Ways To Celebrate Christmas With Batman
The air is brisk but stagnant with a quiet snow that settles softly on the streets and rooftops of Gotham City. The crunch of each step can be heard beneath the Dark Knight’s feet as he reaches a rooftop ledge. He crouches, peering through the windows of the Iceberg Lounge as Christmas carols softly play in the distance. Always anxious but ready, his fists tighten as he prepares for another night of grueling work.
This is the life that DC’s expert detective and vigilante has chosen for himself. Batman never rests — not even on the eve of the biggest holiday around the globe, Christmas. Throughout the legacy of the Caped Crusader, villains have learned year after year that Batman doesn’t take a holiday. So, there’s no reason to believe he won’t cause problems for any evildoer just because it’s Christmas. Comic books, film, television, and even video games have all offered countless stories about the Dark Knight’s exploits during the Christmas season. So, it stands to reason that there are plenty of ways Batman fans can celebrate the season with their favorite superhero without shaming him in song for his odor. Now that you have the “Jingle Bells” tune stuck in your head, let’s pass the time by taking a look at some of Batman’s best holiday stories.
Batman: The Long Halloween issue #3 (Comic book)
Don’t be fooled by this collection of issues written by Jeph Loeb; they feature many more holidays than Halloween. In fact, the course of the entire storyline occurs over a full calendar year, beginning on Halloween and ending on the following year’s Halloween (hence the title). The overall storyline revolves around the Falcone crime family and Harvey Dent’s pursuit as the District Attorney to take down the entire organization. The story eventually sees the creation of Two-Face, as Harvey is disfigured by the mob. If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because this basic premise heavily inspired director Christopher Nolan’s arc in his 2008 film “The Dark Knight.” During the course of the story’s events, Batman is chasing a killer who manages to snuff out key characters in the Falcone crime family.
In issue #3, it’s Christmas in Gotham city. The Joker starts to cause a stir and even misleads Batman and others on the trail of the killer into thinking Joker has some involvement. However, the Crown Prince of Crime is just as fascinated by the killer as Batman, and even a tinge jealous of all the attention the unknown assailant is receiving. The issue primarily focus on the Joker’s destructive behavior as he seeks to learn more about the killer. Joker manages to confront Sal Maroni and his goons at his own restaurant over the supposed “Holiday Killer” — a term coined for the culprit who seems to only kill on calendar holidays. It’s worth enjoying the story from beginning to end. However, if you only want a taste simply for the Christmas connection, Joker’s diabolical misdeeds taking on organized crime make for a fun, short read.
Batman Returns (Film)
Tim Burton’s sequel to “Batman” should sit high on everyone’s “not exactly a Christmas movie” Christmas movie list right next to “Die Hard” and “Gremlins.” Of course, “Batman Returns” is all about Batman and his clash with the Penguin, as well as his sexually-charged interactions with the ever feisty Catwoman. As an infant, Oswald Cobblepot was rejected by his own parents for his grotesque exterior and behavior, as he is seen snacking on the family cat from the depths of his little prison box. They place the child in a basinet and toss him in the river, where he floats into the sewers of Gotham and is greeted by penguins who apparently raise the youngster.
In the present, Gotham City is celebrating the Christmas season as Penguin begins to make his presence known. Clearly agitated by the rejection and cruelty he feels he experienced as a child, he seeks to wreak havoc on the city by first gaining their trust. With the help of the corrupt businessman Max Schreck, Penguin emerges gaining the popularity he needs to win the mayoral contest. However, Bruce Wayne eventually catches on to Cobblepot’s schemes and reveals his misdeeds to the city, which leads into the final clash between the hero and villain. While the film isn’t centrally about the themes of the holiday season, it takes place during Christmas time in Gotham City, where festivities can be glimpsed throughout the film, adding to its Christmas cred.
Batman: Noel (Graphic Novel)
This 2011 graphic novel was written and illustrated by famed DC artist Lee Bermejo. Many of the other items on this list don’t feature stories directly centered on the Christmas holiday. However, “Batman: Noel” is purely about the spirit of the holiday, as it’s a play on Charles Dickens classic novel “A Christmas Carol.” The “Ebenezer Scrooge” in this story is none other than Batman himself. However, instead of focusing on the traditional Scrooge’s selfish habits, it instead positions Batman as a callous, isolated man steeped in his bitterness over the criminality of the city.
