Bruce Wayne inherited a massive fortune from his wealthy parents and was driven by their cold murder to become a force for good. He dedicated years of his youth to train and hone his skills to become the Batman: Gotham’s dark knight detective. He was originally created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939, first appearing in Detective Comics #27, but was quite a different type of hero back then, with no qualms about killing. In essence, he was like a murderous Sherlock Holmes with the boy wonder as his Watson.
He’s come a long way and so far, more or less adhered to his now famous “one rule,” proving that it’s possible to break through your fears, push yourself harder and become something greater as he has. He’s proven this so well, in fact, that other superheroes fear him and his loyal fans trust that no matter what situation he’s thrown into, Batman can make it out. Those are some of the hallmarks of a great superhero, but we have to wonder… is he really all that great? As a symbol, he’s fantastic. But as a character? A lot of the things he’s done over the years have been questionable. You can argue that, in the end, it all comes down the writers, and that’s true… but let’s look at him in his entirety. You might find that he’s not the great superhero he’s cracked up to be. In fact, he may just be the worst of the bunch!
15. HE ALMOST GOT EVERY METAHUMAN KILLED
Batman is the guy you bet on because he plans for every eventuality, such as the possibility of superheroes going haywire… like Superman, for example. In fact, he created a database full of the strengths and weaknesses of certain superpowered beings. The database was stolen by his long-time enemy, Ra’s Al Ghul, in JLA #43 (written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Howard Porter, Drew Geraci and Pat Garrahy) and used to effectively eliminate each member of the Justice League.
You have to respect the man for his ability to plan so well. Although it was ultimately used for evil, Batman’s plans worked. The problem here is that he clearly didn’t plan well enough for anyone stealing that database. He had the lives of his allies in his hands and it was either arrogance or a lack of foresight that kept him from keeping that database safe. Either way, maybe he shouldn’t have that power.
14. HE SPENDS HIS TIME PLOTTING TO DESTROY HIS FRIENDS
If the JLA: Tower of Babel story arc showed us anything, it’s that for his many foes and many friends, Batman is always prepared. Always. If Superman ever goes crazy, Batman will be ready with a fist-full of kryptonite. If Martian Manhunter ever decides to wipe out humanity, Batman will be there with some magnesium-laced nanites and a flamethrower. It shows the incredible amount of foresight he often employs. It also shows how much time he dedicated to actually plotting to destroy his friends. Where’s the trust, Bats?
More recently in the Batman: Endgame story arc (written by Scott Snyder, artwork by Greg Capullo and others), it was shown he continues to develop specialized weapons and armor to help him take down the Justice League… “just in case.” Just how many different methods does he need exactly? Maybe he should have spent more time trying to find ways to stop the Joker so none of the members of the JLA could be controlled like that in the first place.
13. HE IS STRAIGHT-UP SOCIOPATHIC
Obviously, anyone who goes around dressed like a bat has a few issues they’re clearly not dealing with, made clearer by the fact that he keeps everyone at arm’s length. When you look at some of the things he’s done, observe his behavior, he starts to seem more and more like the villainous sociopaths he puts away. He’s manipulative, deceitful and violent, you can’t deny that.
We can’t forget that time he threatened to destroy all of Apokolips to free Superman and Kara from Darkseid in Superman/Batman #12 (written by Michael Turner with art by Turner and Peter Steigerwald). That was a little over the top. As evil a place as it is, we can’t forget that not everyone who dwells on Apokolips is there by choice. Sure, he was praised for it by Darkseid but… well, praise from the embodiment of all evil isn’t exactly a good thing.
12. HE’S JUST A GUY WITH A BELT
He’s had training, he’s incredibly smart and he has lots (and lots) of gadgets. The criminals of Gotham definitely don’t stand a chance against him, but Superman? Wonder Woman? The Hulk (yes, he went up against Marvel’s Hulk once… and won)? Somehow, virtually every one of his writers agree that he can beat everyone, hence the moniker “Bat-God.” A lot of the time, it comes down to what his opponent is willing to do. For example, Clark is a better man than Bruce, there are some lines he just will not cross and he doesn’t have it in him to crush Bruce as easily as he could.
Opponents like the Hulk don’t share those limitations and there’s no way any human could take him on, no matter how hard they punched his solar plexus, like Batman did in DC Special Series #27 (written by Len Wein, artwork by José Luis García-López, Dick Giordano and Glynis Oliver). The weight writers put into his strictly-human abilities, simply because of his brand, is frankly ludicrous.
