Batman is one of the greatest superheroes of all-time, and has become a pop culture icon and there are many reasons for his sustained popularity. Everyone loves Batman because he always saves the day and even when all hope is lost and defeat seems inevitable, the Dark Knight finds a way. Time after time, even when the rest of the Justice League falls, the Caped Crusader puts the world on his back, stares evil in the eye and vanquishes it. However, it’s fair to say that Batman is also a polarizing hero and has plenty of detractors, all with good reason. The character has done a number of questionable things over the years, including betraying both his teammates in the Justice League and the entire world. Usually, the treachery isn’t on purpose, but the consequences are usually fairly dire. Therefore, it’s fair to say that, at various points, Batman has nearly caused the end of the world.
The dichotomy of Batman’s heroism and his costly missteps is one of the most intriguing aspects of the character. For every “JLA: New World Order,” there’s an Infinite Crisis. For every time Batman defeats a power-hungry organization like the Black Glove, there’s another example of the Dark Knight nearly triggering the end of the world. For this reason, we’ve decided to list some of the top examples of times that Batman has saved, and betrayed, the world. We’re not keeping score but, maybe after reading this list, you’ll have a clearer idea of how much Batman has helped and hurt the planet he protects.
16 BETRAYED: TEAMS WITH LEX LUTHOR
More often than not, heroes have to compromise their values, and have to put aside their differences and work with criminals when larger threats emerge. This eventuality frequently occurs in comic books, but there are also times where these associations are unnecessary. When Bruce Wayne aligns himself with Lex Luthor in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #3, the cooperation was entirely uncalled for.
Batman and Superman get into a fight when the Man of Steel sees that the Dark Knight has Kryptonite, a gift from Luthor. Afterwards, Wayne agrees to work with Luthor by sharing research for plans that, if necessary, could neutralize Superman. This chain of events makes Wayne seem a little petty.
15 SAVED: JLA: NEW WORLD ORDER
Batman has a knack for saving the day when it seems like all hope is lost. In the JLA story, “New World Order,” the Justice League is defeated by a villainous group called the Hyperclan. The antagonists assume that Batman is out of the picture because he was in a plane crash. Surely, the Hyperclan reasoned, there’s no way a human could survive that -- he’s just a man.
However, this is Batman we’re talking about and the Dark Knight survived and was already in the aliens’ base. The World’s Greatest Detective deduces that the Hyperclan are actually White Martians, so he uses their weakness of fire against them. In an iconic sequence, Batman saves the world with a box of matches.
14 BETRAYED: TOWER OF BABEL
Batman is always prepared and he’s notorious for keeping files on the weaknesses of his teammates. This readiness isn’t inherently wrong but, when a situation as seen in “JLA: Tower of Babel” comes along, it definitely becomes questionable. Secrecy continues to create negative consequences in the Dark Knight’s life but he just won’t learn.
Ra’s al Ghul steals these files and sends Batman off on his own goose chase. The Demon’s Head takes down the Justice League, one by one, so they can’t interfere with his latest nefarious plot. The heroes win in the end but, even though Batman explains himself, the story permanently changes the League’s trust in Batman.
13 SAVED: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS
In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman fights his dark reflection, Owlman, with the fate of the world is at stake. The villain creates a Quantum Eigenstate Device, or a Q.E.D., which has the power to destroy worlds. Owlman hopes to destroy Earth-Prime, which could erase the entire multiverse from existence.
Of course, Batman became aware of this evil plot. The Justice League fights the Crime Syndicate, which makes Batman responsible for stopping Owlman. After defeating his enemy, the Caped Crusader teleports the device to an uninhabited Earth and activates it. As a result, the empty Earth, and the weapon, are destroyed. This dire situation is all in a day’s work for the Dark Knight.
12 BETRAYED: SELFISH USE OF MOBIUS CHAIR
During “the Darkseid War,” Batman sits in the Mobius Chair and becomes the God of Knowledge. For any hero, the opportunity to be omniscient would be pretty compelling. Think of all the good one could do with so much knowledge. The Mobius Chair provides the potential to solve any number of the world’s problems, but unfortunately Batman doesn’t use the chair for the greater good.
The Dark Knight uses the chair to fight crime in Gotham before it even occurs. He also employs his newfound omniscience to track down Joe Chill and he even asks the Mobius Chair to tell him the Joker’s true identity. All of these utilizations are for the betterment of one man -- Bruce Wayne.
11 SAVED: BATMAN R.I.P.
“Batman R.I.P.” is a story that’s confined to the Dark Knight’s side of the DCU, so you won’t find Superman flying around during the Caped Crusader’s war with the Black Glove. But, given the potentially global reach of the organization, it’s still significant that Batman took it down by himself.
Throughout the story, the reader sees that members of the Black Glove are politicians and people in power all over the world. If Batman hadn’t stopped them, these villains could have taken over the world. Luckily, despite being buried alive, the Dark Knight acts like a one man wrecking crew and defeats the group.
10 BETRAYED: RESPONSIBLE FOR JOKER
The rivalry between Batman and the Joker is one of the most compelling relationships in comic book history. Since the earliest days of both characters, they have been linked together. It must also be pointed out that, in a variety of ways, the Caped Crusader is responsible for the existence of the Clown Prince of Crime.
Though the man sometimes known as Jack Napier has a murky backstory, the Dark Knight is the catalyst of his classic origin. Batman accidentally knocks a member of the Red Hood gang into a vat of acid, which creates the Joker. Plus, by refusing to permanently stop the Joker, Batman can be blamed for the villain’s sustained reign of terror.
