The two oldest superheroes in comics books today are Batman and Superman, both debuting in the Golden Age of DC Comics in 1939. Over 80 years later, both heroes are still the cornerstone of DC.
That first Batman was Bruce Wayne, and he remains the man behind the mask to this day.
As a child, Bruce Wayne was walking with his parents when a gunman killed them both, robbing them and leaving Bruce as an orphan. The family butler Alfred Pennyworth helped raise young Bruce, and eventually, the young man left home.
Bruce trained all over the world, becoming the best fighter and the world’s greatest detective by learning under the best of the best.
When he returned, he was Batman, and the rest is history.
However, Bruce Wayne is not the only person who took on the role of Batman. Here is a look at the other superheroes that wore the cape and cowl as the Caped Crusader.
In 1993-94, DC Comics had a long-running Batman storyline called Knightfall. This was the storyline where several villains took on Batman in what could be considered a gauntlet.
In the end, Bane showed up and broke Batman’s back, paralyzing and taking him out of action for a year.
Jean-Paul Valley took Batman’s place, creating an armored costume, and taking the fight to Bane. Eventually, Valley began to become more violent, shuts out Tim Drake, and stops working with the GCPD.
When Drake tells Bruce that Valley let a murderer named Abattoir die, Bruce Wayne worked his way back and beat him to regain the mantle of Batman.
Valley found redemption after this and took on the role of Azrael.
In the 2008 DC Comics event series Final Crisis, the heroes of the DC Universe battled Darkseid. It was Batman who found a way to win the fight, sacrificing his life to kill Darkseid.
With Batman dead, Dick Grayson finally stepped up and took on the role he was always meant to take, and he became the new Batman.
This resulted in the fantastic Batman and Robin series with Damian Wayne as Robin, the one point where Damian really came into his own thanks to his relationship with Dick.
It turned out that Bruce was not dead but was sent back in time to the caveman days and had to find his way back through time to the present. Dick remained Batman for a short time when Bruce returned and set up Batman Incorporated.
Terry McGinnis might be the most popular alternate version of Batman thanks to his role as the lead in the animated series Batman Beyond.
Premiering in 1999, Batman Beyond was an animated series that took place in the future when Terry took over the mantle of Batman while Bruce Wayne was an aging hero who retired from action.
Throughout the series, Terry learned he was actually the genetic son of Bruce Wayne, albeit through genetic engineering by Project Cadmus.
Terry McGinnis was also added to the DC Comics line, with his first appearance coming in Batman Beyond #1 (March 1999).
Thomas Wayne was Bruce’s father and died when a burglar shot him and his wife Martha during a robbery. Bruce grew up to become Batman.
However, when Flash tried to bring his mother back to life by running back in time in Flashpoint, he created a new Earth where Bruce was the one shot and killed by the burglar, and Thomas became Batman.
The big difference between Thomas Wayne and Bruce Wayne was that Thomas became a ruthless vigilante who had no problem killing. Not only that, but Martha Wayne also lived and she became Joker in this world.
Thomas Wayne helped Flash reset the timeline again, sacrificing his own life to ensure that the world went back to the one with Bruce Wayne as Batman.
This story will be told in the upcoming Flash movie.
In Batman #41 (2015), Jim Gordon became Batman.
This came after Batman and Joker had a battle in Endgame and it seemed that Batman had died.
Gordon ended up working with a robot named Rookie instead of a Robin. He got some really big-time tech, including a giant Bat-Truck and the armored suit that helped Gordon in fights, considering that he was not as powerful as the real Batman.
This was also a real change for Batman, as he worked completely within the law due to Gordon’s respect for the law.
Eventually, Gordon found Bruce Wayne, who had amnesia. Gordon eventually helped him regain his memories, and he took over his role as Batman once again.
Damian Wayne is the son of Batman and Talia al Ghul and has been Robin since 2006, replacing Tim Drake and becoming the fifth Robin.
In Batman #666, DC Comics shows the future of the DSC Universe, where Damian Wayne has taken over the Batman role after his father’s death.
Another issue, Superman/Batman #75, has Damian Wayne as the same Batman from that earlier Batman issue, along with Conner Kent as Superman.
DC Comics has made it clear there is one successor for Bruce Wayne once he is gone and that is his son, Damian Wayne.
Jason Todd and Tim Drake
Battle for the Cowl played out in 2009 and followed the death of Batman in Final Crisis.
Since everyone believed Batman was dead after his battle with Darkseid, Dick Grayson eventually took on the role. However, this was not without a fight.
Dick didn’t want it and made it clear he wasn’t Batman. He was Nightwing. However, two other former Robin’s did want the role as Batman — Jason Todd (Red Hood) and Tim Drake (Red Robin).
In Battle for the Cowl, both heroes took on the role and ended up in a battle with each other, trying to prove their superiority. Finally, Dick took over, proving he was better suited than any other Robin.
Believe it or not, Superman once took on the role of Batman.
This happened in Superman/Batman #53-56 and was the result of a power switch. Bruce Wayne got Superman’s powers and Clark Kent lost his powers.
In an interesting turn of events, Batman used his new powers to become a very violent vigilante and began to hurt his enemies.
The JLA couldn’t even stop Batman from his rampage, so Superman went to Alfred and had an armored suit made for him so he could set out to confront Batman and stop him.