Batman is generally considered the coolest superhero in fiction. Instead of a grab bag of superpowers granted through alien physiology, radioactive insects, or mysterious characters who insist on bequeathing you with magical artifacts of power or the secret to transforming into a modern Titan - Bruce Wayne needs only his brains and his colossal wealth to become The Dark Knight and kick all kinds of ass with his array of gadgets and inventions.
As brainy as Batman might be, other heroes are brainier still. Here are 10 heroes from across all the fictional land who can give Batman a run in the brains department, even if they don't look like it.
Hawkgirl rose to mainstream prominence thanks to being a part of the original lineup of Bruce Timm's animated Justice League series. As a female member not named Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl had to do something to stand out from the crowd of heroes, especially with the several dozen additional heroes that were added to the team's roster later on.
She accomplished this by proving to be a better strategist than Batman. She was able to routinely beat The Dark Knight at chess. She discovered and removed the tracking device he placed on her mace. It was also revealed that Hawkgirl had been sending secret communications to her people from the Justice League watchtower without alerting Batman or any of the other heroes. She was even able to enter the Batcave without triggering any alarms.
Eel O'Brien, AKA Plastic Man, is almost always portrayed as the goofy, stretchy, comic relief of any team-up stories he features in. Almost. There are times when Plastic Man drops the act and reveals his serious side, a side which made him one of the most efficient criminals around before turning good and becoming a superhero. That's the side of Eel which gives even Superman pause during battle.
During a storyline where the heroes got separated from their alter-egos, Plas was the one who figured out what was going on, rallied the team together, and helped everyone recombine the two halves of their personality. Even Batman accepted Eel's leadership at that point, going so far as to forgive him for punching Bruce's lights out without any kind of payback.
J'onn J'onzz is a martian superhero with a more varied power set than Superman himself. So powerful are his telepathy, flight and strength abilities that readers often miss out the 'Manhunter' part of his title. J'onn is at his core a detective, and he has been known as Manhunter for hundreds of years.
Thanks to his incredible longevity, J'onn has much greater experience in the detective field than Batman. Coupled with his telepathy powers and knowledge gathered on a cosmic scale, this is one hero who can probably clean up every unsolved case in Gotham in a single day if he were so inclined.
John Constantine usually looks like a druggie hobo who stole an office guy's suit. However, you would be pretty lackadaisical about your appearance too if you were dealing with hell creatures on a regular basis in an effort to foil the plans of Lucifer himself. Constantine has a vast knowledge of the occult and magical side of the universe, something that has forced Batman to come to him time and again while investigating cases pertaining to magic.
Constantine is also no slouch in the brains department, having once tricked God himself into reviving him, and regularly outwitting Satan while also finding ways to postpone Judgement Day. Compare Constantine's villains to The Joker and The Penguin, and it's clear John just operates on a whole other level.
There have been multiple Robins throughout the Bat mythology, which makes you wonder if Batman should be locked up at this point for reckless child endangerment. But that's a whole other debate. Each of the Robins had one feature that distinguished them from the others. Dick Grayson has the longest history with Batman, Damien has Bruce's genes, Jason Todd had the killer instinct, and Tim got the detective instincts.
Tim has a photographic memory and was able to deduce Dick was Robin after memorizing his movies as an acrobat and seeing the same pattern of movements being performed by Robin. He was also able to deduce the mantle of Robin had been passed to Jason Todd. Even Batman admitted Tim was the greatest detective he had ever seen.
The Justice League animated series cemented Wally West's status as the most immature Flash, constantly cracking jokes and approaching most problems in a light-hearted manner. That said, beneath this surface shallowness lies a mind that works much, much, much faster than any other being in existence.
Also, in the animated series Young Justice, it is revealed that Wally has always been a child prodigy, with a genius-level IQ and a natural affinity for science. He's basically Bruce Wayne with a more slacker attitude. A Wally who truly cuts loose would be a giant problem not just for Batman, but the entire Justice League.
Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl, has always been something of a whiz kid. In her Superheroine avatar, she would often come across as the paler version of Robin, who in turn is a paler version of Batman. Barbara's intelligence got the chance to truly shine after she suffered the crippling injury at the hands of The Joker that turned her into the wheelchair-bound information-broker, Oracle.
A tech-genius and strategic expert, at one point or another, Oracle has lent her services to every hero in the DC universe. When Batman himself relies on your expertise, you know you're one smart cookie.
Peter Parker is the one superhero who can challenge Batman's popularity, despite being his polar opposite in many ways. Most stories focus on Peter's everyman persona, the perennially down-on-his-luck kid who swings into action as the wise-cracking superhero Spider-Man when trouble comes calling.
This earthy approach to the character is why people often forget that Peter is one of the smartest people in all of the multiverse. This fact has been attested to by Reed Richards, the smartest man in the Marvel multiverse, who has acknowledged Peter as his intellectual equal on several occasions.
As the character who heavily inspired the 'World's Greatest Detective' persona of Batman, this list would not be complete without the most popular detective in all of fiction. Sherlock Holmes' original stories may have been written a hundred years ago, but he has had a couple of crossovers with Batman. The first time they met, Holmes deduced BAtman's secret identity within minutes, something that often only those with X-ray vision manage to accomplish.
The two also teamed up during an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where they had a friendly match of deductive skills. This is something Batman rarely does with another hero and speaks to the mutual respect shared between the two premier detectives.
Superman and Batman have fought plenty of times in the comics, movies, and animation; every single time, what gives Bruce an edge is his brains and strategic mindset. These kinds of showings also left many fans with the impression that Superman is a bit of a moron, falling repeatedly for Bruce's traps when a combination of X-ray vision, super-hearing, and super-speed could have helped him recognize and avoid the danger.
The truth is, Superman always holds back when fighting Batman. The few times he has truly cut loose, he destroys The Dark Knight in seconds. That is because, thanks to the yellow sun, in addition to being super-strong, super-fast, and super everything else, he is also a super-genius with a photographic memory and enhanced cognitive skills. He possesses knowledge from every corner of the galaxy, can speak innumerable languages, and absorbs information almost as fast as The Flash.