Batman is one of the most iconic heroes of all time. Like most legendary superheroes, he has employed a number of sidekicks over the years. The Caped Crusader’s most famous partner is Robin; together, they’re known as the Dynamic Duo. But Batman has teamed up with many characters over the years and he’s practically built an army of characters who have helped fight crime in Gotham. This team is often called the Bat-Family because most of the members have a close relationship with the Dark Knight. The Bat-Family is arguably unprecedented in its size; while other heroes have large supporting casts, Batman’s team continues to grow and the groups associated with other Justice Leaguers can’t hold a candle to this group.
Many of these characters dress up in costumes and literally fight alongside Batman. Some of these heroes received brief runs in the spotlight before they were pushed to the background in favor of newer additions. Other characters haven’t had the chance to capitalize on their potential yet; Gotham Girl and the Signal remain two candidates for further exploration and development. Other members of the Bat-Family have helped the main hero in different ways. Characters like Alfred, Jim Gordon and Leslie Thompkins have played crucial roles in Batman’s mission. With the Bat-Family constantly expanding, it can be easy to lose track of all the members. Plus, it can be difficult to compare them to each other. With this list, CBR hopes to do exactly that by taking a look at the 10 best members of the Bat-Family and the 10 worst.
20 BEST: DICK GRAYSON
This one’s a no-brainer. Dick Grayson is the original Robin. He loyally fought by Batman’s side for a number of years. Eventually, he became the leader of the Teen Titans. Then, to prove he could succeed away from the Dark Knight’s shadow, Dick became his own man by adopting the Nightwing alias. Dick’s ability so thrive on his own makes him an even better member of this team.
Even though he stepped away from Gotham, Dick has always been a crucial part of the Bat-Family. Dick has managed to balance his life as an individual and as a member of a number of teams. He’s the heart and soul of the Bat-Family and he’s even filled in for Batman as needed.
19 WORST: DAMIAN WAYNE
Damian Wayne isn’t inherently one of the worst members of the Bat-Family. He’s been a viable Robin and, as Batman’s son, he deserves some credit. Additionally, Damian currently leads the Teen Titans, like some of his predecessors. But, far too often, Damian comes off as a bratty kid who, frankly, can be off-putting to the reader and to other characters.
Most of the time, whenever Damian shows some maturity, he quickly reverts to his arrogant, attitudinal self. Hopefully, Damian will actually grow up soon. Until then, he’ll be one of the worst members of the group due to his irksome personality and his annoying attitude.
18 BEST: ALFRED
In a lot of ways, Alfred is the MVP of the Bat-Family. He always takes care of Batman and his sidekicks and stitches them up when they get hurt. Alfred, on occasion, joins the fray, proving that he’s much more than your average butler. He may not be a full-time, traditional superhero like other characters on this list but Alfred is arguably more important than several members of the Bat-Family.
Most importantly, Alfred provides moral support. He serves as a loving mentor, if not father figure, to the Caped Crusader and Gotham’s other vigilantes. Plus, Alfred’s sassy humor is often one of the best parts of any Batman story.
17 WORST: CLAYFACE
Clayface’s run as a member of Batman’s crime-fighting team was bittersweet. The notorious Batman villain, who debuted back in 1940, got a second chance and, for a while, he thrived in his new role. Basil Karlo proved that he’s a redeemable character and he was temporarily considered a hero.
Unfortunately, Basil lost control of his powers and hurt people again, which forced Batwoman to take him out. Basil’s downfall was especially heartbreaking due to the promise he had shown throughout his run on the team. When compared to other members of this group, though, Basil falls short due to his blatantly villainous tendencies.
16 BEST: JASON TODD
If you evaluated solely Jason Todd based on his initial run as Robin, he’d easily belong on the other half of this list. As the Boy Wonder, Jason was a brat. He was annoying and, frankly, most fans disliked him, which is why they voted to have him written off. But, since his return as the Red Hood, Jason has redeemed himself (and then some).
The new Jason is a compelling character who doesn’t play by the rules. He crosses the line and, sometimes, he goes too far. But, compared to other members of the group, Jason is more entertaining; he’s dynamic and he has a fascinating relationship with Bruce Wayne.
15 WORST: HUNTRESS
A number of characters have used the Huntress alias but the most notable of them is Helena Bertinelli. Helena, the daughter of a mob boss, brings an intimate knowledge of Gotham’s underworld to the table and she initially fought as an independent Batgirl. Huntress is often viewed as someone who is too violently unpredictable.