11. IRRESPONSIBLE WITH HIS WEALTH
A widely accepted calculation of the cost of being Batman was done by Thaddeus Howze, a comic book historian. The cost came to a total of about $83 million dollars. That’s just on the basis of what Batman had at the time. Bruce constantly upgrades, develops specialized weaponry and gadgets so he can take down Gotham’s criminals efficiently. But crime is just a symptom of a greater issue and only a fraction of it is caused by genuine evil. A lot of it can be dealt with by funding schools, infrastructure, businesses and worthwhile social programs.
Yes, that’s what the Wayne Foundation is for, but let’s be honest here, he’s not putting nearly as much time and resources into that as he should be. Instead, his resources go into buying expensive toys, cars and Bat-Bedazzlers so he can pummel the living daylights out of what are essentially just poor people, while at the same time doing some serious self-branding.
10. OUT OF TOUCH WITH SOCIETY
We can only assume that the reason he doesn’t invest as much as he should into the right things is because he was never taught how. When he eventually dedicated himself to studying, he focused on the sciences and criminology, so he could become the Batman. If only he’d taken economics or social planning, or at least talked to someone who wasn’t as wealthy so he’d understand where all Gotham’s crime was really coming from, he might have learned how to affect real change, rather than just punching stuff really hard.
It’s easy to see how Bruce might willingly brutalize common criminals, because from his perspective, it’s evil and only evil that drives them. The hardships they face as victims of the economic disparity in Gotham can’t possibly drive people toward theft and murder. Therefore, as Batman, he dedicates his life to fighting a war against the symptoms of Gotham’s illness because he doesn’t understand the disease.
9. CLEARLY ISN’T SOLVING ANY PROBLEMS
What we’re trying to show you here is that all Batman’s efforts as a highly trained, well-equipped vigilante has mostly gone to waste. He’s not tackling the main issue in Gotham and that’s why Gotham doesn’t really seem to be getting better. In fact, with Batman being the obsession of several powerful, particularly destructive supervillains, you might even say Gotham has gotten worse because of Batman. And you’d be right.
Bruce Wayne has been the Batman for decades now, and while the city has faced events that Batman’s presence was able to treat, like the aftermath of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the No Man’s Land story arc, in general, he hasn’t really deterred crime or corruption in Gotham. Has he slightly discouraged it? That’s a hard maybe. Does he still find himself busy every night dealing with everything from common thugs to superpowered psychos? Yes. It’s been several years, Bruce, time to re-evaluate your methods.
8. TERRIBLE EXAMPLE FOR KIDS
Batman knows that Gotham is a terrible, dangerous place, even for him. Yet, he somehow still thought it was a good idea to let a kid join his crusade and fight by his side. Not once, not twice but five times! Of course, from the writers’ perspective, it was clearly done so that kids could relate more to the early comic books, but that was done at the expense of the Bruce Wayne’s character.
Now we have a guy who seems superficially reluctant to take on kids as sidekicks. Initially, he took on Dick Grayson because they had a lot in common and Bruce didn’t want to see him go down a dark path. It seemed plausible, even admirable, but it fell apart quickly. As though it was his answer to everything, Bruce encouraged each one to become a costumed vigilante as opposed to a productive citizen of Gotham.
7. HE’S BAD AT PARENTING
Even if you make the really thin argument that Grayson chose that life, it still doesn’t excuse Bruce for treating kids like soldiers. Even with his own son, Damian, he really doesn’t even try to push him to a different direction than that which the League of Assassins intended (other than the “no killing” thing). We’re not saying that Bruce doesn’t love his son, you can see him compassionately try to be a father in Batman and Robin Vol. 2 #3 (written by Peter Tomasi, illustrated by Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray and John Kalisz), but he also directly led to his death by allowing him to get in harm’s way… with a sword.
As awesome as a father and son crime-fighting duo is, the crux of the problem is that Bruce doesn’t consider Batman a horrible example for a young boy, which is clearly is, ven from an emotional standpoint. When your life revolves around keeping yourself distant and in the shadows, you’re setting yourself up for failure when it comes to family.
6. HE IS A GARBAGE DETECTIVE
Even without his gadgets and his suit, Bruce Wayne is still one hell of a talented individual. He’s a talented fighter and a good detective…. or is he? Sue, he’s got wit and courage, but calling him the “world’s greatest” anything — let alone detective — is a bit of a push. Let’s not give too much credit to the guy whose visor, Oracle and batcomputer do at least half the work for him. He would find himself pretty lost without them all, or without his steady stream of child soldiers either watching his back or, again like Watson, solving his cases for him.
We can’t forget that time he had to enlist the Riddler to help him solve a cop’s murder in Batman: Dark Victory #2 (written by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale and Gregory Wright). We’re not saying that great detectives don’t need help, of course they do, but none of them are credited as the world’s greatest… and neither is he.
