THE TEN BATTLES THAT DESTROYED BATMAN’S BODY

How many battles can one man, with zero superhuman abilities at his disposal, endure before the body gives out?

Thanks to the glimpse into the future that DC’s Futures End series has provided, we know that Bruce Wayne’s fate is one that is battered and bruised. To be more specific, the years of fighting crime in the streets of Gotham has worn Batman’s body down so much that he has been forced to create alternative methods of combatting the evil from Arkham, and his own Batsuits must now compensate for his body’s injured state. And now that we’ve seen the batsuit Bruce will be wearing post Convergence, we know he’s operating in a robotic suit. 

While we’re still unsure how Futures End is going to play out in the DC Universe (or if next year’s teased “crisis” will wipe it out completely), we can take a trip down Gotham’s memory lane and revisit some of Batman’s most brutal battles that have led to his body being as broken down as it has now become. These ten battles are not ranked in any special order, but rather serve as the ten battles that ruined Batman’s body (canon or not).

NO UTILITY BELT VERSUS AN OWL

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In Batman’s first story arc in the New 52 era writer Scott Snyder took an unforeseen route in putting Batman up against one of his rogues—he ignored Batman’s deep pool of villains and created a new set of foes. Not only did Snyder’s gamble work in reader’s eyes, but it cemented Snyder’s place as an up-and-coming rock star of the DC world. However, for Batman, the outcome was not as cheery.

While investigating the Court of Owls, Batman falls trap to their deadly assassin and is tormented in a booby-trapped maze without the aid of his trusted utility belt. Eventually confronted by the TALON assassin, Batman gets beaten to a pulp before taking a samurai sword through his side.

If it wasn’t for Batman’s famed “never say die” mindset that allowed for an escape, the battle could have been Bruce’s last stand.

THE BAT GETS BROKEN

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This entry to the list should come as no surprise. The early 90’s Knightfall saga transcended the normally niche-driven comic readership and pop-culture, and in partnership with the Death of Superman storyline, gave DC new life at a time when it sorely needed it.

Knightfall introduced the world to Bane—an amazing villain who possessed superhuman strength thanks to his venom serum and equal wits to that of Batman. Bane sets forth a plan to defeat Batman by using all of Batman’s famed villains as a non-stop gauntlet for the Dark Knight to have to overcome, wearing him down beyond belief. After deducing that Batman is Bruce Wayne, Bane breaks into Wayne Manor and waits for the exhausted Batman to finally arrive for the epic showdown. Though Batman gave it his all, the end result was readers’ jaws dropping at the sight of Batman truly defeated and broken—and gave comic lore an everlasting image of Bane snapping Batman’s back.

GOTHAM POLICE VERSUS THE CAPED CRUSADER

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In Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, the story’s climax is reached when a new-on-the-job Batman falls for Gotham PD’s trap and is ambushed by an entire police department. Barricaded inside an abandoned building, Batman must remain stealth while S.W.A.T. members probe the building looking for Batman. With local news cameras on hand, the battle wages on for over a day. Batman is able to pick off officers one-by-one, in true Batman style, without being detected long enough to be caught. But in the process Batman must endure hours with no sleep and water, and takes a gunshot wound or two. But in the end the building was set ablaze, and Bruce Wayne remained uncaught.

TIGERS BEAT BATS

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It’s the unspoken truth within the DC Universe—Batman is the world’s greatest fighter. And how can he not be? The man traveled the world mastering more martial arts than most aficionados can even name. Yet, there remains one Batman foe who treated Bruce like an amateur—the Bronze Tiger.

Ben Turner, the Bronze Tiger’s true identity, is an assassin with connections to the “League of Assassins.” On a mission to kill Kathy Kane (Batwoman) in the storyline The Vengeance Vow, the Bronze Tiger encounters Batman, who is of course there to stop him. However, in a swift attack by the Bronze Tiger, Batman is defeated (rather easily) with a quick combo that floors him. In the immediate wake of Batman’s defeat, another assassin swoops in and kills Kathy Kane.

And while the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths changed the implications of these events completely, the undressing Batman suffered at the hands of the Bronze Tiger cannot be overlooked.

SUPERMAN DROPS BATMAN

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For all the hype and glory Batman receives when he gets the better of Superman (though we can debate whether or not Superman took it easy on Bruce), we seem to downplay or overlook it when Superman handles Batman with relative ease. And while you’ll never see Superman try to beat Batman to pulp like Batman did to Supes in The Dark Knight Returns, we have seen Superman embarrass Batman (see Superman: For Tomorrow). But one physical confrontation between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight recently occurred in the New 52 era and saw Superman play rough with Batman for once. 

