Batman is one of the most popular superheroes ever created, and he does it all without superpowers. While the most prominent members of the Justice League of America and the Avengers rely on the abilities they have been gifted with, Batman has honed his body and mind to peak human condition in order to successfully solve crimes and fight evil.
Though Bruce Wayne has typically been portrayed as an unstoppable force due to his ability to outthink and outmaneuver everyone else, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t received assistance from outside forces from time to time. In the Silver Age of comics, Batman gained many outlandish superpowers before losing them again by the end of the story. In the Modern Age, he has also gained various abilities. Here are 15 times Batman has gained superpowers.
In the story called “Venom,” told in “Legends of the Dark Knight” #15-20, Batman starts taking steroids in order to gain a physical edge in his war on crime. In 1991, the creative team of Dennis O’Neil, Trevor Von Eeden, Russell Braun, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez tell the story of a time Batman was unable to save a girl from drowning due to his own physical limitations. He begins taking a designer drug in order to become a stronger and more effective crimefighter.
His brief adventures as a super-powered superhero proved to be an incredibly dangerous experience. While his increased strength made him better in a fight, the pills made him increasingly more aggressive and violent. He soon realized that the drugs he was taking were extremely addictive, and he secluded himself in the Batcave in order to kick the habit for good. The drugs were then turned into a more effective injectable version that would one day be known as Venom.
14. BATMAN IMMORTAL
Batman became immortal in John Byrne’s “Superman & Batman: Generations” story from 1999. The series shows the careers of Batman and Superman as if they aged in real-time following their debuts in the 1930’s. The duo see their legacies become dynasties as they produce offspring who grow up to take on the mantle of their mentors. While Superman’s Kryptonian DNA allows him to remain active many years into the future, Batman is fated to die like all men are.
Bruce Wayne is captured by Ra’s al Ghul in 1979 and goes missing. In the meantime, his son, Bruce Wayne Jr., takes over as the Dark Knight. In 1999, the new Batman is brought in front of a man who would reveal himself to be Bruce Wayne himself. As it turned out, Batman and Ra’s al Ghul had entered the Lazarus Pit together and Ra’s had died, leaving Bruce Wayne youthful and immortal. He built the League of Assassins into a force of good and returned to his career as Batman, fighting crime through the year 2919.
13. GREEN LANTERN BATMAN
Batman has been exposed to the vast abilities of a power ring on more than one occasion. The most memorable of these tales was the 1994 Elseworlds one-shot “Batman: In Darkest Knight,” created by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham. In that story, Bruce Wayne is chosen as the next Green Lantern of Earth. Batman would wear the ring once again following Hal Jordan’s resurrection in “Green Lantern: Rebirth.”
While the rest of the superhero community welcomed the return for their one-time ally, Batman remained skeptical. In “Green Lantern” #9 from 2006, Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver had the two team up to take on the Tattooed Man. To help gain his trust, Hal taught Batman how to wield his power ring. The Dark Knight was able to conjure up a construct of his parents, but he ultimately rejected the ring in an emotional scene where he is unable to put the death of his parents behind him.
12. YELLOW LANTERN BATMAN
Following Batman’s brush with a Green Power Ring, the Dark Knight came into contact with another equally powerful weapon in the pages of “Green Lantern” #17 from 2007. In the lead-up to “the Sinestro Corps War” that pitted the Green Lantern Corps up against their Yellow Lantern counterparts, Batman was approached by a mysterious Yellow Power Ring. Sensing his ability to instill great fear, the ring chooses him for a brief moment before Batman’s previous encounter with a Green Lantern ring causes it to abandon him.
Then in “Forever Evil” #4 from 2014, Geoff Johns and David Finch tell the story of how the Crime Syndicate invades Earth and defeats most of the superheroes. In order to counteract Power Ring, the evil counterpart of Green Lantern, Batman uses a Sinestro Corps ring he has been hiding for the last few years. The ring holds very little charge and is no match for the awesome power of Volthoom, but for a brief moment, Batman uses the weapon to create a bat construct.
11. MAGIC BATSUIT
Batman gained mystical armor during the 2007-2008 Bat-title crossover called “The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul.” Grant Morrison and Paul Dini brought Ra’s al Ghul back to life, and Batman is gifted with a new suit of armor by Talia in order to give him an edge over Ra’s squad of ninja assassins. In a confrontation with the Sensei, Batman is grievously wounded, yet still manages to make a stand and ultimately defeat his foe.