Though other members of the Bat-Family have embraced her and she has served with the Justice League, Helena is always at risk of taking things too far. Helena has found much more success as a Bird of Prey but, as a member of the Bat-Family, she doesn’t measure up to some of her teammates.
14 BEST: ORPHAN
Orphan is one of the most underrated members of the Bat-Family. She’s one of the best martial artists on the team and her ability to read body language augments her prowess as a fighter. She has also repeatedly proven herself by protecting others. Cassandra Cain has been a highly successful Batgirl, which automatically makes her one of the best members of the group.
Above all else, Cassandra’s backstory makes her stand out. David Cain molded her into a perfect assassin but she made the choice to stop being a weapon. Cassandra’s complicated relationships with her father and Lady Shiva make her an intriguing character who continues to battle her past.
13 WORST: ONYX
Onyx (Adams) earned some recognition when she helped Batman in the “War Games” storyline. The former member of the League of Assassins was recruited by the Green Arrow and, at Batman’s request, she protected Orpheus. Onyx ultimately failed because the Black Mask took out Orpheus but she still fought alongside Batman in his quest to stop the Black Mask.
Onyx later fought Red Hood who, at the time, wasn’t the quite the antihero fans know and love today. There are lesser members of the Bat-Family but Onyx is fairly unremarkable and she failed her most important mission. Now, she remains on the periphery of the group.
12 BEST: BATWOMAN
Batwoman, or Kate Kane, has quickly become one of the most popular members of the Bat-Family. Upon her introduction (and subsequent development,) she added some much needed diversity to the group. Kate has also been an effective foil to Bruce; her actual military background creates a compelling contrast with Batman’s war on crime.
Most notably, in Detective Comics, when Kate used her military training to take out Clayface, her actions divided the team. On one hand, Bruce was mad because Kate violated his code. On the other hand, Kate felt she saved many lives by stopping Basil Karlo. This tension is just one example of this occasionally contentious relationship.
11 WORST: DUKE THOMAS
Duke Thomas has always held an odd role in the Bat-Family. He has served as Robin but he went on to distance himself from that role. Still, he’s tried to be Batman’s sidekick in a different capacity. These efforts have led to, at best, mixed results. Duke is inconsistently utilized, which makes it difficult to fairly evaluate him.
Batman and the Signal gave Duke a chance to shine and it explored his superpowers. While these abilities remain mysterious, it has been established that Duke has photokinetic vision and he can amplify the powers of metahumans around him. However, afterward this miniseries, the Signal faded away and, for now, he’s still an ancillary part of the team.
10 BEST: BATWING
If nothing else, Luke Fox can be viewed as a tribute to Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, who is one of the better characters in the Nolanverse. Plus, Luke’s presence arguably satirizes the comparisons between Batman and Iron Man. (Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are often viewed as fairly similar characters.) Luke is a technological genius who makes his own Bat-Suit, which is practically a bat-themed version of the Iron Man suit.
Luke has proven that he can hold his own, which earned him a spot on Batman’s team in Detective Comics. Hopefully, Batwing will get more chances to make a name for himself.
9 WORST: AZRAEL
Azrael will always be known as the man who filled in when Bane broke the Bat. Jean-Paul Valley took Batman’s quest to fight crime and pushed it to new heights because he didn’t agree with Bruce’s limits. Jean-Paul was a more aggressive, violent Dark Knight who, in some ways, hurt Bruce’s legacy.
Since Bruce reclaimed the mantle, Jean-Paul has experienced a winding journey. Azrael served as one of the members of Batman’s new team in Detective Comics. He’s also joined the Justice League Odyssey, so he’s put his role in the Bat-Family on the back burner. Azrael isn’t the worst member in Batman’s group of allies but he’s certainly not the best.
8 BEST: SPOILER
Spoiler is one of the best members of the group because she was strong enough to leave it. That reasoning may seem unconventional but other members sometimes show blind obedience to Batman’s mission. Stephanie Brown has served as Batgirl and Robin, so she’s quite familiar with the faults of Batman’s war on crime; like a few other characters, Stephanie has paid the ultimate price for fighting alongside Batman.
