There might not be a single person on this planet with full cognitive capabilities who doesn’t know or hasn’t seen the bat-signal. He might not have been the first superhero, but Batman has become the ultimate superhero. He isn’t a friendly neighborhood, wisecracking Batguy, but the saga of Bruce Wayne and his never-ending war on crime is equally as universal, and billions the world over can empathize with taking the law into their own hands to fight for their city.
It also helps that over time, Batman has been as dark and as gothic as one might expect the character to be. But Batman has also been long known and loved for the Adam West TV show that was anything but. At all points in between, there is some version of Batman for everyone. Thanks to a bevy of creators over the years across all various forms of media, Batman is the undisputed king of superheroes, no matter the type of Batman being presented.
Some versions of course are better than others. Here are 10 Alternate Universe Versions Of Batman That Are Shameful (And 10 That Are Decent).
20 Shameful – Dark Claw
In 1996, the epic showdown comic book fans waited for happened with Marvel and DC colliding. Towards the end of the miniseries, the universes collided and formed the Amalgam Universe. Dark Claw became one of their heroes.
As a combination of Wolverine and Batman, Dark Claw looked cool. Much of Amalgam Comics made no sense and a lot of work was getting out into what was essentially a bunch of one-shots that wouldn’t be seen again.
19 Shameful – Stan Lee’s DC
In what was an obvious, if not an intriguing cash grab, Marvel maverick Stan Lee was given the chance to run free and play with the DCU. He created origin stories for all of the heavy hitters. His version of Batman is a topsy-turvy hodgepodge of the original origin story, plus elements of Spider-Man and The Fugitive. But as intriguing of an idea as Stan The Man rewriting DC history was, it was clear his writing style wasn’t up to parr to bring Batman to life.
18 Decent – Batman Beyond
With an aging Batman just too broken to serve Gotham anymore, he’s forced to hang up the cowl. While living as a recluse in 2039 he meets a young Terry McGinnis. Bruce begrudgingly at first decides to train McGinnis and Batman Beyond was born. The series followed the iconic Batman The Animate Series and became very popular in its own right. The series even spawned one of the best Bat-Flicks ever, Return Of The Joker.
17 Shameful – All-Star Batman
Comic book fans will always be indebted to Frank Miller for gifting the industries with Bat-stories like Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, and of course showing the world how cool Daredevil could be. But his All-Star Batman is an exercise in sadism. While the combination of Miller’s writing and Jim Lee’s artwork made for a stellar combination, the series featured a Batman completely devoid of feeling for his young ward, completely and utterly abusing him. It just didn’t play well with fans or critics alike.
16 Shameful – The Bruce
In DC’s Elseworlds, creators get to play with our favorite heroes and pull no punches, since nothing that happens in these stories happen in regular comics continuity. In I, Joker we meet one of the craziest Batmen ever, The Bruce. The people of Gotham are under the cult-like control of The Bruce, who during the The Night Of Blood allows anyone the chance to face him in combat. It is a descendant of the Joker who steps up to the plate to face the Bruce and end the Batman’s reign of terror once and for all.
15 Decent – Flashpoint
The Flashpoint version of Batman is so cool that even detractors of Zack Snyder’s DCEU movies were jazzed up about seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Thomas Wayne. In this reality, it was Bruce that was murdered, leaving Martha to become the Joker and Thomas to don the cowl. He actually knows that he’s no hero, but upon meeting The Flash, the two attempt to repair the timeline where his son is alive.
14 Shameful – Zur-En-Arrh And Bat-Mite
Depending on who is telling the story, Zur-En-Arrh is either the Batman from another world or Batman “without the Bruce.” He’s a being created by hypnotizing Bruce using one of the last things his dad said to him (they’d lock Zorro up in Arkham). Eventually this version finds Bat-Mite from the 5th Dimension, who acts as his conscience. You read that right - an uninhibited Batman with a Mr. Mxyzptlk type of Batman acting as his conscience.
13 Shameful – Bat-Mouse
The Dark Knight’s a Mouse! Robin is a...Robin! The rest of the Justice League are Just’a Lotta Animals in one of the silliest versions of Batman, and the rest of the DCEU ever. It started as an in-joke for Teen Titans and grew into a full fledged parody, the Zoo Crew. If this isn’t proof that nearly anyone can be Batman or create content for Batman then nothing will prove it to you.
