Bruce Wayne

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Character
Name: Bruce Wayne aka Batman aka Matches Malone
Occupation: superhero vigilante, multimillionaire (owner of Wayne Enterprises)
Relationships: canon romance exists with Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman), Wonder Woman, Talia al Ghul, Vicki Vale, Sasha Bordeaux, Zatanna (possibly others)
Martha Wayne and Thomas Wayne (parents); Dick Grayson, Cassandra Cain, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne (children); Alfred Pennyworth (butler, confidante, vigilante support, father figure); Clark Kent (best friend)
Fandom: DC Comics, specifically Batfandom, DC Animated Universe, Nolanverse, Batman (1966), The Batman cartoon, Arkhamverse, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice (TV Series)
Other:
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Bruce Wayne aka Batman is a major DC Comics character who also features prominently in several related continuities in cartoons, live-action movies, television series, and video games. He is the head of the Batfamily.

Canon Information

Born to a wealthy family in Gotham City, he witnessed the death of his parents as a child. The trauma becomes his driving force that leads him to take up the Batman identity. Over the years he trains himself to become a crime fighter and fight criminals in his city, later aided by various other heroes, but most notably by his butler/surrogate father figure Alfred Pennyworth and the young heroes known as Robin. One of his important and recurring allies is Commissioner James Gordon. As Bruce Wayne he is known as a billionaire playboy, while as Batman he is often shown as a much darker character. It can be argued (and sometimes is) that Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman the real man.

He has acquired one of the most iconic comic superhero rogues gallery, including characters like the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face, Ra's al Ghul, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman.

He is also an essential member of the Justice League.

Batman (1966)

In the three-season TV series and 1966 spin-off feature film, Batman, the Bruce Wayne version of Batman was portrayed by Adam West. He later provided the voice for animated versions of the character, and the actor's likeness was used in tie-in comics and crossover mini-series.

Death and Return

New 52

Fanon and meta

Batman of a thousand faces: different iterations and interpretations of Bruce Wayne

There is plenty of fan fiction out there for the Bruce/Batman lover. Since everyone has a different take on the balance between Bruce Wayne and his alter ego as well as different ideas about the details of his personality and life, every tale is as unique as the interpretation of this wonderfully complex and exceptional character. Fics vary based on the characters involved and the point and particular version of canon in which the story takes place. [...] There is as much out there to enjoy in Batman fandom as there is in Batman canon.[1]

Because of an embargo the character could not be used for the TV show Smallville, but he was frequently written into stories (sometimes in the form of crossovers with Batman properties) and often slashed with main character Clark Kent. (The character recently was intoduced to Smallville canon in the comic book continuation Smallville Season 11).

Public Image

The double identity and the stark contrast between Bruce Wayne, the public figure, and Batman, the tough detective and costumed hero, is often a theme in fanworks and can lead to identity porn.

Bruce deliberately shapes his public identity as an irresponsible playboy to protect his secret identity as Batman, and the persona can be considered more a mask than the Batman identity. Many fanworks deal with the public and media perception of the billionaire. Humorous works often show how the public follows Bruce Wayne's frequent scandals and baffling actions. More serious works deal with how Bruce manipulates his public identity and hides his true darkness and angst, which he is only able to express as a vigilante.

Identity Porn works often involve people meeting Bruce Wayne and Batman separately and having different relationships with seemingly different love interests. Other works may see Bruce Wayne kidnapped by a villain in an attempt to draw out Batman. Works using this trope can also be further complicated with the inclusion of Bruce's criminal alter ego Matches Malone.

Social issues

This article or section needs expansion.

  • Socioeconomic privilege, billionaire status, self-appointed authority, class issues, noblesse oblige, Batman as a "warrior-prince"
  • Depiction and treatment of the mentally ill in Gotham, Bruce Wayne as a mentally ill person, ableism
  • Copaganda and use of incarceration
  • Deontological ethics and no-kill rule
  • meta by thebatmanfiles
  • People who don’t understand Batman by galahadwilder

Batfam

See Batdad for more fanon and tropes associated with Bruce Wayne in his role as a parent.

