Batman is a comic book superhero who appears in DC Comics publications and has become one of the most popular superheroes in comic book history. The character has spanned across all sorts of mediums including film, television, video games and books. His latest appearance on the big screen has been in Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), with Christian Bale in the title role.
History in print
In the early part of 1939, the success of Superman in Action Comics inspired editors at the comic book division of National Publications (the future DC Comics) to request more superheroes for its titles. Bob Kane collaborated with Bill Finger, and the character originally referred to as the "Bat-Man" first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939.
Bill Finger came up with the name of Batman's secret identity: "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Bruce, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock … then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne."
Comic book origin
Bruce Wayne was born to physician Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha. When Bruce was eight years old, his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, took him to the cinema to see his favourite film, The Mask of Zorro. Leaving the cinema, they turned into an alley where a gunman held them at gunpoint, demanding their money and jewelry. Bruce's father calmly gave him the money, but when the gunman tried to take the pearls as well, Thomas got angry and tried to stop it. The gunman shot him dead without hesitation. Bruce's mother began screaming and was also shot dead. Bruce was left alive while the gunman ran away, never to be seen again.
At the age of fourteen, Bruce left Gotham City to study martial arts and forensics. He attempted college and failed, and becomes disillusioned after he joined the FBI at age 20. It is during this time that he realized that his brand of justice doesn't work "within a system." He returned to his training and ended up in a monastery in the Paektu-San Mountains of North Korea. After about a year of training, Master Kirigi told him that he had exceptional intelligence and physique, but that the trauma in his past had made him self-destructive.
Bruce left Korea and headed to France, to study with the former interpol agent Henri Ducard. While tracking a fugitive, Ducard killd the man and Bruce left, disgusted with his mentor.
After Bruce had met and learned from every great detective in the world he approached Willy Doggett, the best tracker and bounty hunter in Alaska. Bruce, now 23, and Doggett tracked down a man named Tom Woodley to a mountain ledge, where Woodley shot and killed Doggett before he himself fell from a precipice. Bruce, without food or warmth, wandered the snowy mountains. After falling unconscious, he was rescued by a Native American shaman. When Bruce awoke, the old man told Bruce he has the mark of the bat, an animal sacred in his tribe.
Bruce returned to Gotham to begin his crime-fighting at the age of 26. Bruce's first night out, drawn into a fight with a violent pimp while still uncostumed, he was attacked by Selina Kyle. While brooding in the library of Wayne Manor that night, a bat crashed through the study window. Modeling himself after the recurring images of bats, Bruce created his costumed identity: the Batman.
After Batman interrupted a dinner party attended by many of Gotham’s corrupt politicians and crime bosses, including Carmine Falcone, Commissioner Gillian Loeb ordered Lieutenant Gordon to bring him in by any means necessary. Gordon later discovers that Batman is a champion for good when he saves an old lady from an oncoming truck.
Batman later attacked Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, stripped him naked and tied him up in his bed after dumping his car in the river, further infuriating the mob boss. Batman sneaked into Falcone’s manor and overheard a plan against Gordon, but was interrupted when Selina Kyle, hoping to build a reputation after her robberies were pinned on Batman, attacked Falcone and his bodyguards, aided from afar by Batman. Identifying Falcone’s plan as the morning comes, the uncostumed Bruce left to help.
While leaving home, Gordon spotted a motorcyclist entering his garage and saw Johnny Vitti, Falcone’s nephew, and his thugs holding his family hostage. Gordon shot the thugs and chased Vitti, who fled with the baby. Bruce Wayne, on a motorcycle, also rushed out to chase Vitti. Gordon blew out Vitti's car tire and fought him hand-to-hand, losing his glasses, before both of them and James Gordon Jr. fell over the side. Bruce leapt over the railing and saved the baby. Gordon realized that he is standing before an unmasked Batman, but couldn't see his face without his glasses and let Bruce go.
Afterward, Flass turned on Loeb, supplying Harvey Dent with evidence and testimony, and Loeb resigned and was replaced by Peter Grogan. Gordon was promoted to Captain and stood on the rooftop to meet Batman to discuss somebody called The Joker, who was plotting to poison the reservoir. The Joker was later imprisoned in the newly reopened Arkham Asylum.
