly isn’t the best role model for parents, as he adopts young boys and puts them in extremely dangerous situations. In the comics, Batman doesn’t usually engage in healthy or fun activities with his adoptive sons or spends enough time with them. All the opposite — he often demands too much from them and makes them feel insecure about their efforts. What’s worse, Batman fails to protect Jason Todd and is constantly at odds with his biological son, Damian Wayne.

    But to say that Batman is an abusive parent would be inaccurate. Bruce Wayne recruits each of his Robins because he knows they could go down the wrong path otherwise, and he prefers to make the most out of their skills in a way that could benefit them. Although not the most jovial father figure, Batman inspires the whole Bat-Family to be selfless heroes and usually guides them to avoid his own mistakes. Unfortunately, this dynamic is generally ignored by the movies, and Batman’s Bat-Family mythology remains largely overlooked in live-action.

    1 Batman Is The World’s Greatest Detective

    World's Greatest Detective Scenes in Live-Action Batman Movies

    Batman’s detective skills are one of his main foundations, as his debut in Detective Comics played an important role in the publisher’s rebranding into DC Comics. Batman has proved his detective skills against villains like Hush and the Court of Owls in the comics, but most Batman movies struggle to decide whether the hero is a skilled detective or not. Batman Forever, The Dark Knight, and The Batman have included subplots where Bruce Wayne uses his deductive skills to solve mysteries and riddles, yet the process seems too simple to earn any live-action version of Batman the title of World’s Greatest Detective.

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