We should know by now that Batman always wins. No matter the odds, no matter the stakes, no matter how bad of a beating he takes, somehow the Dark Knights finds a way to win the day. He’s honed his body and mind to become the world’s greatest detective, a gifted scientist and inventor, a dangerous physical weapon, and a talented escape artist. Over the years, he’s been beaten, stabbed, broken, shot, and even killed, but it doesn’t matter, because Batman always wins. Right?
Even if Batman always finds a way to win, that doesn’t mean every victory comes easy for him. The price of victory can take a toll on the human body and mind. There have been times when Batman isn’t the strongest or the smartest or even the most prepared (if you can believe it). Sometimes he loses the battle and is forced into a tactical retreat, but he always comes back to win the war. His ability to adapt and survive, out-think his opponent, and turn the tables on his enemies has led him to victory on many occasions. Also, sometimes it’s ok to just admit when Batman has flat-out gotten his butt handed to him. Here are Batman’s worst beatings ever.
15. ATTACKED BY AQUAMAN
Bryan Hitch’s “Legacy” storyline in Justice League of America starts off with the children of the League coming to the present. In a hellish future, many of the Earth’s heroes have gone missing and the world is ruled by an evil witch named Sovereign. Before they can escape to the past, they are attacked by a villainous version of Arthur Curry, who has been cybernetically enhanced.
The group, comprised of the kids of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Mera, Flash, Jessica Cruz and Cyborg, meet with the Justice League. Unfortunately, the evil Aquaman follows them through time. While the children are meeting with their parents, Curry breaks into the Batcave and attacks Batman. Despite all of the Dark Knight’s skills, he is quickly overcome by his foe and is left bloody and unconscious in a matter of seconds.
14. ALFRED TEACHES A LESSON
According to Alfred, everyone has a vulnerability. Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire tell a story set early on in Batman’s career in the digital Legends of the Dark Knight comic. A drunk Bruce Wayne boasts to Alfred that nothing can beat him, he has no weaknesses, and he has no vulnerabilities. Alfred, on the other hand, thinks he will get himself killed.
When Batman is out on patrol, he comes across a family being held at gunpoint. Afraid to see another tragedy happen to a child, and empowered to finally be able to do something to prevent it, Batman jumps in to save them. His vulnerability doesn’t allow him to see that it’s a setup and the whole group beats Bruce to a bloody pulp. Alfred then shows up and calls off the goons because he hired them to teach Batman a lesson!
13. BRAWL WITH THE MUTANTS
In The Dark Knight Returns, an old Bruce Wayne returns to the mantle of Batman in order to clean up a city drowning in lawlessness. He targets a new gang called the Mutants, who are terrorizing Gotham City. Batman shows up in a tank and defeats most of the them before the Mutant leader is able to goad Bruce into a hand-to-hand battle.
Despite still being able to go punch for punch against his opponent, Batman realizes his decade out of action has made him slow and rusty in his fighting form. After a prolonged battle, the Mutant leader is able to seriously injure the Dark Knight. Carrie Kelley rushes in and creates a diversion long enough for the two to escape. Batman later defeats the leader in a rematch.
12. BATMAN IS BORN
Bruce Wayne nearly died on the night he decided to become Batman. In Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Batman: Year One” we see the build up to how Bruce decides to take on the moniker of a bat. He initially wore street clothes in order to take on the criminal element of Gotham City. Unfortunately, corrupt cops shoot him before he can surrender to authorities.
The cops know that the guy they shot is bleeding too much to save, so they plan on letting him die before Bruce manages to escape. Back at Wayne Manor, he tells his father that he would rather die than not figure out how to make criminals afraid of him. Just then, a bat flies in through the window and inspiration strikes.
11. STABBED BY THE PENGUIN
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Batman: Earth One original graphic novel depicts an alternate beginning to Bruce Wayne’s career as a crime fighter. In this alternate world, Oswald Cobblepot, traditionally known as the Penguin, is actually the corrupt mayor of Gotham City. While Bruce is training to become the vigilante known as Batman, he uncovers that the mayor was involved in the murder of his parents.
At the end of the story, the young Batman goes after Cobblepot, but he is ultimately unmasked, beaten and stabbed with one of the Penguin’s trick umbrellas. Just when it seems like Cobblepot will be able to kill Bruce, Alfred shows up. The butler shoots him with his shotgun, launching the mayor out through the window to his death on the pavement below.
10. BEATEN BY BRONZE TIGER
Kathy Kane, the former Batwoman from Silver Age continuity, returned to comics in 1979 only to be killed off that same year. In Detective Comics #485, Batman finds her as the wealthy owner of a circus before a brainwashed Bronze Tiger is used by the League of Assassins to attack them. Ben Turner is able to quickly dispatch Bruce Wayne with a well-placed kick to the chest that keeps Batman out of action.
Though the kick incapacitates the Dark Knight for only two minutes, it turns out to be enough time for a member of the League of Assassins to kill Kathy Kane. Batman later finds her clinging to her old Batwoman costume. He goes after the Sensei, who he finds out ordered the attack in the first place.
9. BATMAN FLEES THE COPS
Paul Pope’s Batman: Year 100 is set in 2039, when Gotham City has become a police state and the federal government is in control of the streets. The feds are in pursuit of the legendary Batman, who is never definitively said to be Bruce Wayne or another man taking up his legacy. Though Batman is able to elude capture, he does sustain serious injuries from a gunshot wound. He spends the entire first issue fleeing from an attack squad, only to eventually collapse from the loss of blood.
Dr. Kriss Goss and her daughter Tora eventually find him at his safehouse. He has broken ribs and a collapsed lung, but they are able to save his life. He’s out cold for 12 hours before he comes to, only too eager to pick his mission back up again.
