This is an argument that many people have used to justify how they feel about Batman over the years, and many folks have decided that the vigilante/hero is necessary, while others have wondered why a man who dresses like a bat is allowed to bend and even break the law simply due to the idea that they can’t figure out who he is. Some think that he’s doing a good job, others beg to differ since the reality of his situation is that he’s a psychotic individual that uses and inspires young kids to be vigilantes. Whichever side of the argument a person falls on, the point is that Batman could be a villain just as easily as he’s become a hero, for several reasons. A lot of people don’t really want to believe this and it’s not surprising since for as long as the dark knight has been kicking around Gotham, he’s been seen as the type of individual that will fight for the people and seek to bring them the kind of justice that the police and the law can’t always deliver.
But that’s one big problem with his character, and with a lot of superheroes; they’re not subject to the same laws as everyone else. There have been moments when the heroes have allowed the laws to apply to them, which is another issue, but quite often heroes get to cause damage that they don’t end up helping with or paying for. Batman isn’t innocent in this regard since he has been a part of many conflicts that have resulted in massive collateral damage. It’s fair to think that as Bruce Wayne he would charitably use his vast fortune to help pay for the damage, but there’s still the issue that he’s the one responsible for it more often than not.
A good example would be the massive damage that was done to the city throughout the three Christopher Nolan movies, as it was extensive enough that Gotham should have gone broke after trying to rebuild. But the truth is that while Batman can’t be blamed for all this, he still can’t avoid the blame since there is another factor that contributes to the overall damage. Batman is efficient at his work, so efficient in fact that the response from the criminals in Gotham is to improve their techniques and become even more dangerous and at times bring in some of the worst supervillains they can find. Ra’s al Ghul sought to decimate the city’s water supply in the first movie, and while he might have done so anyway, his motivation for beating Batman factored into this. Then came The Dark Knight, when the mobsters turned to the Joker to help solve their problem with Batman. He was a man that was beyond Batman’s experience at that time, and while the Joker couldn’t stand toe to toe with Batman, he can offer a challenge that Batman has to struggle to meet sometimes. But this is why Batman is less than efficient, he inspires criminals to get tougher, smarter, and far deadlier so that they can find a way to kill him. But sadly, he doesn’t return the favor.
Batman is so bound by his moral code that he won’t kill anyone, even if they deserve it. There is something to be said about this since it does show restraint, but it also shows a very naive sense of justice since the three-strike rule doesn’t work with Batman. If anything, he’s given his enemies dozens to hundreds of strikes since he won’t kill them even if they’re threatening his life. A lot of heroes don’t want to kill since it dangerously stretches their sense of morality. Batman is already the type of character that will beat a criminal to a bloody pulp and still believe that he used restraint because he didn’t kill the guy without hesitation. And if he doesn’t beat his enemies mercilessly, he finds other, inventive ways that in the comics might not appear to be harmful, but would in reality be just as bad. In other words, Batman is kind of like a deluded pacifist that thinks just because he doesn’t kill that he’s not doing anything wrong.
One of the things that would push Batman firmly into the villain column is another debatable quality since in his paranoia he continues to think of ways to neutralize not just the criminals he faces, but the heroes that he allies with. Admittedly, this is why I consider it a guilty pleasure to think that some heroes would lay the smackdown on Batman if they ever met, since thanks to his preparations and need to know every possible angle about anything and everything, Batman is just as big of a threat, if not bigger, to his allies than any villain ever could be. It’s safe to say that he’s worse than the villains since they’re not obsessing about every little detail about the Justice League or anyone else. The average villain just wants to destroy the world, the heroes, or perhaps realize whatever goal they have in mind. They might not trust their allies, but unlike Batman, they’re not always coming up with ways to screw them over. Batman is the type of character that could easily become a villain if his psychosis was tweaked in just the right way.