Batman is one of the most successful heroes in comic book history. He’s famous for his world-class fighting skills and his mind is practically unparalleled. After all, he didn’t get the nickname “the World’s Greatest Detective” from nowhere. He has some of the coolest gadgets in comics, and he remains one of the most popular characters in all of pop culture. It’s not surprising that DC continues to capitalize on Batman’s fame. The company is always experimenting with the character, as he is continuously thrust into new, exciting and sometimes odd situations. As a result, there have been various versions of the Caped Crusader throughout the years.
Variety is Batman’s middle name. The Dark Knight has used countless suits, and different people have worn the cowl. He’s also had a winding journey through the occult. Batman has been a vampire. Bruce Wayne has been a master sorcerer, and the character has been to Soviet Russia. Batman has also merged with other heroes, from Superman, to the Flash, Green Lantern and even Wolverine. Batman has even been a god. There have been many unique takes on the character in his long history. No matter what alternate reality the Dark Knight is in, his intelligence, fighting skills, and fortitude make Batman one of the most dangerous characters in comic books. With that being said, let’s take a look at how some of these alternate versions of Batman compare to each other in an attempt to answer the question, what version of Batman is the most deadly of them all?
25 GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT
Batman’s power is directly linked to the technology available to him. In the present, he has computers and countless other technological advancements to play with. That begs the question: how dangerous is Batman without modern technology?
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight places Batman in the Victorian era, with no computers or electric gadgets to augment his crimefighter capabilities. Without those weapons and tools, this Batman is fairly tame, as the Elseworlds take on the character also lacks the world-class fighting skill the hero is known for.
24 BATMAN ‘66
Though Batman ‘66 is usually considered a laughing stock, he is still relatively dangerous. In his prime, Batman ‘66 was practically unprecedented. Viewers had never seen an “ordinary” man with an arsenal of amazing gadgets, like the Batarang, the Bat-Grapple Gun or the infamous Batman Shark Repellent spray.
Of course, the threat of this old-school Batman pales in comparison to some of his successors. However, this version of the Dark Knight was limited by the technology of his time. So, he still deserves recognition for his trailblazing ways.
Bruce Wayne’s Batman is known for his strict no taking lives policy when it comes to villains. Replace the man under the mask, and you’ll find that other characters view matters differently. When former assassin Jean-Paul Valley, or Azrael, fills in for Wayne after "Knightfall", it was clear that his code of ethics drastically differed from Wayne’s.
Valley is not above ending a life -- he uses talons, guns, flamethrowers and more as weapons in his war on crime. Azrael is merciless and mentally unstable, which makes his version of Batman notably menacing.
What happens when Batman breaks bad from the start? That question is explored with Owlman, an Earth-3 villain that, most recently, came to the main DCU in Forever Evil. Owlman, or Thomas Wayne Jr., has Bruce’s intelligence, wealth and all of Batman’s other classic skills.
However, Owlman has no moral compass. Batman’s morals keep him on the relatively straight and narrow, but his Earth-3 counterpart has no such limits. If he hadn’t been vaporized during the "Darkseid War", Owlman would be one of the most dangerous villains in the greater DCU.
21 PRIME EARTH BATMAN
Make no mistake: “standard” Batman is very dangerous in his own right. He’s as smart, strong and spectacular as they come. With the combination of Bruce Wayne’s wealth and modern technology, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the technology and weaponry at Batman’s disposal.
Take away the gadgets and Batman is still a world-class fighter and detective. Needless to say, the typical version of Batman is one of the most threatening figures in the DCU.
20 THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
In 2018, a darker, middle-aged Batman with anger issues may seem fairly tame compared to other versions of the hero. However, when The Dark Knight Returns came out in 1986, that characterization of Batman was unheard of. In the series, writer Frank Miller shows readers a Batman that, through years of loss and grief, became more brutal than ever.
As an example of Wayne’s newfound savagery, Batman viciously beats the Leader, the Joker and nearly ends Superman. This dystopian Batman may be older, but his emotional devolution makes him one of the more dangerous Dark Knights out there.
"Flashpoint" launched the New 52, one of the most controversial events in DC’s history. One of the many products of the universe-wide reboot was Thomas Wayne’s Batman. In this alternate reality, Thomas and Martha lived while Bruce was killed in the alley. Thomas subsequently seeks vengeance, and wages a war on crime.
Thomas, filled with rage over the loss of his son, is much more violent than the typical Batman. He uses guns and frequently puts down criminals. Thomas, unlike Bruce, never held back, which, combined with his anger, makes his Batman one of the more threatening takes on the character.
