Updated: 3 days ago
We tackle which of the live action Batman was actually the “World’s Greatest Detective” by ranking each Batman based on detective skills. Includes our breakdown of the Internet criticisms on the detective work in The Batman and our own take on what we think is unfair vs. what we think Battinson should have caught.
Batman art by Brian Ewing from the cover of Detective Comics 776
0:15 Episode Introduction
This ties into a previous episode where we evaluated the same Batmen n which ones killed and which ones didn't.
The Key Issues episode that Ben references can be viewed here:
3:23 What Makes a Good Detective?- Our Criteria
19:46 Judging Detective’s Mistakes
22:56 The Batmen We’re Judging + Kevin Conroy Tribute
30:24 Lewis Wilson (The Batman 1943)
Here's Ben's complete breakdown of Wilson's strengths and weaknesses as a detective:
He recognizes, on sight, the car they were previously following that belongs to the henchmen of the villain Dr. Daka.
This Batman also seems very good at predicting criminal behavior. He correctly suspects that Linda is about to walk into a trap at the Blue Parrot and goes to follow her (though relies on Dick who fucks it up).
He also knows not to fall into the trap of trying the door that the criminals locked up.
Episode 2 is also ne of the few times in live action that we see Bruce Wayne in a lab coat and using the crime lab.
He knows the police won’t find the crew at their hideout at the House of the Open Door
He looks through the thug’s coat for identification and sees the map that indicates that they’ll attack the railroad that night
Identifies that the gun uses radium
Sees what the criminals took from Linda and figures out that they’re after the radium
Knows what streets to take to avoid traffic
Knows that an advertisement is actually a coded message from Washington
Knows how to uncover the invisible ink to see the coded message.
Shows knowledge of the process of extracting radium
Knows that the bug that Robin found means that Ken is in danger
Knows that the criminals will be lost in the traffic and when not to pursue them
Knows that Colton’s meeting with Warren is a trap and has Alfred go in disguise
In one of the most impressive displays, he figures out that Colton’s ambulance was fake and smells the odor of chloroform from the room he was taken from. He takes evidence back to the lab, deducing that Colton was kidnapped.
In the lab, he uses blacklight to identify the Japanese laundry that’s tied to Dr. Daka
Identifies that the Native American is selling bowls carved from the same rock that Colton showed them.
Identifies Daka’s gang’s car and that they forced Colton to take them to his mine
Figures that Daka’s man Fletcher won’t be at the Sphinx Club after Robin’s attack
Knows that the painting’s being used to spy on him
Knows they won’t be at the same house as before after blowing his cover as Chuck White.
Recognizes one of the thugs on site when they arrive at the police station
Sees the cigarette and takes it to the lab to identify that it contains a poison
Knows it’s suspicious when Linda stands him up and correctly deduces that she’s in trouble
Knows that the guard is lying to him when he sees the car parked outside
Knows the dead end in the secret passageway can’t be real
Figures out why Daka caused the cave in.
Knows it’s useless to test for fingerprints on Linda’s note since the men who forced her to write it would be too clever to leave any.
Locates the window to the room where Linda is being kept
Shows knowledge of Morse code and uses it to get Robin to help him out
Knows not to untie Daka in order to revert Linda to her true self
Knows to use the gloves at the end when following Daka’s instructions to revert Linda back to normal
Knows to appeal to Captain Arnold’s ego to give him the credit for the capture of Daka’s men
Bruce doesn’t figure out that the criminals’ car changed itself and came back, but couldn’t have reasonably bargained that a car would do that at the time, early in the story without knowing the villain behind what’s going on.
Knows that Linda will be at a fortune teller’s place with the fortune teller planted by the villain, but doesn’t account for other thugs being in the fortune teller’s place.
Walks right into a trap set by Daka when he, in his Chuck White disguise, getting hit by the car accident. He's lucky that he survives. Wilson's Batman should have bargained that Daka would try to kill or trap him at that point in the story and found a way to fake his death or trick them into disappearing.
Misses what looks like an obvious trap door and falls into the trap
37:26 Robert Lowery (Batman and Robin 1949)
Has Robin run tests for invisible ink
Notices the discrepancy that Professor Hamill wouldn’t know that his machine was stolen yet
Knows, when they find diamonds, that it’s the same group as the ones who committed the earlier crime.
Figures out, along with Robin, that the radio announcer is suspicious
Notices that Hamill’s mansion is close to where the plane landed
Is able to get Vicki Vale out of a trap
Figures out that the remote control machine fucks up the Batmobile
Tries to narrow down suspects to see who knows Morton by sight
Identifies Morton’s head injury on sight
Figures out how the Wizard projected himself from his hideout
Figures out that the transmitter is in the hospital room.
Knows the source of the machine’s short circuit when he got thrown into it.
Figures out that the thugs escaped through the other building
Figures out that the car was operated by remote control by the Wizard.
Knows that Vicki’s walking into a trap set by her brother Jimmy
In an impressive display of ingenuity, he retrieves the charred negative of Vicki’s photo and is able to restore the molecular structure of it thanks to infrared plates.
Already knows how much Marine Street goes
Figures out that Harrison is the next victim
Takes out Vicki’s keys to keep her out of danger
Knows that the cabin is about to explode and gets himself and Harrison into a cellar to safety
Figures that the plane below them is the lookout plane
Knows to leap out of the car in time as the thugs get rid of it.
