Batman is possibly the superhero that’s responsible for all of us knowing about superheroes in pop culture. He’s one of the oldest ones in existence and one of the most popular characters in the history of media, outdoing older Superheroes such as the original one, Superman. With that lengthy lifespan comes tons of different adventures for the caped crusader. Batman has always had one of the more interesting casts of characters of any of the superheroes as well, with people ranging from the mundane and relatable ones to characters that are just so over the top crazy that they could only exist in comic book form.
I’ve been a Batman fan for as long as I can remember, as both the comics and cartoons were a huge part of my childhood. I then became an even bigger fan with the introduction of the legit Batman movies in the Christopher Nolan Trilogy and further enraptured by the Batman world with the fantastic Arkham video game series. While Batman himself is obviously awesome, the characters that make up the rest of his universe are some of the most fleshed-out and real-feeling characters that I’ve seen in any comic book. Whether it’s his allies or his enemies, these Batman characters have deep and intriguing backstories that lead to complex individuals, most of which could support their own comics and some that actually do.
We’re going to take a deep dive into the Batman world and see what kinds of characters make up the dark and twisted city of Gotham. We’re also going to explore what makes Batman such an easy ally or hated rival for so many of these characters as well. Let’s explore what Gotham has to offer.
Are There Characters Specific to Batman Comics?
This is an interesting question because many characters throughout the Batman world have gone on to branch out into other comics featuring Batman as well as ones completely individual ones without him. Generally speaking, the DC villains pool is not on the same level of complexity as Marvel’s, and because of that, many DC characters share villains and specifically those of the Batman world. That’s not a knock on other DC character villains either, as the villains in Batman, in my mind, are about as good as it gets when it comes to a rogues gallery for Superheros. Spider-Man is the only other superhero that boasts close to the same roster as Batman’s villains, and even then, it’s still not really all that close.
A lot of characters who are close to Bruce Wayne tend to stay in the Batman comics, though, such as Alfred or Lucius Fox, although they end up making appearances in the Justice League comics as well, so it’s tough to say any character is ever specific to just Batman comics. If there are any characters that generally stay in the Batman comics, it’s usually Batman’s love interests, of which there have been many over the years.
What Kinds of Characters Inhabit Batman’s World?
The characters in Batman have a pretty vast range to them. Many of the characters seem like people that you and me might run into, but considering that Bruce Wayne is a mega-billionaire with wealth beyond our wildest dream, some are pretty out there. We don’t see a ton of Bruce Wayne in his corporate world as he’s much more of a recluse in the comics than the gallivanting public playboy that we see in most versions of the big-screen Batman.
Other than the normal people in Gotham, Batman also cavorts with tons of superheroes too. He finds himself paired with some incredibly powerful individuals, and it’s a pretty impressive feat that he’s the leader of the Justice League as he’s pretty much the only member that isn’t otherworldly powerful. Despite that, he is the alpha dog there, so it just shows what kind of influence and respect he has throughout the DC universe.
Who Are Batman’s Allies?
Batman comes with some of the best allies around. Some of Batman’s allies are among the most powerful beings in the universe. He also has been a mentor to many throughout the years as well, so the age of his allies varies greatly, and seeing as Bruce Wayne has been a staple of comics since 1939, he’s acquired quite a few of them.
While Batman is the most dangerous vigilante in all of Gotham, he’s not perfect, and he needs an ally on the side of the crimefighters as well. Jim Gordon is that ally that’s been there from the get-go, as in Batman’s first-ever appearance. Gordon might not have anything in the way of powers or expert combat ability, but he’s a hard-nosed detective who is on the same level as Batman when it comes to tracking down criminals. He’s also got some serious connections to Batman’s crimefighting family as well, as his daughter ends up being one of Batman’s biggest allies as well. One of Jim’s most compelling stories happens in Batman: Year One, where he first makes contact with The Dark Knight, and their alliance takes full swing for the first time. It also details Jim’s rise to Police Captain and features him more promptly than pretty much any Batman story out there.
Jim Gordon is up against it the moment he decides to team up with Batman, but that’s why I respect him so much. He’s no superhero, hell, he’s barely even an out of the ordinary cop. He’s just a middle aged man trying to do good out there and despite everything the twisted city of Gotham puts him through, he’s in there regardless of the danger.
Batman is very much a loner, and that’s somewhat understandable for someone who was orphaned at a very young age. One person that has been with him since his birth, though, is Alfred Pennyworth, his faithful friend, caretaker, and butler. Alfred is just an older man, but he’s incredibly wise and loyal to the Wayne family and has an extensive backstory that involves time as a special operations executive in the British intelligence agency.
