Theoretically, you could be Batman. Even though he’s one of DC’s biggest superheroes, the Dark Knight is still just a human. Since he doesn’t have any superpowers, it’s tempting to believe that you could become Batman with a lifetime of training across different fields. To be fair, Bruce Wayne used his immense personal wealth, the vast resources of Wayne Enterprises, impossibly hi-tech equipment and an international network of allies to become Batman. But at the end of the day, Batman is still only human, at least on a physical level.
Now, CBR is taking a look at some of the weird facts you didn’t know about Batman’s body. From utterly bizarre transformations to the depressingly real fragility of the human body, Batman’s adventures have always been informed by his physical limitations. In order to keep up with superhumans like Superman and Wonder Woman, Batman has pushed his body and brain to the brink of what humans can theoretically accomplish. Now, this list will look at the physical toll of Batman’s training and adventures after decades of stories in comics, movies and TV. While he couldn’t exist outside of a fantastic superhero universe, Batman’s body is a consistent reminder that the hero is all too human.
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER
As Batman Begins recounted, Bruce Wayne didn’t become Batman overnight. In order to transform himself from wealthy heir into the Dark Knight, Wayne trained in 127 different forms of martial arts from around the world. Although it takes real people a lifetime to master a few fighting styles, Batman has received a comprehensive education in styles as diverse as Karate, Judo, Kickboxing, Capoeira, Krav Maga and Silat, to name a few.
Batman has developed a unique fighting style that reflects the total control he has over his body
While the names of his teachers have changed with DC’s various reboots, Wayne has trained under noteworthy fighters like the brutal Henri Ducard, the boxing superhero Wildcat and the reclusive warrior Shihan Matsuda. After studying with the magical hero Zatara, Wayne also became one of the world’s best escape artists. By combining techniques and moves from many of these disparate fields, Batman has developed a unique fighting style that reflects the total control he has over his body.
ADDICTED TO BANE’S VENOM
Over the years, Batman’s strength has grown from above-average to almost superhuman levels. While he’s been seen benching over 1,000 lbs in recent years, he used to have trouble lifting a little over 600 lbs. Since that was too weak by his impossible standards, a young Batman tried to enhance his strength through artificial means in “Venom.” In that 1991 Legends of the Dark Knight story by Dennis O’Neil, Trevor Von Eeden, Russell Braun and José García-López, Batman became addicted to the same strength-enhancing drug that fuels the villain Bane.
While this variation of Venom made Batman stronger, it made him increasingly violent and detached. Although it wasn’t identical to the liquid Venom that pumps into Bane’s bloodstream, Batman became totally dependent on Doctor Randolph Porter’s strength-enhancing pills. He finally quit the drug cold turkey by locking himself in the Batcave for a month.
In one of the most famous moments in Batman history, the super-strong Bane broke Batman’s back after a lengthy campaign against the Dark Knight. In the 1993 crossover “Knightfall,” Batman suffered a “fulcrum-type stress fracture” that left the hero paraplegic. As Jean-Paul Valley took to Gotham City’s streets as a more violent Batman, Bruce Wayne received an unusual treatment for his spinal injuries.
Batman suffered a “fulcrum-type stress fracture.”
In 1992’s Batman #481, Doug Moench and Jim Aparo introduced Doctor Shondra Kinsolving, a physiotherapist who had worked with Robin’s dad. After being hired to privately treat Wayne, she began using her meta-human healing powers on him until she was kidnapped by her brother, Benedict Asp. After she inadvertently killed her brother, Kinsolving pushed her powers past the edge to fix Wayne’s back. Although Batman was healed enough to begin training again, this left her in a child-like mental state for years.
BATMAN’S SLEEPING TROUBLE
Since he usually fights crime nocturnally, Batman can’t really keep a traditional sleep schedule. Over the years, various sources have addressed this issue in several different ways. In Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne slept late into the day and dozed off during Wayne Enterprises board meetings. In Tim Burton’s 1989 movie, Batman, Michael Keaton’s eccentric Bruce Wayne occasionally slept in a contraption that hung him upside down, like an actual bat.
In comics, Batman has found some equally eccentric ways to operate without a full night’s sleep. In Grant Morrison and Lee Garbett’s Batman #682, Batman explained that he can function on “regular problem-solving micronaps” where he sleeps for a few seconds at a time. When that’s not enough rest, Wayne has trained himself to compress a full night’s sleep into three hours. He can usually go for three or four days without sleep while functioning normally.