5. HE’S A HORRIBLE SCIENTIST
Batman has a reputation for being forward-thinking. He always has a calculated plan of some kind. How could he not? As you’ve seen, he has a ton of fancy gadgets and a state-of-the-art batcomputer capable of analyzing virtually anything in astounding detail. He has everything he needs to be quite the detective and scientist. He’s got a degree in chemistry, biology, physics… but why are we regaling you with his qualifications and equipment? To make a point. As a scientist, he is at best awful, and at worst extremely dangerous.
He has no excuse for being as reckless as he was in the one-shot graphic novel, Batman: The Man Who Laughs (written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Doug Mahnke and David Baron), when he decided the best way to test his Joker toxin antidote was to let himself get poisoned by the toxin and hope to god that his antidote worked. Has this man ever really even set foot in an actual lab that he didn’t just build in his basement?
4. HIS ONE (THIN) RULE
Since at least 1940, Batman has fiercely adhered to his one rule, which is why, despite everything else he’s willing to do, he doesn’t just end the lives of criminals like the Joker, even though their survival means the deaths of hundreds if not thousands. He can’t start making exceptions or he’ll slip (unless it’s the movies, where he just straight murders people). That’s admirable and all but sometimes it just seems like he gets by on technicalities.
So long as they don’t die, he’s completely fine with breaking people and sending him to the ER in a hurry. That’s what it seemed like from Jim Gordon’s description in Batman: Year One #3 (written by Frank Miller, art by David Mazzucchelli, Todd Klein and Richmond Lewis) when he described how one of his guys was punched through a wall (to be fair, that guy did almost shoot a cat). He suffered from five broken ribs and internal bleeding. If it weren’t for the medic, he most definitely would have died. Sure you’re not already slipping there, Bats?
3. NOT ALWAYS THERE WHEN YOU NEED HIM
At least Batman is always there when you need him, right? Right? Well… Batman fails people a lot. He failed Harvey Dent in The Long Halloween (written by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale) focusing too intently on Falcone. He failed Jason Todd in A Death in the Family (written by Jim Starlin, art by Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo and Adrienne Roy) by not supervising a desperate and reckless child properly (again). We can forgive those, of course. It’s not as though he wasn’t trying.
But how do you explain away his three month long disappearance before “No Man’s Land?” He left Gotham to plea for aid then disappeared. Even his team, Oracle, Robin and Nightwing had no idea where he went as we found in Batman: No Man’s Land #1 (written by Bob Gale, art by Alex Maleev and more). Everyone needs a break but come on, Batman. So not the time.
2. HE’S PETTY AF
You’d half expect someone who has gone through hell to be the bigger man when the time comes but Batman has shown that he’s not above trying to get back at someone for things like quitting as Robin. Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown found that out the hard way when Batman offered to train Stephanie while Robin was sent to boarding school. Oddly, he revealed Robin’s identity to Steph, which might be understandable. But when Tim decided to hang up his cape to keep everyone’s secret identities safe, Bruce thought it might be a good idea to take on Stephanie as Robin’s replacement.
Here’s the thing… there was already a rift between Bruce and Tim, and he knew that. He worsened it when he decided to train Steph, someone he already knew was too reckless. It seemed more as though he was doing it to hurt Robin than because he actually needed a replacement and we all know that it led to Steph’s apparent death in Batman #633 (written by Bill Willingham, art by Kinsun Loh and others).
1. HE’S A CRUEL PHILANDERER
Bruce Wayne is heroic, good looking and wealthy. On the surface, he seems like quite the catch, but when you look at his broad… ahem… “history”… you’ll find he can really be quite licentious. In Batman Beyond 2.0 #28 (written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel, illustrated by Phil Hester and others), it was revealed that he’d gotten Barbara pregnant, which is just… creepy. And that’s just the beginning.
Even outside of that branch of the DC universe, he’s a cold womanizer and can’t seem to handle his double life after getting involved with a woman. Long time fans might recall that time when he got really paranoid that his girlfriend, Silver St. Cloud, was a robot in Batman: The Widening Gyre #6 (written by Kevin Smith, illustrated by Walt Flanagan and more) and tore the poor woman’s hair out trying to prove she was human. Strange behavior seeing as how later on Silver is killed by Onomatopoeia, who was disguised as Baphomet, who he lets into his batcave and tells his secret identity to. SO much for being smart. Or prepared. Or good at his one damn job! Ugh, Batman is the worst…
What do you think? Are we being too harsh or can you think of more examples where Bats was awful? Let us know in the comments!