He is one of the most influential fictional characters and superheroes. He dedicated his life to fighting off evil in the name of good. Holy Smokes, it’s Batman!
But he’s not just Batman. The Caped Crusader has been given several nicknames in the comics and film, from villains, sidekicks, friends, citizens of Gotham, and creators over the years.
Some are more popular than others, but each one is important in its own way. Here is a list of ten of Batman’s most important nicknames in no particular order.
10. Bruce Wayne
This is not exactly a nickname, but it’s equally as important. Bruce Wayne is Batman’s public identity. It’s who he was before he became Batman and who he will remain when the cape is hung up for good. While his alter ego may have many nicknames, this is the one name he will always have.
9. Matches Malone
Matches Malone was an arsonist and small-time criminal who actually wasn’t that bad of a guy overall. What does this have to do with Batman? After Malone’s death, Batman takes on Malone’s identity in the comics.
Doing this helps Batman get information on criminal organizations that he would not have access to otherwise. It is also Batman’s way of redeeming Malone because he thought he really wasn’t that bad.
8. The Masked Manhunter
While the name “Manhunter” is commonly used among heroes in the DC universe, Batman is the only one who has ever been called The Masked Manhunter. This was one of his nicknames in some of the earlier comics.
Manhunter literally means a hunter of men. The term Manhunter became associated with anyone who sought out or killed someone else in the name of justice and retribution. If that doesn’t describe our favorite vigilante dressed in black, I don’t know what does.
7. Defender of Gotham
Although not often used, this nickname has been used across various outlets and can be used along with some of his other names or interchangeably. However, this name indeed describes who and what Batman is.
He vowed to live his life as a vigilante, fighting crime and protecting the citizens of Gotham city.
6. Batsy or Bats
Both of these nicknames were given to Batman by the Joker. Everyone knows that the Prankster is one of Batman’s biggest foes, and the two have an odd love/hate relationship in the comics, movies, and various animated series.
The Joker is almost obsessed with Batman at times. You may think that these nicknames sound condescending, but when the Joker calls Batman “Batsy” or “Bats,” he is actually using them as an endearment.
Speaking of Batman’s enemies, the Joker wasn’t the only one who held respect for him. Another opponent of his, Ra’s Al Ghul, also had a nickname for Batman that was given more out of respect than out of disdain.
No matter how many times they went up against each other, Ra’s respected Batman’s sleuthing skills and considered him a worthy opponent at the end of the day. In fact, in some origin stories, he even wanted Batman to be his heir.
Ra’s wasn’t the only al Ghul that was fixated on Batman. His daughter Talia was even more intrigued with the man in black than her father was. While Batman has had several love interests over time throughout different continuities, in the Bronze Age comics, Talia was his main love interest.
While their relationship was complicated, to say the least, with Talia trying to murder him one minute and then wanting to be his lover the next, that didn’t stop her from giving him the pet name Beloved.
3. The World’s Greatest Detective
While he has become a celebrated hero throughout the years, he was initially portrayed and referred to in DC comics as The World’s Greatest Detective. Batman is brilliant and often uses logic to figure out his opponent’s next move and outwit them.
His excellent detective skills are one of the many reasons that even some of his biggest enemies still show him a great deal of respect. However, this nickname and persona are more common in the comics than in any of the on-screen adaptations.
2. The Caped Crusader
This is one of Batman’s oldest and also one of his most popular nicknames. “Caped,” of course, refers to his costume, and “crusader” acknowledges what he does: cleaning up Gotham City and ridding it of crime and criminals.
This nickname was first introduced in the comics and is most common there. However, since its introduction in the comics, Batman (portrayed by Adam West) was often referred to as The Caped Crusader in the 1960s television series. In the 1980s, there was a video game entitled Batman: The Caped Crusader.
And while it’s probably not his most common nickname today, it might just become a trend again. There’s a new animated series coming to Cartoon Network and HBO Max in 2023 entitled Batman: Caped Crusader, which is a reimagining of the original Batman mythology.
1. The Dark Knight
While this is not necessarily Batman’s most important nickname, it’s definitely the most iconic and widely recognized. It has inspired the titles of numerous animated and live-action films, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.
However, the nickname was first introduced in the comic series in 1940 by one of Batman’s original creators, Bill Finger.
Batman is known as a silent guardian and protector, which is where the term knight comes in. He watches over, protects, and fights for Gotham City just as a medieval knight would have done for their castle.
On the other hand, the “dark” part of his most famous nickname can mean several things. While in many cases, “dark” in a character’s name or where they are from usually implies something terrible (The Dark Lord, the dark side), this is not the case with Batman.
Dark could be a nod towards Batman’s costume, which is all black, or the fact that he mostly goes out to fight crime at night. However, the most likely explanation is that he does most of his crime-fighting vigilante-style, in the shadows, without a lot of fanfare and recognition.