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Batman, the dark hero. Noted for his refusal to wield guns. Is there anything out there that explains why, or goes back to cover up why, the silver-age Batman did use guns?

Of course, this refusal wasn't a staple back in the day. We likely all realize that at one time Batman was touted more as a dark detective who dished out justice as he felt it... and detectives carry guns. This made logical sense before they made his back-story.

Here's a scad of examples: http://sacomics.blogspot.ca/2005/08/batman-and-guns.html

I know the reason Batman doesn't use guns now is because his back-story includes a gun touting coward stealing away his parents and a chance at normalcy (and before someone gets on my case about filthy-rich not being "normal" I pre-apologize).

Does DC ever attempt to explain-away Batman's gun-wielding past? Is there some crisis universe Batman whose parents were killed by stick-wielding vagrants, and this Batman still exacts "lead justice"? The whole reason for crisis was to allow some loose continuity to wrap all of DC in, I'm wondering if the early Batman had a documented alternate past.

My guess is that DC simply didn't care to. But unlike food-preferences, ridiculous abilities, inconsequential cousins, or other silver-age snafoos, I feel that Batman's relationship with firearms is central to his character. Having said that, there should have been some attempt to explain this away by DC in the past.

I'll also accept interviews with Batman as canon. Sarcastically.

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    "Is there some crisis universe Batman whose parents were killed by stick-wielding vagrants, and this Batman still exacts "lead justice"?" - And, more importantly, entirely eschews the use of sticks against villains. "This I swear Robin, I will never come at a criminal with wood in my hand." – Paul D. Waite Sep 9 '13 at 10:18
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    I can see the opening scene of the movie now. The camera opens on a gray-looking home. A few people are talking over a young, unemotional boy. The camera pans away to reveal a tree with scads of broken branches taped back onto it. "The Batman" theme rumbles forth as the scene fades to black. The next few scenes involve Batman beating down rowdy hockey teams causing trouble on the streets of Gotham. – Gorchestopher H Sep 9 '13 at 12:03
  • See Batman Beyond episode 1 for an example of current as we know him Batman, who hates guns, using a gun. – Nacht Aug 12 '14 at 2:37
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The answer is: Not usually. But circumstances often dictate whether he will or not. Historically, Batman has been conflicted about the use of guns. More so as the character developed. When the Comic's Code Authority was at its most powerful, Batman was at his most gun-shy.

The author of Silver Age Comics happens to agree with you, guns are integral to the character of the Batman, hence DC Comics inability to truly get away from the subject. We don't even have to turn to an alternative universe to see Batman having to resort to gun use. The instances are simply rare enough they become a challenge to find.

Not only does DC not explain away Batman's gun wielding past, there are many examples even after the Silver Age of comics where Batman is forced to use guns as seen at the Silver Age Comic site.

But there have been alternative versions of Batman who were not afraid to use guns and even Batmen from alternative Earths along the DC Multiversal continuum of varied opinion on the subject.

From the DC Multiverse:

Jason Todd, yes, that Jason Todd, steps into the role of Batman in the the Battle for the Cowl, 2009 storyline. He is a Batman unafraid of firearms and believes the only good bullet is the one downrange from him.

enter image description here

Batman from Earth-2. One of the newest revisions to the Batman legend, the Batman from the DCnU, New Earth-2 is not afraid of guns. He instead uses them as a major part of his arsenal and has a machine-gun mounted under his Batplane.

enter image description here

On Earth-2, their world has been completely overrun by parademons and likely other menaces from Darkseid's world of Apokalips. This Batman dies (along with Superman and Wonder Woman) in the first release issue of the adventures of the new, renewed, and much younger, Justice Society which will hail from that war-torn planet.

Batsoldier from Earth-8. One of the alternate Batman iterations known to use guns. The bigger, the better. In the employ of that Earth's ruler, the Monarch.

Batsoldier, Batman from Earth-8

Captain Leatherwing, Batman from Earth-12. Yes, those guns are primitive but he will use them.

enter image description here

  • Good info, but I was mostly wondering if any of these gun-weilding Batmen have pertinent back-stories. For example, did the gun-using Batman walking the means streets of the 1950s have the same back-story as Earth-2 Batman? Or is it really just a case of the CCA flexing it's muscles, and DC saying "oh... well now he doesn't use guns, and here's why." As opposed to providing an in-universe change of heart or back-story change. If this is consensus, I'll accept the answer. Just a note, I did include that "Batman and Guns" link in my original question. – Gorchestopher H Jun 5 '12 at 2:17
  • I think the CCA had a lot of influence in how DC decided when and how Batman and guns were seen. There was a time when the CCA was THE force for controlling the content in comics. Historically, as the CCA fell from power, more opportunities for Batman to branch out became available. The Bat legend rarely varied much but if it did, Batman was still very much the character we recognize albeit with a gun in his hand. – Thaddeus Howze Jun 5 '12 at 2:20
  • Well, I'm marking this correct. But now I have a sneaking suspicion that the Batman of yesteryear is possibly Earth-5 Batman. – Gorchestopher H Jun 6 '12 at 1:02
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    You could also add Jason Todd from Injustice 2 to this list, if you want to – SK19 May 10 '18 at 20:10
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I'm the blogger at Silver Age Comics, and thanks for the link/credit.

