Analysing Batman is always fun. One of DC Comics’ most famous characters has a deep psychological background that is always interesting to both interpret and analyze more profoundly. But, most of the analyses remain within the heroic framework of Batman’s persona, so let’s take a look at the other side. Ever wondered how would the story go if Batman was a villain?
If Batman did indeed become a villain, the Justice League, and the other heroes would certainly have to deal with a capable and formidable foe, but due to him being human, he would not be unstoppable.
DC Comics, gave us Batman comics, numerous movies, and an uncountable amount of merch. He is the most profitable solo hero ever created, but what if they turned him into a villain? Things might have come out very different for DC and for the rest of the hero crew in their comics. Let us discuss this a bit more.
What if Batman became a villain? Would he be unstoppable?
Batman is known as one of DC’s firmest superheroes, in the sense that he doesn’t really deviate much from his heroic values. Although he is very much different than your traditional superhero, despite all of his darkness and the brutality of his methods, he has a firm moral compass and doesn’t really deviate much from it. So, could he even become a villain?
Well, since comic books are really amazing in that way, it’s certainly not impossible for Batman to become a villain in some narratives, especially if you consider a large number of alternative universes within the Multiverse. In fact, this has already happened in some alternative reality stories, but more on that later. As for the main continuity, it is difficult to imagine Batman going rogue if he’s not drugged, controlled or brainwashed by someone.
So, what would happen if Batman became a villain? Well, we assume that he would – at least – be as successful in such endeavors as he is in his heroic ones. Batman is a genius and he uses proficient planning in fighting crime so there is nothing to suggest that he would deviate from that approach if he decided to commit a crime.
In fact, as a crime fighter, Batman was generally one step behind his opponents for a while (before eventually figuring out their plans), which means that, as a villain, he would probably be one step ahead of his opponents. This is particularly valid for Gotham City, where he wouldn’t really have any superhuman opponents and would be able to execute most of his plans without many problems.
The Justice League is another thing, but seeing how Batman had a contingency plan for each member of the League, we assume that he would be a formidable foe for each of the members. He wouldn’t be unstoppable, though, as he is just a regular human and would ultimately not be able to defeat all the superpowered heroes, but he would certainly not be an easy target, despite all of their advantages. In fact, Batman even had a contingency plan for himself in case he ever turned evil, so we don’t really think that he would be unstoppable.
Was Batman ever a villain in the comic books?
We have already stated that it is overly difficult to imagine Batman as a villain in the main continuity and as far as we know, he was never one (except when he was brainwashed, controlled, or drugged, but that is something completely different). As for the alternative storylines, Batman was portrayed as a villain in several storylines and we are going to mention a few notable examples:
- In the Batman & Dracula storyline, Batman becomes a vampire after an encounter with Count Dracula. And while that wouldn’t be a problem per se, he has also become a bloodthirsty monster. The good thing here is that he only attacked and killed (in the most brutal way imaginable) members of his Rogues Gallery, but he has still been deemed a threat, even by himself.
- The Batman Who Laughs – whom we are going to mention in the following section – is a prime example of a villainous Batman, as he is a twisted combination of the Dark Knight and his biggest opponent, the Joker.
- In the alternative storyline Superman: Red Son, Batman is depicted as an opponent of Superman’s regime and was thus deemed a villain, despite actually being a revolutionary who was fighting against the Kryptonian’s tyranny.
- Owlman is usually depicted as a villainous version of Batman from an alternative universe where the Justice League is actually a group of supervillains rather than a group of superheroes.
What if Batman became the Joker?
This is a very interesting theory that has been discussed by the fandom ever since Alan Moore published his controversial cult classic The Killing Joke, where the Joker tried to make Batman go insane after having that “one bad day”. The ambiguous end didn’t help in settling the debate and the question of what would happen if Batman became (like) the Joker lingered on for years until it was finally resolved in DC Metal, a series that introduced the so-called “Dark Batmen” from an alternative reality. Among them was The Batman Who Laughs, a demonic version of Batman that was born when the Batman of that alternative universe killed the Joker and became him.
Without being overly detailed – as we are going to deal with this topic in a separate article – we are just going to say that The Batman Who Laughs was no joke (pun intended).