Only later on do we learn that the new Bat-armor is actually the Suit of Sorrows, an artifact left over from the Crusades that grants its wearer increased abilities. While wearing the Suit, Batman displays heightened strength and speed, as well as an increased resistance to pain. However, the armor also slowly causes the wearer to become increasingly violent and mentally unwell. Batman locks the Suit of Sorrows away in the Batcave, but it is stolen and given to Michael Lane, the man who would become Azrael.
In 2008, Batman gains the powers of Superman in the “Super/Bat” story from “Superman/Batman” #53-56. The team of Michael Green, Mike Johnson, and Rags Morales depict a magical incident that takes place between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight. In a fight with the Silver Banshee, Batman magically gains all the abilities of Superman. This seemingly goes just as well as the time he took steroids. Seeing this as a tactical advantage in his war on crime, Batman goes on a rampage to take out many dangerous criminals around the world.
He becomes increasingly more unhinged and violently defeats Bane by nearly killing him with a single punch. He seriously injures Catwoman and Nightwing, leading the powerless Superman and their allies in the Justice League to try and talk him down. Unable to stop the super-powered Dark Knight in a fight, Superman finally tracks down the mystical totem that started this whole mess. The heroes find a way to remove Batman’s powers and everything goes back to normal.
Believe it or not, Batman became a god in the pages of 2008’s “Trinity.” Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley told the story of how Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman hold an essential role in the cosmos and keep reality in order. When Enigma and Moraine Le Fey attempt to usurp the Trinity through an arcane ritual in order to reform reality to their own will, the universe goes haywire. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman cease to exist and are replaced by Enigma, Moraine Le Fey, and Despero.
When several reality-altered heroes travel to a pocket dimension, it is discovered that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman live on as gods within this new reality. Atmahn the Night Judge and his god-like trinity counterparts are worshipped by the denizens of this universe and prove to be all-powerful. They are brought to the main universe in order to stop the trio of Enigma, Morgaine Le Fey, and Konvikt, who had become god-like beings themselves. The two sides wage war over Metropolis.
8. BATMAN THROUGH TIME
In “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne” from 2010, Darkseid imbued Batman with the ability to travel through time. At the end of “Final Crisis,” Batman is believed to be dead after Darkseid hits him with the Omega Sanction. In truth, Bruce Wayne was actually sent back to the Paleolithic Era before finding his way to Pilgrim-era Gotham City, the time of pirates on the high seas, the Old West, and a 1930’s noir Gotham City.
It is revealed that this was Darkseid’s plan all along. As Batman travels through time coming closer and closer to the present, his body would collect more energy with each jump. If he came back to the present, the energies stored in Bruce Wayne’s body would unleash the destruction of all reality. Instead of killing him, Darkseid turned Batman into a time traveling energy bomb that was thankfully disabled before the world could be destroyed.
7. WHITE LANTERN BATMAN
Batman comes into possession of his third power ring in “Brightest Day.” Geoff Johns ended “Blackest Night” with the resurrection of 12 heroes and villains in order to fulfill a mysterious purpose. Their stories are told in 2010’s “Brightest Day,” with Deadman as the only member of the group to receive a White Power Ring of Life. His task is to discover the new permanent bearer of the white light who will serve as the protector of Earth. In “Brightest Day” #14, he comes across Batman and believes he is the person who was meant to wield this power all along.
Boston Brand forces the ring on Batman, who instantly becomes aware of the meaning of life and how everything in the world is connected. The Entity speaks through him, telling Deadman where he has gone wrong, that he can’t force this role on someone, and he won’t find them by looking. Batman then gives up the power he was given after holding it for only a few moments.
6. FEAR-POWERED BATMAN
In 2011, Paul Jenkins and David Finch expose Batman to a new strain of fear toxin that makes him super strong and super violent. The opening storyline from “Batman: The Dark Knight” is called “Knight Terrors,” where the inmates of Arkham Asylum are all exposed to the Scarecrow’s new fear toxin that has been mixed with venom. Now, instead of becoming weak, fear-ridden, and paranoid, the villains become super strong, violent, and bold.
