10 DC Comics Characters Who Became Batman After Bruce Wayne

Batman was born in the 1930s through the combined efforts of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Since then, The Dark Knight has been prowling the nights and rooftops of Gotham City, waging a war on crime. Even with no superpowers, Batman has remained one of the world’s most popular superheroes, thanks to his detective skills, cool gadgets, colorful rogue’s gallery, and dark, hardcore nature.

We often associate Batman with his alter ego Bruce Wayne, the billionaire who remains haunted by the traumatic childhood murder of his parents. But Bruce isn’t the only one to don the cape and cowl. In fact, there are at least ten other characters in the DC Comics universe who have claimed the title of Batman.

10 Thomas Wayne

A Violent and Ruthless Batman

Flashpoint was a comic book crossover story arc that was adapted into the animated film, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. It imagines a DC universe where the Flash inadvertently creates an alternate timeline by using his speed to travel back in time and prevent his mother’s murder, much like we saw in 2023’s The Flash. In the Flashpoint universe, it was Bruce Wayne that was murdered in Crime Alley, not his parents. Like with the original Batman, this tragedy has a profound, and also devastating, impact on Thomas Wayne.

He dons the cape and cowl and becomes the Batman of the Flashpoint universe. A very different kind of Batman. Unlike his son, Thomas doesn’t adhere to any rules. Sporting black and blood-red colors, he’s a violent and ruthless Batman, who takes no issue with killing criminals. And what happened to his wife and Bruce’s mother, Martha, you ask? She also goes a different route — and becomes the Joker of this universe.

9 Superman

Clark Kent Has Been Batman Several Times

Everyone knows how the Kryptontian alien, Kal-El, travels to Earth as an infant and becomes Clark Kent, who later takes on the identity of the legendary Superman. But not everyone knows that there are stories where Superman actually assumes the identity of Batman.

During the ’50s, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent had reporters and love interests Vicki Vale and Lois Lane, respectively, chasing them, trying to prove that they were both moonlighting as superheroes. To throw the reporters off their scent, Clark would swap places with Bruce and play the role of Batman, fighting criminals and exhibiting instances of superhuman strength. But that’s not the only instance.

There’s also an Elseworld story out there, a one-shot comic book called Superman: Speeding Bullets, that imagines a young Kal-El being found by Bruce’s parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, instead. They adopt him and name him Bruce. In typical fashion, Thomas and Martha are gunned down in an alleyway — except here, the Kryptonian Bruce discovers his latent superpowers and kills the mugger with his heat vision. Bruce later adopts the persona of the crime-fighting Batman, a Dark Knight with Superman abilities and a full mask. Pretty awesome.

8 Brane Taylor

Batman 3000

Only the most hardcore Batman and DC Comics fans know about Brane Taylor. 1944’s Batman #26 transports readers into the year 3000. The world looks very different in this time period, except for one aspect: it still has Batman and Robin. After watching archival footage of the dynamic duo from the 20th century, Brane Taylor and his nephew Ricky become inspired to assume the identities of Batman and Robin and become heroes.

Most fans refer to this version of the character as Batman 3000. As it turns out, Brane is actually a descendant of Bruce Wayne. It seems like Batman is more than just a choice; it’s in the Wayne bloodline. Brane also makes a cameo in one of Grant Morrison’s final stories of Batman, depicted as a grittier, post-apocalyptic version.

7 Terry McGinnis

From Relic to Reality

If you were a kid in the late ’90s, then you were probably a fan of, or at least heard about, the animated TV series Batman Beyond. Created by the same team who gave us the iconic Batman: The Animated Series, hailed by many as one of the greatest superhero cartoons ever made, Batman Beyond takes viewers to the Gotham City of the future… all the way to 2019 (makes you feel a bit old, doesn’t it?). Here, Gotham City is overrun by crime (naturally), and Batman no longer exists. His tale is an ancient relic, as is Bruce Wayne himself.

In the beginning of the series, Terry McGinnis is a small-time criminal associated with a street gang called the Jokerz, who murders his father for retribution. Naturally, this murder sets Terry on a path to becoming the next Batman, donning advanced and futuristic bat armor and aided by an aging Bruce Wayne. For the longest time, Terry wasn’t considered a canonical character.

But he officially entered mainstream DC continuity in 2014’s, The New 52: Futures End. He has since played the role of Batman on numerous occasions in the comics. And there’s supposedly a Batman Beyond animated film being pitched by the creators of the Oscar-winning Spider-Verse movies.

6 Jean-Paul Valley

The First Batman After Bruce Wayne

Jean-Paul Valley is notable for being the first character to take on the Batman mantle after Bruce Wayne. He was a major supporting character during the ’90s, particularly in the iconic Knightfall story arc.

A descendant of a long family line of assassins and a member of a murderous religious order, Jean-Paul had been brainwashed and programmed since childhood to become the next Azrael, an incarnation of the angel Azrael who kills for the religious order. Batman took in Jean-Paul, groomed him to become the next Batman, and helped him shed his programming. Or so it seemed.

