Despite being one of the rare superheroes who doesn’t actually have any superpowers, Batman has built up a reputation as one of the toughest heroes in the world of comics. Thanks to his ability to outthink his opponents and prepare a counter strategy against his rival’s strength, Batman has taken out people who are like gods in comparison to him. Batman has beaten the likes of Superman, Darkseid, and even the entire Justice League. But that doesn’t mean the Dark Knight is at the top of the food chain either.
Batman’s prep can’t save him every time, and he has suffered many a defeat, despite his impressive victories. It’s not just villains who have done so either. Even other heroes have gone against Batman and won. So, we decided to look at the battles the Dark Knight Detective couldn’t plot his way out of, resulting in 15 Superheroes Who Have Beaten Batman.
“Justice League: Origin” from 2011 was an attempt by the New 52 to reimagine the meeting between Batman and Superman. Even if you’re only familiarity with the two crossing paths is from “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” you should know Bruce isn’t the type to trust other superpowered people on the block. Indeed, the two engaged in another one of the many battles they’ve had over the years, though with different results than what you have seen in the movies so far.
Issues 1 through 6 dealt with the encounter, but Batman had no idea what he was up against. He tried to use all his usual gadgets and devices that have worked so well for him against normal humans. Bruce had to go through a harsh awakening that Clark was not human, though, with Superman countering everything Batman threw at him. Green Lantern got involved on Bruce’s behalf, but even that wasn’t enough to stop the Kryptonian. So, as is usually the case when a war has a clear victor, eventually they had to lay aside their hostilities and talk things through.
Back in the ’90s, Spawn was one of the most talked about heroes, thanks to his cool outfit and a story tone that took full advantage of the decade’s fascination with making everything dark and edgy. His comics were violent, explicit, and embraced moral ambiguity. Initially, it attracted a lot of high-profile writers to do guest work on the series, such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Frank Miller.
Miller has done some iconic Batman comics before, but also some pretty infamous ones. With how little this comic is talked about, you can probably guess which category it fits into. “Spawn/Batman” focused on homeless people being weaponized, and both heroes believing the other was responsible. They fought a couple times, with Spawn got the better of them. Batman tries a lot of his usual gadgets, like nerve gas, but they have little effect on a supernatural hero like Spawn. Unfortunately a lot of Spawn’s counterattack is not shown on the page, but we see the aftereffects of Batman lying battered in an alley. Their fight ends when Spawn has to save them both from robotized homeless people (yes, seriously), then using his powers to heal the damage he did to Batman so they can work together.
Even though Batman has a soft spot for taking in protégés and teaching them how to be heroes like him, that doesn’t mean he’s earned their eternal loyalty or anything. In fact, each of Bruce’s Robins usually grows up and strikes out a new identity on their own, at which point they have no problem voicing a difference of opinion with their one-time mentor. Nightwing wasn’t the first to do this, but that didn’t make the fight any easier for Batman.
In “Nightwing” #30, the conflict between the two comes to a head and Dick Grayson challenges his former leader. Bruce still thinks he is the one in control, and tries to get Dick to see his side as they trade punches. Dick is sick of being treated like a boy, though, and Bruce’s words only fuel his anger further. He ruthlessly strikes at Bruce until he stands over a beaten and bloody Batman, breathlessly proclaiming, “I win.”
Marvel and DC have crossed over many times over the years to varying degrees of success. As much of a big event as these crossovers should be, inevitably, if it happens enough times, there will be some moments that don’t make the most of the potential. Unfortunately, this match up was one such time, even when it involved the promising confrontation of Batman taking on the X-Men.
It happened in “DC/Marvel: All Access” #3, but immediately got off to a bad start due to the composition of the X-Men. There was no Wolverine, no Nightcrawler, no iconic mutant villains like Juggernaut or Magneto. Instead we had a couple big names like Cyclops and Storm, but also some C-list members like Bishop and Jubilee. Regardless, Batman initially fares well, tossing around Bishop and Cannonball, and temporarily taking out Storm and Jean Grey. But when Iceman steps in, Batman gets wiped out and surrounded by all of the X-Men at once. It’s clear he’s in trouble, but right then the rest of the Justice League show up to save Bruce from the inevitable beat down.
11. GREEN LANTERN
One of Batman’s famous moments includes a time when he was being challenged by Guy Gardner, who has developed a reputation as one of the more obnoxious people to don the Green Lantern duds. Guy was challenging Batman’s position as leader of the Justice League and started pushing Batman too far. Eventually, Bruce heard enough and knocked out Gardner with one punch, something that delighted both the other heroes in the room as well as readers.
Years later, that moment would be repaid against Batman. This time, it was Bruce being the critical one, and Hal Jordan was the one in the Green Lantern role. “Green Lantern: Rebirth” saw Jordan having a prominent role in the Corps, but Batman was understandably dubious about this, given the whole Parallax thing. Jordan didn’t appreciate having his leadership questioned and gave Bruce a taste of his own medicine with a one-punch knock down, something that delighted the other Corps members, including Gardner.