After the current Robin Damian Wayne, was killed in battle, the Dark Knight went past the ends of the Earth to bring his son back. When the path to resurrection led him to Darkseid’s planet Apokolips, Batman turned to a powerful suit of armor that had been built by the Justice League. By using his body’s metabolism as a battery, this Hellbat armor let Batman defeat Darkseid in one-on-one combat.
The suit almost burned out Batman’s body completely.
After a short excursion to the alien world, the suit almost burned out Batman’s body completely. In Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman & Robin #37, the suit and exposure to Darkseid’s Chaos Shard left a deformed Batman close to death. When Batman plunged the Chaos Shard into his son’s sarcophagus, layers of Batman’s irradiated skin fell off as his son came back to life. After their brief reunion, Batman still collapsed from the exhaustion of powering the suit.
REVIVED BY THE LAZARUS PITS
Since they were introduced by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams in 1972’s Batman #243, the Lazarus Pits have been a convenient way for Batman’s foes to cheat death. While Ra’s al Ghul is the Pit’s most frequent user, Batman has used its rejuvenating powers at least once. In O’Neil and Norm Breyfogle’s 1992 graphic novel Batman: Birth of the Demon, Ra’s impaled Batman with a shovel. After the two fell dead fighting in a Lazarus Pit, Batman woke up the next morning, alive and fully healed from his wounds.
In other realities, Batman has willingly bathed in a Lazarus Pit. In a 2000 episode of Batman Beyond, Ra’s tricked an elderly Wayne into restoring his youth with a dip in a Lazarus Pit. In John Byrne’s alternate reality series Superman & Batman: Generations, Bruce Wayne used a Lazarus Pit to effectively make himself immortal so he could be Batman forever.
THE BAT-LAB RAT
Especially in his earlier crime-fighting days, Batman encountered a lot of mad scientists. During several of those encounters, Batman became an unwilling guinea pig for their experimental chemicals. In his first appearance, Professor Milo used Phobia Liquid to make Batman afraid of bats in 1957’s Detective Comics #247 by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff. Later that year, Milo exposed Batman to a gas derived from a “rare Amazon plant” that made Batman life-threateningly lethargic in Finger and Moldoff’s Batman #112.
On occasion, Batman has also willingly subjected himself to experiments for science.
In 1963’s Batman #156, by Finger and Moldoff, Doctor Simon Hurt tested the effects of prolonged isolation on Batman. While in this N.A.S.A. research experiment, Batman experienced vivid hallucinations of Robin’s death. While this incident was quickly written off, the experiment had a lingering effect on Batman’s brain that wouldn’t be seen for decades.
BATMAN’S BACKUP BRAIN
In the same way that a normal person might create a backup for their computer, Batman created a backup personality for his mind. When Doctor Hurt saw the hallucinogenic effects of Milo’s gas on Batman, he hid a hypnotic suggestion in Batman’s brain. After Hurt launched a psychosocial assault on the Dark Knight in Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel’s Batman #678, his sub-conscious back-up, the garishly-dressed Batman of Zur-En-Arrh took came to the fore in that 2008 tale.
While this aggressive alternate personality came with non-stop hallucinations, Batman claimed that his thinking was “clearer and more streamlined” in this identity. Despite his hyperactive thinking and aggression, Batman fell into a trap set by Doctor Hurt and the Joker. After Batman was exposed to an otherwise deadly neurotoxin and trapped in a coffin with limited oxygen, Batman’s brain essentially rebooted back into its original state.
Even after a few years of crime-fighting, Batman has scars from his countless fights all over his body. While Alfred has usually been able to use his training as a combat medic to treat most of Batman’s wounds, Batman’s more serious injuries have always left lasting marks. As far back as the 1970s, characters like Catwoman looked on with shock and horror when they saw the number of scars on Batman’s torso.
Bale’s Bruce Wayne had no cartilage in his knee, elbow or shoulders.
In Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises, a doctor, portrayed by Thomas Lennon, gave a fairly exhaustive list of the injuries Christian Bale’s Batman suffered after a few years of activity. Bale’s Bruce Wayne had no cartilage in his knee, elbow or shoulders. After countless blows to the head, Bale’s Batman had “residual concussive damage” to his brain. In addition to noting the “general scarred-over quality” of Wayne’s body, Lennon’s doctor also noted the scar tissue on Batman’s kidneys.
Even though he’s human, Batman’s body has gone through a number of deeply weird physical transformations. For instance, in Dave Wood and Sheldon Moldoff’s Batman #162, mad scientist Eric Barroc used a ray that turned people into animals to turn Batman into a “Batman creature” who went on a rampage throughout Gotham. Through mystical means, Batman has been de-aged back into a child in comics like the 2000 crossover “Sins of Youth” and in cartoons like Justice League Unlimited.
