It's a frequent occurrence when discussing the character of Batman for fans to talk about what makes him such an interesting and endearing hero, and at the forefront of that list sits the notion that he single-handedly tackles the unscrupulous denizens of Gotham despite the absence of even a single superpower. But is that really true? As one of the undisputed powerhouses of the DC Universe, Batman has taken on everyone from petty criminals to near-omnipotent God-like beings, and everything in between. So with all these overpowered villains bearing down on him, could he really have made it this far without any superpowers, let alone survive and beat all of these adversaries? Could he really take on and defeat fellow Justice Leaguers like Superman with nothing but his wits and fighting ability if he really had to?
With a multitude of news surrounding the DCEU's upcoming movie focused on the Bat (aptly titled The Batman) coming to light as of late, it seems like a good time to discuss this topic in more detail, so let's get started. From superhuman strength to virtually disappearing in the shadows, here are 15 powers Batman actually has and uses to take down his most dangerous enemies.
15 X-RAY VISION
Sure, the comic book incarnation of Batman isn’t particularly well known for his prolific use of X-Ray vision, but in the Arkham series of video games it easily becomes one of the most useful tools in his entire arsenal. Called “Detective Vision”, Batman’s suit upgrade allows him to track enemies through walls, distinguish between armed and unarmed enemies, check the physical and mental wellbeing of others and even collect and piece together relevant evidence during a case. Helpful prompts and information are also projected onto Batman’s cowl straight from the Batcomputer, which is ultimately what makes Batman’s detective vision more useful than Superman’s X-Ray vision.
While Batman can’t fly in the traditional sense of the word, there’s no doubt that he can maneuver his way over the rooftops of Gotham extremely efficiently. He’s no Superman of course, but considering Superman can fly at almost the speed of light that’s hardly surprising.
This is because Batman doesn’t technically fly, he glides. Yes, while on the surface this seems like a pretty useless ability, when combined with the use of his grapnel gun, Batman can keep himself in the air for as long as he needs to (provided there’s something to grapple onto, of course), enabling him to cover large distances in a short period of time.
And if you still don’t buy that Batman can fly, bear in mind he also has the Batwing readily at his disposal; an aircraft with a maximum speed of 4,400 miles per hour. No matter which way you cut it, that’s pretty incredible.
13 GENIUS INTELLECT
Probably the most obvious and widely known of Batman’s “superpowers” on this list, there’s no denying he’s among the smartest characters in all of DC Comics. Although he’s not quite on the level of the likes of Mr. Terrific as a scientist, he has a recorded IQ of 192, putting him far beyond the threshold of a genius.
Batman’s attention to detail, technological ability, situational awareness and tactical prowess ensure he gets the upper hand in any battle he’s in -- it’s the reason he regularly beats some of the biggest powerhouses in the entire DC Universe, including the entire Justice League in the “Endgame” story arc. In short, if this doesn’t count as a superpower, then what does? After all, if the brain is a muscle, Batman has mental super strength.
12 SUPER STRENGTH
Speaking of super strength, it’s always been stated that Batman has no such power, the level of his strength frequently referred to as “peak human-level” rather than superhuman, but given the character’s history this simply can’t be true.
Take for instance the hundreds of incredible feats of strength performed throughout his career, which include leg-pressing a 2,500-pound train car, supporting a collapsing 1,000-pound ceiling, kicking a tree in half, flipping Solomon Grundy over his head with one hand, overpowering Killer Croc despite a serious shoulder injury, punching Bane through a steel door and karate-chopping an assault rifle to pieces.
The degree to which Batman’s extensive martial arts training affected these feats of strength isn’t quite clear, but what is clear is that there isn’t a normal human on planet Earth who could perform most of these tasks, and the only thing that can fully explain the true extent of Batman’s physical power is some kind of superhuman ability.
11 HEALING FACTOR
Given Batman’s rather formidable gallery of rogues, it’s no surprise that he gets the snot beaten out of him on a fairly regular basis. What is a surprise however, is the speed with which Batman seems to recover from the injuries he receives in the line of duty, recovering from strong blows and damaged limbs in a handful of panels before managing to make a comeback and best his opponent.