Batman works with many other Gotham heroes, including but not limited to the series of Robins, many of which are Bruce Wayne's adopted children. Fanworks exploring the familial dynamics, either close or trouble, between Bruce and the Batfamily.

Religious background

From early in the Batman mythos, many iterations of Bruce Wayne have been depicted engaging with some Christian traditions, such as Christmas festivities, his parents having Christian funerals and graves. Following the Infinite Crisis event, September 2006 saw the introduction of a new Batwoman, Kate Kane⁠—a re-imagining of Katherine "Kathy" Kane, the original Batwoman who debuted in 1956. The DC Infinite Holiday Special (2006) established that Kate was Jewish. Batwoman #25 (November 2013) established Kate as Bruce's maternal first cousin in the New 52 continuity, leading some fans to conclude that Kate's father and Bruce's mother could have been Jewish, and Bruce could be Jewish through matrilineal Jewish inheritance. Detective Comics #939 (2016) shows Thomas and Martha's funeral hosted at a church, with a shot of a menorah possibly included somewhere in the procession. As of 2021 and the Infinite Frontier continuity, ambiguity remains as to whether Bruce Mother, Martha Wayne (née Kane), and her brother, Jacob Kane, are Jewish in heritage.

Since Batman’s introduction in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939, his alter ego Bruce Wayne has been depicted as ethnically and culturally white. As public perception of the character has changed over the years, his privilege as a white male in the 1 percent has become a point of criticism. Bruce Wayne is rich enough to dress up as a bat and run around Gotham beating up criminals and get away with it. However, although Bruce is definitely the poster boy for privilege, he’s not conventionally white: He’s Jewish.

This wasn’t always a part of his background, but rather was an unintended retcon that came with the introduction of the new Batwoman in 2006. This iteration is Kate Kane, socialite, soldier, and also Bruce’s cousin. They are related through her father, Jacob Kane, the brother of Martha Wayne. Before marrying Thomas Wayne, her maiden name was established as Kane as a nod to Batman co-creator Bob Kane.

While in real life, Bob Kane [born Robert Kahn] was Jewish, Martha’s background isn’t well explored in the comics. When developing Kate and her family, the decision was made to make them Jewish. Kate’s heritage is an important part of who she is, and she continues to practice her religion even as she fights crime as Batwoman. Identifying as Jewish is important to her father, Jacob, too — and it’s this detail that, by extension, makes Batman Jewish.

Halacha dictates that being a member of the Jewish people is traced matrilineally. Because Jacob’s mother was Jewish, so was he. Kate’s mother Gabi was Jewish, making Kate, and any hypothetical children she were to have, Jewish as well. Unless DC comes out and says Jacob converted, or is only a half-brother, this would make the entire Kane family Jewish. That includes Martha Wayne. So, according to tradition, if Batman’s mother was born Jewish, then so was Bruce.[2]

We've come to a conclusion: Kate's father is not Jewish, so Martha's not Jewish, so Batman's not half-Jewish.[3]

So, Bruce is Jewish!! Dc has written articles about his origins, as well as Clark’s etc. His mother was Jewish, his creators were Jewish, the stories, for which he was made an allegory to tell, are also Jewish!!! At his core, his moral and ethical structure, the way he chose to handle the ills of Gotham and deal with his trauma, are very Jewish. Jews are insular, communal, and selfless when it comes to our people. And that is Bruce.

When he was first created, Jews were widely hated by American society. And comics as an art for would have never taken off, were they openly Jewish. The stories are still Semitic, it’s hard to miss that, but the characters didn’t need to be running around in Magen Davids to express that.

I still don’t think it IS appropriate to show Bruce celebrating Christmas, especially in fan works. Because he’s a maternal Jew. He just is.

