To quote one eccentric billionaire, “Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot,” and no one terrifies criminals quite like Batman. For nearly 80 years, the Caped Crusader has used his massive wealth and obsessive neuroses to put Gotham’s most ruthless criminals behind bars. Tune in at this Bat-time, at this Bat-website for these 42 shadowy facts about Batman.
42. The Man Behind the Mask
Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for Action Comics—later DC—in 1939. While Finger was responsible for the most characteristic elements—the cape and cowl, the dark color scheme, and many of Batman’s best-known villains—he would not receive proper acknowledgment until 2015.
41. Famous Names
Finger was also responsible for the name “Bruce Wayne.” The name is a mashup of Scottish national hero Robert the Bruce and American revolutionary “Mad” Anthony Wayne.
40. It Begins
Everybody knows Batman’s origin story. The murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents by a mugger named Joe Chill is a central part of the Batman mythos and explains his motivations for becoming a masked vigilante. The story of his parents’ death, however, wasn’t created until Detective Comics #33, nearly a year after the first story hit the shelves.
39. Like Bat-Father, Like Bat-Son
Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas Wayne, was a medical doctor and heir to the Wayne Enterprises fortune. It’s been implied in a number of stories that Thomas Wayne was himself a masked vigilante.
38. Wayne Enterprises
Wayne Enterprises is pretty large as far as fictional corporations go. Valued at $31.3 billion, Wayne Enterprises has many, many subdivisions. There is Wayne Medical, Wayne Biotech, Wayne Automotive, Wayne Foods—it has a presence in virtually every industry, and the dollar bills to show for it.
37. Media Mogul
Among the holdings of Wayne Entertainment is the newspaper The Daily Planet, which means Batman is technically Superman’s boss.
36. Pen and Ink Plutocrats
Bruce Wayne is estimated to be worth $9 billion. This makes him wealthier than the X-Men’s Professor Xavier, but not as wealthy as Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man.
35. On the Wings of a Bat
The Batplane predates the Batmobile. Batman first flies the Batplane in Detective Comics #31, but he drives a nondescript red sedan until Detective Comics #48.
34. The Boys (and Girl) Wonder
Since Detective Comics #38, Batman has been frequently joined in his adventures by his sidekick, Robin. There have been many Robins over the years, most of them orphans Wayne has adopted. Most recently Bruce Wayne’s biological son, Damian, has served as the Boy Wonder.
33. Merry Olde Gotham
While many people assume Robin is named for the bird (citing his red-breasted costume), creator Jerry Robinson claimed both the name and the costume are based on English folk hero Robin Hood. I wonder how Bruce Wayne feels about people who steal from the rich…
32. Holy Homophobia!
Bruce Wayne’s habit of adopting and forming close relationships with teenage boys has led some people to suggest that he is gay. A not-entirely-tolerant accusation to that effect formed the basis of Seduction of the Innocent, a 1954 book written by a psychiatrist that attacked comic books. It eventually led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority.
31. The Feminine Touch
The short-lived character Aunt Harriet was supposedly introduced to the comics and the TV series to give Robin a maternal influence, and to dissuade suggestions that there was anything “untoward” in Batman and Robin’s relationship.
30. Under the Hood
According to the Batmobile Owner’s Manual (yes, that’s a thing), the Batmobile has up to 10,000 horsepower (hp). To compare, a Honda Civic engine is advertised as having 158hp, and Formula 1 racing car engines have a power output of 750hp.
The Batmobile for the 1960s television series starring Adam West was based on the Lincoln Futura and designed by George Barris, a custom-car builder who also designed cars for The Munsters, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Knight Rider.
28. First on Film
Batman has been portrayed by more than a dozen actors in cartoons, video games, and films, but it was Lewis Wilson who first donned the cowl and cape. Wilson appeared in 15 war-time serials for Columbia Pictures in which our hero fights Japanese spies.
27. The Voice
Who was the best Batman? Adam West? Christian Bale? How about Kevin Conroy? The voice actor has played the Caped Crusader in eight cartoon series, 10 video games, and 13 movies, making him the most experienced of the bunch.
26. No Laughing Matter
Batman kills his archrival, the Joker, at the end of Batman #1. Writers worried a recurring villain made it seem as though our hero couldn’t get the job done. Luckily they were overruled by an editor, and the Joker went on to appear in nine of the first 12 Batman comics.
25. Soup-er Man
Have you ever wondered what Batman eats to keep in such peak condition? According to issue #701, his favorite food is mulligatawny soup.
24. Flying Solo
1997s Batman and Robin was objectively terrible and nearly derailed the franchise. Maybe that’s why Christian Bale agreed to do the Christopher Nolan movies only on the condition that Robin was never to appear in the trilogy. We guess they must have begged him to let the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character get written in.
23. The Batsuit
If Batman doesn’t have superpowers, his suit—made of fictional materials—sure does. It’s fire-resistant, insulated from electric shock and bulletproof. His cape can act as a parachute or a hang-glider. The cowl contains all kinds of high-tech tools like communication systems and night vision, and is lined with lead to keep certain super-powered individuals from seeing his true identity. If anything in the stories is unbelievable, it’s this magic suit.
