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Off My Mind: Was the Death of Batman's Parents the Result of a Simple Mugging?

Over the years there has long been question over the reason for their death. Is there finally evidence that there was an actual conspiracy over their murder?

Everyone knows the story of how and why Bruce Wayne became Batman. As a child, he and his parents were held up by a mugger, Joe Chill. When trying to claim Martha Wayne's pearl necklace, Thomas stepped forward and was shot and killed. When Martha protested, Chill shot her to shut her up.

What always struck me as a little odd, and a point of conversation since the origin was revealed, why was young Bruce's life spared? Joe Chill was a cold-hearted killer. He was willing to commit double-homicide over a simple necklace. He shot and killed Martha, in front of her son, just to shut her up. It was usually said that he didn't have it in him to kill a kid. But leaving behind an eye witness doesn't make sense.

With elements of the history of Gotham City and other conspiracies introduced in the pages of Scott Snyder's BATMAN, is it possible that there was more to the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Does the introduction of the Court of Owls finally give us reason to believe this is true and Bruce was spared for a reason? There will be some minor spoilers for BATMAN #4.

== TEASER ==

We've seen different stories with Joe Chill in the Silver and Modern Age. With the latest issue of BATMAN, we discovered that, as a child, Bruce couldn't accept it was a simple mugging.

This thinking goes along with the idea of the Court of Owls. The secret organization dates back to the time of Bruce's great great grandfather, Alan Wayne. We've also seen that Alan was scared for his life in his final days. On the run, he claimed "they" were after him.

Mistaken for being senile and paranoid, his death was thought to have been an accident when he apparently fell in an open manhole.

Batman had Alan Wayne's remains exhumed and did some more investigating. He discovered that there were almost fifty tiny punctures in his bones, most likely made from throwing knives, the weapon of choice by the Court of Owls' killer, Talon. We also know that Talon has targeted Bruce Wayne and has mentioned it was nearly fifty years since he killed a Wayne.

The motives of the Court of Owls has yet to be revealed. For whatever reason, we know that Alan and Bruce Wayne have been targeted. The possibility that Thomas and Martha were also killed because of the Court's wishes now seems more likely. Except for the fact that their death was the result of an apparent mugging rather than being killed by Talon.

Unless they needed to make it look like a mugging. Why Bruce was left alive was so the Court could continue the hunt and killing of Waynes when he was a more worthy target.

This could be a stretch. But the fact that the Court is making a point of killing Waynes says there could be some connection.

What does BATMAN writer, Scott Snyder, have to say on this possibility? Back in August, Scott mentioned on our podcast that he didn't want to change the killing of Thomas and Martha or Joe Chill's part in it. Does that mean it's the case? Does that mean someone else can't change or adjust the history?

Most likely the Court of Owls weren't a part of the killing. As for why they would overlook Thomas and Martha is unknown. It's possible the Court was waiting to make their move at a later point. Joe Chill could have confronted the Waynes before Talon could go after them.

This also brings up the question of what happened to Joe Chill? Some stories show that Batman later confronted him and revealed his identity to him, followed by other gangsters killing Chill for creating Batman. This 'story' may not be part of Batman's lore these days.

Regardless, the fact that Chill did not kill Bruce will remain an odd move in my book. He was willing to kill a mother in front of her child. He was as cold as his last name implies. Why would a cold killer be okay with killing a mom but not a child. Why would he allow an eye witness to remain. There has been retellings of this incident where young Bruce had a fire in his eyes that scared off Chill but that should have given him more of a reason to kill, out of fear.

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Posted by LP

it's gotta be a conspiracy, anything else just doesn't make sense.

Posted by KainScion

i hpoe they keep it like a simple mugging gone wrong. dont want it to involve the owls. they'd be changing comic book legendary stuff.

Posted by The_Kid_Lantern

I love what's happening with the Court of Owls in Batman! Can't wait to see where it goes....

~KL~

Edited by DXmagma

It was Sandman the whole time.

In all seriousness though I hope it remains a random mugging. Don't get me wrong I love the court of owls and the current arc but the concept of Bruce losing his parents to a random act of violence rather then some calculated effort really drives home the idea of Batman. This city is so screwed up it needs someone to help. Plus a few gunshots seems to simple for the court.

However the whole "Leaving Bruce alive to continue the hunt" idea brings something else up. The court probably wouldn't hunt Bruce unless he had an heir...so do they know about Damien?

Posted by thephantomstranger

I don't want to read any spoilers on Batman because I haven't gotten to it yet but your first paragraph is intriguing.

What always struck me as a little odd, and a point of conversation since the origin was revealed, why was young Bruce's life spared? Joe Chill was a cold-hearted killer. He was willing to commit double-homicide over a simple necklace. He shot and killed Martha, in front of her son, just to shut her up. It was usually said that he didn't have it in him to kill a kid. But leaving behind an eye witness doesn't make sense.

