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He’s the hero WatchMojo deserves, but not the one it needs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 Batman moments.
For this list, we’ve selected the most memorable, most badass moments from the Batman franchise. We’ll be looking at comic books, movies, TV shows, and video games, so anything is fair game. However, as awesome as the Joker heist in The Dark Knight was, it will not be eligible because we’ll be focusing on moments that feature the caped crusader himself.
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#10: Suiting Up “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993)
Our list begins with a brief but memorable moment from Batman’s 1993 animated theatrical release. The reason this particular scene is so significant is that it portrays Bruce Wayne’s first time donning his iconic cowl in a flashback. Adding to the emotional layers of the scene, he does so after being heartbroken by his then-girlfriend, Andrea Beaumont. There are many moments that could have taken this spot, since he’s basically a badass all the time, but this one shows the more human elements of the Bat, and makes him all the more relatable.
#9: Batman’s Addiction “Venom” (1991)
Some of the best moments in the Batman universe are also some of the darkest. In this story arc, he decides to try an experimental drug called Venom after he fails to save a young girl, and quickly becomes addicted. Though he’s had to face many enemies, one of Batman’s greatest struggles is his inner turmoil, and that is encapsulated perfectly by this story arc. In order to overcome his addiction, he shows incredible mental strength by locking himself away in the Batcave for thirty days. By showing the seemingly invincible man trapped in a relatively mundane conflict, we are reminded of his vulnerability and humanity.
#8: Batman’s Debut “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” (1939)
Way back in 1939, Bill Finger and Bob Kane submitted Batman into our cultural lexicon, and Detective Comics made a name for itself. In his first adventure, the Bat helps Commissioner Gordon solve a murder, and battles the classic villain, Alfred Stryker. Wait, he’s not a classic villain? Oh, that’s right. Batman used to have no qualms about killing criminals, and he knocks this one right into a vat of acid. Sure, the character has developed quite a bit since then, but this was the world’s introduction to Batman, and his popularity has only grown in his seventy-plus years of gracing comics.
#7: Not Saving Ra’s al Ghul “Batman Begins” (2005)
Batman’s refusal to kill is one of his defining features, so when he allows death to occur, it’s a pretty major event. In the climactic sequence of Christopher Nolan’s first entry into the Dark Knight trilogy, he faces off against his ex-mentor, Ra’s al Ghul. The scene also provides Gordon with a chance to shine, since he is vital in the effort to stop the train that would destroy Gotham. Here we can see the reason why he’s called the Dark Knight, as he proves just how ruthless he can be in the name of what is right.
#6: The Interrogation “The Dark Knight” (2008)
The Dark Knight wouldn’t have become the modern superhero classic that it is without the late Heath Ledger’s absolutely brilliant performance as the Joker. With Harvey and Rachel in danger, he pushes Batman to his limits in an epic showdown. Bruce’s intelligence and strength are both at play here as he goes toe-to-toe with the maniacal fiend. Christopher Nolan’s tight direction and writing creates an incredibly tense scene that has us questioning whether or not our hero will break his cardinal rule. The scene and the following sequence could serve as the climax to any other film, but in this masterpiece, it’s just another of many incredible moments to come.
#5: Bruce Escapes the Police “Batman: Year One” (1987)
This is the only moment on our list that technically predates Batman. In this retelling of his origin story, a young Bruce patrols the streets in disguise and gets caught in an altercation with a pimp and Selina Kyle (later known as Catwoman). The police show up and Bruce is apprehended, giving him his first real challenge as a vigilante. Naturally, they’re no match for him, resulting in an explosive car crash that allows him to escape—but not before saving the officers’ lives, of course. It was an important move, proving Bruce’s physical abilities as well as his problem-solving skills, and taught him that if he wants to continue, he needs to think carefully about his actions.
#4: Bane Breaks Batman’s Back “Knightfall” (1993-94)
Batman can be such a badass, it’s easy to forget that he’s really only human. In one of his greatest story arcs, he finally meets an enemy that’s both his mental and physical equal: Bane. He becomes highly exhausted after basically returning every criminal to Arkham Asylum following a breakout: which is when Bane makes his move. He breaks the Dark Knight like a twig, rendering him paraplegic for several issues. This vulnerable moment may have been a loss for Batman, but his ensuing recovery perfectly encapsulated his mental and physical resilience, proving that no matter what the challenge, he’ll always end up back on top.
#3: One Punch! “Justice League #5” (1987)
You would think that anyone would think twice before challenging Batman to battle, but, to be honest, we’re kind of glad Guy Gardner didn’t. As the cocky, arrogant Green Lantern, Guy constantly challenged Bruce for authority, though he was always denied. The conflict climaxed with Guy challenging Batman to hand-to-hand combat, which Batman quickly shut down with a single punch. The moment was so popular among fans that it has been referenced many times since, including in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Batman himself later gets thwacked in a similar fashion by a different Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.
#2: The Killing Joke? “The Killing Joke” (1988)
Alan Moore’s iconic one-shot Batman story is remembered as one of the darkest. In it, the Joker paralyzes Barbara Gordon, takes photos of her helpless body and kidnaps her father, Commissioner Gordon, forcing him to look. In the final pages, Batman confronts his nemesis and laments that their feud could only end in death. The Joker responds with a joke, which, unexpectedly, causes the Dark Knight to crack a rare smile and ambiguously reach for the clown prince as the story comes to a close. Did he kill the Joker? Was he hugging him? Did Bruce go mad? The ambiguity of the frames has long been the subject of debate, but either way, it’s one of the most climactic confrontations between these two.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Batman “Dies,” R.I.P. (2008)
- Bomb Disposal, Batman: The Movie (1966)
- Batman Defeats the Mutant Leader, The Dark Knight Returns (1986)
#1: Batman Defeats Superman “The Dark Knight Returns” (1986)
Showdowns really don’t get more epic than two of pop culture’s most iconic heroes facing off. This four-issue miniseries, written by Frank Miller, follows an older Bruce Wayne as he comes out of retirement to protect Gotham once again. This doesn’t sit well with the government, who sends Superman to apprehend him, resulting in a brawl at the very spot where Bruce’s parents were murdered. Batman is able to win the battle with a little help from Green Arrow. Proving that even one of the most powerful characters of all time is no match for Bruce’s brawn and intellect, the moment has a place not only in the history of Batman, but the history of comics itself.