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So there's a classic argument that Batman's style of vigilantism actually makes Gotham less safe and more crime-ridden, because it indirectly encourages the city's scum to become "super-criminals" obsessed with defeating him, like the Joker and the Riddler. Variations of this argument have been raised by some in-universe characters, often villains trying to excuse their actions, but also by at least one of the good guys (Gordon at the end of Batman Begins, 2005):

Batman: We will. We can bring Gotham back.

Jim Gordon: What about escalation?

Batman: Escalation?

Jim Gordon: We start carrying semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor piercing rounds.

Batman: And?

Jim Gordon: And, you're wearing a mask. Jumping off rooftops. Now, take this guy. [pulling out a file]

Jim Gordon: Armed robbery, double homicide, has a taste for the theatrical, like you. Leaves a calling card. [shows Batman a plastic evidence bag containing a Joker card]

In this scene Batman appears to simply ignore the implication. What I'd like to know is: Has Batman ever taken this idea seriously enough to consider changing his methodology? (in any medium)

For instance, has he ever asked a psychiatrist if there are ways he might prevent these sorts of psychos from being inspired by him? Or has he ever tried taking an extended break from crime-fighting to see if the super-criminals get bored without him around?

  • Yes - I've read issues where Bruce wonders about it. – Omegacron May 4 '15 at 16:24
  • You've referenced the movie but not a comic. What sort of answers are you after? – AncientSwordRage Apr 1 '16 at 16:15
  • @AncientSwordRage Any canon/universe works for me. I only quoted the movie because the movies are all I've seen. – Ixrec Apr 1 '16 at 16:16
  • I have often thought more or less the same thing about "Father Brown". – Cascabel Apr 1 '16 at 19:15
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+50

Well yes, he tends to blame himself for that and for the death of his parents (and probably a lot of other things) but then, in the end, someone else (Alfred or some other character) tries to straighten him out, as there was nothing young Bruce could do to stop his parents murder OR what crazy people choose to do in Gotham City.

For example, there was an episode of BTAS where he is put on trial called, ah, "The Trial":

D.A. Janet Van Dorn: I used to believe Batman was responsible for you people, but now I see nearly everyone here would have ended up exactly the same, Batman or not. Oh, the gimmicks might be different, but you'd all be out there in some form or another that brings misery to Gotham. The truth is, you created him.

And in "Day of the Samurai" from BTAS, Bruce thinks he's no better than the villain he defeated and his sensei tries to set him straight:

Sensei Yoru: If you see Batman, tell him I have great respect for him.

Bruce Wayne: Why? He's as much a ninja as Kyodai was.

Sensei Yoru: Not so. Batman offered to help his adversary, and a lesser man would have used the secrets of the Onemuri touch against his opponent. Batman is the essence of samurai, Wayne-san. You would do well to remember that.

Bruce Wayne: [bows] Domo-arigato, Sensei.

So you see, he's harder on himself than anyone else. He takes the prize on brooding.

And I didn't state the obvious: Bruce feels responsible for the creation of the Joker as he had a direct hand in that event. Batman fights a Red Hood impostor, Red Hood impostor falls into vat of chemicals, and out pops the Joker.

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    If you look at his classic Rogues Gallery, he's (perhaps) responsible for the Joker, and (based on Year One), possibly inspiring Catwoman to take up a costume, and the Riddler wanted to challenge him, but the vast majority of the rest were already criminals or screwed up by someone else: Harvey Dent was mutilated by Sal Maroni, Ra's al-Ghul was already centuries old, Penguin would be into organized crime regardless, Hugo Strange was already insane, and so on. – Keith Morrison Mar 18 at 20:49
  • Agreed! Carmine Falcone was already the underworld “don” (granted he wasn’t necessarily a super-villain, but more a financier in his later years), Harley Quinn wasn’t created by Batman but more over her love obsession with the Joker when she worked at Arkham, Poison Ivy came about due to Marc LeGrande, and then there’s Red Claw, a terrorist leader not borne of Batman. – MissouriSpartan Mar 19 at 3:43
  • @KeithMorrison But what about renowned villains like Condiment Man? Calendar Man? Baffler? Captain Stingaree? All the other ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Batman_family_enemies ) villains? There must be at least one among them who turned to crime only because of Batman's existence. – Morfildur Mar 19 at 10:02
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There is a similar exchange between Batman and Deathstroke in Batman #91 (2020). Technically what Batman acknowledges is that it's his fault his ways scare Gotham citizens, but they're needed to fight the villains coming over and over again, and Batman isn't an idiot, he knows some of these "costumed madmen" come back for him.

He also talks about how he's trying to "change that", but the method he tries does not seem very efficient, as it expects the bad guys to outright stand down and let him help civilians.

BATMAN: There are around nine million people libing in Gotham. Innocent people who have spent the last few years in a kind of constant rolling hell. It's a city where faith in government went up when Bane took control. They're scared like they've never been before, and all I am trying to do is give them some kind of peace...

DEATHSTROKE: Do you think I care?!

BATMAN: I do.

DEATHSTROKE: Why do you think they're afraid? Whose fault is that?

BATMAN: It's mine. You think I don't know it's mine?! Of course I know! Iv'e spent my career using my wealth and power to fight costumed madmen, and they keep coming back, over and over! I keep needing to make bigger and more frightening weapons just to keep you people down! You know who I am. You know how it started... In an alley with a mugger and a revolver... And I changed to stop that... and the muggers changed too... You always come back with a bigger gun.

DEATHSTROKE: You escalated first. Don't pretend that your hand was forced.

BATMAN: I'm trying... I'm trying to change that. I'm trying to make it better, make it right. I'm trying to do everything I promised to do that I never did before. But you people just need to stop and let me save them.

DEATHSTROKE: No.

Batman and Deathsroke fight on a plane wing

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  • How time flies. Back when I asked this question I'd only seem some of the movies, but now I'm pulling Batman myself and I loved reading this scene when the issue came out yesterday. – Ixrec Mar 19 at 17:46
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It may be true that the Batman's existence causes there to be more supervillains, yet if you go by the comics, costumed villains apparently existed in Gotham way before Batman. So Gotham, apparently, like all the cities in DC and Marvel comics, are "cursed" to have costumed villains and heroes fighting.

I don't have exact references, but I do remember in one of the animated Batman series that this question comes up. That Batman even considers quitting due to the rise in supervillains, because he feels responsible for the increase of their numbers.

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    Greetings, MagnaRyuu, and welcome to the site. This answer is true, but I feel it's not really an answer to the question - the question doesn't ask whether Batman is responsible, but if Batman has ever taken the idea seriously. It's a question about what Batman believes, not about what we do. Could you edit it to address this issue? – Tynam May 2 '15 at 16:41
  • Can you recall which animated series? – Valorum May 4 '15 at 6:53
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    It was The Animated Series, I remember this episode. It was episode 53 of season 1, "I Am the Night". :) – Stormie Aug 24 '15 at 7:41
  • I recall an old Batman serial where Batman was brooding in the dark about the fact that his presence acted as a loony magnet. – Valorum Apr 1 '16 at 16:20
  • Besides @Tynam's objection, even if some supervillains predate Batman, the question would still remain: is he escalating the costumed supervillain/hero war? Does Batman's taste for theatrics encourage even more theatrics in his enemies? – Andres F. Apr 1 '16 at 17:28

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