While the effects of invisibility serums and shrink rays usually don’t last long, Batman has gone through far more disturbing permanent transformations in some worlds. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s 2017 crossover Dark Nights: Metal introduced several versions of Batman who had been twisted into monsters in the Dark Multiverse. Most notably, the Batman Who Laughs was infected and corrupted by the Joker’s chaotic insanity after he killed the villain.
Although Batman’s tireless training has given him one of the best memories in the world, Batman has suffered from significant memory loss several times. In episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman temporarily forgot who he was as the result of severe head trauma. In Kelley Puckett and Mike Parobeck’s cartoon-inspired Batman Adventures #34, a zap from a memory-erasing beam erased all of Batman’s memories after the age of six until another blast restored them.
[The procedure] briefly left Wayne brain dead.
In Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #40, Batman’s neural pathways were remade when he was exposed to the fictional metal dionesium. In that 2015 story, Bruce Wayne completely forgot about his time as Batman. In order to restore his memories, Wayne used a machine that rewired his brain with various ideas about Batman. Although it briefly left Wayne brain dead, the effort was ultimately successful.
POISON CAN’T STOP BATMAN
With a rogues gallery of opponents that includes Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and the Joker, Batman is exposed to a high number of poisons and toxins on an unusually regular basis. As Batman explained in Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel’s Batman #681, he’s developed immunities to several poisons through repeated exposure. While he carries several poison antidotes in his utility belt, he’s also used willpower to overcome the mind-altering substances used by characters like the Mad Hatter.
Batman’s immunity to specific poisons has even saved Gotham City. In Gregg Hurwitz and David Finch’s Batman: The Dark Knight #15, Scarecrow released a particularly nasty form of his trademark Fear Toxin across Gotham. Since he was already exposed to it, Batman had the antibodies in his blood. To quickly distribute a makeshift cure across Gotham, Batman used the Batplane to cover the city in a fine red mist of his antibody-rich blood.
BATMAN’S A PORTAL TO UNSPEAKABLE EVIL
Usually, Batman finds a way to win. While that makes him one of the Justice League’s most formidable heroes, it also makes him a little predictable, and a few major villains have tried to use that to their advantage. When Darkseid sent Batman hurtling through time, the cosmic tyrant sent the Hyper-Adapter after Batman in 2010’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. In that Grant Morrison-penned event, the immensely powerful beast bonded with Batman and tried to use Batman’s travels through time to destroy all reality.
To prepare Batman’s body, Barbatos exposed Batman to several different fictional metals.
More recently, Barbatos, an ancient cosmic entity, tried to use Batman as his vessel to enter the multiverse in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Knights: Metal. To prepare Batman’s body, Barbatos exposed Batman to several different fictional metals like dionesium throughout his recent adventures. Despite being woefully outclassed, Batman usually finds a way to defeat these threats with some help from his friends.
THE NEW GOD OF KNOWLEDGE
Over the years, Batman has had superpowers on several occasions. While these incidents briefly added new weapons to Batman’s crime-fighting arsenal, one transformed Batman into a New God in the 2015 storyline “The Darkseid War.” In Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s Justice League #42, Batman sat in the all-seeing Metron’s Mobius Chair. By sitting in the chair, Batman became the New God of Knowledge.
As Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin revealed in the oddly punctuated Justice League: The Darkseid War: Batman, Batman got a host of cosmic-level abilities from the chair. In the chair, Batman was immortal and had access to unlimited knowledge, which included telepathic abilities. With his precognitive powers and teleportation abilities, Batman stopped crimes before they happened around Gotham in a Minority Report-like move. The Mobius Chair also took away Batman’s need for food and, apparently, sleep, until he stood up and escaped its influence.
BATMAN WON’T AGE WELL
In almost every reality, Batman’s story doesn’t end well. Dozens of stories have shown how Bruce Wayne will probably die during his Batman’s last adventure. Even in Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello and Andy Kubert’s Dark Knight III: The Master Race #6, that elderly Batman died after coming out of retirement in Miller’s iconic 1986 Batman epic, The Dark Knight Returns.
While he was revived by a Lazarus Pit, several other alternate realities and future worlds gave Batman a violent death in battle.
Even if he makes it into his golden years, the end of Batman’s life will likely be filled with physical pain. In the dystopian future of Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come, Batman had to wear an exoskeleton to move. Even in cartoons like Batman Beyond and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, an elderly Batman had to pay the physical toll for his youthful exploits.
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