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11 Best Batmen Who Aren’t Bruce Wayne


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Summary

  • In times when Bruce Wayne was unable to operate under the cowl, other characters have taken on the mantle of Batman, including Jason Todd and Tim Drake, each bringing their own interpretation of Batman’s symbol and methods.
  • The Joker, in an unexpected turn, became the Dark Knight in Gotham City during a time of chaos, but his criminally insane nature led to tragic consequences.
  • Characters like Lex Luthor and Bane have also temporarily assumed the role of Batman, either as part of a larger organization like Batman, Inc., or to assert their own dominance over Gotham’s criminals.

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Batman is one of the most popular characters in comic books and his symbol is instantly recognizable, which is why some characters have taken that symbol for themselves over the years. While everyone knows Bruce Wayne is Batman, there have been tons of other characters who have slipped into the mantle for one reason or another over the years.

Some superhero identities act more as mantles than actual identities. While there have been few Supermen outside of Clark Kent, there have been plenty of Batmen outside of Bruce Wayne. Bruce started his crusade against crime in Gotham City and used the symbol of a bat to strike fear in the hearts of criminals, but this symbol ended up inspiring other people along the way. Some of these people followed Batman’s path to fight against crime, and others twisted it for their own means. These are the top 11 Batmen who aren’t Bruce Wayne.

11 Jason Todd (Batman: Battle for the Cowl)

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 was written by Tony S. Daniel, with art by Sandu Florea, Ian Hannin, and Jared K. Fletcher

Jason Todd has been through a lot in his life. He started out as Robin, came back as a villain, and eventually became an anti-hero. During the events of Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1, Jason was firmly in the villain era of his character history. With Batman gone, a battle for who would take up the Cowl broke out between the remaining Bat-Family members, with Jason vying for it against Tim and Dick. Jason’s Batman was brutal and had no qualms about using guns, happily gunning down criminals, which makes him one of the worst people to have worn the mantle.

10 Tim Drake (Teen Titans)

Dark alternate version of Tim Drake kills Duela Dent using the gun that Joe Chill murdered the Waynes with

Teen Titans #17 was written by Geoff Johns, with art by Mike McKone, and Marlo Alquiza.

The DC Universe has a vibrant Multiverse, with many alternate and potential futures having been explored over the years. One of the darker futures was first seen in Teen Titans #17. The issue depicted a future where the Teen Titans each embraced the dark parts of their heritage, including Raven giving in to her father Trigon, and Superboy embracing the Lex Luthor side of his DNA. The darkest change was Tim Drake, who took on the mantle of Batman and began murdering criminals with the same gun that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents. This version of Tim Drake would later become Savior and try to murder Superman’s son, Jonathan Kent.

9 Joker (Joker: Year of the Villain)

The Joker takes to the streets of Gotham as a twisted version of the Caped Crusader

In Joker: Year of the Villain, Gotham City was completely taken over by Bane. Criminals ran rampant in the streets, and Batman was exiled from Gotham. There was absolutely nobody to stand up for the average civilian; as a result, in a unexpected turn, Joker took it upon himself to become the Dark Knight. Joker donned his own Batsuit and began prowling the streets of Gotham looking for crime. Unfortunately, due to the fact Joker is criminally insane, he ultimately ended up gunning down an innocent person. While this is horrific, it was only one person, compared to the previous entries, Tim and Jason, who killed many people.

Joker: Year of the Villain – was written by John Carpenter and Anthony Burch, with art by Philip Tan, Marc Deering, Danny Miki, Jonathan Glapion, Jay David Ramos, and Gabriela Downie.

8 Lex Luthor (Batman)

Lex Luthor in a glowing Batsuit, from the

Batman has been fighting crime himself for decades as Batman, while also using his wealth and influence as Bruce Wayne to try and curb the causes of crime, and he once tried to take Batman international with Batman Incorporated. Lex Luthor took to this last idea and decided to run with it, as seen in Batman #119. This issue showcased Batman Inc. working under Lex Luthor, with Lex Luthor even building and wearing a new Batsuit. Lex had offered the suit, as well as financial support, to Bruce Wayne previously, and it is notable that Lex, for a time, was running a Batman organization to fight crime.

Batman #119 was written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Jorge Molina, Adriano Di Benedetto, Mikel Janin, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles.

7 Bane (Forever Evil)

Forever Evil: Arkham War #3 was written by Peter J. Tomasi, with art by Scot Eaton, Jaime Mendoza, Allen Martinez, Andrew Dalhouse, and Travis Lanham.

