Skip to main content

Batman has turned seriously evil a surprising number of times

(Image credit: DC)

Batman may be the leader of the resistance against a Superman gone bad in the world of the video game and comic book Injustice: Gods Among Us (currently getting attention thanks to writer Tom Taylor), but in many other realities, Batman's been the one to turn away from the light - including many times in core DC continuity.

One such example, the Batman Who Laughs, recently ascended to the title of 'Darkest Knight' in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's current Dark Nights: Death Metal, a sequel to the story that introduced several entries on this list.

Here are the top 10 times Batman went bad.

10. Batman: Venom

(Image credit: DC Comics)

In 'Venom,' a '90s story arc from Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman becomes addicted to a strength-enhancing drug – the titular "Venom" – after failing to rescue a young girl due to his physical limitations.

Of course, as these kinds of "hero on drugs" stories tend to go, Batman quickly spirals into addiction and begins taking on crime in a, shall we say, much more ruthless fashion.

But if there's one thing Batman is good at, it's overcoming any obstacle simply through sheer determination – and that's what happened in 'Venom.' Locking himself away for a month, Batman kicked his habit cold turkey and regained the reins just in time to take down a growing criminal conspiracy.

As for Venom itself, the drug went on to be the secret ingredient behind Bane, the man who broke Batman's back.

9. Super/Bat

(Image credit: DC Comics)

What if Batman had all of Superman's powers? That's the question at the heart of 'Super/Bat,' a 2009 story from Batman/Superman in which Batman absorbs Superman's power, and Superman becomes a normal human.

If you think that Batman would become potentially the most effective hero ever, you're sort of right – but there's a catch. It turns out if Batman doesn't have to eat, sleep, or ever stop fighting crime, he loses his connection to humanity and gets just a little bit of a god-complex.

In 'Super/Bat,' Batman's newfound power eventually leads him to move down an increasingly violent path where he starts to see himself as the necessary protector of the whole world. Fortunately, in the end, Zatanna and Superman found the magic key to restoring Superman's power – though both he and Clark admit they miss aspects of their respective changes.

8. Titans Tomorrow

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Though he's often considered the greatest Robin of the mainstream DC Universe, in an alternate timeline Tim Drake is one of the worst Batmen.

In the story 'Titans Tomorrow', the Teen Titans confront future versions of themselves who come from a timeline much darker than their own. These adult Titans were much more violent and villainous than the mainstream Titans – including their Tim Drake who had graduated to being Batman.

But the ravages of this Tim's timeline had taken their toll on him, with Bruce Wayne having perished in an unspecified Crisis, and an increasingly harsh world leading Tim and his squad of Titans to begin killing their enemies without mercy.

Eventually, after being bested by his heroic younger self, the older Tim gave up on his Batman identity becoming a gun-toting, time-traveling vigilante calling himself 'Savior.'

7. Red Rain

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Batman as a vampire is kind of a no-brainer, and starting with Batman & Dracula: Red Rain writer Doug Moench and artist Kelley Jones kicked off a trilogy of stories exploring that simple idea.

The big twist in 'Red Rain,' however, is that even though Batman beats Dracula (and yes – it's awesome) he becomes a vampire himself.

Following that pivotal moment, Vampire Batman's adventures got increasingly more twisted, including encounters with Joker's vampire gang, a werecat version of Catwoman, and more.

Of course, in the end Batman running around drinking blood and killing people wasn't sustainable (even for the Caped Crusader himself) and following Alfred's death, he decided the best outcome for himself was to simply walk into the sun and be destroyed.

6. I, Joker

(Image credit: DC Comics)

'I, Joker' takes place in a future world where Batman, the Joker, and others are viewed as figures of myth and ceremonies are performed to turn willing sacrificial victims into the living reflection of these past figures.

So in a world where people violently compete to become Batman, have plastic surgery to look like Two-Face, and an enigmatic figure named 'The Bruce' is in charge of the whole process, you can imagine that the person who gets to be Batman isn't always the best choice.

Weirdly, the hero of the story is actually its version of the Joker, who winds up overthrowing the Batman cult – despite dying in the process.

5. The Cult

Batman and religious cults never mix well (see our entry on 'I, Joker') – and nowhere is that more true than in Batman: The Cult - a four-part story from Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson actually set in contemporary continuity.

In The Cult, Batman is brainwashed by the malevolent Deacon Blackfire through an extended period of captivity, after which he aids Blackfire in killing small-time criminals to harvest their blood for his dark rituals.

Fortunately, Jason Todd (who was Robin at the time) managed to track down his mentor and help wrest him from Blackfire's clutches, with the Dynamic Duo then taking down the crazed cult leader together.

4. Batzarro

(Image credit: DC Comics)

You am not know Batzarro? Me am so very sad to introduce you to worst crimefighter of Bizarroworld.

Batzarro is the reverse Batman equivalent of Bizarro World, a cube-shaped planet that, in some versions of continuity, is the home of Superman's backwards doppelganger Bizarro and an entire world of opposite-style DC heroes.

Batzarro is just the tip of the iceberg – there's also the cowardly Yellow Lantern, an Aquaman who can't swim, and so on. But as the 'World's Worst Detective,' he's a perfect version of a Batman gone bad – even if it's in his sideways nature.

3. Black Lantern

(Image credit: DC Comics)

When every dead person in the DC Universe suddenly rose from the grave thanks to the cosmic embodiment of death itself, even poor Bruce Wayne (who was believed dead at the time, with a cloned decoy corpse in his grave – long story) was denied the peace that only eternal slumber can bring.

Black Lantern Batman (or the weird clone Batman – again, long story) became a kind of conduit for the power of the Black Lanterns, distributing Black Lantern rings to many dead heroes and rallying them around the dark power of the villainous Nekron and Black Hand.

The Black Lanterns were eventually defeated, and the real Bruce Wayne returned – a course of events that, strangely enough, wound up with Batman later wielding the life-giving power of the White Ring.

2. Dark Nights: Metal

(Image credit: DC Comics)

The Dark Multiverse is a recent addition to the DC Universe, but it's already had a huge impact on Batman's place in reality.

For one thing, it turns out the Dark Multiverse (kind of a resting place for unsatisfactory alternate Earths) is chock full of evil, twisted reflections of Batman that play on many of his Justice League counterparts.

The Dark Multiverse Batmen aren't all Bruce Wayne, but they share common threads of inspiration with the Dark Knight – and with the other halves of their twisted equations: Flash, Green Lantern, Doomsday, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Joker.

And, there's one more evil Batman of the Dark Multiverse who is bad enough to warrant his own solo spotlight on this list...

1. Batman Who Laughs

(Image credit: DC Comics)

The Dark Multiverse's darkest denizen may just be the Batman Who Laughs, a twisted version of Bruce Wayne who was dosed with Joker toxin as the Clown Prince of Crime's last act, making him the ultimate combination of the worst parts of both Batman and the Joker.

Complete with feral, monstrous Robin henchmen and a gun-toting Batman sidekick, the Batman Who Laughs is rapidly gaining a presence in the DC Universe as not just a terrifying menace to Batman, but to the Justice League and the entire world as well. Simply put, this might be the baddest Batman in the whole DC Universe.

And, he may have just gotten worse - in the current sequel to Metal, Dark Nights: Death Metal, Batman Who Laughs died and was transformed into a new creature, dubbed 'the Darkest Knight.'

Newsarama staff writer who learned to read from comic books and hasn’t shut up about them since.