12 Decent – The Dark Knight Returns
It might be the most well-known Batman story ever told. It’s certainly one of the defining ones. An aging Batman is brought back into the war on crime when young Mutants terrorize Gotham. Several of his old foes also come out of hiding to take on Batman one last time in the first and great chapter of what would become Frank Miller’s Batverse, which also includes All-Star, and several Returns sequels.
11 Shameful – Brave And The Bold
Just because the series was hysterical doesn’t mean it wasn’t nonsense. The Brave And The Bold took the fun of the sixties show, mixed it with some new millennium lunacy and you get one of the funniest versions of Batman ever. Each episode featured Batman doing business in a brief teaser and then teaming up with a new superhero for the main portion of the episode. More often than not, even the villains were some of the more ridiculous ones, like Crazy Quilt.
10 Shameful – Lego
Just like The Brave And The Bold, Lego Batman and his appearances sought to bring back some humor into the dull and abysmal existence of the Caped Crusader. Will Arnett plays “Mr. I work alone,” Batman here against the Joker and whole cast of villains from across a bunch of movies. But he’s got Robin and Batgirl by his side trying to help him as well in this story of the Clown Prince trying to get Batman to realize that he’s needed.
9 Decent – Dark Joker: The Wild
In the Elseworlds category, this is about as far off the beaten path you could get. Batman here is created by maniacal alchemists and he is a giant hulking beast of a Bat-Man. In the fantasy world of The Wild, the place is ran by Dark Joker, an evil sorcerer who murdered the Bat-Man’s creators. Its actually a very Medieval take on the “Joker Fish” story that has been retold several times over the years.
8 Shameful – Batzarro
Strangely enough, it took nearly seventy years for someone to create Batzarro, the dim witted clone of Batman. Created by the Joker, this version is a failed clone that he created. The clone actually idolized Batman and jumped in front of a bullet that was meant for Batman. The Joker created him just so that he could enjoy killing a Batman.
7 Shameful – Scar Of The Bat
Batman without Bruce Wayne?! In Scar Of The Bat, Eliot Ness comes to wear the cowl to take down Al Capone. After growing increasingly frustrated that Ness can’t bring Al Capone down the legal way, he comes after him with a Tommy Gun and a baseball bat. But since the story doesn’t have to do with the Batman we all know and love, it’s more of a riff on The Untouchables than a Batman story.
6 Decent – The Batman Who Laughs
He looks like a Cenobite, and The Batman Who Laughs might indeed be the darkest version of Batman there is. He killed the Joker and was poisoned with a heavy dose of Joker venom. He grew increasingly more demonic and like his arch nemesis and wound up murdering the Bat Family and turning his Robins into mini-Jokers. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for a Batman who has wrecked havoc all over the DCU.
5 Decent – Batman Across Time
Several years ago, Darkseid blasted Batman with the Omega Beams, sending him hurtling back through time. Bruce Wayne then becomes an even bigger folk hero of sorts, battling cavemen in a Bat-pelt, taking on Blackbeard on the high seas, and even a witch-hunter on his way back to 21st Century Gotham City.
4 Decent – Castle Of The Bat
Batman meets Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in this retelling of the gothic story, Bruce Wayne becomes a scientist. With the help of his assistant, Alfredo the big up Thomas’ brain, some random body parts and voila - bring him back to life! After injecting him with bat-fluid, he goes on a rampage to find the man that killed him; he is eventually killed in the collapse of Castle Wayne.
3 Decent – Bat-God
Batman was always pretty smart. In Tower Of Babel, we learn just how smart and paranoid he is - he developed protocols on how to defeat every member of the Justice League. But that intelligence was boosted ten-fold when he sat in the Mobius Chair of the New Gods during The Darkseid War. As the God Of Knowledge, he even found out the real identity of the Joker, which he received three names for.
2 Decent – Bat Baby
In the “you gotta be kidding me” department, meet Bat Baby. His name was even (annoyed grunt) Lil’ Wayne. In an event that could only happen during the strange Silver Age, Batman is hit with a shrink ray in an attempt to humble the hero. But instead, Bat Baby picked up where Batman left off and continued to train and fight bad guys and even used a rocking horse as the Batmobile.
1 Decent – Abe Lincoln’s Batman
This Elseworld’s story features Batman and his faithful steed, Apocalypse. Bruce and Honest Abe are friends in this story, up until Batman decides on becoming the vigilante. Lincoln finds out that he is actually running a group of bad guys, the Dark Knights. Maybe that’s why Batman heads back in time to stop John Wilkes Booth in The Brave And The Bold, maybe Batman felt bad?