Everyone loves superheroes. And why wouldn’t they? Superheroes put their lives on hold to take on threats that law enforcement either ignores or is too ill-equipped to handle. And while some superhero comics touch on it, the majority don’t — most superheroes are vigilantes, and as such function outside of the law. Superheroes tend to break a number of laws when in pursuit of their criminal foes — and more often than not they walk away scot free. Even when working alongside law enforcement, heroes aren’t held to the same standards and regulations (and we all know how well those are working out) as their badge-carrying counterparts — and there’s no superhero who works with law enforcement as closely, or breaks as many laws as Batman.
Gotham City’s Caped Crusader is known for his unmatched detective skills, the wide array of cutting edge technology he has at his disposal, and his tireless work ethic. Better add “career criminal” to that list, because in his many years of taking on some of the biggest baddies to ever terrorize Gotham and the world beyond, the Dark Knight has committed countless crimes, many of which warrant hefty prison sentences. As such, CBR presents the 15 most illegal things he’s ever done.
15. CHILD ENDANGERMENT
Robin is a mantle that has been taken up by a number of youngsters over the years, most of whom have been adopted by Bruce Wayne. Adopting children who should be doing homework and having sleepovers instead of being groomed for vigilantism might seem like a scheme to get more Robins, but what about Damian? Damian Wayne is Bruce’s only biological child — a factor that really drove the point home that Batman has no regard for the safety of his children.
Damian is only 13 years old, meaning that his body and brain are both not yet fully developed. Never mind that he has been trained by both Batman and the League of Assassins — he’s just a kid. And he’s literally NEVER around! How the DCFS hasn’t made frequent visits to Wayne Manor is beyond us.
14. SPEEDING AROUND GOTHAM
While it might seem like a minor infraction, Batman should have enough speeding and traffic violations to fill the Batcave with tickets by now. Batman’s speeding doesn’t really pose a threat to him, considering all of the state of the art tech that Bruce has packed into the Batmobile, but consider the citizens of Gotham.
Driving in the city would be a nightmare — not because of the traffic, but because there’d be no telling when the Batmobile would come tearing down the street, running stop signs and red lights left and right! That thing’s pretty much a tank — can you imagine it ripping through the streets of downtown Gotham at over 100 miles per hour? Now imagine yourself behind the wheel of some crappy little Subaru. No thanks, we think it’d probably safer to just walk.
13. DOMESTIC DISPUTE WITH SILVER ST. CLOUD
One of the only people to ever learn that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same is Batman’s longtime love interest, Silver St. Cloud. During “Batman: The Widening Gyre”, Batman and St. Cloud get back together, developing their relationship to the point that Bruce proposed. Silver St. Cloud accepted the Dark Knight’s marriage proposal, which of course sent both of them into a fit of bliss. However, it soon dissipated.
Batman’s trademark paranoia soon set in. What if by some mystical or technological intervention, their love wasn’t real and it was all a set-up? Convinced that it could be a trap, Bruce violently yanked out a bit of Silver’s hair to test to find out if it was really her. We’ve got a word for that where we come from, and it’s called “domestic abuse”.
In Batman #633 (“War Games: Act 3, Part 8 of 8: No Going Back”) the commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, Michael Atkins amended his statement to only target members of organized crime syndicates, telling officers to arrest vigilantes and criminals alike, using lethal force if necessary. In doing this, Commissioner Atkins effectively further outlawed vigilantism, and in turn, the crime-fighting efforts of Batman.
Of course, this didn’t stop the Caped Crusader, not even for a second. Instead of stopping, he merely instructed his allies to focus their crimefighting efforts on meta-humans, leaving the non-powered criminals to the police. However, in doing so, Batman was directly defying the law by continuing his vigilantism after it was made clear that doing so was illegal, and that’s just one of many, many instances.
11. ATTEMPTED MURDER OF THE KGBEAST
Apparently Batman’s long-running no kill rule has some exceptions. The story arc, “Ten Nights of the Beast” saw Batman go head-to-head with the Soviet assassin known as the KGBeast (aka Anatoli Knyazev). KGBeast had been a thorn in the side of the CIA for quite some time, and apparently Batman took the words of a CIA agent to heart. The agent said that if KGBeast were captured alive, he’d be out and back in Russia in a matter of weeks. Why? Because the KGBeast was assigned to the Soviet Embassy, and as such, granted diplomatic immunity.
In the Beast and the Bat’s final battle, Batman tricks the KGBeast into a small room in a sewage tunnel before barricading the door and leaving the KGBeast for dead. Later, it was revealed that KGBeast escaped. To think, Batman essentially left someone to starve to death.
10. IMPERSONATING A POLICE OFFICER
Batman’s role as a vigilante is apparently not enough for him. To complete the power trip, he needed to don a different costume — a uniform…a police uniform. During “Batman: No Man’s Land” the Caped Crusader donned a police uniform and impersonated a police officer. Of course, this was for a noble cause, and was in fact, a direct result of Batman’s ties to the Gotham City Police Department and Commissioner Jim Gordon.
In the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Gotham City, Batman put on a police uniform and impersonated a police officer in order to aid Commissioner Gordon’s team in their relief effort undetected. While no one would argue that rescuing survivors of a natural disaster is ill-intentioned, Batman still impersonated a police officer which is a crime.
9. TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE
Batman is a crimefighting superhero, sure, but he’s a detective first and foremost. More often than not, Batman is the first to arrive at the crime scene, giving him first pick of the evidence. With his paranoia and self-confidence, Batman trusts himself to analyze evidence over anyone in a crime lab. As such, the Caped Crusader has a penchant for pilfering evidence from a crime scene before police even arrive so that he can take it back to the Batcave for analysis.
