While fans are aware of Batman’s “no kill” rule, the criminals of Gotham still fear him for his brutality. While he may not actively take a criminal’s life like Marvel’s The Punisher, the physical punishment Batman can inflict leaves a lasting impression on his enemies.
Sometimes the punishment goes too far, as even the most Stoic of crime fighters can be pushed to their limit. One can’t face the typical depravity of a Gotham decay and not flirt with the idea of snubbing a bad guy out for good. While some fans of the Caped Crusader object to the levels of violence in these stories, others understand that barbarity can come with the territory of embarking on a lifelong mission to end crime.
10 Endgame Is Considered The Most Brutal Batman Fight
Acclaimed Batman writer Scott Snyder is known for his magnificently dark stories. But as much Bat-Fans love the Caped Crusader’s grim tales, the result can be too brutal to bear. In the Endgame story arc, Batman recruited the Court of Owls, Gotham’s own Illuminati, help to defeat the Joker.
The end of this series portrayed a superb fight between the Joker and Batman that showed the Joker’s spine snapping and Batman being blinded in one eye by Joker’s playing card. While most fans loved it, others winced as their favorite hero and villain brutalized each other so viciously.
9 Batman #424 Gave Robin A Darker Edge
While many fans missed Dick, Jason Todd proved to be a more dangerous version of Robin that enticed certain readers. In Batman #424 by Jim Starlin, Mark Bright, Steve Mitchell, and Adrienne Roy, Jason came across a criminal who harmed his girlfriend. Since the criminal was the son of a diplomat, he had immunity from prosecution.
The end of this issue saw the diplomat’s son “fall” off the edge of a skyscraper. When Batman confronted Jason to ask if he pushed him, Jason claimed the diplomat’s son “must’ve slipped.” This left Batman and the readers to wonder if Jason pushed him. The reaction to Batman #424 was mixed, with some fans justifying the alleged murder. The events of this story proved critical when Jason Todd would later appear as Red Hood.
8 Batman Almost Killed The Joker In “Hush”
In one of the more legitimately terrifying moments in his crime-fighting career, Batman almost beat the joker to death. After believing he killed his friend Thomas Elliot, Batman found the Joker and pummeled him to a pulp. The savagery of the beating is highlighted by the incredible artistry of Jim Lee.
Jim Gordon ultimately stopped Batman from taking it too far. But the monologue in Batman’s head about how he should’ve “done this a long time ago” showed the lingering bloodlust Bruce Wayne held despite adhering to his strict “one rule.”
7 Batman Shot KGBeast in Batman #55
In Batman #55 by Tom King, Tony Daniel, Danny Miki, and Tomeu Morey, Batman employed his detective skills to find KGBeast after he shot Dick Grayson. Batman retaliated by shooting KGBeast in the head and presumably leaving him to die. The shooting is uncharacteristic of Batman’s discipline which fans became familiar with. This isn’t the first time Batman unleashed unrepentant violence against the Soviet villain.
Batman also captured and imprisoned KGBeast, with some fans assuming that Batman ultimately starved him to death. Similar to the Joker’s beating, Batman’s shooting of KGBeast showed that his one rule can be flexible. Such flexibility can upset adoring fans.
6 Batman’s Hanging Of Hugo Strange’s Monster Man Is Grisly
In the seminal Batman #1, which showcased co-creator Bill Finger’s creativity, Batman tracked down the mad scientist Hugo Strange and discovered he created an army of monster men by experimenting on escaped mental patients. Not only did Batman almost break his “one rule” by punching Strange out of his tower into the sea, but he also used a noose to hang one of the last of the monster men from his Bat-Plane.
While it debuted during the innocent Golden Age of Comics, this is a very morbid story. Batman acknowledged that while he hated taking a life, he felt it was necessary to save others from the monster men. While fans overlooked it at the time, a renewed look left Batman enthusiasts to point out that the capture and killing of the monster man was barbaric.
5 Batman’s “Knightfall” Had A Polarizing New Character
Knightfall was the defining story for the 90s era of Batman comics. Perhaps what made the story so intriguing, besides the fact that the story arc spanned over a full year, was the moment when the monstrous Bane broke Batman’s back. This injury scared fans who were worried Bruce would never fight crime again.
There were other controversial aspects of this story besides Bruce’s broken back. Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael took Bruce’s mantle of Gotham’s new vigilante who was comfortable killing his enemies. Azrael proved to be controversial not only for his embrace of killing but Bruce’s role in Azrael’s downfall.
4 Batman’s Beating In “The Dark Knight Returns” Rattled Nostalgia
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most revered Batman stories in the comic book medium. The series ushered in lasting changes to Batman for better or worse, depending on who is asked. One of the more pivotal fights in the story occurred when Batman confronted the leader of the Mutant gang.
The Mutant Leader almost killed the elderly Bruce Wayne, until the new Robin, Carrie Kelley, stepped in. Critics have stated that the brawl with the Mutant Leader in The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most humiliating losses in the Dark Knight’s history. The beating ruined the nostalgia for Bat-fans who grew to presume the Dark Knight was invincible.
3 Batman Vs Superman In “The Dark Night Returns” Really Broke Nostalgia
Fans who were shocked by the Mutants beat down in Returns did not anticipate the next epic fight between two of DC’s beloved figures. Sent by the government to put an end to his old friend’s crusade, Superman faced off against Batman in an epic battle.
The duel is the quintessential example of the debate over who would win in a fight between the two. Batman used brilliant strategies to get combat and trick the Son of Krypton. As previously mentioned, a few devoted readers who admired Batman had mixed feeling about an aging, cynical Batman. Those same readers were equally unnerved when they saw the Man of Steel depicted as a government pawn rather than a valiant hero.
2 Fans Objected To Stephanie Brown’s Deadly Beating In “War Games”
While Stephanie Brown’s death is not the most controversial “Robin death,” it comes pretty close. Stephanie Brown, aka The Spoiler, eventually stepped in for Tim Drake as the new Robin. Stephanie’s eagerness to impress Batman led her to attempt to take on Gotham’s criminal underworld by herself. The result of her efforts allowed the Black Mask to kidnap Stephanie and torture her to death.
Stephanie’s death as Robin riled up Spoiler fans who were saddened by her fatal beating. Those fans also felt Stephanie didn’t receive the respect she deserved from Batman, citing the lack of her monument in the Batcave. This backlash caused a debate between DC writers who claimed they didn’t want her killed off and executives who claimed that she was “never really Robin” in the first place.
1 The Joker Beating Jason Todd To Death Was Monumentally Controversial
Death in the Family is the most memorable DC comic event aside from The Death of Superman. What made Jason Todd’s death stand out was that his death came at the hands of comic book readers. In the comics, The Joker delivered the ultimate blow to Jason by beating him senselessly with a crowbar and exploding the warehouse Jason was lured into.
But it was the fans who truly killed him as they were given the choice to determine Jason’s fate by writing and calling in. Fans ultimately chose to allow Jason to die, but even the readers who hated him were disturbed by the way the killing played out. Death in the Family is controversial because much like artist Marina Abramovic’s performance piece Rhythm 0, Jason’s death exposed a strain of sadism in Batman’s readers.
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