The Wayne family has always been one of the most infamous families in all of superhero comic book lore, and we rarely see any parental figures. While Bruce Wayne has a far more prominent presence in the comic book world compared to his mother and father, Martha and Thomas, it is the deaths of both parents that kickstarted one of the most well documented and compelling superhero origin stories in comic book history. These profound deaths paved the way for Bruce Wayne to become one of the most revered superheroes in this -- or any -- generation, Batman.
Based on this brief synopsis of sorts, one would think that Thomas and Martha were characters that were solely created to advance the character development of Bruce Wayne, and therefore, remain one dimensional. While that is true in a sense, do not mistake these characters for being one dimensional. Despite having short comic lives, both characters have been revisited multiple times and their backgrounds have been enriched. Which has also revealed that the Wayne family has more than a few skeletons in their closet. Read below to find out some of the deep, dark secrets that have been brewing among the Wayne family long before that fateful night in the alleyway.
15 BRUCE WAYNE HAD AN OLDER BROTHER
In all of the well documented interpretations of Batman lore, it was rare that Bruce Wayne is depicted having any siblings. However, in World's Finest #223, Thomas Wayne Jr -- three years older than Bruce -- was introduced. After suffering brain damage as a child from a car accident, Thomas and Martha put their son in a mental asylum under the name Thomas Willowood, to keep their burden a secret from Brue and the outside world.
Upon escaping the asylum, he became the Boomerang Killer. Upon learning he had a brother, as Batman, Bruce stopped Thomas from killing anymore. Afterwards, Deadman possessed Thomas's body. After Batman demanded that Deadman release his brother, Deadman did just that, but momentarily, Thomas died after taking a bullet intended for Batman.
14 THOMAS WAYNE IS BATMAN IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE
In the "Flashpoint" crossover event, everyone and everything in the DC Universe changes as a result of the Reverse-Flash creating an alternate reality where Barry Allen's mother is alive. In this same reality, Bruce Wayne's parents were never killed in that fateful alleyway confrontation, but instead, a young Bruce died that night. As a result, Thomas Wayne was the one who decided to become Batman.
In a revised version of Earth 2 that sprouted from DC's New 52, Bruce Wayne is Batman, but later discovers that Thomas Wayne survived the shooting and went into hiding for several years to keep Bruce safe. Despite Bruce rejecting his father out of anger from feeling abandoned, Thomas went on to honor his son by becoming the new Batman after Bruce dies.
13 MARTHA WAYNE IS THE JOKER IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE
Thomas Wayne is not the only Wayne parent who went through a drastic change in character over on Earth 2. While Thomas felt compelled to become Batman following the murder of his son, Martha Wayne lost her grip on her reality as a result of Bruce's death. After struggling to cope with the death of her son, Martha cuts into her cheeks to create a smile and becomes The Joker. Her and her husband become sworn enemies.
After Martha kills Commissioner Gordon, she is confronted by Thomas, who after being visited by Barry Allen learns that they are living in an alternate reality. Upon telling Martha this news, all she wants to know is what happens to their son if time is reverted back to normal. After learning Bruce is Batman on Earth 1, she plummets to her death to the caverns of Wayne Manor.
12 MARTHA ALLEGEDLY HAD AN AFFAIR WITH ALFRED
In "Batman R.I.P.", rumors come about that Martha and Thomas's marriage was much more bittersweet than the pair led on to public. A dossier presented to Commissioner Gordon claims that Thomas and Martha were drug addicts. Not only that, but she had an affair with her butler, Alfred, that would suggest Mr. Pennyworth to be the biological father of Bruce Wayne.
Even more shocking than all of that, is the allegation that Thomas ordered a hit out on his wife that resulted in both their deaths. We discover by the end of the story that all of these rumors are just that: rumors started by the deranged cult leader of the Black Glove, Simon Hurt. Who after failing to impersonate Thomas Wayne turns out to be Mangrove Pierce.
