We, the readers, know Batman has no superpowers. I have no idea if the villains know that.

Several superpowered heroes use technology to augment their capabilities, so it is not a wild guess to say that the Bat might have superpowers too.

Do the villains know for sure that he has none, or not? If they do, do all of them know or just a few?

Looking mostly for comic book villains. Please do not mention Jim Carey's riddler (or anything in that movie).

  • 11
    I'm sure I've read/heard the "He's just a man in a suit" line before connected to Batman, but I can't place it.
    – Baldrickk
    Sep 18, 2019 at 8:56
  • 6
    @Baldrickk I think that line was uttered in Michael Keatons Batman film. After he fell while taking Viki Vale away from a bunch of bad guys/henchmen
    – JayV
    Sep 18, 2019 at 9:26
  • 4
    Batman occasionally gets superpowers in some stories. I assume you're asking more generally, though.
    – Ellesedil
    Sep 18, 2019 at 18:02
  • 5
    While not from the villains’ perspective, the first episode of Batman: Gotham Knight involves several kids telling their stories about encountering Batman, and descriptions show him having a wide variety of superpowers (which conflict between stories), because that was their takeaway from witnessing those events. Sep 19, 2019 at 1:54
  • 7
    At the beginning of the Dark Knight movie, criminals are not even sure whether Batman exists or is an urban legend. The few thugs that met him can't say if he is human, or some sort of nightmarish creature. When your goal is to inspire fear, it is a good idea to blurry lines.
    – Taladris
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:23

4 Answers 4


The answer would depend on which villain, and which universe you're speaking about.

We are told that Bruce Wayne chose the image of a bat to "strike fear into the heart of his enemies". In fact, everything about his physical appearance is used to create a false image that he is more than just a man. Particularly in the movie incarnations, his body armour makes him look more muscular than he actually is, and he uses his gadgets and the fact his armour gives him some bullet-proofing to make people think he can fly and is immortal, but this is just as evident in the comic universes. None of this would "strike fear" into anyone if they all knew he was just a guy in a suit, so all of this suggests that most of his "enemies" are supposed to believe that he has supernatural powers.

Batman's primary purpose was to fight crime on the streets of Gotham. The image he created is primarily aimed at the "street" criminals - thieves, murderers, muggers etc. Super-villains are a different case, and many of these have (in various universes) discovered his identity, including Bane, Deathstroke, Despero, the Riddler, Hush, Man-Bat, Max Lord, Ra's Al Ghul, Owlman, Killer Moth, Lex Luthor, and Joe Chill.

A good example of this contrast between how "regular" and "super" criminals view Batman is found in the 1989 movie, in which the regular criminal 'Eddie' talks about "the Bat" killing his friend 'Johnny Gobs' and sucking all the blood out of his body, showing that he believes the supernatural stories; whereas The Joker describes Batman as "a man dressed as a bat" with a collection of "wonderful toys". Again, this contrast is seen in comics too.

Of course, knowing his identity isn't necessarily the same as knowing he doesn't have any powers; but some of these stories have involved villains knowing his identity due to telepathy (Despero, for one), so arguably they would know both.

  • 62
    "None of this would "strike fear" into anyone if they all knew he was just a guy in a suit". Learning that the hero successfully beating the crap out of bands of armed criminals, regularly and for years, is "just" one mortal man with some Kevlar would certainly instill some fear in me. I guess "the violent and mentally instable cosplayer" is just not as striking as "the dark knight". Sep 18, 2019 at 8:03
  • 5
    @NahynOklauq Haha +1 and very fair point, but when I said "none of this would strike fear" I was referring to all of the above that I mentioned - the fake "supernatural" image. You are quite right, they should fear his natural strength and the Batarang! The "super" villains that go up against him are either too insane to let that worry them, or they believe that they have superior strength.
    – Astralbee
    Sep 18, 2019 at 10:34
  • @user14111 Well, some have been killed. Many of them end up in Arkham Asylum, where they are treated as "insane". Their ramblings that Batman is the well-known billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne are ignored as insanity. Others are so detached from reality that they have nobody to tell.
    – Astralbee
    Sep 18, 2019 at 11:55
  • 4
    @user14111 Learning a secret identity is dangerous (warning: TvTrope). There is even a specific section about Batman in the Comic books examples. Sep 18, 2019 at 12:04
  • 4
    @user14111 On occasion, the super villains come to the wrong conclusion. I recall that for a while, the Riddler believed that Batman had no civilian identity and the way he paid for his gadgets was that he stole from the people he beat up while the police turned a blind eye. Sep 19, 2019 at 2:01

To the common street criminal, Batman must appear to be supernatural. This is all based on his premise:

Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible... - DC # 33 (1939)

Also confirmed in Batman: The Musical.

Nobody among the common criminals knows who the Batman is, or if he is human or meta-human or even if he is just one guy. He nearly always emerges from the darkness, his form is hard to detect due to his quickness, his cape, his skill at using shadows to his advantage. - reddit

Maybe his rogues are just as tricked.

Joker: He sure gets around for one guy.
Two Face: Well that's where you are wrong. I don't think it is one guy. The way I figure it, Gordon has a bunch of them stashed some place, like a SWAT team. He wants you to think it is one guy.
Croc: Well you know what I think?
Joker: Not the robot theory again!
Croc: Well it could be.

A few, like Ras Al Ghul and Bane, know his real identity and know that he is man, albeit with superior detective skills and an indomitable spirit.

  • 2
    “Well that's where you are wrong. I don't think it is one guy.” That’s pretty much the premise of Batman Incorporated. Sep 19, 2019 at 2:09
  • 7
    A Batman musical! That's schway!
    – Taladris
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:25
  • 3
    +1 mainly for the "superstitious, cowardly lot" line, which is what I thought of when I read this question. Sep 19, 2019 at 20:57

One radically contrary theory is that Batman wants villains - and everyone else including us - to think he has no superpowers, while his strength, agility, endurance, and ability to recover from injury all suggest otherwise.

This is a very brief summary of the excellent and hilarious video Batman's Secret Super Power. In short, Bruce Wayne first becomes a master scientist (depicted studying test tubes of mysterious liquids) before being able to train his body to perform blatantly superhuman feats of strength -- and, as we see in later comics, superhuman agility, reflexes, ability to recover from injury, etc.

Batman will never reveal this secret. Being underestimated is one of his greatest weapons. The comics go to great lengths to never reveal the truth in words -- and even frequently say that Batman has no superpowers. But focusing not on what we're told, but what we're shown, it's easy to read between the panels. Batman whipped up some secret sauce ala Captain America or Bane. And fair play to him. There is no USADA in crime fighting.

The video concludes that his ultimate superpower is the character's massive popularity, which "lets him get away with pretty much everything". I think a big part of that popularity stems from him not having superpowers.


On top of all the other answers, Batman sometimes gets involved in situations which make him seem superpowered to everyone's surprise. Not always on his own volition though.

In season 3, episode 2 of Superman: the Animated Series, Batman is missing. Superman decides to don Batman's costume and fight crime in Gotham. Bane takes the beating of his life, with the Mad Hatter and Riddler as witnesses. That must have become quite the story among Gotham's criminals.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.