If you look carefully at the examples shown at my blog, you'll see that aside from the story in Batman #1 (Batman and the Monsters), he never actually uses a gun to shoot directly at a human (aside from the trick involving Commissioner Gordon, and the two vampires). There are a few cases where he uses his gun to shoot a gun out of another person's hand a la Gunsmoke's Matt Dillon, but aside from that he almost never even aims a gun at anybody. One notable exception is the panel from Detective #327, where he holds a gun on some crooks. That was the first issue that Julius Schwartz edited, and he noted in his autobiography that it was a goof caused by his unfamiliarity with the character.

Of course, there is always the argument about the Golden Age examples that they involved the Batman of Earth-2 and thus are not canon for Earth-1's Batman.

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To put it simply, Bruce Wayne, with his current and most well known personal history, refuses to use guns in order to shoot bullets at people. He might pick up a stray gun and use it to shoot through a rope in the distance, for example.

There is only one exception to this, which is when he uses a gun he himself made to shoot Darkseid with a Radion bullet. A big deal was made of this.

There are other times, however, when he has ALMOST shot someone willingly, but just the one incident where he has actually done so.

  • Right, and my question acknowledges the fact that the "current" Batman refuses to use guns due to his personal history. You say yourself that he is very unwilling to use them, but the Batman of past days never had this aversion. My question asks if these two versions of Batman have different pasts, or an explained transition between the two. So far Thaddius explains that there is no in-cannon explanation, and that he doesn't use guns now because of the CCA. – Gorchestopher H Jun 5 '12 at 11:27
  • 2 things there. 1, for all intents and purposes, there is no connection between original and current batman. Complete retcon/reboot. Think of original, gun-toting Batman as a non-canon, alternate universe version. 2, Batman's aversions to guns came in way before CCA, it was actually with the start of the Batman solo comic. – Jordaan Mylonas Jun 5 '12 at 23:10
  • So, the original Batman isn't tied into the continuity via Crisis? I understand that the current batman doesn't necessarily share the same past, but my question was if DC ever gave that first Batman a different past, or tied it in. So the answer looks like it's a resounding "no". – Gorchestopher H Jun 5 '12 at 23:23
  • Yeah, like, it's conceptually the same character, but in-universe, that original Batman never existed. There is no link, no matter how tenuous, to original and current Batman. HOWEVER, in the DC animated universe, there is a fictional hero called "The Gray Ghost", who is an allusion to the original Batman and uses much the same modus operandi. Bruce and Thomas Wayne used to watch the show together, and GG was one of Bruce's inspirations in becoming Batman. He's even voiced by Adam West. – Jordaan Mylonas Jun 5 '12 at 23:46
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    DC use The Gray Ghost as a metaphor for the original Batman, but they are not literally the same character. – Jordaan Mylonas Jun 6 '12 at 0:23
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Batman is the master of ALL guns, and he is the number one shot in the world. He can hit a target a mile away with ANY random gun, and he can even disassemble any known gun and reassemble it, holding the world record time. He knows guns inside and out...therefore he's superior to his enemies' own knowledge.

Not only does he understand the enemy's weapon better than the enemy (embarrassing) and can use the enemy's weapon better than they can as his motive, but the other motive is simply that Batman is a master of war and knows war and all of it's tools inside and out. He knows the weight of a loaded gun, the weight of a fresh sword and a sword that has already been used. So the other motive of Batman's mastery of the gun is simply that as the greatest master of war Batman actually has mastered every weapon known to man. A canon, a knife, a car, a hammer, a nail, a dart, a gun, etc.

Now, just because he's good at it doesn't mean he's interested in it. Mainly speaking, Batman doesn't LIKE GUNS. He does not use them because he is just way better than that. Take away a man's gun and what do you have? Well, you COULD have a lazy fat ass or a scrawny criminal coward. But Batman is a TRUE warrior and does not rely on guns, Period. He is just that good. If you met someone like that you'd be seriously intimidated. Why he doesn't like guns is beyond the Crime Alley issue, it is simply a coward's weapon, not a warrior's weapon. Batman finds them to be "LOUD AND CLUMSY THINGS!!" (quote from Frank Millers DKR), there is very little honor and strength for using a gun, almost like video games or golf.