22. Meanwhile, At Stately Playboy Manor…
Allegedly, Hugh Hefner was the inspiration for the 1960s Batman TV series. At a superhero-themed party at the Chicago Playboy Club, Hefner and his buddies dressed up as Batman and his enemies. An ABC executive, amused by Hef’s campy take on the Dark Knight, pitched the idea for a TV series from a payphone at the club.
21. A Man of Many Faces
Voice actor Troy Baker is the only person to have played both Batman and his archrival, the Joker. He has played both roles several times in different animated series and video games. He has also provided the voice of the villain Two-Face in the video game Batman: Arkham Knight.
20. Many Batmen
While Bruce Wayne is the Batman, several other characters have taken his place, no matter how briefly. Substitute Batmen have included Commissioner Gordon, Wayne’s son Damian, the villain Bane, and the former Robin, Dick Grayson.
The most notable substitute Batman was the anti-hero Azrael, who filled in for Bruce Wayne while he was recovering from having his back broken by Bane. That storyline, Knightfall, inspired the storyline for The Dark Knight Rises.
Commissioner Jim Gordon is obviously not in the same crime-fighting league as Bruce Wayne. While subbing for Batman he wore a massive robotic suit.
Bruce Wayne speaks 40 languages. Pshhh, overachiever.
16. Batmen of All Nations
Since 1955, Bruce Wayne has franchised his brand for global crime fighting. His “Batmen of All Nations” include England’s Knight (and his sidekick, Squire), Argentina’s El Gaucho, and the French Nightrunner. Man-of-Bats watches over a Sioux reservation in South Dakota, and the Ranger defends Australia.
15. Can He Beat Superman?
Yes. While he might not have Supe’s suite of superpowers, Batman is a master strategist and has always come prepared the handful of times he and Superman have gone toe to toe. Batman keeps a hefty arsenal of kryptonite-based weapons for just such an occasion.
14. Spies’ Eyes
Batman is a long-standing member of the Justice League of America, but that doesn’t mean he trusts them. He launched the Brother 1 to monitor his JLA allies at all times and—if need be—kill them with laser beams. Better safe than sorry?
13. Armor Overkill
Batman also invested in a “Justice-Buster” suit. Worth more than half the world’s estimated military budget, its rigged with all manner of weapon for fighting members of the Justice League, from a computer processor so fast it can predict where the Flash is going, to a device that sucks all moisture out of the air, rendering Aquaman immobile. Dang, dude. Do some trust falls with those guys or something.
12. Family Man
For a solitary, shadowy vision of a criminal’s worst nightmare, Batman has an extensive family. Across different universes, Bruce Wayne has three children, all of whom have followed him into the crime-fighting business. Like bat-father, like bat-son.
To gather intelligence on Gotham’s criminal underworld, Batman sometimes dons the disguise of “Matches Malone,” a small-time crook. The real Matches Malone was accidentally killed in an altercation with Batman. Apparently, identity theft is a crime that our hero doesn’t have a problem with.
10. Not Just a Pawn
As a child, Bruce Wayne had a pen pal with whom he engaged in a long-distance chess match. That pen pal grew up to be one of Gotham’s many criminal masterminds, the Penguin. Was he a sore loser?
9. Someone You’d Never Suspect
Tim Burton lobbied hard for the right to cast Michael Keaton in the 1989 movie. Keaton was best known at the time as a comedic actor and didn’t exactly look the part. Fans weren’t happy. Producer Michael Uslan thought Burton was playing a prank on him. Burton was adamant, and the movie became a massive hit, earning $100 million in its first 10 days at the box office.
8. Better Than Suspenders
Batman might not have a lot of fancy superpowers like those other heroes, but he does have one thing that sets him apart: a belt. His utility built has ten compartments which he fills with various tools depending on this week’s adventure. Among the items Batman carries in his belt are batarangs, knock-out gas, tiny cameras, and kryptonite, just in case you-know-who shows up.
The University of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada, offers a course on Batman. “The Science of Batman” explores the limits of physical and mental conditioning as exemplified by Bruce Wayne.
6. How Much Does a Batman Weigh?
A “batman” weighs about sixteen pounds. This was a unit of weight used by the Ottoman Empire before they adopted the metric system. So Batman probably weighs somewhere between 12 and 15 batmans.
5. Lots Left Over
One university professor tallied up the cost of the Batcave, the Batmobile, all the suits and gadgets and came to the conclusion that, to become Batman, would cost $300 million. That’s a lot of money, for sure, but a mere fraction of Bruce Wayne’s worth.
4. A Different Bat Suit
There is a city in Turkey called Batman. In 2008, the mayor of the city attempted to sue Christopher Nolan for using the city’s name in his films. The city—formerly known as Iluha—was not called “Batman” until 1957, 18 years after the comics debuted.
3. Thou Shalt Not Kill
Batman has inviolable “no kill” policy, but this wasn’t always the case. In the earliest comics, he happily dispatched any number of petty crooks and gangsters, knocking them into vats of acid or hanging them from the Bat-Plane. He even carried a gun!
2. Fifteen Minutes of Fame
In 1964, Andy Warhol directed a Batman movie. The unauthorized Batman Dracula starred Jack Smith and was only shown at Warhol’s art exhibits. The film was considered lost until a copy was discovered in 2006.
1. Telling Time
To enter the Batcave from Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne turns the hands on a grandfather clock to 10:47, the exact moment of his parents’ death. What would his therapist say about that?