Batman doesn’t have any superpowers. He has to use his brain and his courage, that’s what always appealed to me – Patrick Leahy
The idea that one of the three titans who founded the Justice League, could and would turn on one of the other original members of the team seems almost preposterous.
Batman has always been driven by his steadfast principles and a rigid code of honor that he has rarely if ever deviated from in his eight-decade crime-fighting career.
Even though his relationship with Superman is complex, and at times fraught, the mere thought that Batman might ever be tempted to kill one of his oldest friends is a notion that we’d usually dismiss out of hand if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s true.
As strange as it may seem, there have been at least four occasions when Batman has tried to kill Superman, and while he’s only succeeded once, it’s still a twenty-five percent success rate, which for a mortal intent on killing a god seems to be incredibly fortuitous and if it was anyone else apart from Batman, we’d even say that claim that it might have been “lucky”.
But Bruce Wayne doesn’t believe in luck.
He believes in meticulous planning, in using his enemy’s weaknesses against them, and never starting a fight that he doesn’t know how to win, but most of all, he needs an adamant and unshakeable reason to commit himself to any course of action.
For the Dark Knight to even contemplate killing the Son of Krypton, he must have felt as though there was no other option, and murder was the only solution.
And that’s why we’re going to take a closer look at the four occasions when Batman’s irrefutable logic drove him to attempted, and on one occasion successful, homicide…
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Due in no small part to the global box office success of Zack Snyder’s film about the tragic events that eventually led to the formation of the Justice League, the most famous instance of Batman devoting his undivided attention to finding a way to stop Superman, fueled the plot of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Having witnessed firsthand the damage that The Battle of Metropolis visited on the city and its cost in human lives, Batman comes to believe that Superman is an omnipresent danger to every living creature on the planet.
He thinks that if it happened once it can happen again, and wrongly believes, an idea that he comes to understand was powered by grief and rage, that Superman will inevitably come to eventually see himself as a god.
And he resolves to end the threat he perceives Superman to be as swiftly and decisively as possible,
Armed with a spear whose head was forged from the kryptonite and an arsenal of weapons designed to slow his “nemesis” down, Bruce almost triumphs in his fool’s errand before a brief moment of connection allows him to see Superman for who he really is, and realize that his “enemy” was sent to help and protect humanity and he ends his crusade before it reaches a point of no return.
The Dark Knight Returns
In Frank Miller’s dark vision of a dystopian Gotham that’s set in the late nineteen eighties, all superheroes except for Superman have been outlawed, and any tempted to return to their old ways are soon shown the error of their ways by Kal-El, who has allowed himself to become a puppet of a corrupt and weak government.
Having returned to action to finally deal with the Joker and the rampant street crime that has brought Gotham to its knees, a middle-aged Batman is forced to fight the Man of Steel and gives as good as he gets until he allows Kal-El to believe that he has “killed” his old friend, Bruce.
It’s another of Batman’s strategies designed to make Superman look left, while Batman swerved right, but the psychological burden it inflicts on Superman is one that he will arguably never recover from.
Superman: Red Son
In Mark Miller’s story of what might have happened had Kal-El’s rocketship crashed in Siberia rather than Smallville, Batman is a Moscow based vigilante who teams up with Lex Luthor to avenge himself (in the story, Superman is responsible for Batman’s father’s death) and free the world from the constant threat of a Superman whose only loyalties lie with the State and the Red Army.
It’s a hopeless campaign that was doomed before it even began, and rather than fall into the hands of the enemy and become a mindless automation, Batman commits suicide, demonstrating that in every reality, his resolve and determination remain the same, even in the face of overwhelming defeat.
Whatever Happened To The Man Who Destroyed Everything?
In an Elseworlds style story entitled Whatever Happened To The Man Who Destroyed Everything? that was featured in Superman / Batman Annual #1 Bat-Mite tells Mr. Mxyzptlk a story about Superman suddenly appearing while the Justice League battle to save the Multiverse from destruction and collapsing in on itself.
After working out that Superman is the universal inconsistency that has triggered the crisis, Batman determines that the only way to save every living thing in creation is by killing Superman.
He tries every trick in his handbook until, as Superman is flying him high into Earth’s atmosphere, Batman sets his Hallelujah play in motion, He triggers a series of satellites that he had placed in orbit years before in case he ever needed a weapon of last resort (we told that Batman was meticulous and prepared for every eventuality), which alters the chemical composition of the sun and transform it into a red sun, the same as Kryptons, effectively making Superman human while he’s flying thousands of feet above the Earth’s surface.
As humans can’t fly, Batman’s Hail Mary pass kills Superman, but it also kills Batman who falls to his death along with his former friend. It’s one of the craziest Elseworlds stories ever told, but what else would you expect from Bat-Mite?