10 Theories That Completely Change How You Watch Batman Movies

Summary

  • Alfred being Bruce Wayne’s real father would explain his devotion to Bruce and redefine their relationship in Batman movies.
  • The theory that Bruce Wayne and Batman are actually enemies challenges the dichotomy of his two personas.
  • The theory that the Joker is Batman’s brother adds a fascinating dynamic to their relationship and redefines their rivalry.

Over the course of Batman‘s long tenure as a pop culture icon, numerous theories about the hero have popped up which drastically change the perception of his DC movies. In the history of the superhero genre and across multiple mediums, few heroes have enjoyed such consistent success as Batman. The Dark Knight’s status as an iconic figure speaks to the ongoing popularity of his many stories. However, with this interest comes ideas and speculation about other aspects of Batman’s life and world, resulting in a number of interesting theories that have ramifications for every Batman movie.

Many theories stem from specific incarnations of the hero or specific stories, with evidence cited from those respective appearances, while others are more general interpretations of Batman’s story. Most of them hint at a different side to the hero or to his backstory which fundamentally changes how his movies are perceived. Though every Batman actor brings something different to the role, there are theories that paint all of them in a distinctly different light, with these speculative ideas adding to the rich tapestry of the Batman mythos. With that in mind, here are 10 theories that completely change how you watch Batman movies.

10 Alfred Is Bruce Wayne’s Real Father

The Dark Knight Alfred and Bruce Wayne

Though there’s no significant evidence to support this theory, it’s an interesting prospect, because it repaints Bruce Wayne’s entire life. Had Alfred Pennyworth secretly been his biological father after an affair with Martha Wayne, it would explain Alfred’s devotion to Bruce throughout the years and his persistent place in the hero’s life. As Alfred is already Bruce’s main father figure, the theory isn’t entirely necessary, as the Wayne’s butler already plays an important role in Bruce’s life. Still, it’s certainly an intriguing idea, and it redefines one of the Batman movies’ key pairings.

9 Bruce Wayne Is Actually Batman’s Real Enemy

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises.

The dichotomy of Bruce Wayne and Batman is one of the key aspects of any good Batman story, with the hero struggling to find the balance between his two personas. This theory changes that by positing that they’re actually effectively at war: for all the time Batman spends cleaning up the streets, Bruce isn’t using his wealth and power to affect real change in Gotham. There’s an argument that the pair are polar opposites and entirely at odds, and the character’s preference to choose violent vigilantism over benevolence makes Bruce Wayne and Batman enemies.

8 The Joker Is Batman’s Brother

The Joker points at Batman in an interrogation room in The Dark Knight.

Though the idea was explored in 2019’s Joker, the prospect that Joker and Batman could be brothers was actually floated long before. The Dark Knight sees Joker liken himself to Batman in multiple ways, insisting that they’re the same. One of the only scenes in which the Joker gets emotional is one in which he angrily declares he hates his father, lending further credence to the theory that Thomas Wayne sent the villain away as a child, inadvertently causing his troubled future. The theory repaints the relationship between Batman and his nemesis in a fascinating way, no matter how far-fetched an idea it may sound.

7 Gotham Legalizing Gambling Led To The Schumacher Batman Movies

The Hippodrome in Gotham in Batman Forever

After Tim Burton’s Batman movies, Joel Schumacher stepped in for Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. The two films were a huge departure from the gothic style of Burton’s movies, and one theory explains the reason for the shift. The theory suggests that Gotham’s economy was hurt after Max Shreck’s death and this led to the legalization of gambling. This in turn caused Gotham to become the neon-soaked and distinctly tacky setting of Schumacher’s Batman movies, explaining that the city looks so different because multiple casinos were opened.

6 The DCEU’s Joker Used To Be Robin

Robin's costume in Batman v Superman

Though Batman and the Joker’s tenure in the DCEU was short-lived, a surprisingly compelling theory arose regarding the true identity of the Batman villain in the franchise. Batman v Superman briefly shows a Robin costume with bullet holes that had been vandalized by the Joker, hinting that the villain killed Batman’s sidekick. However, the Joker himself has two scars in the same position as these bullet holes, leading to the theory that the DCEU’s Robin actually became the Joker, reframing the entire backstory of Affleck’s Batman in the process.

5 Batman Died At The End Of The Dark Knight Trilogy

Batman The Dark Knight Rises Ending Selina Kyle Bruce Wayne Christian Bale Anne Hathaway

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy ends Batman’s story with an apparent act of heroic sacrifice, only to reveal that Bruce Wayne actually survived and disappeared to retire in peace. However, one theory suggests that this isn’t the case at all: that Batman actually died, and that Alfred seeing him was simply his imagination attempting to soothe his grief. There may not be any significant evidence to support the theory, but it’s surprisingly logical when broken down. Moreover, it redefines Batman’s whole trilogy arc, having him die a true hero in the end.

4 The Joker Is The Real Hero In The Dark Knight

The Joker in the kitchen in The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight‘s Joker is responsible for some of the most disturbing scenes in any Batman movie, but one theory believes that he’s still ultimately the film’s hero. Joker’s goal is simply to expose the corruption plaguing Gotham, including that of its criminal underworld. Over the course of the movie, the Joker is responsible for sending Gotham’s organized crime syndicates into disarray, having James Gordon promoted to Commissioner, and exposing corruption in both Gotham’s government and police force. Though his methods are extremely violent, Joker actually gets more results than Batman, making this theory shockingly compelling.

3 Bruce Is Adopted In The Batman

The Batman Bruce Wayne Robert Pattinson

The Batman follows Batman’s pursuit of the Riddler, who is on a crusade to expose the hypocrisy of city officials and public figures, including the Wayne family. One theory believes that Riddler’s grudge against the Waynes is personal because Bruce was adopted by them instead of him. Riddler explains that he grew up in an orphanage and hides his clues to Bruce Wayne being his next target there, firmly connecting himself to Bruce through their shared status as orphans. There’s not a great deal of evidence to back the theory up, but it certainly adds an extra layer of depth to The Batman‘s story.

2 The Bat-Signal Creates Gotham’s Worst Villains

The bat-signal and Robert Pattinson as Batman

A theory that delves into the psychological aspects of Batman’s crusade against crime actually holds him responsible for some of Gotham’s worst villains. Batman’s use of the Bat-Signal is often explained to be something of a deterrent, scaring away small-time criminals by suggesting that the vigilante is on the prowl. The theory suggests that this actually emboldens the more dangerous individuals, with its heavy symbolism prompting them to adopt their own personas to combat the Dark Knight’s grip on Gotham. It’s an interesting idea that has been touched on before, but the theory goes much deeper and reframes many Batman movies as a result.

1 The Dark Knight’s Joker Is Ex-Military

Heath Ledger as The Joker without make-up in The Dark Knight

Perhaps the most compelling theory is another that further explores the character of Heath Ledger’s Joker, suggesting a tragic backstory that fits remarkably well with his characterization in The Dark Knight. The theory is simply that Joker was formerly an intelligence operative, and that this is why he has no apparent identity. His scars are suggested to have been caused in the line of duty, and his ability to handle weapons and explosives and bring Gotham to its knees using guerrilla tactics all fit with the theory. This particular theory repaints the villain in an entirely different light, potentially changing how the Batman movie is watched forever.

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