18 KINGDOM COME
Being Batman takes a physical toll, and Kingdom Come analyzes one potential way that Bruce Wayne would cope with that consequence. After years of wear and tear, Wayne grafts an exoskeleton to his body to maintain his strength. Wayne then builds an army of robots, called Bat-Knights, in an effort to delegate some of his crime fighting responsibilities.
The Bat-Bots allow Wayne to seize control of Gotham, so the Dark Knight finally wins his war on crime in the city. On a larger scale, a Batman with an army of robots would be unstoppable.
17 BATMAN BEYOND
What do you get when you take one of DC’s strongest heroes and place him in a future with vast technological improvements? Batman Beyond offers a look at just how powerful Batman could be in a world with far fewer mechanical limitations. Plus, in this continuity, an elderly Bruce Wayne has become even more intelligent with the wisdom of age.
Imagine a Batman that has learned from the original’s mistakes. Wayne trains Terry McGinnis to do exactly that, and the result is an even more formidable Batman.
16 DC ONE MILLION
In DC One Million, everything that’s cool about Batman Beyond gets taken to new heights because the 1998 mini-series takes place in the 853rd century. Any limits of modern-day technology fall by the wayside. The only potential restrictions in this timeline are the writer’s imagination.
DC One Million’s Batman can teleport and he even has telepathy. As a bonus, his suit also allows him to camouflage. While other Bat-Suits have surpassed this version, the Batman in DC One Million remains one of the most dangerous Caped Crusaders due to the unimaginable technology at his disposal.
15 THE INSIDER
Batman’s preparedness to take on any/all of the Justice League is well-documented. Using that knowledge, it’s not a far leap for Wayne to mimic his teammates’ powers. For example, shortly after returning to the land of the living in 2010, Wayne briefly used a new suit that was equipped with the powers of the Justice League.
The Insider suit gave its user superspeed, invisibility and the ability to both fly and teleport. Plus, the suit had abilities analogous to the Lasso of Truth and the Green Lantern’s Power Ring. All in all, the Insider was a short-lived powerhouse.
14 DARK CLAW
Fun things happen when DC and Marvel manage to work together. One of the more interesting creations of their Amalgam comics is Darkclaw, a hybrid of fan-favorite characters Batman and Wolverine. Basically, the character combined the backstories of the two heroes, which led to an Adamantium-infused Batman.
The Caped Crusader with claws and a healing factor was one of the most powerful heroes fans had ever seen. If he was unleashed in the real DC/Marvel universe, few characters, if any, could stand in Dark Claw’s way.
It’s hard to call Batman a weak link in the Justice League, but there are some circumstances his human body just can’t withstand. His teammates recognize that fact, and gift him the Hellbat suit, which can endure extreme environments. The suit also makes Batman stronger, tougher and it gives him the ability to fly.
The Hellbat also blasts lasers and has a camouflage feature. As a fun bonus, the cape transforms into bats when it’s ripped off. Each member of the Justice League uniquely contributed to the suit, which makes the Hellbat one of the strongest versions of Batman.
12 SPEEDING BULLETS
Batman versus Superman. It’s a debate that will stand the test of time -- who’s the better, stronger hero? Instead of answering that question, Superman: Speeding Bullets showcases a Superman raised with Bruce Wayne’s childhood. When Thomas and Martha Wayne are murdered, their son still decides to wage a war on crime.
This time, though, that son is a Kryptonian boy. Kal-El becomes Batman, which means the Caped Crusader has super-strength, invulnerability and Superman’s arsenal of powers. Superman as Batman would rank higher on the list, but the Kryptonian is not the ultimate executioner that other alternate Batmen are.
11 SORCERER KINGS
You’re a wizard, Batman! Though he is usually one of the more grounded heroes in DC, Batman occasionally ventures into the supernatural. For example, in Superman/Batman: Sorcerer Kings, Bruce Wayne becomes a wizard. In a world without electronics, Wayne becomes one of the best sorcerers in the universe.
Unlike other versions of the character that gain immense power, Bruce keeps his sanity, which allows him to stay on his virtuous path. Wayne the Wizard combines expert sorcery with genius intellect, which makes this Batman incredibly dangerous.
10 THE DEVASTATOR
Doomsday will always be known as the creature that (originally) buried Superman. However, the monster’s Achilles’ heel is its lack of intelligence. Dark Knights: Metal explores what a Doomsday with a brain would look like when Bruce Wayne modifies the Doomsday virus to turn himself into the beast.
Subsequently, Batman has the ability to transform into Doomsday at will. Using the virus ultimately drives Wayne mad, as he intends to infect the entire world with the virus. The combination of Doomsday’s power and Wayne’s insanity makes this Batman one of the most menacing versions fans have ever seen.
