With an origin that's been retold so many times that it's almost become a joke every time a movie cuts to Martha Wayne's pearls, Batman probably has the most recognizable backstory in all of comics. That might be what makes the Flashpoint Batman origin such an effective twist and a valid pick for the most harrowing comic origin of all time.
In 2011, the DC Comics event Flashpoint created a universe-wide window into an alternate world where Bruce Wayne perished that fateful night instead of Thomas and Martha Wayne. What comes from this is one of the most tragic, but satisfying retellings of who would end up donning Batman's cowl. In this alternate reality's wake, comic readers are left with DC Comics' largest universal reset in the form of The New 52 and an unclear status quo about just who could show up from DC's most well-known stories. Edgier and lacking hesitation to take out wrongdoers, the Thomas Wayne version of Batman from the Flashpoint reality is among the darkest origin stories out there. Here’s a breakdown of how Thomas Wayne became Batman and the universe-shattering events that followed.
Thomas Wayne Fatally Beats Joe Chill With His Bare Hands To Avenge His Son
As one of the many unintended ripple effects of Barry Allen going back in time to prevent his own mother's demise, Bruce Wayne ends up Joe Chill's target in Crime Alley. Thomas Wayne uses his medical skills to try and resuscitate his son while Martha Wayne runs to find help, only to come back after her son has already passed.
Taking a radically different approach to justice than his Prime Earth equivalent, the Thomas Wayne Batman embraces lethal force as a vigilante. The Batman of Flashpoint goes out of his way to eliminate all offenders, even those who commit minor wrongdoings, to clean the streets up, all while running a casino empire to fund his crime-fighting efforts. The first crook to receive this brand of justice is Joe, the man responsible in both the Prime Earth and Flashpoint realities for setting their respective Waynes on the path to becoming the Dark Knight.
Martha Suffers A Mental Breakdown And Becomes The Flashpoint Joker
While Thomas's response to the demise of his son involves a newfound bloodlust and hunger for justice, Martha's grief manifests in a different way - not in depression, but madness and a desire for revenge against the very city that took her son away from her.
While Thomas seeks out Joe, Martha gives herself a graphic version of the Joker's signature grin, positioning herself as the unhinged counterpoint to her husband's vigilante role.
Martha's Joker Captures Judge Harvey Dent's Children
Martha's modus operandi is a simple one: revenge through fear. Revenge against a city and its weak justice system. Revenge against the officials in place that seemingly do nothing to rid the world of offenders.
One of the Joker's first targets is Judge Harvey Dent. Dent in the Flashpoint timeline is the judge who failed to sentence Joe, leaving him on the streets to cross the Waynes' path in Crime Alley. Instead of hitting Dent directly, she nabs his children, making him feel the same pain that drove her mad.
The Joker Takes Out Jim Gordon After Tricking Him Into Shooting Dent's Daughter
While waiting to be discovered by the authorities and her husband, Batman, after taking off with the Dent children, the Joker disguises Dent's daughter as the Joker, complete with firearms strapped to her hands and a wide grin painted over her duct-taped mouth.
When Jim Gordon enters her hideout, he ends up slaying the child instead of Martha. Martha then slits Gordon's throat, reinforcing her crusade against Gotham City's failed justice system and cutting off another of Batman's lifelines.