Batman has made some major booboos.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Batman as much as the next person. I grew up on reruns of the 1966 show, I’ve read nearly every Batman comic my library has, and Batman Begins remains one of my favorite movies of all time. That said, I’m not about to pretend that the guy hasn’t made some mistakes in his seventy-five year career.
Many have said Batman is bad for Gotham City, but I’ve only ever heard vague reasons such as “He inspires/creates the villains” or “He spends his money on Batmobiles instead of charity.” Well, here are ten specific times when Batman royally messed up.
10. The Atomic Bomb (The Dark Knight Rises)
This one is low on the list since it technically wasn’t Batman’s fault, but there’s no way he got that bomb far away enough from the city. When it exploded over Gotham Harbor, it was clearly visible from the shore. It’s only a matter of time before people start dropping dead of radiation poisoning or showing superpowers, filling the town with metahumans of questionable intent. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how many of the villains in Arkham Asylum came to be. Nice job, Batman.
9. Distracting Cops from the Real Villain (The Dark Knight Rises)
Bane is getting away on his motorcycle with henchmen and hostages in tow when Batman shows up to stop him. Of course, there’s already a hundred cops after the robbers, but Batman figures it needs a personal touch. So what happens? The police, thinking he’s a murderer (more on that later), break off their pursuit of the real bad guys and chase Batman, letting Bane get away and wreak havoc on Bruce Wayne’s finances and ultimately on Gotham City. So yeah, sometimes Batman helps criminals get away with crime.
8. Trusting Baphomet (Batman: The Widening Gyre)
Who would have thought a partnership with a guy named after a demon was a bad idea? To be fair, the guy helps bag a lot of criminals, and he seemed open and honest about his backstory and private life. So Batman takes him home to the Batcave, reveals his secret identity, and introduces him to his then-fiancée Silver St. Cloud. Turns out the guy is secretly a villain who slits Silver’s throat. And that’s why you never trust a guy in a goat mask.
7. Putting Black Mask in Charge of the Criminal Underworld (Batman: War Games)
Batman plans for everything, including how to organize crime even further. His idea is to unite all the gangs under fellow vigilante Orpheus, which wouldn’t have been so bad if Black Mask hadn’t killed Orpheus and masqueraded as him. Of course, that wouldn’t have happened if Stephanie Brown hadn’t set the plan into motion prematurely. Why did she do that? Because Batman took her on as a Robin just to spite her boyfriend and predecessor, only to discard her when she proved a loose cannon. So you see, it all goes back to Batman.
6. Leaving During No Man’s Land (Batman: No Man’s Land)
Okay, so the island on which Gotham stands has been torn apart by an earthquake, and the government considers it a loss, sending no humanitarian aid or law enforcement. So what does Batman do? He leaves at a time when Gotham needs him the most, going off to find his “purpose.” Sure, he’s only human and can only take so much disappointment, and he does eventually come back. In the meantime, though, Gotham is overrun by gang wars and its people lose all hope. Some watchful guardian he is when he lets Gotham go to pieces while he takes a meditative retreat.
5. Underestimating the Joker (The Dark Knight)
“One man or the entire mob? He can wait.” One little line from Batman’s lips does more damage to Gotham than he could imagine. By ignoring the Joker, he leaves Gotham unprotected from a madman who leaves a body count that’s impossible to follow, including the police commissioner, a judge, and Batman’s love interest. The Joker even drives Harvey Dent insane, robbing Batman of a friend and Gotham of its white knight. Just one man, huh?
4. Creating the Joker (Batman, Batman: The Killing Joke)
As if letting the Joker run loose wasn’t bad enough, Batman is directly responsible for his creation. No one knows where the Joker came from, but most versions of the story have Batman dropping an ordinary criminal into a vat of chemicals. The result is a homicidal maniac who kills hundreds, if not thousands, of people, including Batman’s second Robin and Commissioner Gordon’s second wife, and who puts Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair. Because of Batman, a lot of people have had more than one really bad day.
3. Lying about Harvey Dent (The Dark Knight)
I’ve gone on about this ad nauseum, but really? Batman decides to take the blame for Two-Face’s crimes, holding up a murderer as Gotham’s “true hero.” Of course, lies never last, so the secret comes out, allowing Bane to sway the people of Gotham to trust in mob rule rather than those sworn to protect them. Most of what Bane is able to do goes directly back to Batman’s failures, but this is the biggest goof-up of them all. In the movies, anyway.
2. Taking out the Justice League (JLA: Tower of Babel)
Aside from the Baphomet incident, Batman usually has major trust issues, and that influences his relationships with the members of the Justice League. In case any of them should go rogue, he had plans to take them all out. Not a bad idea, but when those plans are stolen by Ra’s al Ghul, the immortal maniac immobilizes the entire League and very nearly achieves his plan for global genocide. Needless to say, Batman’s buddies were less than thrilled.
1. Brother Eye & the OMACs (The OMAC Project)
Apparently, Batman learned nothing from his last mishap with trust issues. Sure, this one has some foundation since the JLA altered his memories without his permission, but when your response is to build an AI satellite to monitor all superhuman activity, you might have a problem. And indeed he does, as once again his plans fall into the wrong hands, this time the hands of the villainous Maxwell Lord. Brother Eye and his OMAC drones were reprogrammed to hunt down and kill all metahumans in the case of Lord’s death. Add to that an OMAC invasion of Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s homeland, and creating this mash-up of 1984 and HAL-9000 was without a doubt Batman’s biggest blunder.
What do you think of the Dark Knight’s track record? Are there more mistakes I missed, or am I being too hard on the Caped Crusader? Let me know in the comments below, and remember that regardless of what Internet memes tell you, sometimes it’s better to be yourself than to be Batman.