The majority of criminals in the real world are idiots. At this point Gotham was filled with normal criminals, albeit a large amount of them. Joe Chill could have easily waited for the cash and jewels instead of killing the Wayne family, the murder in of itself is irrational and makes little sense if Chill was presumed to have been thinking at the time. The fact is that Chill wasn't thinking about that and hadn't considered what action he'd need to take next, killing a child.

Posted by GamiSB

The "reveal" in Batman 4 bothers me. Morrison already had a good thing going with implying that Hurt had them killed and Chill chickened out of killing the kid. I like Snyder but this little addition to Bruce's young life seems very forced to me. Not to say they can't be mixed, I'm just not sold with how the story presented it all.

Posted by JonesDeini

@KainScion said:

i hpoe they keep it like a simple mugging gone wrong. dont want it to involve the owls. they'd be changing comic book legendary stuff.

According to Snyder's Bat Signal interview on CBR. Yes the mugging was still a random crime. He spent a good portion of the interview ensuring that the court of owls did not assassinate the Waynes and that Bruce's origin is something he holds very dear and views as sacred.

Posted by Phaedrusgr

@DXmagma:Couldn't possibly agree more.

Posted by Joshy206

Why must it be a conspiracy? It's like with Green Lantern: why did Abin Sur need a ship? Until recent years, nobody really cared.

Posted by HexThis

I'm not a big fan of retcons so I do hope that this was just a random mugging. It's better that way, one of the strongest themes in the Batman mythology has always been chaos and how its arbitrary and cruel nature prevents the scales of justice from ever being fully balanced.

I would like to know more about Martha Wayne though because I think it would be an interesting way of showing how Bruce's relationship with women had been affected by her. He seems to be attracted to women whose ideologies conflict with his and I've wondered if her character influenced that attraction....

Posted by Outside_85

Some things are better left as they are and making it into a big conspiracy just ruins this.

If you make it into a conspiracy, then it means there is an end, since Batman will have done his when the conspiracy is uncovered and the members of the Court are exposed then he's reached the roots of his quest; the gunman is in jail or dead, the people behind him are the same. If it is left as it is, Batman is fighting something bigger; the society that created the Joe Chills and continues to produce more of them; random, desperate people who have to resort to crime to get by.

Posted by InnerVenom123

Simple mugging. Anything more is kinda lame.

Posted by Shaanyboi

turning such an important, yet simple plot point for that character into this big conspiracy to make their new villain seem important just pisses me off.

Stop it.

Posted by dondasch

If that part of the origin is changed from anything but a simple mugging, we are being put through a convoluted history that just doesn't need to be. Simple is good and can tell a great story. It doesn't have to be as frayed as Wolverine's to be interesting.

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

It was revealed already in the 50`s, that it was a conspiracy. Why are so many so upset about a conspiracy NOW?

A simple mugging, or a conspiracy (which it surely is). Either way, I guess I`m fine with it. Or maybe not. Poor Waynes...

Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir

That's been a popular thing in recent years. Making the Waynes' death more than just a simple mugging.

Posted by LittleSocrates

I guess that might be a decent way to introduce some new villains, right?

Otherwise, I couldn't care less.

Posted by Eyz

That's one heckuva conspiracy!

Posted by Miss_Garrick

I think it should be nothing more than a mugging gone wrong.

I honestly can't remember where I saw this, but I'm sure the reason young Bruce was spared was because Chill intended to shoot him but Bruce stared at him with that intensity that every bat villian would come to know and fear and it unerved Chill enough to leave.

Posted by ltbrd

I don't think its that strange, I've seen news reports of murders where a bystander at the scene is unharmed. Bruce didn't attack Chill because of his shock so when there was no longer an emotional struggle going on why would Chill turn his gun on a boy that was kneeling in utter stillness over what just happened?

I haven't read Batman #4 yet (get to that tonight) but one that could be interesting about the Court of Owls is if they weren't a bunch of rich people forming another secret society but a more middle-class type of Society. I only point this out because none of the pictures we see of the Court members has them in anything that would seem overly expensive or give off an air of richness. They just seem period appropriate. Plus if they did have these little secret alcoves all over the city who better to put them there then the architects that design the buildings and the construction workers that build them. Add in a bit of mysticism to account for Talon's seemingly immortal abilities and memory and we get a picture of a group that didn't want to be ruled by the super-elite and thus why families like the Waynes would not be a member (given the fact the Waynes practically built Gotham along with a few other families) and would be murdered for trying to gain too much control, such as Bruce's renovation project.The fact that they have never actively targeted Batman could also be a clue to their social status as they would see Batman as someone championing the less fortunate and working at a street level vice trying to gain control of the city. Its only because he's gotten in the way of their plans for Bruce Wayne that Talon would be ordered to kill him.

But of course issue #4 could ruin this entire thought process.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

The butler did it. 
 
Alfred was so sick of being stuck under the heal of his master he hired Chill to take them out. After their death Alfred got what he had always wanted, a boy to raise like his own son.

Posted by entropy_aegis

I'm sure G-Man wrote a similar article when Morrison was writing RIP.

Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@InnerVenom123 said:

Simple mugging. Anything more is kinda lame.

This.  
 
