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, 2015 at 16:24
  • You've referenced the movie but not a comic. What sort of answers are you after?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 1, 2016 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, 2016 at 16:16
  • I have often thought more or less the same thing about "Father Brown". Apr 1, 2016 at 19:15
  • 1
    Batman: "Should I stop dressing up in a weird suit with a cape to beat up criminals in the cold, dark night air of Gotham, and just stay at home instead? No, that would be ridiculous." Possibly see also: youtube.com/watch?v=HMqZ2PPOLik Aug 3, 2021 at 12:25

5 Answers 5


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.

  • 2
    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. Mar 18, 2020 at 20:49
  • 1
    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. Mar 19, 2020 at 3:43
  • 2
    @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.
    – user99956
    Mar 19, 2020 at 10:02
  • youtube.com/watch?v=AbgSg3h5h7c Episode here.
    – jo1storm
    Aug 4, 2021 at 10:26

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 living 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?!


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! I've 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.


Batman and Deathstroke fight on a plane wing in 'Batman #91' (2020), while exchanging the words quoted previously.

  • 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, 2020 at 17:46

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.

  • 8
    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, 2015 at 16:41
  • Can you recall which animated series?
    – Valorum
    May 4, 2015 at 6:53
  • 1
    It was The Animated Series, I remember this episode. It was episode 53 of season 1, "I Am the Night". :)
    – Stormie
    Aug 24, 2015 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, 2016 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, 2016 at 17:28

Yes, in the same series (The Batman) you quoted actually. In The Batman TV series, there was an episode where the villains of Arkham put Batman on trial on the grounds that he caused the villains to exist.

Then they put an attorney that was against Batman in charge of his defense. She ended up concluding that Batman does not, in fact, cause the supervillains, but that the supervillains caused Batman to exist.


To some degree, this was the plotline of The Joker War, where The Joker turns Batman's technology against him, seizing the Batsuit and getting the support of the populace, Wayne Industries, and the Gotham City Police who have been armed with technologies developed by Bruce to support his fight on crime. This is escalation in a more real-world setting, looking at the scenario of Batman funneling his money into the support of real-world law and order, and what might happen if the police become militarized and then go after the wrong targets. In the end, Batman states that Joker was right, that he's been escalating the conflict, while he himself is aloof from the masses as a rich man who buys high-tech equipment to beat people up, thereby making the problem worse because he doesn't understand the problem. and he intentionally joins the common people.

Honestly, I don't think the storyline will last for long, but it is a definite case of Batman recognizing that his escalation has led to Gotham's problems.

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.