After Bane shatters Batman’s back in Knightfall, Bruce is put out of commission. It’s Jean-Paul Valley who rises to take Batman’s place, donning gold and blue battle armor, and defeats Bane. But Jean-Paul’s Batman gradually becomes more violent and merciless, as his Azrael programming returns and takes over. Realizing that he’s chosen the wrong successor, Bruce is forced to don the cape and cowl once again and defeat Azrael to take back his title.

5 Alfred Pennyworth

A Clever Ploy Before Bruce Shows Up

Alfred Pennyworth is more than Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler. He’s the family that Bruce lost, the one who single-handedly raised and supported Bruce after his parents’ deaths. He’s arguably the most important ally in Bruce’s life. For years, Alfred stayed behind the scenes and aided The Dark Knight from the shadows. But Batman: Rebirth gives Alfred his big moment.

Here, Bruce has handed the reins over to a new hero named Gotham — who naturally turns into a villain (Bruce seems to be awful at choosing his replacements). Bruce needed someone to distract Gotham and enlisted Alfred’s help. The faithful butler dons the cape and cowl (while still rocking his signature mustache, of course) and even gets to fly the Batplane, stalling Gotham until the real Batman shows up.

4 Jason Todd

A Reckless, Aggressive Batman

Jason Todd has worn many masks over the years. He first started out as the second Robin during the ’80s, a more reckless and aggressive iteration of the Boy Wonder. Todd was famously killed by the Joker in Batman: Death in the Family, marking a significant moment and tragedy in Batman’s history. He was resurrected using Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus pits and became the mysterious villain Red Hood in Batman: Under the Hood, seeking revenge on both the Joker and Batman.

Bruce has disappeared following the events of Batman R.I.P., leaving a void in Gotham City. Battle for the Cowl captures a world without Bruce Wayne, where his Bat-family dukes it out for the mantle of Batman. Jason Todd is one of the people who throw his hat into the ring — and naturally, he’s a very violent, but cool, Batman.

While rocking an all-black suit and glowing red eyes, Todd proclaims himself the new Batman, wielding a gun — the one weapon that Batman vowed never to use — in each hand. But Todd winds up getting defeated by another character on this list.

3 Tim Drake

Tim Drake vs. Jason Todd

Tim Drake is one of the few characters who actually managed to deduce Batman’s secret identity. Named after filmmaker Tim Burton, the director of the then-upcoming 1989 film, Batman, Drake made his debut in 1989’s Batman: Year Three. He took on the role of Robin, simply because he felt like Batman needed a Robin to even out his most violent tendencies, and has been fighting crime alongside Batman ever since.

In Battle for the Cowl, Drake fills the void left behind by Batman. Rocking the traditional colors, he is a noticeably younger and leaner version of Batman. Drake dons the cape and cowl to take on Jason Todd, the impostor Batman, and tracks him to a twisted version of the Batcave. But he’s no match for Jason Todd, proving that he’s not yet ready to bear the name Batman.

2 Damian Wayne

Like Father, Like Son?

Introduced in Grant Morrison’s Batman and Son story arc, Damian Wayne is the biological son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, and also the grandson of Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul. From a young age, he was trained by the League of Assassins, adopting their merciless ways and learning to kill his enemies. Jason Todd’s Robin is a saint compared to Damian, who’s entitled, hostile, egotistical, and violent — a real demon child. Literally. He was named after Damian, the son of the Devil from the 1976 horror classic The Omen, and is viewed as a sort of Antichrist.

In Batman #666, we’re offered a glimpse of the Gotham City of the future, where Damian has fulfilled his legacy — by selling his soul to the Devil and taking his father’s place as Batman. A murderous version of The Dark Knight, who wears a long trench coat instead of the classic cape. But until then, in the years before this apocalyptic future, Damian serves as the fifth Robin, aiding Batman in his war on crime, eager to win his father’s approval.

Related: The 10 Greatest Batman Movies Ever Made (Live-Action and Animated), Ranked

1 Dick Grayson

The Most Obvious Choice

You had to know this one was coming. Dick Grayson is the original Robin, the orphaned acrobat who was taken in by Bruce Wayne after his family’s tragic deaths. He was groomed into becoming Batman’s sidekick and eventual successor. But Dick instead follows his own path in adulthood and leaves Robin behind in order to become the hero, Nightwing.

In Battle for the Cowl, Grayson is the obvious choice for replacing the missing Bruce Wayne as Batman. But he refuses the job, afraid of living in The Dark Knight’s shadow. At least, at first. As Jason Todd’s Impostor Batman continues to wreak havoc on Gotham, Grayson is forced to at last answer the call. He takes up the mantle of Batman and defeats Jason Todd, something that both Tim Drake and Damian Wayne failed to do.

Grayson is, naturally, a very different kind of Batman: a lighter and more hopeful, who’s actually moved past his childhood trauma. Grayson continues to don the cape and cowl with Damian as his darker, more intense Robin, an interesting reversal of roles, until The New 52 rebooted the continuity and returned Bruce Wayne to his proper place.


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