While left a tad crazy by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, Batman lashes out at Superman, who quite predictably hopelessly tries to talk Batman out of it. When it becomes obvious that Batman is not going to be reached verbally, Superman picks him up, flies up high into the air, and drops the Caped Crusader a hundred feet or so, nearly killing him. Of course, Superman feels guilty for having to do it, which is one of the traits that distinguish the two icons, and thus Clark makes sure Bruce isn’t dead before flying off. 

DARKSEID’S OMEGA BEAM

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If you’re putting together a list of Batman’s most brutal battles then it stands to reason that a battle that killed the Caped Crusader better make the list.

In one of Batman’s most heroic moments, a moment that saw a human stand toe to toe with arguably the most powerful being in the DC Universe, Batman’s lack of fear is truly tested. Knowing full well that the Radion bullet he has loaded into a gun will not kill the “Tyrant God,” Batman plays a fateful game of chicken with Darkseid. Not backing down, Batman pulls the trigger (the significance of Batman shooting a gun in this situation cannot be overlooked) just as Darkseid fires off his fatal Omega Beams. And while the Final Crisis storyline saw the Dark Knight perish due to the Omega Beam blast, it was Batman’s inspiring heroics that saved the universe (with an assist from the Flash).

FIRST BATTLE WITH THE DEMON

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Ra’s al Ghul and Batman have a complicated relationship. Ra’s has viewed Bruce as the heir to his throne. Bruce has fallen in love with Ra’s daughter, Talia. Ra’s is the grandfather of Bruce’s son, Damian. And yet, Ra’s and Batman have battled time and time again due to a “conflict of morals and ethics”—to say the least.

Their first violent showdown came all the way back in Batman #244, when Batman traveled to Ra’s lair to find the “demon’s head” dead. Of course Talia drops her father in his famous Lazarus Pit, resurrecting him to full strength. Their iconic battle is remembered for its high tension just as much as it is remembered for its imagery (who can forget a shirtless, yet cowl’ed Batman?). In the end, Batman is pushed to his limits by his skilled foe, and it’s Talia who eventually saves Batman from death.

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

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After being crippled by Bane in Knightfall, Bruce Wayne’s journey back to becoming the Batman is slow and arduous. In addition to simply healing a broken back, Bruce must retrain his body and perhaps most importantly, mentally overcome the defeat at the hands of Bane. To accomplish this, he seeks out Lady Shiva—who might be the worst person to trust given the circumstances. Predictably, Lady Shiva tests Bruce’s willingness to become Batman once again by subjecting him to a number of fights with highly trained fighters and assassins.

The final test from Lady Shiva comes in the form of a huge Aikido warrior, who pushes Bruce’s physical limits. Demonstrating that he is willing to go as far as necessary to take Gotham back, Bruce reluctantly utilizes a martial arts move known as the “leopard blow,” a deadly strike that Batman was told would prove fatal to the victim. In the end, the leopard blow was just another lie on the part of Lady Shiva, as it simply knocks out the victim rather than killing him.

BATMAN TAKES BACK THE MANTLE

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After taking a hiatus from protecting Gotham due to the injuries suffered at the hands of Bane in Knightfall, Bruce enlisted the services of Jean-Paul Valley, a.k.a. Azrael, to serve as an interim Batman. And while Azrael was doing just fine for a while, he begins to lose his self-control and starts turning ultra-violent while blurring the line between hero and villain. Knowing that he has to both stop Azrael and take the Batman mantle back over, Bruce seeks Azrael out in an epic brawl that sees both sides get in their fair share of licks (and flips).

Given that Bruce is somewhat unsure that his body has fully recovered, Batman’s courage is tested against a foe that has proven to be quite formidable physically, yet through course of the fight, Batman’s tactical and physical abilities prevail—restoring order to the crime fighting hierarchy in Gotham City.

BATMAN WINS THE REMATCH

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With all the references to Knightfall on this list, it’s only fitting that the grueling rematch between Bane and Batman is showcased. After searching for the remnants of a virus Ra’s al Ghul has released, Batman encounters the man who once beat him badly—Bane.

Readers had been waiting for this rematch for a couple years and the moment finally arrived on the loading docks of Gotham City. The brawl is as intense as it is violent. Yet if Detective Comics #701 taught us anything it is that when backed into a corner, Batman’s rage is greater than any tool found in his utility belt. Despite taking on a ton of damage, Batman finally avenges his loss to Bane and defeats the intimidating villain in true heroic fashion.


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Written by | Omar Hussain

Omar Hussain serves as the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Heroic Universe.