11 BANE THOUGHT THAT THOMAS WAYNE WAS HIS FATHER
Bane and Batman have always had a deeply rooted history with each other, most infamously when Bane break his bat. Their history nearly grew to be thicker than blood when Bane suspected that he and Batman were brothers. In Bane of the Demon #1, it is revealed that Thomas Wayne spent a lot of time with Bane's mother during his time in Santa Prisca. This news sparked rumors that the two had an affair and sired a child together.
When the once orphaned Bane investigated who his biological father was, he quickly alerted Batman to the rumors upon discovery and a blood test was conducted at Wayne Manor. As it turns out, Batman and Bane are not brothers after all and Thomas was never Bane's father. Instead, his father is King Snake.
10 THOMAS SAVED THE LIFE OF A GANGSTER, CARMINE FALCONE
Best remembered as the top crime boss in Gotham City (played by Tom Wilkinson) in Batman Begins, Carmine Falcone has always been depicted as a ruthless criminal who reigns over the city with an iron fist. His reign of terror may never have come to fruition if Thomas Wayne never saved his life. In a flashback from Batman: The Long Halloween, a much younger Carmine is on the brink of death following a mob hit and his father, Vincent, brings him to Wayne Manor to beg Dr. Thomas Wayne for his help.
Because he found it to be his duty as a doctor to save anyone, Thomas patched up the future mob boss on his dining room table with help from Alfred. Vincent Falcone was eternally grateful, but Thomas refused to accept a reward of any sort from the crime family.
9 BRUCE ONCE TRIED TO BRING THOMAS BACK
In an alternate version of the Batman mythos that takes place in 1819 and takes heavy inspiration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Castle of the Bat sees Doctor Bruce Wayne discovering the preserved brain of his late father beneath the university where he works. After assembling some other body parts and compiling them together with said brain, Bruce tries to bring Thomas back from the dead, and actually succeeds.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work out as well as he hoped considering this version of Thomas is more creature than man. However, the part of the creature that recognizes his son helps him solve his murder. Mr. Van Klooster, a colleague of Bruce Wayne's, is exposed later as the man who killed Thomas Wayne to perfect the preservation fluid used to store organs.
8 MARTHA'S FRIEND, CELIA, WAS A CRIMINAL
Not much is known about Martha Wayne's life prior to her death, but the DC Universe went a little more in depth with Martha in the miniseries Batman: Family. Prior to meeting Thomas Wayne, Martha's closest friend was Celia Kazantzakis. Celia was a criminal who embezzled money from an orphanage that happened to be one of Martha's charities.
She tried to hide her treason by burning the evidence in a fire -- along with the orphanage building -- but Martha stopped her. Before Celia fled to her home country in Greece, Martha warned her that she'll expose her as the thief she is if she ever returned to Gotham. Years later, Celia returns to Gotham as Athena to lead a cartel, but her efforts are thwarted by Batman.
7 THOMAS WAYNE CONVINCED JOR-EL TO SEND KAL-EL TO EARTH
One of the odder aspects of comic book history that often goes overlooked is the fact that Batman's dad once met Superman's dad. In Superman/Batman #50, Thomas sees a suspicious object fly down from the sky while driving with his pregnant wife, Martha. Upon further investigation, the object transports Thomas's consciousness to Krypton in holographic form. It is there where he meets Jor-El, who inquires to Thomas about what kind of planet Earth is.
Earth happened to be one of the candidates Jor-El is deciding on where to send his son in the wake of an emergency on Krypton. After Thomas assures him that humanity is both an imperfect but overall good/kindhearted race, Jor-El sends Kal-El to earth. Upon returning to his body, Thomas uses the Kryptonian object to revitalize his failing Wayne Enterprises. His son would use that same tech for his gadgets as a crimefighter.
6 MARTHA IS RELATED TO KATE KANE, AKA BATWOMAN
In typical Batman mythos and canon, Martha's maiden name was Kane. In Rebirth Detective Comics #934, it is revealed that Martha is directly related to Kate Kane, also known as Batwoman. Oddly enough, Martha is not connected or related to other prominent members of the Kane family (like Bette Kane, also known as Flamebird) in any way, shape, or form, but she is absolutely related to Kate Kane.
