Nobody fights like family, just ask Batman. Over the years, the Dark Knight has taken on multiple partners, building a family of heroes. Of course, when you put that many people together in a stressful environment like Gotham, in a stressful profession like crimefighting, and then train them in martial arts—well, chances are punches are going to be thrown eventually. Let’s face it, Batman isn’t exactly known for his gentle demeanor, and over the years, he’s ticked off his allies more times than we can count. With Batman Day just around the corner, and with this year’s focus on Batman’s iconic fights with…well, everyone, we thought we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a look at some of the times Batman has fought against the Bat-Family.
Consider this a caring Batman Day reminder that all families fight. This one just does it with batarangs.
Batman vs. Nightwing
When It Happened: Batman #600
The Arena: The Batcave
The Play-by-Play: After Bruce Wayne is framed for the murder of his girlfriend Vesper Fairchild, the Bat-Family hold an intervention. Batman doesn’t want to fight the charges and decides to abandon his Bruce Wayne identity. He is very dismissive towards his allies as they ask for an explanation and Nightwing eventually loses his temper. Dick throws the first punch and the battle is on. Batman evades most of Nightwing’s blows and refuses to answer his questions, which only enrages Dick further. In his fury, Dick accidentally destroys Jason Todd’s memorial, which ends the fight.
The Victor: The fight ended before a proper victor could be determined, but based on their immature behavior, neither of them were winners here.
Batman vs. Batgirl
When It Happened: 2004’s Batgirl #50
The Arena: Bristol Cemetery, and eventually across Gotham City
The Play-by-Play: Batman and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) become infected with a drug called Soul, which is said to give its users violent rages. The two allies viciously fight one another in a battle that takes them across the city. Nightwing, Oracle and Robin try to catch up with the frenzied combatants, hoping to cure them before somebody dies. Collateral damage is significant, culminating in a bridge explosion. Shocked to their sense by the frigid water, the two embrace each other and end their fight. Batman later reveals to Oracle that the drug only had a minor effect on them and the fight was his way of giving Cassandra therapy. Weird flex Batman, but you do you.
The Victor: Let’s be clear, the only reason Batman survived is because Batgirl let him survive. This one might technically be a draw, but only because Cass didn’t unleash her full power.
Batman vs. Red Robin
When It Happened: Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Red Robin #1
The Arena: Amsterdam rooftops
The Play-by-Play: Undercover as an assassin known as the Insider, Bruce is tasked with killing Red Robin, leading the two crimefighters to stage a fight to keep up appearances. Never one to waste a good fight, Bruce decides to use the mock battle as an opportunity to test Tim’s skills. Red Robin welcomes the challenge and fights off Bruce’s advances. As the Insider, Bruce is forced to rely on his suit’s tech in order to repel Red Robin’s blows. The pair trades punches for some time, eventually stopping their charade in order to apprehend a group of assassins.
The Victor: Let’s call this one a draw, but it’s worth noting that Tim’s fighting skills impressed Bruce.
Batman vs. Batwoman
When It Happened: 2018’s Batwoman #16
The Arena: The Kane Industries building
The Play-by-Play: Batman is trying to apprehend the villain Alice, but Batwoman believes her sister can still be redeemed. Fearing that a stint in Arkham would kill her, Batwoman attacks Batman and attempts to get away with Alice. As much a pursuit as an actual fight, with Batwoman barely staying one step ahead of Batman, Kate is eventually able to use the building PA system to play the sound of a gunshot, triggering Bruce’s childhood trauma. Batwoman uses the delay to knock over a piece of architecture, trapping the Dark Knight.
The Victor: Kate’s exact quote was “I @#$%!@# won.”
Batman vs. Alfred
When It Happened: The Batman Who Laughs #4
The Arena: The Batcave
The Play-by-Play: Bruce has allowed toxin from the Joker to infect him and donned a visor that once belonged to the Batman Who Laughs. He reasons that its connection to the Dark Multiverse will prove to be an asset to him. Alfred understandably has concerns and takes the visor from Bruce. Still infused with Joker toxin, Bruce shockingly attacks Alfred. However, the butler proves himself to be an effective fighter, landing multiple hits on the Dark Knight. Batman eventually overpowers Alfred, but the tears from his butler snap him out of his maniacal rage, ending the fight.
The Victor: I’m giving this one to Alfred, since he landed numerous hits on Bruce before the fight stopped.
When family fights family, nobody wins—except the readers, because let’s face it, it’s dramatic and a lot of fun to see. Their fights might be violent and sometimes cause property damage, but in the end, you couldn’t ask for a better family than the Bat-Family in part because of all of their squabbles. If Bruce, Dick, Cass, Tim, Kate and Alfred can all put the emotions of their past fights aside time and time again to come to the rescue and support of each other, then you know their relationship is built on some solid ground. And that’s a good thing because it doesn’t look like the Bat-Family’s internal struggles are going to be ending any time soon.
Batman Day 2022 is on Saturday, September 17th. For more information, along with exclusive videos, features, articles and more celebrating the Dark Knight, visit our official Batman Day page.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.