Knows that Wizard will be potentially using synthetic diamonds
Figures out that Vicki’s going to the Harbor Club and goes there to save her
Figures out, based on the blanks, that Jimmy’s surrendering was a bluff
Figures out that they’re heading towards the hideaway near the ocean
Never discounts that Hamill could be the Wizard, as opposed to Dick who always rules him out. While Hamill does NOT turn out to be the Wizard, Batman does show good detective work in waiting for evidence and remaining skeptical.
Recognizes the area where they’re forced to stop the Batmobile as being close to where they lost the Wizard’s men last time
In one of the more impressive displays of detective work, he figures out that the character Dunn is hiding microfilm in his cigar- tricks him into identifying it by offering to light it. Then grabs the man’s cigar and tears it in half, finding the microfilm.
Knows the Wizard will surprise attack
Finds the Wizard’s glove on the ground and takes it back to his lab in the Batcave to identify the Wizard off the fingerprints.
Knows they’re on the wrong investigative track and figures out that the Wizard was invisible
Shows a great knowledge of how the machines work and how they can turn him invisible
Knows that Carter’s death isn’t the end of the Wizard
Knows that Brown suffered a throat hemorrhage
Figures out that the invisibility wears off after awhile and that the Wizard, without transportation, will try to call for help, so he has Gordon call up the phone companies to monitor the calls.
Has Gordon double check the fingerprints on Carter- the ones they originally got and the ones on the dead body
Figures out that the runaway car has Vicki in it.
Identifies the trap door of the hideout
Knows that Hamill is held hostage and that Carter is the Wizard
Figures out that the sub made a circular trip
There seem to be several moments in the serial where Robin is the first to notice things rather than Batman. In this one, Robin points out to him that the criminals are getting away in their car
Misses the guy planting the listening device in the hospital at first but does find it shortly after
Does not notice the criminals on Marine Street. Robin does.
Doesn’t notice that Vicki Vale is following them (even though he’s in the passenger seat). Robin does
Seems clueless to the fact that the Wizard is using the machine on the cabin, despite having previously seen the machine’s effects. Lowery's Batman just kind of stands there as if nothing’s happening as the cabin goes on fire.
Does not figure out the way into the Wizard’s hideout in the rocks when the trail ends there. Just says that he’ll have Gordon investigate when he could have looked into it himself. If he had, he could have discovered the secret entrance around the bush, like he and Robin do three episodes later.
Doesn’t figure on the Wizard attacking from the window and is only facing the front door. It’s Vicki who sees what’s happening but Batman should have minded his surroundings and accounted for the possibility.
Also does NOT point out that Professor Hamill, who's normally in a wheelchair, is walking at one point, which may have been more of a production error in having the actor walk in rather than wheel in on a wheelchair since these were made for cheap.
46:11 Adam West (Batman 66)
1966 Movie Only:
Knew that the real yacht was being hijacked someplace else.
Batman figures out that Penguin and Joker could be behind the shark attack, based off of it being "fishy" and that the shark was pulling his leg and that all four villains are behind it, though Gordon gets the same thought.
Figures out that the yacht was an illusion to throw off him and Robin and deduces that it came from the bellboy in the harbor. Memorizes where he was at the time to check if there’s a legal bellboy there and there’s not. Also figures out that they took Commodore Schiddlapp hostage.
Discovers where they kept the shark hostage
Sees the periscope of Penguin’s submarine when Robin doesn’t.
Figures out how the villains kept them to the buoy with the magnets and gets his utility belt transmitter to intercept the torpedoes that come their way by reversing the polarity
Knows to call the Navy about the submarine being sold to investigate it
Obviously figures out that P N Gwinn is Penguin
Figures out that the answers to the riddles point to Catwoman, confirming that all of the villains are teaming up
Figures out that United Underworld’s minimum objective must be the entire world
Seems to have figured out both of Riddler’s riddles before he gives them to Robin and the meaning behind them as a threat to Miss Kitka
Figures out already why Robin asks Gordon to shine the Bat Signal upon seeing it as Bruce Wayne
Tries to use his captivity to figure out that the Commodore is there too
Sees through Penguin’s disguise, along with Robin, and tries to get him to give his fingerprints over.
Helps figure out that the riddle points to the villains taking care of the United World Organization (also is in top condition to run for blocks and blocks without tiring)
Sees that the missile has a homing device and prepares to know the frequency of the missile so that his transmitter can send a jamming signal
Knows that the villains are going to the submarine with the United World leaders
Figures out how to put the UN ambassadors back together though it mixes up everything.
Batman does NOT figure out that Kitka is Catwoman until her mask comes off at the end.
Even if we account for the DC Universe's face blindness, Miss Kitka is literally named KITka and she emphasizes the purr in perfect the same way that Catwoman does. This can mainly be chalked up to him being in love with Kitka that he doesn’t see it.
Since the other Batmen have less displays of detective work (except for potentially Pattinson), everyone else's detective work is listed out in the episode.
52:05 Michael Keaton (Batman 89 and Batman Returns)
1:06:30 Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
1:11:16 George Clooney (Batman & Robin)
Check out our link for Barkbox here.
1:22:07 Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
1:33:09 Ben Affleck (BvS, Justice League)
1:42:40 Robert Pattinson (The Batman)
2:05:33 Fan Comments
2:09:12 Closing: Fan Shoutouts and Social Media Promotion
Big thanks to our research assistant Dan Yamat for providing the visuals for this YouTube experience, as well as the usual QC and chapter time codes.
Thumbnail by Dan as well
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