While there aren’t exactly ghosts in the story, Batman has a vision of his late partner, Jason Todd as Robin, who fulfills the role of Jacob Marley. Visits throughout Batman’s journey from Catwoman, Superman, and the Joker all portray the roles of Christmas past, present, and future respectively. The book is a searing indictment on past portrayals of Batman’s persona, shirking human connections in favor of plunging his heart and mind into the work of fighting criminals. The experience ultimately teaches Batman to always remember why he fights, and who he’s fighting for. The people on the ground are real, and have lives far more complex than simply being criminals or victims of happenstance.
Batman: The Animated Series 'Christmas with the Joker' (TV series)
One of the earliest episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series” is, perhaps, one of the best Batman Christmas stories told in the medium. “Christmas with the Joker” follows Batman and Robin’s attempt to haul the Joker back to Arkham after his escape on Christmas Eve. The escape interrupted Robin and Batman watching the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Comically, the Joker manages to create a rocket that he decorated as a Christmas tree in order to break free from Arkham. Quickly, the Dynamic Duo spring into action as the Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson, and Harvey Bullock while rigging a train bridge to explode.
The two heroes have their work cut out for them. The episode is full of the zaniness one would expect from the animated series, including Batman and Robin going toe-to-toe with giant toy soldiers and electric airplanes to the tune of “The Nutcracker Suite.” The Joker pulls out all the stops in an effort to thwart the heroes once and for all on Christmas Eve. Ultimately, Batman saves the day, concluding the fight with an exclamatory “Merry Christmas, Joker!” Fans of the series and Batman, in general, couldn’t do much better than this iconic episode.
The New Batman Adventures 'Holiday Knights' (TV Series)
Bruce Timm’s animated Batman returned in 1997 with “The New Batman Adventures,” kicking off with a Christmas-themed episode entitled “Holiday Knights.” The episode contains three mini stories, completely separate from one another.
The first is focused on Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, attempting to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the holiday. While Harley wishes for a Christmas tree, Poison Ivy characteristically hates the idea of killing one simply to decorate it. Ivy, instead, devises the brilliant idea to use her toxic lipstick to wrap billionaire Bruce Wayne up in her control and use his credits cards to go on a shopping spree.
The second story follows Barbara Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and Renee Montoya as they hunt for a shoplifter who keeps evading their pursuit. The shoplifter is none other than Clayface, who simply changes appearances to throw the trio off his trail. The third story is a New Year’s Eve adventure, as Joker plans to use a sonic-based weapon to kill large masses of people at the New Year’s Day countdown. Batman and Robin are, of course, on the case to thwart the Joker’s evil scheme. These bite-sized stories are a fun ride and an easy watch for any Batman fan.
Detective Comics #826 'Slayride' (Comic Book)
Batman’s faithful sidekick Robin undergoes a grueling night during the waning hours of Christmas Eve. Robin is nabbed by the Joker, who uses gas to knock him out and toy with him over the course of the evening. After Robin awakens, he realizes he’s completely tied up in Christmas lights in the back of Joker’s car. Next to him are two dead bodies. The story takes a rather dark turn, as Joker erratically kills people by running them over. He then shoots the manager of a dining establishment when trying to order milkshakes for himself and Robin.
Being the crazed villain that he is, the Joker tells Robin plainly that he will kill more people that night. However, he offers the Boy Wonder an olive branch, saying he’ll stop the killing if Robin simply begs.
Having been trained by the best, and not being nearly as naïve as his age might imply, Robin knows better. So, he strikes up a conversation about comedy legends the Marx Brothers, and when the Joker becomes distracted, Robin breaks free and takes down the Joker, using his own knockout gas against him and pushing him out of the car. When the Dark Knight comes searching for the Joker, he’s mysteriously disappeared, likely irritating Batman as much as his own vanishing act does for good folks like Jim Gordon.
Batman: Arkham Origins (Video Game)
The popular Batman video game series known simply as the “Arkhamverse” of Batman stories includes the title “Batman: Arkham Origins,” developed by WB Montreal. The game follows the Dark Knight in his early days as Batman. In fact, he meets the Joker for the first time in this story, which takes place on Christmas Eve. Players are able to take control of the hero and get to the bottom of a criminal plot, all while evading eight specially-trained, powerful assassins who’ve been sent after Batman by Black Mask with the promise of a nice payday.