Kate Kane is related to Kathy Kane, who married Nathan Kane, who is the brother of Martha Kane (later Wayne). Fun Fact: the surname of Kane in the Batman universe is a commonly used and referenced surname due to the fact that it is usually always a callback to the original creator of Batman themselves, Bob Kane.
5 BATMAN WENT BACK IN TIME TO SOLVE THE WAYNE CASE
In the aftermath of Batman's apparent "death" in Final Crisis and "Batman R.I.P.", Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne reveals that Darkseid did not kill Batman, but actually sent him backwards in time. The comic details Batman's tumultuous journey to get back to the present. At one point, he awakens in the 20th century not long after the deaths of his own parents.
He meets his mother's close friend, Marsha Lamarr, who believes that Thomas Wayne orchestrated Martha's murder, and faked his death in the process. She hires him as a private investigator to solve the crime, but quickly discovers Marsha to be a member of the Black Glove, who intend on destroying the souls of the Waynes via their reputation. They try to sacrifice Bruce, but he escapes to the future in the knick of time.
4 MARTHA'S MAIDEN NAME IS ARKHAM
In the usual canonized mythology of Batman, Martha's maiden name is Kane, but the graphic novel Batman: Earth One chooses to twist that half of the mythos a little bit. Here, her maiden name is Arkham and her family are the ones who founded the Arkham Asylum. When she was but 12 years old, Martha's mother killed her father. It was out of this impulse -- and numerous other scandals within the Arkham family -- that led people to believe that the Arkham household was cursed and the Arkham bloodline is peremptorily insane.
Martha grew up to become a campaign manager for her husband, Thomas Wayne, in the election against Oswald Cobblepot. The Penguin hired someone to assassinate the Waynes before the election, but lucky for him, a random mugger in an alleyway got to them first.
3 MARTHA'S WORK MAY HAVE LED TO HER END
Batman stories rarely go into in depth detail about Bruce Wayne's parents and when they do, there is usually much more focus on Thomas Wayne than on his wife. However, the novel Batman: The Ultimate Evil actually did manage to explore Martha Wayne's very secretive background. Namely, in regards to her profession as a social worker. She spent her career as a social worker housing and protecting young victims of abuse.
The novel suggests that it was her profession and her good deeds as a social worker that got her killed to begin with. Martha was secretly investigating traffickers. When these traffickers discovered her snooping, they ordered for her and her husband to be killed, only it had to look like a just another random mugging.
2 HELENA AND DAMIAN WAYNE TECHNICALLY AREN'T RELATED
Bruce Wayne has had a few children in his heyday and not surprisingly, most of his kids tend to join the family business at some point in their lives. No, not the Wayne Enterprises, Inc. business, but the superhero business. His most notable superhero kids are Helena Wayne (who he conceived with Catwoman) and Damian Wayne (who he conceived with Talia Al Ghul). Or, as they are better known as, Huntress and Robin.
This may come as a shock for many readers, but despite both being the children of Batman, neither of them are related. In fact, they technically do not even come from the same father. While Robin is the son of Batman from our Earth, Huntress hails from Earth 2 and so does her version of her biological Batdad.
1 THOMAS WAS BATMAN BEFORE BRUCE WAYNE WAS
During Batman's original run during the Silver Age of comic books, it is revealed that before Bruce Wayne became Batman, his own father took up the mantle in his own right, and directly inspired Bruce to follow in his father's footsteps to become Batman. In the comic book titled The First Batman, we discover that Thomas Wayne dressed up as a "Bat-Man" for a masquerade ball where flying creatures was a theme. During the festivities, Thomas found himself fighting off some hoodlums, and getting them imprisoned.
One of the hoodlums, mob boss Lew Moxon spent ten years in prison as a result. As revenge, Moxon hired low level criminal Joe Chill to kill Thomas and Martha Wayne. Years later, the whole "Bat-Man" thing got retconned and Thomas normally is seen dressed as Zorro at the masquerade ball.