During the events of Forever Evil, the Justice League was captured by the Crime Syndicate. This caused crime to run rampant across the world, with Gotham City being hit the worst. As this was happening, Bane recognized a chance to finally conquer Gotham once and for all, so he began going after criminals, as featured in Forever Evil: Arkham War #3. This proved ineffective though, as the criminals, surprisingly, didn’t really fear Bane. To try and remedy this, Bane became his own version of Batman and waged a brutal war on the criminals of Gotham, even tossing Killer Croc from a skyscraper at one point.

6 Thomas Wayne (Flashpoint)

When Flash created the Flashpoint timeline, he changed the lives of everyone on Earth. One of the biggest changes was the fact Bruce Wayne died in Crime Alley, and Thomas Wayne became Batman in his place. Thomas was a brutal Batman, one who had no problems using lethal force. This was a result of witnessing his child killed in front of him, which filled him with a very different kind of rage from that which drives Bruce. Bruce was traumatized by the loss of life and vowed never to let that happen again, to anyone. Thomas took that trauma and vowed to lash out at the world that took his child from him.

Flashpoint #1 by Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Alex Sinclair, and Nick J. Napolitano.

5 Jace Fox (I Am Batman)

Jace Fox, New York City's Batman, from

I am Batman #1 was written by John Ridley, with art by Olivier Coipel, Alex Sinclair, and Troy Peteri.

Jace Fox’s version of Batman first appeared in I am Batman #1. Jace was inspired to take on the role of Batman after witnessing the events of the Batman: Fear State storyline, in which the Scarecrow managed to take over Gotham City with the use of a militarized police force called the Magistrate. This event convinced Jace that people needed a Batman who was on the street level and just for them, not some billionaire fighting supervillains in the sky. Notably, Jace eventually moved his operations from Gotham City to New York City, where he remains the city’s only Batman.

4 Damian Wayne (Batman)

Damian Wayne as the Dark Knight, from the dark future depicted in Batman #666

First appearing in the aptly numbered Batman #666, the Damian Wayne version of Batman proved to be one of DC’s most intense. This story followed a possible dark future where Dick Grayson was killed while acting as Batman. Damian Wayne then took up the mantle, selling his soul to the devil for immortality, in order to pursue a crusade against crime unlike any of his predecessors. This granted Damian immense healing abilities, and allowed him to protect Gotham forever. As the world around him fell apart, due to wars and global warming, Damian managed to hold Gotham City together, using lethal force to keep the city secure.

Batman #666 was written by Grant Morrison, with art by Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang, Guy Major, and Jared K. Fletcher.

3 James Gordon (Batman)

James Gordon as Batman, from Batman #41

Batman #41 was written by Scott Snyder, with art by Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, FCO Plascencia, and Steve Wands

After the events of Batman: Endgame, both Bruce Wayne and the Joker vanished from Gotham City. Without a Batman to help fight crime, the police force decided to try a new tactic. They created a government-funded Batman, and asked James Gordon to be it. James was outfitted with a new Batsuit and even got to use a giant Bat-mech to fight crime in Gotham City. His first appearance as Batman was depicted in Batman #41. Gordon wasn’t Batman for very long, but while he wore the Cowl he did his best to uphold the principles of being Batman, and managed it a lot better than anyone else on this list.

2 Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond)

Terry McGinnis as Batman flying through the neon lights of Gotham.

First appearing in Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis made his comic debut in Batman #700. Growing up in Neo-Gotham, Terry regularly got into scuffles with the gang known as the Jokerz. This eventually culminated in the Jokerz seemingly killing Terry’s father. Wanting revenge, Terry sought out an aging Bruce Wayne, and over time, earned Bruce’s respect and support as the new Batman of Neo-Gotham. Ever since, Terry has haunted the streets of Neo-Gotham, taking on both old and brand-new criminals alike. Unlike many of the others on this list, Terry has truly proved his own Batman, taking everything he learned from Bruce and forging his own path forward.

Batman #700 was written by Grant Morrison, with art by David Finch, Richard Friend, and Peter Steigerwald.

1 Dick Grayson (Batman: Battle for the Cowl)

Alfred encouraging Dick Grayson on how to embrace his role as Batman.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 by Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea, Ian Hannin, and Jared K. Fletcher

Dick Grayson has taken on the mantle of Batman a few times, with the first being briefly during Batman: Prodigal. Later, after Bruce Wayne was seemingly killed during the events of Final Crisis, Dick took on the mantle again for much longer. While Dick was hesitant at first, he eventually took the cowl for himself and became the new Batman of Gotham City, as seen in Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3. Dick operated as Batman for quite a while, taking on Damian as his Robin and even being Batman concurrently with Bruce after the latter’s return. As Batman’s first and longest partner, Dick represented the best possible version of Batman out of anyone on this list.

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