9 VAMPIRE BATMAN
It’s become a common theme for DC to explore the idea of a Batman without his humanity. In the ‘90s, the company took this idea to new extremes when, in Red Rain, Dracula invaded Gotham and turned Batman into a vampire. At first, the Dark Knight limited his feeding frenzy to the criminals he fought on a nightly basis.
However, having successfully dined on all of the city’s crooks, Batman’s appetite turns to the average citizen and he slowly becomes a full-fledged monster with ghastly fangs. Other versions of Batman may be more dangerous, but none of the others is as truly terrifying.
8 THE MERCILESS
Batman’s fight to end crime in Gotham is often compared to a war. It’s fitting, then, that Dark Knights: Metal gives fans a Batman that is the God of War. Batman donns the Helm of Ares and uses the God-Killer sword, two of the deadliest artifacts in the DCU.
Batman becomes the God of War, and resistance is futile in his quest to conquer the Earth. Even before Bruce’s transformation, he loses his mind when the love of his life, Wonder Woman, is mortally wounded by Ares. This Batman offers a look at one that breaks after one tragedy too many.
7 THE RED DEATH
Batman has one of the fastest minds in the DC Universe but he is somewhat limited by his mortal body. The Red Death erases that concern, as this alternate Batman gives Bruce Wayne the powers of the Flash. Batman goes insane as he tries to save the crumbling world around him.
Bruce betrays the Flash and steals his power, which creates a combination of the two heroes. The idea that just one bad day is enough to send Batman over the edge is explored throughout Dark Knights: Metal, but the Red Death does so in a frighteningly believable way.
6 THE DAWNBREAKER
Batman has used a Power Ring a few times, and, in Dark Knights: Metal, the hero does so once again with a few twists. When Bruce Wayne’s parents die, the boy wills himself to persevere, rather than give in to fear. This strength draws the attention of the Green Lantern Corps.
Rather than follow the Corps’ ways, Wayne mentally overrides the ring’s programming and corrupts it. Bruce then becomes the most powerful Lantern in the universe because his will is unparalleled. The angry, heartbroken Wayne has unlimited power at his disposal, which makes him a threat to the entire DCU.
5 THE MURDER MACHINE
"Terminator meets Batman" sounds like an awesome crossover or a menacing combination. Dark Knights: Metal provides the latter when Bruce Wayne brings the Alfred Protocol, the beloved butler’s AI persona, to life. The program quickly grows like a weed and overwhelms the hero.
The AI merges itself with Bruce and creates an unfeeling, destructive cybernetic Batman who defeats the Justice League and takes over the world. Cybernetic Batman is a glimpse at the risks of the technology that Batman has at his disposal, though some of his Dark Nights:Metal counterparts are even more dangerous.
4 THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS
Batman and the Joker are typically considered opposites due to their differences. However, they actually have a lot in common. In Dark Knights: Metal takes that idea is explored more than ever, as The Batman Who Laughs is a combination of the two rivals. Batman finally snaps, as he takes the Joker’s life.
Ironically, the clown gets the last laugh because his body releases a neurotoxin that turns his murderer into the next Joker. The Bat-Joker hybrid is no laughing matter; he becomes a key villain in the overall event and almost destroys the Multiverse.
3 WHITE LANTERN BATMAN
Whoever wears the White Lantern Power Ring becomes the most powerful being on the planet. Though Batman’s time with the ring was very short lived, he was a temporary White Lantern in Blackest Night. This ring is considered the most powerful of the entire emotional spectrum.
White Lanterns are practically omniscient and they can bring the dead back to life. When it comes to powerful, dangerous versions of Batman, it’s hard to top a God-like being with a mastery of death.
2 MOBIUS CHAIR BATMAN
While wearing the White Lantern ring briefly gave Batman omnipotence, the character’s time on the Mobius Chair granted Bruce Wayne a slightly longer duration of godhood. By sitting on the Mobius Chair, Batman becomes the God of Knowledge.
These powers allow Bruce Wayne to read minds and see the future, which instantly makes him one of the most powerful characters in the DCU. Batman uses his incredible powers to continue his war on crime in Gotham. Like other versions, if Batman had dreamed bigger, who knows how powerful he could have become.
1 ATMAHN THE NIGHT JUDGE
There are gods, and there are Gods. Batman has been both. In Trinity, DC’s landmark trio (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) become Gods. After the heroes learn they are crucial to the maintenance of order and balance in the grand structure of the multiverse, the three are transported to a different dimension.
There, the trio are all-powerful Gods that are worshipped by humans. The story may be a metaphor for the trinity’s importance to DC in real life but it’s still a fascinating take on their in-universe significance.