Much like Jim Gordon, Alfred is there to keep Bruce grounded and helps him stay faithful to his ideals and morals. He’s one of the most beloved characters in comic book history and has made several praised trips to the big screen as well, with Michael Caine’s portrayal in the Christopher Nolan trilogy being the best among them. Alfred is used against Batman many times and has had some seriously tragic ends, including multiple stories where he is not only killed but brought back to life as a horrifying undead monstrosity that’s he’s had to put down on more than one occasion.
Batman might not have parents, but he certainly has the next best thing in a lifelong companion whose only purpose in life is to dedicate himself to the wellbeing of the Wayne family. Early on in his appearances, he’s actually pretty active as a detective, and his initial purpose was to be a comedic character that would oppose Batman and Robin. Luckily, Batman comics went on to make Alfred much more serious of a character than he started as. These days, Alfred is one of the only people to know Batman’s secret identity and has actually saved Batman on more than one occasion as well. There’s a reason he’s one of the most beloved comic characters out there.
Lucius Fox is pretty much the Alfred of Bruce Wayne’s business life as well as the man who creates much of the equipment that Batman uses to fight crime. He is also essentially the one who runs Wayne Enterprises, while Bruce Wayne remains a recluse who moonlights as Batman every night of his life. Without Lucius, Bruce Wayne is just a guy in a suit. It’s because of Lucius that Batman has an insane array of equipment to turn himself into a superhero.
Lucius consistently claims to have little to no idea what Bruce Wayne does in his free time, but he’s usually depicted as being clueless to his alter ego of Batman. In the New 52, though, Lucius Fox is fully aware of his status as Batman. He gets even closer to Batman and becomes the new version of Alfred after Bane kills Alfred in one of the more tragic scenes in the Batman comics.
Lucius Fox is just a great character in the Batman comics. He’s pretty much the reason Batman has all his crazy gadgets and is just cool and collected no matter how insane the situation. Morgan Freeman certainly did him justice in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy as well.
Dick Grayson, aka Robin/Nightwing
There have been many Robins throughout the years, but I don’t think any of them have been more important to Bruce than Richard John Grayson. With a similar origin story to Batman, where a mob boss killed his parents, Batman took Dick Grayson in after being orphaned. He not only did that but became his ward and legal guardian. From there, Batman trained him to not only be able to defend himself but to also be a fighter on the same level as him.
Dick went on to become Robin, Batman’s trusted sidekick, but that wouldn’t last for long as when Dick got older, he became the superhero Nightwing, operating on his own much of the time. Many stories that involve Dick include mentioning that he is the first son of Batman, although it differs from writer to writer.
Dick is a leader in his own right, heading up the force of young vigilantes known as the Teen Titans. In addition to this, was also served as Batman for a time during the New 52 storyline. During this time, he trained a Robin himself, named Damian Wayne, who he would go on to share the Batman identity with until Dick returned to the Nightwing moniker.
Nightwing is just an awesome hero with a sick costume and some unique gadgets to separate him from Batman. He’s proven he’s worth his own comics, and these days, he’s almost as popular as The Dark Knight himself, which is quite the accomplishment for a former Robin.
The Man of Steel is one of Batman’s equals when it comes to the DC universe, but there have also been many times that the two have clashed. Batman has always seen Superman as one of the most dangerous beings in the world, and despite Superman’s insistence on upholding good throughout the world, Bruce gets worried that he might one day turn and destroy everything he holds dear. This has actually come to pass in one storyline known as the Knightmare, where Superman actually went nuts and decided to turn to the dark side. Regardless though, Batman and Superman are the two who guide the Justice League in the right direction, and although the relationship has been pretty rocky throughout their years together, it’s mostly been to the benefit of all mankind.
I have to be honest, Superman bores me, so I’ve been delighted each time Batman beats him in a battle. The guy is just too perfect. Super strength, super speed, super jaw line, gorgeous girlfriend, where does it end? I guess Kyrponite, Kryptonite is where it ends. Even still, he gets retconned back to life, Superman wins again.
Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon
There have been a handful of Batgirls throughout the history of Batman, and Barbara Gordon isn’t even the first, but she might be the most important. As the love interest of Dick Grayson initially, Barbara was always quite close to the Batman family. She actually appeared soon after the first appearance of Robin, and soon, The Dark Knight had a trifecta of crime fighters to take on Gotham City with. In one of the most tragic and disturbing scenes in comic book history, The Joker cemented his greatest villain ever status by shooting Barbara and paralyzing her in the process.
This turned her into Oracle, a wheelchair-bound assistant to Batman while he’s out in the field. She remained this way for many years until she was able to regain use of her legs thanks to technology. This led to her encountering the Joker once again in her own line of comics, resulting in a bloody showdown between the two that is both disturbing and an incredible read. Check out Batgirl #47 to see how that all played out.
