Batman has lost all sorts of things throughout his career — his superhero identity, those closest to him, and the control of the Multiverse itself. Loss shows itself in many different forms, but regardless of how it takes shape, it’s important to reflect on how Bruce Wayne reacts to those moments.
Changing the status quo is vital for Batman’s continued narrative evolution. While loss is something written into a story to create a shocking beat worth talking about, it can also act as a significant catalyst for Batman to develop in unexpected and compelling ways; especially when those losses represent such a personal connection.
10 Batman’s Parents
There has always been one moment in Bruce Wayne’s life that will forever define the character. The death of Bruce’s parents was a pivotal point in his life. It demonstrated the crime and corruption that plagued Gotham City, connected the orphan closer to his butler, Alfred, and inspired him to become a hero.
As other realities have demonstrated, this intelligent and popular hero would have never been born without the Waynes’ murder. Bruce has dedicated his life to preventing such atrocities from occurring again, and it’s become such a trope of the character that it’s impossible to craft an origin story without those pearls falling to the floor.
9 Jason Todd
Jason Todd is one of the many men to have stood alongside Batman in the role of Robin. While the duo had a long journey to form a proper alliance, Wayne always saw Todd as a son. He only wanted the best for the second Boy Wonder and was devastated by his loss.
The attack of Joker on Robin changed everything. It showed that no one was safe, elevating the diabolical villain and deeply affecting Batman’s perspective, forcing him to work alone more often. Without this loss, the return of Todd as Red Hood would not have been as effective either, with the former Robin’s dissolution only adding to the emotional turmoil of the situation.
8 Barbara Gordon
Barbara Gordon wasn’t murdered by the Joker when he shot her, but her role as Batgirl was removed. Batman had always viewed Jim Gordon’s daughter as a valuable ally, and they made a perfect partnership in the field. But the loss of Batgirl sent Batman’s rage into overdrive, as yet another person was forever affected by his war with Joker.
Although Gordon would return as Oracle before eventually suiting up as Batgirl once more, it was a milestone that deeply affected Bruce’s mental health. He felt responsible for Barbara in many ways due to his friendship with Jim Gordon. His hatred of Joker grew further, making his fight that much more desperate.
Superman’s death sent shockwaves through the DC Universe. Although the loss might have been pretty brief in the grand scheme of the timeline, the fact that Superman could fall to the likes of Doomsday changed how Batman makes his plans. He hadn’t fully accounted for the Man of Steel’s departure.
The duo had been fantastic friends, teaming up in the Justice League and as the World’s Finest. Bruce now always has a contingency plan for if Superman was to be lost again, as Earth would be significantly less protected thanks to the unfillable void Clark Kent might leave. On a personal level, the death of a close friend only reminded Wayne of past losses.
6 Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth has often been referred to as Batman’s greatest secret weapon. Alfred had become a father figure to Bruce Wayne, taking over from his parents as Batman’s sole guardian and ensuring he would have every opportunity in life to thrive. He was one of the first to support Wayne as the Caped Crusader.
It was natural that Wayne would be more affected by Alfred’s death than perhaps any other due to how much Alfred truly cared for the hero. With Bane murdering Alfred, Batman carries significant guilt for his death, knowing that if he didn’t lead a double life, the butler would have never been in such danger.
5 Batman’s Mobility
Loss is usually measured in death and the absence of the allies in Batman’s life. But Bruce Wayne actually lost his own mobility after facing Bane in single combat. The ex-wrestler broke Batman’s back in their struggle, leaving Bruce unable to step into the cowl.
While other heroes stepped up to fill his absence, Batman’s mental health was deeply impacted. It was out of Bruce’s control whether he could help people the way he wanted to. He fought tooth and nail to gain back his mobility and would eventually return to the Bat Cave, but the idea that his whole world could be taken from him never left the Dark Knight.
4 Thomas Elliot
The Hush narrative identified something that Batman had always feared — that his closest friends could turn on him. As one of the darkest Batman comics to read, Thomas Elliot betrayed his life-long friend and changed his own appearance, masquerading as the rich kid.
Hush wanted to completely discredit Bruce Wayne and ruin his life. This was a personal attack on a whole different level. Whenever Hush returns as a foe, the guilt of losing a friend all comes flooding back. Batman has attempted to change his behavior to ensure that those in his life feel appreciated.
3 Injustice Universe
The loss of a whole planet seems hard to imagine, but under the Injustice comic continuity, Batman truly did lose everything. After Joker murdered Lois Lane, Superman snapped. He set up a new world order, with heroes like Nightwing and Jim Gordon falling to his empire.
Batman’s world as he knew it completely crashed, with his closest friends either abandoning him or getting killed in their rebellion. Superman’s reign represented everything that Wayne had feared, but even he didn’t have a backup plan for something so widespread. The possibility of this existence will haunt every Batman aware of the alternate reality.
2 Innocent Civilians
Batman has seen many innocent civilians murdered by the cruel supervillains that populate Gotham City. Whether it’s the victims of Victor Zsasz’s brutal torture or those affected by Pyg’s horrific experiments, Batman has seen his fair share of grotesque endings.
What the world’s greatest detective has discovered about his city has sickened him. He fights to ensure no one else is affected by the criminals taking to the streets, but somehow those losses keep on building, with an endless list of names lost to the worst of the worst. Even those supervillains that Batman can easily defeat pose a threat to non-vigilantes.
1 The Multiverse
The Multiverse has been on the brink of destruction numerous times, but that has never been more apparent than during the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline. Batman knew that multiple worlds had been completely obliterated by the oncoming onslaught of the Anti-Monitor.
It’s a fact that can never leave Batman, even as the continuity reboots time and again. Regardless of the reality, Wayne is clearly profoundly aware of the fragility of their existence and how their very Earth could become one of many in the Multiverse to be wiped out. His work with the Justice League has shown him the brink of that truth, with his desperation to prevent such a reality driving the vigilante forward.
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