8. MENTALLY TORMENTED IN BATMAN RIP
The Black Glove unleashes their psychological war on Bruce Wayne in Grant Morrison’s “Batman RIP.” Doctor Hurt uses the phrase Zur-En-Arrh to trigger a psychological break in Batman’s mind. The Black Glove drugs him and leaves him on the street with no memory of who he is. As his mind begins to slip, Bruce becomes the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, an erratic, hobo version of the Dark Knight.
He takes down many of his enemies in this guise before he learns that his girlfriend Jezebel Jet is part of the plot. He is drugged again and buried alive in a straightjacket in Hurt’s attempt to permanently damage Batman’s brain. He is able to escape, though, and ultimately goes on to stop the Black Glove, seemingly at the cost of his own life.
7. SUPERMAN ATTACKS
In the storyline “Superman: Sacrifice,” Maxwell Lord uses his mind control abilities to make Superman believe he is fighting Darkseid. In Action Comics #829, we see just what the villain has done to the Man of Steel as he watches “Darkseid” kill Lois right in front of him. In revenge, Superman brutally fights back, but the enemy he is fighting turns out to be Batman.
When we finally see the Man of Steel’s handiwork, we see that Batman is beaten, bloody and heavily bandaged. Superman had almost killed him. The Dark Knight put up a valiant fight, but was ultimately unable to stop his friend from beating him unconscious. The story would later escalate to Wonder Woman being forced to kill Lord in order to free Superman from his control.
6. BATMAN FALLS IN HUSH
In the opening act of “Hush,” Tommy Elliot enacts his plan against Bruce Wayne by cutting the rope Batman is using to swing between buildings. The Dark Knight falls from the sky, desperately clinging to the gargoyles of the tallest buildings, before ultimately landing on the sidewalk. The force of the fall breaks his bones and fractures his skull, leaving him in a near-death state.
Despite Alfred’s medical abilities, he is unable to mend Bruce’s injuries. In order to fix him, the Bat Family calls on the help of Doctor Shondra Kinsolving and Elliot himself to save Batman’s life. Thanks to their help, he seemingly recovers overnight because he’s back out on the street only one issue later. Tommy is able to insert himself back into Bruce’s life in order to destroy his old friend.
5. BANE BREAKS THE BAT
For a long time, Batman’s most brutal beating was at the hands of Bane in the “Knightfall” storyline from 1993. In a concerted effort to break the Bat, Bane allows Batman to fight many of his villains in quick succession, mentally and physically weakening him in the process. Without any time to recuperate, the Dark Knight must then face Bane in a one-on-one confrontation that he has no chance of winning.
Bane beats Batman senseless before ultimately breaking the vigilante’s back over his knee and throwing him off the roof of a building. This all happens very publicly in order to declare that Batman is no longer the king of Gotham City, and that Bane is now in control. It takes Bruce Wayne an entire year to recover and regain his abilities before he can return to action.
4. SUPERMAN BREAKS THE BAT
In Injustice: Gods Among Us #35, Superman breaks into the Batcave to finally put a stop to Batman’s insurgency against his regime. Bruce has been busy analyzing a pill that can give superpowers to normal people, but he needs to buy the computer enough time to finish the job. The two argue about their opposing ideologies before Superman becomes violent and beats up his former ally. In one final act, the Man of Steel breaks Batman’s back over his knee.
In the final issue of the series, we discover that their battle gave the computer enough time to finish analyzing the pill, allowing the rebellion to synthesize more. Superman then tortures Batman for information, but is stopped by Alfred, who has secretly taken the pill in the Batcave. He uses his new super strength to beat Superman down before he takes Bruce away to safety.
3. ASSAULTED BY THE REVERSE FLASH
Batman and The Flash crossover in “The Button” in order to investigate the mysterious smiley face button found in the Batcave during DC Universe: Rebirth. The button has a reaction with Psycho-Pirate’s mask, bringing the Flashpoint universe back into existence. Thomas Wayne appears before his son and the Reverse Flash returns from the dead.
Eobard Thawne attacks Batman in his own home, and despite all of Bruce’s training, he is no match for the Reverse Flash at superspeed. The Dark Knight takes a vicious beating all within the span of a minute—the time it takes Barry Allen to arrive. Batman could have been killed, but the Reverse Flash is instead murdered by some unseen force. The two heroes then venture into the Speed Force and visit Flashpoint.
2. THE COURT OF OWLS STRIKE
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo kicked off their run on the New 52 Batman series by introducing the the Court of Owls. While investigating this secret society, Batman falls into their clutches. He is captured, drugged, and placed in a maze where he is physically and psychologically tortured. A Talon — one of the Court’s assassins — then stabs Batman in the back and nearly kills him.
The Dark Knight, utterly broken like never before, is somehow able to defeat the Talon. Running scared for his life, Batman is only just barely able to escape. Finally faced with an opponent who managed to catch him unprepared, Batman is terrified of what they can do. They aren’t just another threat to Gotham City, they are secretly Gotham itself, rising up to take back what is theirs.
1. THE JOKER’S ENDGAME
The Joker believes that Batman ultimately rejected him at the end of “Death of the Family.” So, like a spurned lover, the Joker enacts his endgame to finally kill the Dark Knight. The Joker sneaks into the Batcave and fights Batman in a vicious battle to the death. After pages and pages of utter brutality, Batman’s face is burned, his body is beaten, he is stabbed through, and now he is bleeding to death.
Batman’s only hope is to take his enemy down with him when a piece of the cave roof collapses and breaks the Joker’s back. Instead of finding his way to safety, Batman decides to stay back and allow the eternal battle to end. The cave-in buries the two and it seems like they are both gone for good, but of course appearances can be deceiving…
Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments about another time Batman took a beating.
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