Able to quickly recover from punches from the likes of Bane, stabbings from The Joker and other serious injuries, Batman’s most incredible recovery yet came after his back was broken by Bane in the classic “Knightfall” storyline. Though he was out of commission for a good while, the Bat did eventually manage to make a miraculous recovery that saw him not only able to walk again, but make a triumphant return as Gotham’s Caped Crusader.
When people think of invisibility, the power that usually springs to mind is that of characters like Sue Storm, in which a character is able to bend light around themselves, rendering them transparent. This isn’t the only way “invisibility” can be defined however, as the word simply means “unable to be seen”. And if Batman doesn’t want to be seen, Batman isn’t seen.
A master of stealth, the Bat can pick off an entire room of enemies without being seen or heard, blending into the darkness and using the shadows to his advantage. Combined with his proficiency in dozens of martial arts, superior physical ability and access to a whole host of gadgets built to distract, separate and pacify his enemies, Batman is truly seen by the nefarious criminals of Gotham as an invisible predator.
It might seem odd to cite luck as a superpower, but Batman wouldn’t be the first comic book character to have this peculiar ability. Characters like Black Cat and Domino are famous wielders of this power, able to manipulate the probability field -- whatever that means -- to make events unfold in their favor, giving them the upper hand in combat.
Given Batman’s countless lucky escapes, against-all-odds victories and close calls, it’s not hard to imagine Batman has some sort of similar power; luck seems to be on his side just a little too often. Whether it’s finding the solution to a time-sensitive dilemma at the last second, being saved by a sudden and unexpected deus ex machina, or quickly emerging from the clutches of defeat to thwart his enemies’ plans, there’s definitely someone up there looking out for Batman, and whether or not he’s secretly some kind of luck-based metahuman, there’s no question that Batman is unfathomably lucky.
8 MAGIC ABILITY
One of the more powerful abilities in comic books, the use of magic is an incredibly powerful tool for any hero (or villain) to learn given its versatility, potency and ability to warp reality. Due to Batman’s resourcefulness, it might seem strange that he doesn’t utilize magic more often when taking on some of his tougher enemies, but as it turns out Batman doesn’t appreciate the sheer unpredictability of magic.
On occasion though, Batman actually does tap into the mystic arts (usually through the influence of his longtime friend Zatanna) for several different reasons. For instance, in Superman/Batman Vol. 2 #15, Bruce uses Zatanna’s brand of magic to exorcise Deadman from the body of Superman and, in a completely different story, Batman once again uses magic to stop the mystical villain Circe. In fact, with his incredibly disciplined personality and genius-level intellect, Batman could probably be an extremely capable wielder of magic, but unfortunately his distrust of the mystic arts continues to ensure he doesn’t pursue this kind of path.
7 SUPERHUMAN AGILITY
Although Dick Grayson is the Bat-Family member who receives the most credit as an acrobat due to his past as a member of the Flying Graysons, Batman himself has a level of agility that appears to far exceed normal human levels. Able to scale buildings in a few moments, Batman has also been shown to outmaneuver members of the League of Assassins, run at full speed along ziplines and fight whilst traveling along a floating log.
Going back to the Arkham games for a moment, this version of the Dark Knight has combat skills that are almost rhythmic, smoothly diving from enemy to enemy without breaking a sweat, leaping across an entire foyer in a single bound to reach his next victim. For someone with Batman’s large frame, this is particularly impressive, and is far beyond the skillset of even Olympic-level athletes.
Perhaps tying in with the Caped Crusader’s incredible luck, it’s become obvious over the years that killing Batman is simply impossible; he’ll always find some contrived way to resurrect himself no matter how clear cut his supposed “death” appears to be.
The most obvious method of resurrection for Batman is through the use of Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits, and given the Bat’s complicated ties with the Al Ghul family it’s not hard to imagine he’s one of the few people on Earth with a chance of gaining access to them. This isn’t the only way Batman’s been resurrected in the past however, and other methods have included the use of The Atom to jumpstart his brain and even time travel. Perhaps the most impressive of Batman’s resurrections came during the “Emperor Joker” storyline however, as even a near-omnipotent Joker just could not erase his nemesis from existence, with the Dark Knight constantly re-emerging, much to Joker’s chagrin.