9 SAVED: ASSEMBLES THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
For a variety of reason, the Worlds Of DC version of Batman never really got a chance to shine, but the character had a crucial role in Justice League. As the movie’s tagline said, you can’t save the world alone and Bruce Wayne knows that, so he recruits a group of superpowered individuals to help him fight Steppenwolf’s army.
It wasn’t easy -- Arthur Curry initially rejected Wayne and Barry Allen was often taken over by the gravity of the situation. But, with the help of Diana Prince, Wayne held the team together and the group ultimately defeated the villain. Without Wayne, the Justice League never would have come together in the first place.
8 BETRAYED: DARK NIGHTS: METAL
Batman can’t be blamed for the existence of the Evil Batmen in Dark Nights: Metal. However, it is the Caped Crusader’s fault that the door to the Dark Multiverse is open in the first place. Bruce Wayne investigates a mystery that’s been years in the making, which leads him to the trail of Barbatos.
The investigation causes Batman to interact with the five metals that would open the doorway to the Dark Multiverse. As a result, everything that happens in this world-threatening event is Batman’s fault. By now, the Dark Knight should know that curiosity killed the cat (or, almost, the bat in this case.)
7 SAVED: KINGDOM COME
In this story’s dystopian future, the community of superheroes is seemingly broken beyond repair. The retirement of Superman further emphasizes the lack of hope in the world, but Batman never gives up and he is prepared for everything. So, despite the challenging circumstances, an older, wiser Bruce Wayne continues to fight.
Wayne outsmarts Lex Luthor and,by himself, nearly defeats the evil genius. Here, Wayne’s ability to strategically plan saves the world as he sees through Luthor’s machinations, which is crucial in the heroes’ ultimate triumph. Batman isn’t solely responsible for saving the day in this story but he guides his allies to victory.
6 BETRAYED: JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE
As a direct consequence of Dark Nights: Metal, the Justice League broke the Source Wall, which protected the universe from unknown threats. We can’t exclusively blame Batman for this situation -- he acted in agreement with the rest of the Justice League.
Still, given that the Caped Crusader was responsible for everything leading up to the breach in the Source Wall, Bruce Wayne is, one again, culpable for a situation that threatened the world. For example, in Justice League: No Justice, the Omega Titans nearly destroy Earth, and now an overload of cosmic energy is dangerously transforming the Earth and its inhabitants.
5 SAVED: FLASHPOINT
For the most part, Flashpoint is a story about speedsters, a war that nearly ended the world and the creation of another universe, but Batman also has an important role in this event. First, it’s important to note that this version of the Caped Crusader is not Bruce Wayne -- it’s Thomas Wayne. Driven by grief and anger, Thomas becomes a more violent iteration of Batman, who is a supporting character for the duration of the story but eventually steps into the spotlight.
It seems like the villains are winning the final battle, so Reverse-Flash taunts his rival, Barry Allen. Thomas capitalizes on the situation, and he takes Eobard Thawne down. Subsequently, Barry is able to enter the timestream and the rest is history.
4 BETRAYED: BROTHER EYE
Sometimes, Batman’s preparation goes too far and Infinite Crisis is the clearest demonstration. After the events of Identity Crisis, Batman feels, more than ever, that he can’t trust the Justice League. As a result, the Dark Knight takes his preparation (or paranoia) to the next level. He creates the Brother MK I satellite, which allows him to secretly analyze and monitor the superhuman community.
Alexander Luthor and Maxwell Lord corrupted the satellite for their own purposes but Batman is responsible for its creation in the first place. Brother Eye played an important role in Infinite Crisis, which nearly destroyed the world.
3 SAVED: DEFEATS SENSEI
In “the Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul,” it might not seem like Batman saved the world -- the titular character in the story is free by the end of the story. The Demon’s Head is an incredibly powerful villain, so the world is still in relative danger at the end of the story.
But Batman took out the Sensei, an antagonist even more wicked than his longtime adversary. The Dark Knight fights the former leader of the League of Assassins. Despite being blinded and walking around with a broken arm and a severe wound to the chest, the Dark Knight perseveres and pushes the villain into the (ironically) toxic Fountain of Youth.
2 BETRAYED: IGNORES TED KORD
As if Batman’s aforementioned actions in "Infinite Crisis" weren’t bad enough, the Dark Knight does something equally as upsetting soon before the event begins. When the Blue Beetle, or Ted Kord, grows suspicious of the O.M.A.C. Project, he tries to sound the alarm bells within the superhero community.
Kord realizes that the mysterious project could be dangerous so he reaches out to his allies in the Justice League. Everyone, with the exception of Wonder Woman, dismisses him. Batman, in particular, doesn’t give his former teammate the time of day and, as the World’s Greatest Detective, Batman should have been willing to listen to Kord. Instead, the Dark Knight dismissed him and the dominoes that caused Infinite Crisis continued to fall.
1 SAVED: BECOMES BATMAN
Batman is a legend and, as one of the first superheroes, the Dark Knight is an inspiration to the countless heroes that came after him. Many of these characters have followed the Caped Crusader’s example. These heroes want to spread justice and see Batman as a model for how to help people.
The Dark Knight is particularly noteworthy because he is only human, but he puts his life on the line every day. With the knowledge that each adventure could be his last, he fights Darkseid and other dominant threats. Other heroes, inspired by Batman, have taken up a life of crime-fighting and, in turn, saved the world themselves.