Batgirl is great, but to me, she really shined as Oracle, showing unrivaled amounts of bravery to stay in the crime fighting game even after Joker paralyzed her. It showed how dedicated she was and way Bruce Wayne trusted her so much.
See also: Ultimate Guide to Batman Toys
Selena Kyle, aka Catwoman
Catwoman has been a staple for Batman comics ever since they began. In fact, she appeared in the very first official Batman comic and was initially one of his main villains. That quickly gave way to her becoming not only a consistent ally but also a love interest of Batman as well. Catwoman took on the mantle initially to become an expert thief, but later, it becomes her symbol as she takes on the duty of protecting the East End of Gotham, giving Batman a break from policing the whole city on his own. She’s quite the volatile character and often has to be swayed back by Batman when her morals start to get a bit shaky.
Selina Kyle as Catwoman is an awesome character whose wit and snark are always a great balance to Batman’s uber-serious and dark tone much of the time. She is mischievous in the best way, and it is always an awesome time when the two of them meet on the panels.
Terry Mcginnis/ Batman Beyond
Terry’s initial run in the DC universe was back in the 90s in a cartoon, but in 2011, he was officially welcomed into the DCU for good. His storylines take place in a future where he is mentored by an older Bruce Wayne, who in some cases is said to be his biological father. With Bruce in his head at all times during missions, Terry learns the hard way what being Batman takes, and his youthful exuberance is a huge change from Batman’s serious demeanor throughout most of his comic run. Terry is faster and more athletic than Bruce ever was, though, making this form of Batman feel much different. He’s also armed with a new suit made by Bruce, arguably making him the most powerful form of Batman to date.
Although Terry Mcginnis is something of a one-off character in the DCU as he only appears in storylines that involve the future, he’s a nice change of pace from your typical Batman comic, and while it’s likely never going to come to a point where he takes over as the prime Batman in the comics, it’s never the less an interesting read.
Green Arrow was originally just another take on Batman, who was made out to be younger while also being a spinoff of Robinhood. Hell, he even had an Arrowcar and Arrowplane, which were thankfully retired pretty quickly. Batman and Green Arrow have been teammates on many occasions because they are two of the key members of the Justice League. They’re very similar heroes, considering they’re both super-rich vigilantes. To explain the level of trust that Batman has in Green Arrow, he even asked for his help during one of his fights against Superman.
Green Arrow is certainly not the coolest character out there, but there’s something to be said for one of the originals in DC universe and to be fair, he’s a hell of a lot cooler these days than his initial run.
See also: Batman vs Penguin Guide
Who are Batman’s Neutral Characters?
While there are plenty of good guys and bad guys in the Batman universe, there are also grey characters who occasionally dip into both pools, and they are some of the more interesting characters in the whole DCU.
Azrael is the definition of an anti-hero. A vigilante himself, Azrael is one of the top assassins created by the Order of St. Dumas, a Christian extremist group seeking to restore Gotham via justice they deem necessary. He’s encountered Batman on many occasions, and each time, Batman tries to mold him into someone who might one day be able to take over for him and protect Gotham. The Order of St. Dumas doesn’t operate like Batman, though, and when they take down the evil in Gotham, they kill it.
That means Azrael goes about his business much differently than the Dark Knight does, and for that reason, Batman never feels truly comfortable in leaving Gotham in the Order’s hands for very long. Azrael is bound to the command of the Order, which makes one wonder about the true purpose of such an organization if they don’t even allow the free will of their assassins.
Deathstroke is far from a good guy, but he’s also nowhere near the level of some of Batman’s most fearsome enemies. Deathstroke lives by a code of honor that is his alone, and although he’s often seen cavorting with super villains, he’s more of a mercenary than anything else and is pretty much willing to do the job if it goes with his morals and the pay is right.
He’s very much a foil to Batman, utilizing many of the combat abilities and strategies that the Dark Knight has in the past. He’s also basically a superhuman, making their battles incredibly tough on Batman and his family as well. Deathstroke often faces off against the Teen Titans, but he’s been one of Batman’s most consistent challenges throughout the years, and any time they meet, it’s an explosive confrontation of brilliant minds and physical skills.
She may be most well known for being the Joker’s sidekick, but you can only spend so long with the Clown Prince of Crime before it gets to you. She initially was depicted as a villain in the comics, but The Joker abused her even still, and eventually, in The New 52, she leaves the Joker and becomes a vigilante who deals out justice by death. Even though it’s completely against Batman’s ways, she joined up with him and his Bat-family for the epic saga that was the Joker War.
