Any character that is 80 years old will have had many iterations across the decades, and a character as popular as Batman would no doubt have several more. The Caped Crusader’s backstory is such that fans can never have enough of it.
It’s still a hit-and-a-miss for the most part, though, as Batman’s origin story is what defines just how well the particular version of the character plays out. At times, the Batman iteration could be fine, but his genesis wouldn’t be all that great. In this list, we rank 5 alternate Batman origins which were great and 5 that we didn’t find better than the original 'canon' one seen in the comics.
10 Better: Batman Beyond
In actuality, the plan had been to give Terry the exact same origin of Bruce, with Amanda Waller attempting to kill his parents so he would end up an orphan too. However, fate would have Terry find a different path to becoming Batman, although he still ended up under Bruce's guidance. There was something very poetic about how Terry’s different upbringing didn’t factor into how he became Batman, with the original one being his father all along.
9 Worse: Gotham's Batman
There’s a whole fad going on now for basing TV series on the supporting characters of mainstream superheroes rather than the heroes themselves. We first saw this with Gotham, where the show was based around Jim Gordon.
Here, we only saw a child Bruce Wayne for the most part, who also shared the regular origin of his parents being murdered, but his ascent into becoming the Caped Crusader hinged upon Jim’s exploits. The reason why Gotham’s Batman’s origins aren’t that great is that all of his villains appeared before Bruce ever became the Dark Knight. He would take a backseat for the most part.
8 Better: Christopher Nolan's Batman
Batman’s origin story isn't complete without his parents dying, but we generally don’t settle on the immediate fallout of this. Christopher Nolan’s Batman did show us this phase, however. Here, we didn’t focus too much on the superhero aspect, rather it was about how Bruce became the epitome of goodness.
This Batman was more of a symbol than a hero, and we followed him around the world before he became that symbol, as Bruce was shown to be aligned with the League of Shadows. This Bruce Wayne needed to learn what defined him as both a person and Batman, and that sentiment is what separates him so well from the other Batman iterations.
7 Worse: Green Lantern Batman
In an intriguing twist, this one-shot story had Batman becoming the Caped Crusader and the Green Lantern. Where it suffered, though, was the execution of this angle. This is considered an origin story due to this Batman still being young and having been diverted into becoming a new version of the Dark Knight.
Still, it wasn’t something that was really memorable, as the Green Lantern averted major events such as the Joker ever coming about, but brought upon worse happenings, such as Sinestro becoming Batman’s archvillain and killing Jim Gordon. By the end of the story, we much preferred the original Batman’s origins.
6 Better: Tim Burton's Batman
The tragedy that befell Bruce didn't really change for this one, so how can we name it as an alternate version of Batman? That would be because of the addition of the Joker as the one who killed Bruce’s parents.
In Tim Burton’s Batman, the Joker’s weight on Batman’s plight was magnified due to him being directly responsible for making Bruce an orphan, and the story eventually unfolded with this revelation coming into play at the climax. It made complete sense, too, as Batman’s greatest foe turned out to be cause for the Dark Knight to ever be born.
5 Worse: World War Batman
When Vandal Savage messed with time, the consequences were severe. While the rest of the League were unaffected by this alternate timeline, the Batman we know never came to pass; in his place, Bruce Wayne was now the leader of the resistance against Vandal Savage. This Bruce also lost his parents, but they died due to being executed by Savage.
This wasn’t a bad origin, but it was for naught, because we found out that, no matter what, Bruce would always lose his parents and would have major issues in whatever timeline we saw him. To make things more tragic, this World War Batman had hope that the original one wouldn’t have to see his parents die - something he was very wrong about.
4 Better: Adam West Batman
Even though this Batman had the same tragedy of seeing his parents murdered, we consider him to be of a different origin because of how little the death of his parents was touched upon. Unlike every other Batman, Adam West’s version was campy and fun, making his loss of parents a very different turning point.
Becoming an orphan instead made Bruce Wayne a more independent and open person, who took his solitude as a way of prioritizing having fun over brooding. Even though this Batman was more of a clown than a hero, we appreciate how different of a turn he took in personality, despite following the pattern of the comic book version’s origin.
3 Worse: The Dark Knight Rises' Batman
You’ll be lying to yourself if you think The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t an origin story for a new Batman to follow Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. While he was named Robin, this guy was set up to become the new Caped Crusader by the film’s end.
Unfortunately, the build-up wasn’t quite as great, mainly because we didn’t buy him as someone who could be the Dark Knight (considering he had none of Bruce’s skills or resources). Had his origin tale shown him to be more involved with the action, we could have ranked it highly as a nice change from the norm.
2 Better: DCAU Batman
Rather than be shaped into becoming Batman by the death of his parents, this Bruce Wayne took the toll from their loss, but the pain was honed into the Caped Crusader by the influence of Alfred and by watching the superhero character called the Gray Ghost.
The DCAU’s Batman’s origins were specifically shown to be the result of Alfred taking him under his wing and teaching him the values of goodness. This Bruce Wayne would learn the art of being the world’s greatest detective by analyzing the Gray Ghost character on TV.
1 Worse: DCEU Batman
There’s actually an epic history behind the Batman we saw in Dawn of Justice. Unfortunately, we only saw his parents getting shot, and the DCEU version of Bruce Wayne then basically became obsessed with the name of Martha.
This origin isn’t good because we didn’t get to see it. There was potential for this to be one of the best Batman origin stories --what with Batman’s rogues' gallery being at the director’s disposal-- but as of now we only know of Bruce seeing his parents getting shot, and then somehow becoming a Batman who was totally ready to kill. There was just too big of an empty hole in his origin for us to get on board with it.