Over the years, Batman has been trapped in some pretty abusive relationships: the 1966 TV show turned him into a camp clown, writers throughout his history have turned him into a joke, and Joel Schumacher slapped on some nipples and put him in the middle of a garish, nightmarish pantomime.
And yet, the Bat endures. He has the kind of enduring longevity that most characters can only dream of, and while that is undoubtedly a positive thing for the lasting legacy of the character (meaning he can bounce back from even the worst creative crimes,) that also represents a safety net for writers and directors with crazy ideas, and means they feel safer messing with the winning formula.
If some of the mistakes made in Batman’s name on this list had been allowed to fully play out, without remedy or logical intervention, the unthinkably might have happened. Batman might have been ruined as a property, or worse, killed entirely.
So take these mistakes as a warning, and make sure you look after your Batman.
A controversial place to start no doubt, but retrospectively, the decision to give the killer of Bruce Wayne’s parents a name, a story and in one memorable case, a death was a mistake – not a ruining one by any means, but a mistake all the same. Yes, it was an established storyline that ran for many years, and shaped a lot of things in the character’s make-up, but events that came later proved exactly how good the alternative could have been.
Chill only really became a mistake when he was retconned out of existence briefly with the events of Zero Hour, when Hal Jordan effectively gave DC an opportunity to rewrite any origins they wanted to play about with, that weren’t changed in Crisis On Infinite Earths.
After Zero Hour, it became canon that the killer of Wayne’s parents was never identified, and the anonymity helped make him an even more enduring symbol to Batman’s cause. That decision robbed Batman of a specific focus for his grief or his bubbling rage, which added far more poignancy to Batman’s endless torture, until the retcon was retconned again, and Chill got his name back.
This article was first posted on September 1, 2013