On Monday, the new trailer for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises hit the internet. But despite the optimistic title, the stills and footage released so far, combined with the tag line "The Legend Ends," hint at the possibility that Bruce Wayne might be in for some real trouble in his battle with Bane. After all, in the comics, Bane ends up crippling Bruce Wayne, forcing him to step aside and find a replacement.

While a franchise reboot is more likely than a non-Bruce Wayne Batman, I could see Christopher Nolan having the stones to try. But would Warner Brothers follow through and present us a Batman film featuring a lead other than Bruce Wayne? Not likely, but we like to dream, so here are eleven contenders for the bat-cowl from over 70 years of Batman history. Some are realistic, some are not, but all have played the part of Batman at one time or another.

Dick Grayson

Who better to replace Batman than his original sidekick, the very first Robin? Dick Grayson has been groomed for the role since his first appearance in 1940. In the 80's, the character left the Robin costume behind and became the hero Nightwing, but he's had two opportunities since then to fill in as the Dark Knight. The most recent was during the presumed death of Bruce Wayne in DC Comic's Final Crisis storyline , and Grayson was so popular in the role he kept the Batman identity for nearly three years, a record for anyone not named Bruce Wayne.

Jean Paul Valley

The Dark Knight Rises seems to be inspired by the 90's Batman storyline Knightfall, in which Bane crippled Bruce Wayne and he needed to step aside to recover. During that time, Jean Paul Valley, also known as Azrael,  became the new Batman. It stared to go haywire when Valley altered the bat suit into the armored monstrosity above, and got even worse when he went insane and started brutalizing petty crooks. Eventually, Bruce Wayne returned to for his old gig, allowing Azrael to redeem himself as a hero, which he eventually did. The armored Batman costume has remained un-redeemed, however.

Jason Todd

The second Robin, Jason Todd, had a whole lot of middle-child syndrome and even worse luck to go with it. After getting killed by the Joker, Todd was resurrected using comic book mumbo jumbo even I can't comprehend, and eventually made a play at becoming a murderous, gun toting Batman. This sort if thing is loads of fun while reading The Punisher, but its frowned upon in a Batman book. The other former Robins (of which there are a surprisingly high number) teamed up and took him down before he could disgrace the name. Then they got pizza, and discussed green shorts.

Hugo Strange

Perhaps the creepiest fake Batman, Hugo Strange put on the costume after discovering Bruce Wayne's secret identity. Strange has since occasionally impersonated Batman, often to frame him for crimes, but mostly because Hugo is the obsessed stalker type. He was a rumored candidate to appear in The Dark Knight Rises until it was confirmed that Bane would be the main villain, but Strange did get some Bat-exposure in the recent hit video game, Arkham City, as one of that game's main antagonists.

Roy Kane

This unlucky, forgotten Batman's only appearance was in the Blind Justice storyline from 1989. Roy met Batman the way most people do- because Bruce Wayne was trying to nail Roy's sister. After Wayne was temporarily paralyzed, he had Roy fight crime in his stead, controlling his actions with the help of a bizarre remote mind control device. As you can see above, this all ended rather poorly for Roy. The three part story was actually pretty good, but rarely referred to afterwards for two reasons. First, it became redundant once the Knightfall Story saw print, and second, because it made Bruce Wayne look like a total tool.

Terry McGinnis

After the success of Batman: The Animated Series in the '90's, the creators were given the chance to launch an original Batman concept: Batman Beyond. Set decades in the future, an elderly Bruce Wayne recruits 19-year-old Terry McGinnis to replace him and carry on his war on crime. The series had a well deserved following, and Terry grew popular with fans, but it's unlikely we'll see him in a Bat film, unless the filmmakers decided to take on a more sci-fi bent.

Harvey Dent

After years of fighting Batman as Two-Face, Harvey Dent got a shot at redemption when he filled in as Gotham's protector during DC Comic's 52 storyline, while Batman traveled the world for a year to get his mojo back. Although Harvey didn't wear the Bat-Costume then, he eventually appeared in the ridiculous costume pictured above to battle Dick Grayson. The story was kind of hard to follow, and the Two-Face/ Batman costume may have been a hallucination experienced by Grayson. Or maybe it was my hallucination. I should lay off the sauce.

Tim Drake

Tim Drake was the third Robin, and unlike Jason Todd, people like him. During the Battle For the Cowl storyline, where Bruce Wayne was presumed dead, Tim made a play at preserving the Batman legacy until the gun toting Jason Todd-Batman nearly killed him. I suppose Battle For the Cowl wouldn't be a good storyline for filmmakers to pursue, given that most of the characters haven't been introduced in any film version of Batman. Still, I will take any excuse to write at length about Batman minutia, so I thank you for your indulgence.

Batman Jones

Ah, Batman Jones! Along with Hula Hoop and the Red Scare, the late 50's gave us the origin of this rarely mentioned character. Apparently, Batman saved a family when their car spun out of control, and the couple named their newborn son "Batman". As he grew up, Batman Jones began dressing like his namesake, helping out around the neighborhood while riding his bike. Batman and Robin eventually steered him away from the dangers of crime fighting, however, and it is safe to say that no future movies will feature Batman Jones.

Damian Wayne

In 2006, Bruce Wayne got the surprise of a lifetime when he learned he had bore a son with Talia, daughter of his enemy, Ra's al Ghul. The now 10 year old Damian had been trained by the League of Assassins, and was immediately causing his father trouble, beheading b-list Batman villains and smart mouthing poor Alfred. Eventually Damian settled into his new role as the latest Robin, and learned to follow Bruce Wayne's rules, but not before readers were given a glimpse of a possible future, one where Damian is Batman and does whatever it takes to battle evil, including killing.


Superman subbing for Batman is a fairly common occurrence in the comic books, whether as part of some scheme to protect Bruce Wayne's secret identity, or as his latest way of messing with Lois Lane's head. It seems a far strech for the film franchise, given that Superman has his own films to worry about, plus: it's an awful idea. Hollywood isn't known for bad ideas, and a "Superman as Batman" movie is about as unlikely a remake of American Psycho only a decade after the original. Hmmm. On second thought, I'd like to take this opportunity to plead with Christopher Nolan not to leave the franchise. Ever. Please stay. We'll even forgive Batman's Cookie Monster voice.

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