It is the Batman’s mortality which makes him such a strong and enduring character. He is a normal human being, like all of us. Anybody can become Batman subject only to having the wealth to fund the mission. Bruce Wayne is also vulnerable, just like us. The things that can kill us can kill Batman too. He doesn’t have a Kevlar skin. He doesn’t have the super speed to beat bullets fired at him. He can fall sick, get broken and exhausted just like any other human being. Therefore, it is but obvious that Batman has stared at death several times during his life as the Gotham City vigilante. At times, he has really been in danger and at other times he has faked the perils to confound a villain or a scenario. However, The Dark Knight always makes a comeback.
The ‘Death’ angle has given birth to a lot of great Batman tales. Occasionally others have kept the Batman mantle going. At times, it has made villains miss the Batman. There are various stories, some of which are from “Elseworlds” which can be more permanent in nature. However, what is most telling is how the sidekicks, the villains, and the Gotham City responds to his deaths. Let’s check out the 8 top scenarios involving Batman’s demise.
When Mr. Mxyzptlk has his powers mixed with the crazy mind of the Joker, the outcome will be “Emperor Joker” who was seen in the multi-part Superman/Batman crossover in the early 2000s. The story was primarily about the Superman family, but, there was a point which showed Superman learn about the fate of Batman in this world. It was absolutely dark and disturbing.
The Joker murders the Batman. This is not to reject the other stories which suggest that murdering Batman would hurt Joker, but, there is a twist here. The new almighty Joker repeatedly kills Batman using his powers. Every night he tortures Batman to death and then again does the same the next night. However, this is the reason which led to the Joker failing ultimately. Superman pointed out that despite having extreme powers, the Joker just can’t get over the Batman. Thus, the Batman survives.
A lot of Batman writers have thought about the need of having a well-documented Batman death being essential for a Batman story. Scott Snyder started this in a story from the New 52s Detective Comics #27 anniversary anthology (the first Detective Comics had debuted Batman in 1939 in its 27th issue), which showed a future with Bruce Wayne being the Batman.
The surprise here is that he is mentioning a different older Bruce Wayne. Snyder’s premise is that Bruce Wayne will keep the Batman concept going. Thus, he created a transferable data of his memories and skills which could be passed on from one to another via cloning. This idea will be properly detailed in the upcoming finale to All-Star Batman where Snyder is once again teaming up with Sean Murphy. There is a lot of scope to find out the extent to which Bruce Wayne would go to keep Gotham safe.
The iconic Neil Gaiman had written a Batman tale based on Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?” this is a supposedly timeless story and no place in the canon or Batman legends historically. The story’s best elements feature how the various characters perceive their part in Batman’s life and death. Things such as Alfred’s friends being the villains and Alfred turning out to be the Joker make Bruce’s work as Batman a vain act, make it all interesting.
Those close to Batman share their stories, and some are guilty. The storyline is a discussion between Bruce and another person, and towards the end, we find out that it was a “This is Your Life” kind of vision that he shared with his mother. Finally, it is all about continuing and never giving up which makes Batman’s death a matter of pride.
Batman and Joker are emblems of tragedy and comedy, and it makes them ideal for each other. Scotty Snyder highlighted this aspect in most of his Batman stories. In a story called “Endgame,,” the Joker is shown upset with Batman’s response to his plan of showing how the Bat-family’s existence is a weakness. “Endgame” happens when Joker tries extreme things to prove his importance to Batman.
The moral of the last battle was to highlight the strong interlinking of the duo. They die battling each other in a heart-shaped pool of blood. This death is not just physical, but, a death of their former existence. Through a machine called dues ex machina, Batman recovers to normal life, but, he loses all earlier memories of having been Batman, and on the other hand, Joker also appears to be less volatile when he is seen again on a park bench.
Things can occasionally be different. What if Bruce Wayne was murdered in that alley instead of his parents? What if Martha Wayne was The Joker? That’s what Flashpoint showed. Thomas Wayne was shown to be a destructive and less honest Batman. Nobody wants to explore the scenario where a father loses his son and seeing his wife morph into a psycho.
It is priceless to be able to talk to the lost son and discuss your mistakes with him. Thomas Wayne did that in Batman #22. That was the last thing he said before dying in the fight. Was he the guy who impacted Bruce’s decision to stay being Batman. The death was certainly very impactful from an emotional perspective.
While we haven’t seen this happen yet, but, the way Tom King’s Batman is going on and his preference for long-term storytelling, we feel that this is going to come in some way soon. In the end of “I Am Gotham,” Gotham Girl is telling the story. In one panel, we see her tell readers about being accountable for murdering Batman. This comes closely after the death of her brother. The place where he died also happened to be the place where Batman dies too.
Gotham is someone who is committed to protecting the city and ultimately loses his mind and Gotham Girl, were the epitomes of hope for Batman. However, her story is developing. Batman’s human angle and how the superpowers are at odds with it, make Batman wonder about how long will he keep going. Gotham Girl’s story will go a long way. However, it is visible that Tom King has followed the advice by Morrison to allow Batman a version of death.
This is a story from the late 70s and has several hidden gems. It has four parts, Catwoman, Riddler, Lex Luthor, and Joker, with each telling their version of things to Ra’s Al Ghul (the judge), detailing how they killed the Batman. The prosecutor happens to be the ex-DA Harvey Dent aka Two-Face.
This is an intriguing and fun story. We see how Catwoman is conflicted about Batman vs. a life as a criminal. Riddler has been impersonating Bruce Wayne after believing that he killed Batman. Lex Luthor is absolutely arrogant, and Joker pieces the story together, and apparently, Batman understands his enemies even better than they do themselves.
This is another Grant Morrison masterpiece showing that Batman is ready for anything including his death. The Black Glove organization led by Dr. Simon Hurt take great pains to understand and destroy Batman. They accuse his parents of being evil. Dr. Hurt impersonates Thomas Wayne. Although they bury Batman alive, he escaped because he was ready.
Ultimately in Final Crisis, Batman faces Darkseid. He uses a gun which is very unlike him. The gun shoots a radio toxin capable of killing Darkseid, and simultaneously the villain shoots his Omega Beams. It seems that he has died, but, Bruce’s spirit was thrown into distant past, and he relives several lives with each one of them proving to be tougher than the last one.