When Tim Drake sacrificed himself to stop the Colony’s drones, Stephanie began questioning her role on the team. Eventually, she blatantly disagreed with Batman and threatened to expose his secret identity. These actions may seem contradictory to the success of the team but Stephanie’s ability to challenge Bruce makes her a valuable member of the group.
7 WORST: CATWOMAN
It may not be fair to say Catwoman is one of the worst members of the team. But there are plenty of reasons why she can be considered a lackluster teammate. At best, she’s a distraction and a potential liability, given her romantic connection with Bruce. Sure, she’s more than capable of defending herself but she can easily throw Batman off his rhythm.
At worst, Selina Kyle is the woman who broke Bruce’s heart and sent him spiraling down into a worsened cycle of violence and anger. For that reason alone, Selina deserves some blame. Few, if any, members of the Bat-Family have hurt Bruce as much as she has.
6 BEST: SASHA BORDEAUX
Sasha Bordeaux isn’t a conventional member of the Bat-Family. She fought alongside Batman and fell in love with him. As a result, their relationship was unusual from the start. Sasha went on to become an OMAC cyborg, which made her incredibly athletic and gave her an impressive healing factor.
In Infinite Crisis, Sasha helped stop Brother Eye and the other OMACs and she later became the Black Queen of Checkmate. Sasha has rarely been confined to the streets of Gotham like other members of the Bat-Family and this usefulness, on a large scale, unexpectedly makes her one of the best members of the group.
5 WORST: BLUEBIRD
Harper Row was one of the staples of Batman’s team during the New 52. She was an important character in Batman: Eternal and she created her own alias in an attempt to stand out. Despite her problematic past, Harper was inspired by Batman, who saved her brother from harassment. Using her knowledge of Gotham’s electrical grid, Harper helped Batman and, after some initial tension, they bonded over their respective tragedies.
In recent years, Harper has stopped fighting crime with Batman’s methods. Now, she works at Leslie Thompkins’ clinic. While this career change was admirable, it caused Harper to fade into the background of Batman’s supporting cast.
4 BEST: LESLIE THOMPKINS
Alfred can patch up Batman and his sidekicks but, when they need more intensive care, Leslie Thompkins helps them out. Leslie was a friend of Thomas Wayne so she’s been connected to Bruce for most of his life. Leslie is an important member of the Gotham community because she runs a clinic where she provides medical care for the less fortunate.
Bruce often butts heads with Leslie because she disagrees with his recruitment of teenagers. Leslie isn’t perfect; she faked Stephanie Brown’s demise and subsequently caused the members of the Bat-Family to experience a seemingly heartbreaking tragedy. Even when Stephanie returned, some members of the team didn’t immediately forgive Leslie for her actions. Still, her heart is usually in the right place.
3 WORST: GOTHAM GIRL
The jury’s still out on Gotham Girl; she’s one of the newest members of the Bat-Family and she hasn’t made a name for herself yet. She has fared better than her brother but, still, she’s been relegated to the sidelines in recent months. For a while, Claire Clover built a meaningful relationship with Bruce; they bonded over their tragedies and he trusted her with his identity.
But, when Bane secretly began ruining Batman’s life, Claire showed her true colors by aligning with the villain. This storyline is just beginning but it’s safe to say Gotham Girl isn’t a great member of the group because she’s clearly up to no good.
2 BEST: JIM GORDON
Jim Gordon may not be a member of the Bat-Family in the typical sense. He’s not one of the various crime-fighters who serves under Batman’s guidance. He’s not a direct part of the team, either. But Jim has always been a crucial component in the Caped Crusader’s war on crime.
Jim facilitates Batman’s relationship with the police. A number of other characters would stand in the Dark Knight’s way. But Jim, for the most part, has worked with Batman to meet their common goal. Batman’s recent behavior has eroded this relationship but it’s only a matter of time until they bury the hatchet.
1 WORST: BATMAN
It may seem counterintuitive to call Batman one of the worst members of the Bat-Family. It’d be all too easy to say he’s the best member because he’s the one who started it all. But, just as the Dark Knight is responsible for all of the team’s successes, he’s equally as liable for its failures. Under Bruce Wayne’s leadership, the Bat-Family has experienced an immeasurable amount of tragedy and loss.
Plus, Bruce isn’t always the best mentor. He has a tendency to drive away those closest to him and he’s notorious for brooding. All in all, he’s not the great leader he's supposed to be.