During his effort to put a stop to the outbreak, Batman is injected with this new type of fear toxin and becomes strong enough to physically harm Superman. With the toxin eliminating his fears, Batman lashes out at the Kryptonian and gets a few good hits in. Superman is ultimately still too strong for the Dark Knight to take on, even with enhanced strength. After several attempts to get his friend to stand down, the Man of Steel has no choice but to knock Batman out and end the fight.
5. SUPER-PILL BATMAN
In the video game “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” non-superpowered heroes are able to fight against their superpowered counterparts thanks to the drug known as 5-U-93-R. In-universe, it was a drug made by Lex Luthor and Superman to create an army of superhuman soldiers for the One-Earth Regime. In reality, the gamemakers created the concept in order to explain how Batman could go up against Superman in hand-to-hand combat and not get completely obliterated.
The comic book tie-in tells the lead-up to the video game, where Superman’s Justice League goes up against Batman’s Insurgency for the fate of the Earth. The rebels are able to synthesize the pills for their own use, leading to an epic battle between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel in “Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five” #25 by Brian Buccellato and Mike S. Miller. With the help of a super pill, Batman is able to beat Superman into submission and nearly brings the conflict to an end.
4. BATMAN MANBAT
Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham transform Batman into a Man-bat in “Batman Incorporated” #10 from 2013. Bruce Wayne goes off the deep end following the death of his son, Damian Wayne, at the hands of the Heretic earlier in the series. Looking for a way to finally defeat Talia al Ghul and Leviathan, Batman injects himself with Man-bat serum and becomes an enraged Bat-Man. He takes to the sky in a powerful batsuit, with a legion of bats at his command, and takes out Talia’s soldiers in one fell swoop.
The serum puts Batman into a berserker rage, one that allows him to take a beating without slowing down. He is able to put the hurt on his son’s killer in an epic fight scene through the rooftops and streets of Gotham City. He finally defeats the Heretic in hand-to-hand combat, allowing the clone to flee to his mother. Batman’s assault ultimately leads to Talia’s final stand in the climax of the series.
3. KNIGHTMARE BATMAN
Batman seems to have some kind of unexplained prophetic dream abilities in the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” film from 2015. Filled with hatred and fear towards Superman following the catastrophic battle with Zod in “Man of Steel,” Bruce Wayne goes about trying to kill the mysterious Kryptonian because he simply cannot be trusted.
Batman dreams of a dark future, where Superman rules over the Earth as a tyrant with his own army at his command. His forces capture Batman and bring him to the Man of Steel, who promptly kills him, jolting Bruce Wayne back to reality. The Flash then appears and offers him a mysterious warning. Storyboard artist Jay Oliva later told Screen Rant that the vision might have actually been a latent alternate memory from the Flash’s manipulation of time. However, since none of that was hinted in the movie, it seemed like Batman had a new superpower.
2. AMAZO VIRUS BAT-POWERS
Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok give Batman new bat powers during “The Amazo Virus” in “Justice League.” When a deadly virus outbreak puts the public in danger, the League heads into action to find a cure. Exposure to the airborne Amazo Virus causes previously powerless individuals to manifest superhuman abilities but it also causes them to become unstable and die from the infection.
During a battle with Armen Ikarus, who had been identified as Subject Zero, Batman’s containment suit becomes damaged, and he is exposed to the virus. In “Justice League” #38, he takes on the abilities of an actual bat, becoming blind but still able to see through echolocation. He is also able to unleash a force blast using sound vibrations that leaves Ikarus unconscious. Lex Luthor synthesizes a cure using Superman’s blood, and the Justice League turns the infected back to normal. For Batman, that means no more superpowers.
The same creative team that gave Batman the powers of the bat turned him into the God of Knowledge during the “Darkseid War” storyline in 2015. Seeking answers about the Anti-Monitor, Batman usurps the Mobius Chair from Metron’s control and receives all the knowledge of the cosmos. As the new owner of the chair, he knows the answer to every question and can travel anywhere he wants to go through the use of a Boom Tube.
Batman’s ability to predict the outcome of battle and know the universe’s secrets make him a useful tactician to his Justice League teammates when they are fighting Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor. Eventually, the sheer amount of information that the chair provides ends up overwhelming Batman to the point where it almost proves to be his undoing. With the help of Green Lantern’s ring, he finally escapes the allure of the Mobius Chair and lives.
Were there other memorable times Batman gained superpowers? Sound off in the comments and let us know!