I just want to close with asking: what about Bruce specifically being Jewish is so hard for some people to accept? When the fandom so violently adopts headcanons that have no canonical basis (ie, Tim’s coffee addiction), why can they not accept the simple fact that Batman was created as a Jewish symbol, and is now canonically Jewish?[4]

Historically, the debate has been whether Batman was a lapsed Catholic or lapsed Episcopalian, and has recently extended to include Judaism as a possibility. The reason the debate has extended to Batman possibly being Jewish is because DC Rebirth retconned Kate Kane, Batwoman, a Jewish lesbian, as being Bruce’s cousin and Martha Wayne’s niece. This is a retcon, and was not canon until DC Rebirth [2016]. When Batwoman was reinvented in 2006, the Kane family was separate from the Waynes, and the two were not related. This opens up the potential for Batman to be Jewish because of the matrilineal tradition of Judaism, which states that a person born to a Jewish mother has irrevocable status as a Jew. As the Kanes are a Jewish family, this opens the possibility that Batman is also, through his mother, is Jewish.

[...]

Another connection Batman has to Judaism is through his creators, Bob Kane and Bill Finger, who were both Jewish men. However, there are no early depictions of Batman as Jewish; the depictions of him engaging with religion are scant, except for his engagements with Christmas - which there are plenty. There have been a number of Christmas stories written with Batman over the years, and, in fact, the very first one was in Batman #9, penned by Bob Kane and Bill Finger themselves. (Well, I don’t know if Bob Kane penned it, because Bob Kane had a veritable army of ghostartists. But his name sure is on it.) This wasn’t the only Bat-Christmas story published under their watch - Bill Finger went on to work on Batman #45, another classic Bat-Christmas story.

In the vast, vast majority of Batman comics, Bruce is separated from religion entirely - which benefits DC, because it makes him more marketable.

[...]

Other arguments rest with Bruce being Episcopalian, and these arguments are more related to Bruce’s socioeconomic status, because he’s honestly as WASPy as they come, and in One Time Lost To Comics History, one of Bruce’s ancestors was buried at an Episcopal church. Elliot S. Maggin, a Jewish man most well-known for his work with Superman, has a few things to say on this subject: “I give all my characters religions. I think I always have. It’s part of the backstory. It’s part of the process of getting to know a character well enough to write about him or her. Jimmy Olson is Lutheran. Lois is Catholic. Perry is Baptist. Luthor is Jewish (though non-observant, thank heaven). Bruce and Batman are both Episcopalian and I said so in the text though it was edited out erroneously.”

A lot of people try to reverse-engineer Bruce’s religion with are the gravestones, which is like, a buckwild way to do it. The Waynes (and our dear Jason Todd) have been depicted with everything from heaving monuments to plain headstones to simple Christian crosses to the angel-bearing gravestones Bruce sobs over in Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb’s The Long Halloween.

[...] no one has agreed on anything. Industry professionals can’t agree on this! There is no one thing that is specifically canon across all continuities in every instance, even the idea that Bruce is a lapsed whatever-it-is-that-he-is, which is something that the majority of people agree on anyway. You may headcanon away![5]

Relationships

Gen relationships

See Batdad for fanon and tropes associated with Bruce Wayne in his role as a parent.

Notable pairings

A list of Bruce Wayne's canon love interests can be found at the DC Database wiki at wikia.

As Bruce Wayne's public persona has a playboy image he often has female love intersts in canon and had different canon relationships, most notably with Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, who appeared as his love interest in different media, Talia al Ghul (in comics canon mother of his son Damian Wayne), Vicki Vale (who also appeared in the first of the Burton movies) and many others like Wonder Woman, Batwoman Katherine Kane, Zatanna Zatara, Silver St. Cloud, Jezebel Jet, Black Canary.

In the Nolanverse a new love interest was intoduced with Rachel Dawes.

In the DC Animated Universe he has also shown interest in Superman's love interest Lois Lane.

Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Example Fan art

Example Fan fic

Nolanverse

Example Vids

Meta

Example Art Gallery

Archives and Communities

Links

References