It looks like Aquaman and Batman are poised for some contention in the upcoming “Justice League” movie, since Jason Momoa’s Aquaman looks like a guy who doesn’t go along with taking orders very easily. Before we see what comes of that encounter, though, we’ve already seen what happens when the two characters face off in the world of comics. Like many other heroes Batman has faced, he’s scored a few wins here since they have fought so often, but Aquaman isn’t the pushover that so many people seem to believe.
In a straight up fight where Batman doesn’t have his famous prep time to plan out a counterattack, Aquaman has reminded Bruce exactly which one of them would prevail. While the two were getting into it in front of the rest of the Justice League in “Justice League” #15, Aquaman had heard enough and chose to silence Batman by catching him by the throat in a stranglehold. Arthur brandished his trident for a thrust through Bruce’s throat, but the rest of the League talked him out of it before one of their allies wound up dead, as Bats certainly would have been.
Characters who face off frequently tend to trade wins since the writers obviously don’t want to devalue one of their heroes by having them appear definitively weaker than someone else. So Batgirl definitely can’t be said to be someone who is, without a doubt, more powerful than Batman, because he has beaten her before. At the same time, it does speak to her ability to match his that Batgirl has likewise acquired some victories over the patriarch of the Bat family.
“Batgirl” #50 saw the clashes between Batman and then-Batgirl Cassandra Cain come out in the favor of the titular hero in a pretty decisive way. Influenced by a rage drug, the two heroes battled all across the city to the point that even the likes of Oracle and Robin were getting involved to try and stop them before someone wound up seriously hurt… or worse. Neither would give up, though, and they finally wound up on a bridge soaked in gasoline from a car wreck. Batman tried to light Batgirl up by igniting the gas, but she tackled him off the bridge and helped swim him to shore when the fall knocked him unconscious. They were still allies after this fight, but they had gained some new respect for each other.
When it comes to cat-themed characters, you’d probably figure their strong point would be their agility and being able to slice things with their claws. Catwoman and Black Panther certainly have those traits, but Wildcat doesn’t quite fit that description. Wildcat’s greatest talent is as a boxer, so he’s more liable to punch somebody than scratch them. So Batman had to feel incredibly out of his depth when one of his first fights with Wildcat happened in a boxing ring.
During the events of “The Brave & The Bold” #118, the Joker orchestrated a bizarre boxing match where Batman and Wildcat were coerced into fighting each other. If they didn’t, the Joker had a puppy on the sidelines with a gun to its head. Further heightening the tension was that the heroes had been forced to wear spiked gauntlets that were laced with poison. They both gave it their all, with the Joker demanding nothing less if they wanted the dog to survive. By the end, both fighters were battered and exhausted, but hauled back for one last haymaker. They both connected and knocked the other one out. So they both lost, but they also both beat their opponent, showing Wildcat had what it took to hang with Batman to the end.
Batman has had a ton of different romances over the years, but the majority of them have been with non-superpowered women. He has occasionally fallen for other heroes though, including the likes of Wonder Woman. The only problem with romances where both partners are heroes is that it means they both have no aversion to fighting, and usually will wind up having some battles eventually. Batman certainly learned this from his relationship with Catwoman.
Catwoman has long been one of Bruce’s most famous romances, with the two of them each seeming curious about testing out a relationship, but getting distracted by their alter ego lives. In “Batman #355, Bruce moved onto another of his iconic interests, Vicki Vale. Catwoman didn’t take the news well, and physically attacked Batman for the rejection. It was a beat down that ended with her kneeing him in the face before she finally stopped and realized she was on the verge of killing him. Batman played it cool while trying to get up off the floor, and it’s possible he allowed the beating to happen, but there’s no doubt he was caught off guard by the attack and felt the effects of it.
6. JONAH HEX
The events of “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne” saw Batman placed into a variety of different timelines in each issue, putting him among native tribes, interacting with pirates and eventually winding up in the Old West. Taking full advantage of the setting, the writers took the opportunity to tell a story of Batman coming across Jonah Hex. The Batman of this timeline was thought of as a ghost, and Hex was hired to claim a bounty by killing it.
Issue number 4 “Dark Night, Dark Rider” was where the confrontation finally went down. Fitting to the genre, it was a gunslinger’s duel that was settled upon to end the conflict. Unfortunately for the Batman, he was a far cry from his modern day counterpart, who has been known to outfit himself in armor and all kinds of life-saving gadgets. This was just a straight up encounter to see who had the faster trigger finger, and Jonah had the edge there. A gunshot blast sent Batman reeling, and he tumbled into a nearby river.