So those are the two issues that directly answer the question; he does not use guns personally because he doesn't like them. 1. He doesn't like them because as a warrior he finds them to be of poor character, or at least a LESSER warrior. 2. He also doesn't like guns because he knows the evil they do from Crime Alley. But a third tangent reason is he doesn't NEED guns, he's just that skilled and that fast, and that elusive in the shadows. For that matter he hardly uses weapons! If anything he uses items and inventions from his wizardry at science that would make Mr. Fantastic look pale. Batman doesn't use body armor (Bale crap), he doesn't use much weapons (occasional batarang of course), he doesn't rely on a vibranium shield or adamantium knives. For over 60 years, he has mainly operated as a MANIMAL of extraordinary skill and near superhuman prowess. Guns are like training wheels from his vantage point.

Even though he never uses it, he still trains and practices with them, just to keep it fresh in his memory and never forgetting how his enemies feel, he's inside their head.

Now, he may use PROJECTILE DEVICES like laser guns or ion cannons, etc when he's dealing with a cosmic force but these sort of devices he invents or builds are not actually used destructively. With a normal gun on a human, it'll either maim or kill, pure and simple. But firing his blast cannon on Superman or Darkseid will perhaps render them unconscious or immobilize them, so it's nowhere near the same. Plus, he'd only resort to these projectile devices if he absolutely had no choice and especially if he had to save the Earth or for some wild crisis event.

So, technically he MAY resort to a "gun" of some kind scientifically, but he doesn't use guns in the traditional sense: bullets shooting flesh.

Also, Detectives don't use guns (as someone wrote above) since Sherlock Holmes didn't really use any guns (for the most part). And being a detective is the same as a doctor or an archeologist, or even a philosopher. Detective does not mean crime fighter; the English word detective means one who DETECTS the truth, by working with various clues and evidence to conclude with impeccable logic. So just because he's a detective (as a doctor is a detective, he doesn't use the word clue he uses the word symptom) does not mean he has to carry a gun. But more to the point, the very first rendition of Batman in the Bob Kane comics he not only wielded a firearm but he also murdered people in cold blood.

When I say murdered, I don't just mean shoot with a gun, I mean snap a neck w/his bare hands, hang someone like an actual hanging, stab with a stake, push to their doom, etc. He literally murdered men, so obviously that was the rough draft. His gun carrying and murdering days were actually less than one year!! That first year was basically the first draft, so the 65 years later had NO guns and NO murdering because Superman flies. "Superman flies you say??" I'm referring to the original Superman being a character who COULD NOT FLY. He had strength and invulnerability but he couldn't fly at all. This of course, was less than a year with the first comics so obviously a rough draft by the creators of Supes Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

So if we're going to say Batman uses a gun and murders then we would equally be saying Superman doesn't fly. And that's as true as Batman using guns would be. For 60-70 years of published history after the early, clumsy, rough drafts, Superman and Batman have specific traits: They don't kill, they don't use guns, and they are the best of friends (save for a few deviant comics that make less than 1% of not being friendly).

One more trivial fact: The only reason Batman, in those very few comics, had used a gun was because Batman was originally a RIPOFF OF THE SHADOW. The Shadow was a millionaire Playboy Philanthropist by day who masked himself as a vigilante that operated by night. Sound familiar? The Shadow also struck fear into the hearts of man. Sound even more familiar? The Shadow was also a good scientist, sound like a certain Batman? The Shadow was also a great detective, had various vehicles and gadgets, and most importantly he was thought to be supernatural and had spooked the entire underworld. And of course he murdered people in cold blood with two guns. So Bob Kane was basically making his version of The Shadow and that's why Batman had originally used guns for a brief first year, he was basically just a Shadow wannabe.

Now he's moved out of the Shadow's shadow and become his own character.

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    I was fascinated by the part about Batman stabbing people with a steak. What a disappointing correction. – user14111 Sep 9 '13 at 10:23
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    That's a bit of a ramble, and I don't think it actually answers the question as I understand it (i.e. is there an in-universe explanation for Silver Age Batman using guns). – Paul D. Waite Sep 9 '13 at 10:25
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    No, it doesn't quite answer the question. Good information though. – Gorchestopher H Sep 9 '13 at 12:06
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    I'm torn. This has very little to do with the question, it's written in a horribly exaggerated manner, and yet it's extremely amusing. Do I upvote it? Downvote it? Stare nervously at it from across the room and shuffle my feet? – FuzzyBoots Feb 28 '14 at 15:37
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    There is just so much wrong with this, it's almost painful to read. – Monty129 Jul 2 '14 at 18:54

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