As players traverse the rooftops of Gotham, countless Christmas decorations can be seen among the snowy blizzard overtaking the city. Various shopping outlets are playing Christmas music, and much of the drama is centered around the themes of the season. Unfortunately for Batman, he’s hard at work on the holiday, risking his life as he combats the Joker and Black Mask’s assassins. The game is thrilling by design, with an expansive open-world, fast and intuitive combat, and serpentine detective scenarios that open up the story as players advance. The title can be played on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or PC. Xbox players with an Xbox One S/X or Xbox Series S/X can also play the 360 version through backwards compatibility.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold 'Invasion of the Secret Santas!' (TV Series)
In the “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” TV series, Batman heads back to his Silver Age days of campy, flashy comic book hijinks with call-backs to the classic 1966 “Batman” live-action series. In “Invasion of the Secret Santas!” Batman shares the adventure with Red Tornado, an artificially sentient robot who performs super heroics just like Batman and his other masked compadres. However, in the series Red Tornado laments that he doesn’t have human emotions — which, when you think about it, would seem to indicate he has human emotions.
Regardless, Red Tornado wishes to feel the joyful feelings that come with the Christmas season. Despite his remorse, he and Batman go toe-to-toe with the villainous Fun Haus. The evildoer throws all sorts of chaos and mayhem their way, including an array of deadly toys. The episode is a fun criminal caper, thwarted by endearing heroes during the joyous holiday season. Does Red Tornado ultimately get his wish of feeling the holiday spirit? You’ll have to watch and find out for yourself.
Batman: Li'l Gotham Issue #3 (Comic book)
The “Li’l Gotham” series of comics by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs can be found in collected graphic novel editions. The character designs are cartoony and cute versions of the Gothamites they represent, brought to vibrant life with a splash of beautiful water colors. Issue #2 collects two stories: a Christmas story and a New Year’s one. The Christmas story focuses on Mr. Freeze, bringing back the tortured soul reimagined with a tragic narrative in “Batman: The Animated Series.” Mr. Freeze gained a sympathetic ear from audiences of the TV series, as he only truly ever sought to protect the thing he loved most, his dying wife.
In this story, Mr. Freeze captures a bus full of children. Batman and Robin set out to save the children, however, Mr. Freeze reveals that he means for no harm to come to the youngsters. Instead, he has become lost in his own grief over the cruelty of the world and, out of desperation, planned the act to capture some children to raise as his own and shelter from the cruelties of the world. Ultimately, Batman doesn’t have to use his fists to solve this conundrum; instead, he talks to Mr. Freeze, being both a son and a father himself. He appeals to Mr. Freeze’s mixture of despair and compassion, in an attempt to convince him that these children need their parents. While Mr. Freeze winds up behind bars and once again begins to wallow in his loneliness, a bit of Christmas cheer warms the cold man’s heart as he hears the group of children (including Bruce Wayne) singing Christmas Carols outside the window of his cell.
The Batman and Robin Adventures #3 (Comic book)
Written by the legendary Paul Dini (who also co-created “Batman: The Animated Series”), this issue of “The Batman and Robin Adventures” extends the stylings of the famous TV show while telling a story of Riddler attempting to steal from the wealthiest denizens of Gotham City. When Bruce Wayne finds himself in the middle of the ordeal, he can’t simply ignore it.
At the Peregrinator Club’s yearly Christmas dinner, the Riddler claims that Batman is among the club’s wealthy families. However, Bruce Wayne believes Riddler is bluffing, simply because Bruce isn’t a part of the club like his father before him. The Riddler takes hostages while Batman and Robin sneak into the club.
All the while, Riddler’s men are looting in search of a couple rare Mayan treasures. The Riddler is always a villain seeking validation of his brilliance over all others, including Batman, and while this plot might feel like standard fare, it makes for a delightful holiday Batman tale.
The Brave and the Bold #148 'The Night the Mob Stole Xmas!' (Comic Book)
This is a fun, Silver Age affair where Batman and Plastic Man join forces to restore the Christmas festivities in Gotham City.
A new criminal element has emerged in the city, intent on plundering and smuggling stolen valuable products like cigarettes. When some of the city’s pricier Christmas decorations go missing, Batman quickly deduces that the items have fallen prey to the thieving criminals. At one point, Plastic Man is nabbed by the gang, and Batman has to save his rubbery friend. The two then embark on an investigation, one that leads the duo to Florida, where the gang’s leadership resides. As Batman and Plastic Man confront the crooks, they ultimately break the smuggling ring.
For the Gothamites seeking a glimmer of peace and hope at least once a year, Christmas is thankfully restored, as the Dark Knight and Plastic Man return the Christmas decorations to Gotham City.