It was here that Harley once and for all planned to end the Joker’s life and even was willing to sacrifice herself to get Batman to finally take Joker down for good. She gave Batman the ultimatum of saving either her or Joker, and he chose her. Despite that, Joker once again escaped, which points to Batman’s lifelong failure to actually stop Joker from being the murderous psychopath that he is. Harley went off on her own following this event and became yet another protector to Gotham, although her methods are far more insane than anything Batman has ever dreamt up.
Harley Quinn has blown up in popularity the past couple years and with good reason. She’s completely nuts, but tons of fun to follow and even though she’s usually evil, the recent years have had her on a strong heroic streak.
If Dick Grayson is the golden child of the Batman family, then Jason Todd is the bronze one. He is still valuable in his own right but very flawed with a far more dark side. Of course, it’s not all his fault. Jason starts out as a vagrant on the streets, and he gets caught trying to steal the wheels off of Batman’s Batmobile just to get his hands on some money. For whatever reason, Batman sees the potential for another Robin to be recruited. Recruit he did, and Jason Todd became the second official Robin to exist. He met quite the grisly end at the hands of the Joker, making it one of the most shocking moments in comic book history.
Jason Todd, in his Red Hood persona, is just a bad-ass in the best way. Sure, he might be more than a little bit questionable in his decision-making, but he’s got a reason to be that way. Batman has left his adversaries alive each and every time they fight, and regardless of how many times they are locked up in Arkham Prison, they always manage to get out and kill more, and in my and Jason’s eyes, the only one to blame for this is Batman, who refuses to finish the job.
Is the name stupid? Yes, it most certainly is, but Man-Bat is anything but a joke when it comes to the comics. Man-Bat is the result of Kirk Langstrom messing around with a serum to give humans bat sonar, and naturally, that went very badly, as you might imagine. This got the attention of Batman, who managed to cure him temporarily, but from there on out, Man-Bat would take over on occasion, although Kirk also is able to control the outbursts on occasion. When he has full control, he’s a hero of sorts, allying with Batman at certain points and being a fierce enemy to him at others. He is constantly wrestling with his alter ego, much like The Lizard in Spider-Man.
What makes the clashes between him and Batman so interesting is that he can also use the darkness to his advantage as he can see in the dark. Man-Bat is a tragic character who often strives to be a hero, which makes his lapses in controlling Man-Bat feel so tough to watch. It gets even tougher when it’s revealed his son suffers from a deadly illness caused to Kirk’s exposure to the serum, which makes him have to give his son the serum and transform him in order to survive. Suffice it to say, life is not easy for Kirk Langstrom.
Harvey Dent might be known as one of Batman’s greatest villains, but before half his face was mutilated, he was the District Attorney in Gotham and one of Batman’s most trusted allies. If that sounds baffling, consider this, during Batman’s one-year absence from Gotham, he trusted the city’s protection to Harvey Dent. Things went awry for Dent when his face was scarred with acidic chemicals during a court trial.
The result drove him insane, although, in later editions of the character, he is depicted as having dissociative identity disorder, with Two-Face being an alter ego. This makes the character a bit more tragic than the initial depiction was and makes his villainy all the more tragic to witness. In yet another reimagining of the character, Harvey Dent gets even more tragic as he’s reimagined as a friend of Gordon as well Batman and even a good friend to Bruce Wayne from childhood as well. Harvey doesn’t last too long before he goes full two-face, but his slow descent to crime is a powerful one to watch, and each iteration of him makes him more and more of an intriguing character.
Clayface is normally part of Batman’s impressive group of enemies, but in the Detective Comics arc of the Batman storyline, he joins a team with both him and Batwoman. During his time on this team, Tim Drake creates a method that lets him control his shape-changing ways. During this time, he became an ally to Batman and used his powers to become various villains in Gotham in order to discover what they had planned. While he’s one of the most terrifying of all of the Batman villains because of his ability to become literally anyone, including other villains and allies as well, he also proved to be an effective ally for Batman for a time until his supposed death terminated his time with the group.
Clayface is one of the scariest Batman characters simply because he could literally be anybody. His true form is one of the most chilling in comics and if you ask me, he’s one of the more underused Batman characters out there.
Question: Who is Batman’s closest ally?
Answer: Batman has a lot of allies, but the closest one is definitely Jim Gordon. He’s been with Batman since the beginning and is consistently on the Dark Knight’s side whenever he needs him.
Question: Is Bruce Wayne the only Batman?
Answer: The Batman costume has been worn by a few people over the years, including Tim Drake as well as Terry McGinness.
Question: Has Batman ever killed?
Answer: Although it’s never been depicted graphically, during the end of one particular arc with the Joker, it is implied that Batman finally kills the Joker with his bare hands.