There’s no question that Batman’s level of willpower is seriously superhuman. Able to perform near-impossible tasks through sheer force of will, this is one of the main traits that separates Batman from any other superhero out there.
Through his willpower alone, Batman has resisted Scarecrow’s most potent fear toxins, overcome Joker’s paralytic gas, survived poisoning, slowed his bleeding after a severe gunshot wound, resisted various forms of telepathy (once while fighting a group of henchmen at the same time), negated magical attacks targeted at him, swam through quicksand and perhaps most impressively, resisted Poison Ivy’s extremely potent pheromones.
As if that wasn’t enough, Batman has also wielded Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern ring on several occasions; a weapon that requires a vast amount of willpower to use effectively, and proved proficient in its use despite very little training or instruction from Green Lantern.
Anyone familiar with Batman knows that his extensive training in dozens of martial arts serves as one of his most powerful assets, but while this training likely brings to mind the offensive capabilities of the Dark Knight, what is often forgotten about is his remarkable skill in defensive and evasive maneuvers.
Once again, Batman’s reflexes are often referred to as “peak human-level”, but given his ability to dodge gunfire, catch arrows in mid-flight, counter the attacks of even his strongest enemies and even dodge blows from speedsters, it’s hard not to disagree with this statement. In fact, Batman’s incredible reflexes are likely due to a combination of two of the other powers mentioned on this list, his agility, and his significantly fast-firing brain.
3 CAN IGNORE PAIN AND INJURY
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly uncommon for the Caped Crusader to be seriously injured in the line of duty, but what is more uncommon is Batman’s inhuman ability to simply ignore his injuries and carry on at whatever the cost.
He’s been starved and sleep deprived for weeks, but still managed to rip apart a metal pipe to free himself, he’s shrugged off countless stabbings whilst maintaining his combat prowess, and even defeated Ra’s Al Ghul whilst on fire, his skin sizzling in the process. In the popular “Court of Owls” story, Batman is impaled after being stabbed through the stomach with a sword, viscera spilling out as a result but still manages to survive and escape the Labyrinth.
The only reasonable explanation for this is that Batman either has extensive nerve damage at this point, or he has overactive, superhuman adrenal glands, pumping his body with potent adrenaline that allows him to soldier on in the face of absolute agony.
How is it possible that Batman always manages to come out on top no matter the strength of his opponent? How is it that a man who supposedly has “no superpowers” is one of the most revered superheroes in all of DC? Simple, he’s a precog. For those wondering, precognition is the ability to see future events before they happen.
Yes, it definitely sounds farfetched at first, but think about it; Batman’s unparalleled ability to outthink his enemies and predict their next moves long before they happen serves pretty much the same purpose as precognition, and the definition of the word doesn’t have an exclusive link to supernatural ability. Batman’s sheer genius, analytical mind (and equipment), as well as his propensity for crafting contingency plans for every imaginable scenario means that the Bat is prepared for almost any situation thrown his way, and that’s a tremendous ability to have in the world of comic books.
To the petty criminals of Gotham City, Batman is the Boogeyman. Silent, unpredictable and often brutal in his methods, there’s a reason the Bat strikes fear in the hearts of his enemies, and fear is a powerful tool. Whether it’s in the comic books, video games, movies or TV shows, the mere mention of Batman’s presence often causes panic, with criminals usually scattering in the process, abandoning their posts and splitting up, making Batman’s job a lot easier.
It’s not just the small-time crooks that fear Batman either, there are several members of his rogues gallery who’ve displayed a genuine fear of the Dark Knight too, including the master of fear himself, Jonathan Crane. In fact, the only difference between Scarecrow and Batman is that Scarecrow needs a fear toxin to make his enemies fear him, whereas Batman is the real deal.
Did we miss any of Batman’s powers here? Still think Superman can take him in a fight after reading this? Let us know in the comments!