Batman soon met Professor Hugo Strange, who had been experimenting on Arkham Asylum patients and turning them into hulking brutes with the financial backing of Sal Maroni, and a vampire known as the Monk. As Bruce Wayne he met Julie Madison, a law student that he became romantically involved with. She left to Africa to join the Peace Corps after her father died at the hands of Sal Maroni's thugs.
Later, Bruce and Alfred Pennyworth explored the caverns beneath Wayne Manor. Bruce decided that this spacious cavern would make an ideal base of operations.
When the master criminal Bane freed all of the maximum-security inmates of Arkham Asylum to weaken Batman by forcing him to deal with the deadly villains simultaneously, the scenario created a rift in the relationship between Robin and Batman, as Batman irrationally seeks to face the outbreak alone. Batman became weaker and weaker as each criminal was put away. The rescue of Mayor Krol from the combination of the Joker and Scarecrow took Batman to his mental and physical limits: a dose of Scarecrow's fear gas made him relive the murder of Jason Todd. After this encounter, Bane made his move and attacked Batman at Wayne Manor, breaking Wayne's back over his knee. Bane takes his body downtown to Gotham Square and throws it from a rooftop to demonstrate his superiority to the populace. With Batman incapacitated, Bane assumes control of Gotham City's underworld and takes over several illegal operations within it.
After his defeat, Bruce Wayne enlisted the aid of Dr. Shondra Kinsolving to rehabilitate him and asked Jean-Paul Valley (Azrael) to take up the mantle of Batman so that Gotham had a protector. Tim Drake argued with Bruce to allow Dick Grayson (the former Robin) to become Batman, as he was more experienced and mentally competent. However, Bruce says that Dick was his own man, with his own responsibilities and would only do so reluctantly; Dick later expressed resentment at not being asked to stand in as Batman. Bruce's rationale for this decision is revealed later - secretly, he didn't want Dick to have to face Bane, as he knew Dick's character would compel him to try. Bruce gave Jean-Paul strict orders never to engage Bane in combat; indeed, when Jean-Paul faces Bane, only his modified gloves saved him from being thrown to his death.
Soon after, Kinsolving and Tim's father Jack Drake were kidnapped and Bruce and Alfred left the country to find them. Jean-Paul was a different but not dangerous Batman until the Scarecrow's fear gas caused the "System", Azreal's programming, to take over in order to combat Jean-Paul's fear. Following this, Jean-Paul was unable to shake the influence of the System, giving into it completely after his first defeat at Bane's hands, and being increasingly influenced by it during the rest of his tenure as Batman. Gradually, Jean-Paul alienated Robin with his paranoia and arrogance.
Jean-Paul, in his new mechanical Batsuit confronted Bane in a vicious battle and prevailed, although many innocent citizens were put at risk. Jean-Paul left Bane broken mentally and physically, although he struggled with the choice of whether to simply kill Bane or hand him over to the police. Stating that he would let Bane go to Blackgate Prison, Jean-Paul continued to watch over Gotham after the fight, but grew increasingly unstable.
Jean-Paul Valley saw visions of his dead father, who had programmed him at birth to be a deadly weapon. These visions told Jean-Paul to avenge his father's death, and Jean-Paul searched Gotham for his father's killer. Though the killer, Carlton LeHah, had already been encountered and defeated, Jean Paul's conditioning had warped his mind to the extent that he no longer remembered the incident. He eventually came to believe that Penn Selkirk, a Gotham mobster turned weapons dealer who had taken over the remnants of LeHah's organization, was his father's murderer.
Returning to Gotham, Bruce met with Tim. Even though Jean-Paul disobeyed his order not to go after Bane, Bruce was impressed with his results to let him remain as Batman and decides to retire. But when Robin tells him of Abattoir's death, Bruce sneaked into the Batcave and demanded that Jean-Paul step down. Jean-Paul refused and threatened to kill Bruce if he ever returned.
To rehabilitate his skills, Bruce asked the famed assassin Lady Shiva to retrain him. Instead, Shiva pitted Bruce against several vengeful expert martial artists. Shiva's caveat was that these attacks would continue indefinitely until Bruce Wayne broke his vow to never kill. Finally, in the midst of another attack, Bruce feigned using the fatal Leopard Blow Shiva had taught him, leaving his would-be assailant apparently dead. Shiva finally declared him worthy of fighting her at some point in the future.