Batman has been tampering with crime scenes and interfering with police investigations in a plethora of ways for what is fast approaching a century. However, both tampering with evidence and interfering with police investigations are illegal, no matter how good of a detective you are.
8. THE BATCAVE
Given the sheer size of Wayne Manor and the Batcave concealed underneath, it is quite surprising that no one noticed large amounts of construction equipment being transported to work on the Batcave. As Batman’s home base, the cave is outfitted with all sorts of technology — not to mention it’s filled with multiple vehicles, bridges, and large objects (like the penny and the T-rex).
There is simply no way Batman could have obtained the proper permits for this kind of construction without drawing unwanted attention to himself, and making it extremely easy for someone to piece together his secret identity. So how did Batman obtain proper zoning documents and permits for the Batcave? Simple — he didn’t. We bet he didn’t have it inspected either. For shame.
7. UNLAWFUL IMPRISONMENT OF THE JOKER
It’s fairly common knowledge that The Joker is a complete psychopath and a public menace, not to mention an unparalleled force of chaos, death and destruction. While you would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to provide a compelling argument for why Gotham City would be safer with The Joker on the loose, our justice system requires that all alleged criminals are granted a fair and timely trial. Though Batman won’t KILL The Joker, he certainly has other methods of keeping the Clown Prince of Crime off of the street.
In Dark Nights: The Forge it was revealed that Batman has been keeping The Joker imprisoned in a tiny cell in the depths of the Batcave. Batman is neither a judge, nor a jury, and as such, he had no authority to lock The Joker up. There’s a little thing called “unlawful imprisonment”, Bruce.
6. GOLDEN AGE MURDER
While Batman’s “no kill policy” has become a huge part of the character’s mythos, it wasn’t always the case. Originally, Batman was more of a costumed detective than superhero — and as a detective, he carried a revolver. Of course, this was back before the Comics Code of Authority put an end to a number of things in comic books, one being excessive violence.
However, during the Golden Age, Batman ended the lives of countless no-name baddies without batting an eye. Whether it was by snapping a neck with a swift swinging kick, or a few shots from his trusty revolver, early Batman comics were full of death, something that had no visible impact on the Caped Crusader whatsoever. And as a murderer, Batman should be behind bars.
5. ATTACKING A FEDERAL AGENT
In “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” (by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness), Lex Luthor, the then-president of the United States of America declared both Superman and Batman as enemies of the state. The reasoning? A kyrptonite asteroid is headed for the Earth, as part of a secret evil plot of Superman’s. In retaliation, Superman almost kills President Luthor while Batman stands aside doing nothing.
However, in order to get to President Luthor, Superman and Batman had to break into the White House and dispatch of federal agents acting under direct orders from the President of the United States. Though Lex Luthor’s villainy was revealed to the world at the end of “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies”, the number of laws that Batman broke on the way should’ve landed him in a federal prison.
4. SO MUCH ASSAULT
If you’re at all familiar with Batman, you know that he’s a crimefighter, emphasis on the “fighter”. While vigilante justice is all well and good, for a large portion of Bruce Wayne’s costumed career he was fighting petty criminals and bank robbers, not diabolical masterminds. We wish that we could narrow it down, and provide you with a singular act of criminal assault, but honestly? We’d be here all day.
Batman’s countless acts of assault against suspected criminals would be enough to land him in the slammer for years to come. And yes, we know that beating up the bad guys is part of the job, but since we’re talking strictly in terms of legality, Batman (like many other superheroes) commits assault on the daily.
3. THE BATMOBILE
In addition to the Batcave, another crucial aspect of Batman’s crimefighting identity would have been a clerical nightmare: the Batmobile. We’re not sure if the Batmobile is even street legal, but it (along with Batman’s other vehicles) is definitely not registered with Gotham City. How could it be? Who else in the city drives a suped-up, military grade Bat-themed sports car?
The second Batman/Bruce Wayne stepped into a DMV to settle the paperwork, his cover would be blown! Not to mention all of the necessary post-registration paperwork the Batmobile is probably missing! Emissions test? Forget about it. And you know what? He probably doesn’t pay taxes on it either. We guess The Joker isn’t Batman’s greatest foe after all, that title belongs to bureaucracy.
2. THEFT OF AN ALIEN METAL
Batman always has an agenda. No matter what he’s doing, and no matter how confident you are that you have the upper hand, Batman is always four steps ahead. While some of his methods might seem unorthodox, unnecessary, or even flat out wrong, you’ve gotta give it to the Dark Knight — he always knows what he’s doing.
When Kendra Saunders brought Batman and the Justice League to Blackhawk Island with the intent of trapping the Caped Crusader in Dark Knights: Metal #1, she should’ve known it wouldn’t end well for her. Or at least, she shouldn’t have shown Batman her fragment of Nth metal. By activating Red Tornado, Batman is able to create a diversion and escape with one of the only pure fragments of Nth metal in the universe…on the back of a dinosaur.
1. MURDER OF A MENTAL PATIENT
You would think that by the time Batman got his own solo title, writers would have figured out his character. But alas, they had not. In Batman #1, after a group of mental patients had been administered strange chemicals, they transform into hulking monsters. Batman, of course, deals with this threat in the most logical and humane way possible — by throwing a lasso down from the Batplane, looping it around the neck of one of the infected patients.
You’d assume that Bats would then deal with the incapacitated patient, right? Wrong. Rather than leaving the infected patient for the authorities, Batman instead elects to just drag him off into the sunset in the Batplane… by his neck. If that’s not murder, then we don’t know what is.
What other crimes do you think Batman has committed? Let us know in the comments!
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