Just because we’re talking about Batman doesn’t mean we have to be referring to Bruce Wayne. It’s often the case that heroic monikers get passed down from person to person over the years, and the same is true of Batman. Like when Bruce thought his days as a superhero were finally over during the events of “Knightfall,” he went seeking a replacement to wear the mask, and settled on Jean-Paul Valley. Most people better remember him as Azrael, which is a pretty good indicator for how he fared as Batman.
This new Batman was much more brutal than Bruce was, dealing with criminals violently. Jean-Paul even allowed the villain known as the Abattoir to die, despite having ample opportunity to save him. Bruce finally had enough, and had recovered to be able to take over his role. Jean-Paul wasn’t so willing to believe he had gotten out of hand, and so the two Batmen fought over who would get to keep the role. Despite Jean-Paul enhancing his suit with new technology and weapons, the original still did it better, and beat Jean-Paul so bad that the mental hold that had driven him down this dark path abated. Jean-Paul realized the wrong he had done, and relinquished the title of Batman back to Bruce.
4. DAMIAN WAYNE
With as many wards as Batman has taken on, it’s inevitable that he would have conflict with some of them, but he probably never expected to get into a fight with his own son. We’ve already talked about Bruce’s scrap with Dick Grayson, and his troubles with Jason Todd are quite well known, but having to fight Damian obviously meant something much more difficult. But what else would you expect from a movie called “Batman vs. Robin?”
The Court of Owls are behind the rift between father and son in the movie, with Talon’s style of handling criminals appealing to the rebelling Robin. Bruce eventually tracks them down and tries to get his son to see reason, but the disagreement turns physical. Bruce had the obvious strength advantage, but was probably reluctant to use it against family, so he took some hits before getting knocked off a rooftop. Even at this juncture, Bruce only cared about protecting Damien, so he cradled his son as they fell and made sure Damian avoided the brunt of the fall. Damian stood over his injured dad ready to stab him, and Bruce just laid there and told him to do it if that was the path he wanted. Damian walked away, but this was a battle Bruce lost because he didn’t have it in him to fight.
Misunderstandings between heroes are a common thing for a topic like this, as are things like mind control. It’s rare for heroes to go all out against each other just because they dislike one another, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that Lex Luthor masterminded this conflict between Batman and Hawkman. That didn’t stop the stakes from being real, though, as Batman quickly learned.
“Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” saw the titular heroes targeted by Luthor, and the villain got Hawkman and Shazam to go after his quarry. Initially, Superman paired off with Shazam while Bruce got Hawkman, which you’d think would have been the most balanced fights. But Batman immediately ran into trouble by getting caught up in Hawman’s net and having to cut his way through. It also didn’t help that Batman was the only one of the bunch who couldn’t naturally fly, so he had a tough time defending against an aerial assault that saw him smacked into the ground with a mace. Eventually, Superman realized his ally was in trouble and tagged in to help him, while Bruce fared surprisingly better against Shazam.
2. SWAMP THING
Despite not being someone that many fans would think of as a big name hero, Swamp Thing is nonetheless extremely powerful. He’s even been able to weather an assault from someone like Wonder Woman and still come out on top in the battle. So, Batman was always going to have a tough fight in Swamp Thing, but again, he does usually find a way to counter his opponent’s strengths. In this case, though, Swamp Thing actually beat down Batman twice.
They fought once in “Swamp Thing” # 53, and again in “Batman” #522. In one battle, Swamp Thing’s wife was accused of being a criminal and was brought to Gotham by the authorities. Swamp Thing eventually made his way to Gotham to get her back, but in doing so, was transforming the city into his usual swamp terrain. Batman tried to deescalate the situation, but instead got attacked by Swamp Thing and his fellow creatures from the muck. Swamp Thing wasn’t out to kill Bruce, though, and just wanted to send a message through the assault. In case the meaning wasn’t clear, before him and his friends left, Swamp Thing explicitly told Bruce that he wanted his wife back, or things were going to get worse.
1. WONDER WOMAN
With her reputation as one of DC’s most powerful heroes, it would look like no surprise on paper to hear that Wonder Woman could beat Batman. Wonder Woman’s peers are people like Superman, and we’ve seen how tough a time he can give Batman. So it was always going to be an uphill battle for Bruce when he decided to challenge the Amazon Princess in “Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia.”
In the story, a murderer falls under Diana’s care, and she stays loyal to protecting the woman from everyone — including her allies. Batman wants the woman arrested for her crime, but Wonder Woman refuses to relinquish her protection of the woman. The two heroes thus turn to battle to decide who will get their way. Diana does not hold back just because she faces a friend, and each encounter ends with Batman getting the worse of the clash. Diana’s patience finally runs out, and in their final meeting, she viciously attacks him and pins Batman to the ground under her foot. If Batman even had the strength to get up, it’s clear from Wonder Woman’s threat that he wouldn’t be up for long if he decided to try and fight her again.
Which hero do you think has had the most impressive victory over the Dark Knight? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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