Now back in fighting shape, Bruce returned to the Batcave and resumed his role as Batman. Along with Robin and Nightwing, he tracked Valley down to Selkirk's penthouse. Coincidentally, Catwoman was chasing the same man because he owned a neural enabler which might have allowed her paraplegic friend to walk again. Selkirk already wanted to kill Jean-Paul for destroying a valuable weapons cache in Gotham Harbor.
When they eventually all met, mass fighting and gunfire ensued. The battle ended with Selkirk's helicopter crashing into the Gotham Narrows Bridge; Jean-Paul fell aflame into the Gotham River. Bruce and Catwoman saved Selkirk and his aides just before the helicopter exploded from the leaking fuel. When Bruce tried to find Jean-Paul using the Batmobile, it exploded. Nightwing feared Bruce dead and took his vengeance out on Jean-Paul on a party boat. The police arrived in time to prevent Nightwing from murder, but Jean-Paul escaped. However, to his shock, Jean-Paul found Bruce waiting at Wayne Manor.
The final battle took place between Jean-Paul Valley and Bruce Wayne in the caverns surrounding the Batcave: rather than beating Jean-Paul at hand-to-hand combat, Bruce outwits him by escaping into a passage too narrow for Jean-Paul to go through in his armor, thus forcing him to remove most of it. Bruce then opened a hatch to the outside, which covered the very hole he fell into as a child, allowing sunlight to enter the night lenses in Jean-Paul's helmet. After being momentarily blinded, Jean-Paul removed his cowl, sees Bruce standing over him in the original Batman costume and concedes defeat, saying "You are Batman...and I am nothing." Bruce comforted Jean-Paul, who left to wander the streets of Gotham, homeless and destitute. Bruce decided not to take Jean-Paul to the police because it was his decision to make Jean-Paul the Batman.
Bruce reaffirmed his partnership with Tim, resolving the tension caused by his unwillingness to accept help during the Arkham prison break. Bruce passed the mantle of Batman to Grayson so he could reevaluate what it would take to restore his aura of invincibility. When Bruce finally returned for good, he wore a sturdier, darker Batsuit, and drove a new, state-of-the-art Batmobile.
Relationship with Robin
While preparing for a performance, Dick Grayson overheard two gangsters attempting to extort protection money from the circus owner. The owner refused, so the gangsters sabotaged the trapeze wires with acid. During the next performance, the trapeze from which Dick's parents were swinging snapped, sending them to their deaths. Before he could go to the police, Batman appeared and warned him that the two gangsters work for Tony Zucco, a very powerful crime boss, and that revealing his knowledge could lead to his death. When Batman recounted the murder of his own parents, Dick asked to become his aide. After extensive training, Dick became Robin. They started by disrupting Zucco's gambling and extortion rackets. They then successfully baited the riled Zucco into visiting a construction site, where they captured him.
The maturing Dick Grayson grew weary of his role as Batman's young sidekick and became Nightwing. He was replaced by Jason Todd, a young street orphan who first encountered the Dark Knight while attempting to steal the tires off the Batmobile.
Sometime later, Jason found his biological mother in Ethiopia who, since she was being blackmailed, turned him over to the Joker. The Joker beat the boy brutally with a crowbar, and then left him and his mother Sheila in a warehouse with a time bomb. The two tried desperately to get out of the warehouse but were still inside as the bomb went off. Batman arrived too late to save them and was only able to hold Jason's lifeless body in his arms. Jason's death haunts Batman, who keeps Jason's costume on display in the Batcave. Batman considers this his greatest failure: not properly training Jason in his role as Robin and failing to protect him from the Joker. Joker's cruelty of murdering Jason, along with his recent heinous acts to Barbara Gordon and her father Commissioner James Gordon, leads Batman to intensify his obsession with the Clown Prince Of Crime.
Noting that Batman had grown reckless and violent following the death of the second Robin, Tim Drake tried to convince Grayson to become Robin again. Grayson agreed to aid Batman but maintained his Nightwing identity. Drake stressed that Batman needs an actual Robin and convinced Alfred Pennyworth to give him the Robin costume. Tim saved Batman and Nightwing from a battle with Two-Face. Still haunted by Jason's death, Batman provided Tim with a grueling series of trials that Dick and Jason never had to endure to ensure that Tim would be ready before he could take the role. After saving Batman and Vicki Vale when they were kidnapped by Scarecrow, Drake was allowed to be Robin.