To DC Comics fans, Batman was the greatest tactician and fighter in pop culture history. With enough preparation time, Batman could (theoretically) defeat anyone. However, this reputation got so out of hand that Bruce Wayne somehow survived fights where he should’ve died. In other cases, he came back to life just seconds after dying.
Over the past few decades, Batman implausibly won so many times that it became something of a punchline. Batman went from being the embodiment of the powerless yet indomitable human spirit to an obvious power fantasy for certain authors and readers. Batman has emerged from several battles where he had zero chances of surviving, staying alive thanks to plot contrivances.
10 Batman Vs. Bane
Bane left his mark on superhero history when he defeated Batman and broke his back. Bane accomplished this by first forcing Batman to fight all his villains in a single night, then demolishing the severely exhausted Caped Crusader. Batman miraculously survived, but got paralyzed from the waist going down. Realistically, he should’ve died.
Not only did Batman endure tons of punishment from Bane, but he was severely fatigued from stopping the Arkham Asylum jailbreak. Batman’s determination and willpower were second to none, but even his very human body would’ve caved in. Everyone — Bruce included — acknowledged that him surviving was an unbelievable miracle.
9 Batman Vs. The Hyperclan (AKA The White Martians)
One of the Justice League’s first enemies during their 1997 run were the White Martians, who came to Earth disguised as the superhero team “Hyperclan.” When they fought, Batman was one of the League’s first casualties. A-Mortal caught one of the Batwing’s missiles and flung it back at Batman. Realistically, Batman had no chance of survival.
Just one issue later, Batman was confirmed to have survived. How he did this was never shown or explained. Shortly after, Batman single-handedly beat most of the Hyperclan after they defeated the League’s biggest hitters. This wasn’t the first time the Dark Knight escaped a burning Batwing and defeated more powerful enemies, but it was preposterous.
8 Batman Vs. Deathstroke The Terminator
Deathstroke the Terminator may be the DC Universe’s deadliest assassin, but he has a bad track record when it comes to killing heroes. His first encounter with Batman is a good example of this paradox. Deathstroke easily bested Batman thanks to his lack of moral restraint, but he inexplicably left him alive.
Deathstroke boasted he trained himself to kill, whereas Batman only learned how to fight, yet Deathstroke spared his opponent. Deathstroke claimed he did this because he had other priorities, when it was really just plot contrivance. This would be the first of many times when Batman should’ve been killed by Deathstroke, only to be kept alive.
7 Batman Vs. Spawn
One reason why Spawn/Batman (written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Todd McFarlane) was received so poorly was because of how transparent its bias for Batman was. Spawn was a Hellspawn: an undead and overpowered demon who served the demonic lord Malebolgia. Despite this, Batman easily beat and humiliated Spawn.
Spawn wasn’t the first supernatural foe Batman beat, but he was defeated too easily. Batman only won because Miller wrote him to be incredibly competent, while Spawn was depicted as a sloppy fighter who conveniently forgot to summon the powers of Hell. Had Spawn been given the respect he deserved, he could’ve easily killed the Dark Knight.
6 Batman Vs. The Justice League
Since he had no powers, Batman was depicted as the Justice League’s most grounded and human hero. This somehow meant that he was also their most immovable member, and their greatest threat. Batman was so distrustful of his fellow heroes that he concocted contingency plans and failsafes that would kill them should they become a threat.
Batman cataloging the League’s weaknesses made sense. But even when he had the occasional power-up, Batman dominating the League single-handedly was unbelievable and lopsided on the writers’ part. Realistically, a team of superpowered individuals would quickly kill Batman. All his plans and training were nothing in the face of raw super power.
5 Batman Vs. The Reverse-Flash (Eobard Thawne)
Super Speed is one of the most underestimated superpowers in the DC Universe. This power was all The Reverse-Flash needed to become one of the deadliest DC villains ever. He could unleash lethal amounts of inertia in one punch, and he was basically speed incarnate. Despite this, Batman survived being beaten up by Reverse-Flash.
Although The Reverse-Flash was arguably too busy toying with Batman, and it would take more than a few punches to kill him, Batman was still fighting one of the most dangerous speedsters alive. Even a couple of “playful” blows from The Reverse-Flash would’ve been enough to injure and kill the very human Batman.
4 Batman Vs. Superman
Superman is canonically the DC Universe’s strongest hero, and is recognized as one of the mightiest characters in all fiction. Despite being a literal god in his own right, Superman nearly always lost to Batman whenever they fought. This was mostly thanks to Batman’s impossibly perfect planning, and tons of plot contrivances.
Batman and Superman’s most influential and infamous fight happened in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. The logical Batman overwhelming the brutish Superman with tactics defined all their fights. Batman only won because Superman was written to be a gullible fool, who was retroactively revealed to be holding back. Realistically, Superman would’ve obliterated Batman in one punch.
3 Batman Vs. Ra’s Al Ghul
After Batman chased Ra’s Al Ghul across the world to destroy every Lazarus Pit he could find, he fought his nigh-immortal foe in a climactic duel. The brutal brawl seemingly ended when Ra’s impaled Batman with a shovel, only for the Dark Knight to get right back up. He threw himself and Ra’s into a nearby pit, which conveniently happened to be a Lazarus Pit.
If not for the Lazarus Pit, Batman and Ra’s would’ve killed each other. Even ignoring the Lazarus Pit, Batman realistically would’ve died seconds after Ra’s slammed the shovel into his heart. Batman’s last rush of adrenaline made sense, but him surviving and being rejuvenated by the Lazarus Pit was incredibly contrived and convenient.
2 Batman Vs. The Joker
After years of pulling their punches, Batman and The Joker finally came to fatal blows during Scott Snyder’s run in The New 52. Batman died stopping The Joker’s plot to burn Gotham City and kill everyone dear to him. The lifelong nemeses bled out in the bowels of Wayne Manor’s caves. A few issues later, Batman was alive and well.
This was thanks to the Dionesium that seeped into Batman’s bloodstream. In exchange for a perfectly healthy body and second life, Bruce lost all his memories of being Batman. This occurred despite the fact Batman sealed the Dionesium pit to deny Joker’s bid at immortality. The Dionesium was one of DC’s most convenient deus ex machina yet.
1 Batman Vs. Darkseid
In Final Crisis (written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by J.G. Jones), Batman died after gravely injuring Darkseid. Batman may not have had a plan to survive the Omega Beams, but his sacrifice wasn’t wasted. Whatever poignancy Batman’s final act could’ve had quickly evaporated when it was revealed that he wasn’t dead, just somehow lost in time.
Darkseid’s Omega Beams were one of the deadliest abilities in the DC Universe. But thanks to some cosmic retcons, Batman was conveniently exempted from being killed by Darkseid’s fatal signature attack. Batman coming back to life was inevitable, but it could’ve at least been done in a more believable fashion and without diminishing the godlike Darkseid’s threat.
Batman is one of DC Comics’ greatest fighters and tacticians, but he has an uncanny habit of surviving impossible fights and outright lethal injuries. Read More