THIS. 
   

THIS. 


Posted by G-Man

@JonesDeini: I also mentioned in the article that Snyder said this back in August on our podcast. But there just seems to be more to it, in my opinion.

Staff Online
Posted by DarthShap

The Waynes' death should always be on Batman's mind and I hope that is why Snyder brought it up here. As was established before, Batman is kind of paranoid and a detective used to trying to make sense of all things.

I hope the Court of Owls has nothing to do with the murder of his parents because this change would not add anything to the Batman mythology. The Court of Owls is already interesting enough, it does not need this to keep its momentum, and because it is only a temporary enemy to the Dark Knight, rooting it so deeply in the origins of the character would not achieve anything beyond a one-issue shock moment, probably followed by years of writers struggling with the consequences.

Posted by BigTPotts

Dun Dun Duuun!

Posted by feargalr

Im not sure I like this... I prefer the waynes death just being the result of regular crime...

Posted by MetropolisKid41

Snyder definitely made a convincing arguement in this week's issue. Man that was a great book. I really think it was definitely orchestrated now. I think it'd be cool if the Court of Owls did it for 2 reasons, one to get rid of the meddlesome do gooders Waynes, maybe to prevent them from exposing the Court to everyone, and two to test Bruce and mold into their next great assassin the Talon. Can't wait to see what issue #5 brings!!!

Edited by The Impersonator

Would it matter if it was a conspiracy or not? Bruce would have still become Batman any ways. Because either way, the Court of Owls must have sent Joe Chill to kill his parents. Or Joe Chill just killed his parents for mugging. It's still a crime and Bruce wanted to end it as he sees fit.

Posted by Kairan1979
@The Impersonator said:

Would it matter if it was a conspiracy or not? Bruce would have still become Batman any ways. Because either way, the Court of Owls must have sent Joe Chill to kill his parents. Or Joe Chill just killed his parents for mugging. It's still a crime and Bruce wanted to end it as he sees fit.

Posted by SpidermanWins

oooo cool, conspiracy! dun Dun DUN!

Posted by Omega-Man

All I have to say is too complicated what is the point of making it a full conspiracy? it doesn't add anything to the character of Batman or Bruce Wayne and next it just makes it stupid it to be something other than a mugging. Batman is about the low crimes as well as the high ones why make it a high profile crime with the court of owls? I like the mugging much better than this stupid court.

The Court is good how it is, sure Talon killed Alan Wayne lets leave it at that with Bruce's past.

Also like I have seen in another comment on here, it means Batman's quest has an end to it if the Court is in fact the reason for the death of the Wayne's if he defeats the Court and they are responsible for the Death of Thomas and Martha Wayne then why should Bruce continue on? his goal is completed he brought his parents killers to justice.

Posted by kennybaese

I think it's kind of the same thing as how Robinson said that Parker's parents being SHIELD agents takes away from his story. I think it needs to be random for it to make Bruce what he is.

Posted by humanfly26

i think its better if its just a simple mugging. as for why Bruce was spared, i think that its just because he didn't get between chill and the necklace. Chill shot Thomas because he put up a fight and Martha because he needed to get the necklace. Bruce just kind of sat there quietly in shock so he was easy to pass over. that's my theory anyway.

Posted by Mutant God

no Joe was a sloppy mugger who was never bigger than any other criminal which proves that even the smallest criminals could commit such a terrible crime

Posted by johnny_spam

It was said in an earlier story that Thomas wronged gangsters and they wanted payback by hiring Joe Chill to murder him and his family only he found it hard to kill Bruce and that was in the forties. Many writers toy with it being something more but unless a writer will stay on for years no will ever agree on how it should be. But with so much talk of convenient coincidences by many writers and with the Waynes increasing history with the underworld even before this story writers should just accept it was not random chance.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Eh, the whole conspiracy talk of it kind of cheapens the moment I think. That's why Batman #673 is one of my all time favorite issues due to the fact that it delves deeply in to that very night Chill shot Bruce's parents. According to him, he just couldn't kill the kid though he thinks in retrospect he should have. The angle is great because it shows that Chill was to blame for so much of organized crime's problems in the future, and that if they ever found out that he created the Dark Knight through his stunt that evening that they'd undoubtedly kill him. That is the best explanation I think. Anything else is just silly.

Posted by Hazlenaut

They want to make it different different but they are just taking McGinnis origin. It was plan from the start by Cadmus, but they chose not to complete as it does not respect Batman. Terry's answer the question why terry and his brother hair were black when their parent's hair were red.

Posted by Or35ti

I always thought it was one bullet from one shot that went through Thomas and then struck Martha as well. I guess I was wrong. I doubt the Court of Owls killed Batman's parents but still, it is odd that Bruce was spared, unless maybe Chill ran away in fear after killing two people.

Posted by Sammo21

Ten years ago I would say random. Batman was the spawn of the random violence that plagued everyone, but it changed him when other people just became even more scared.

These days with Morrisson and company wanting every little facet of Batman to be weaved together to an exhausting point...it's probably a conspiracy.........or aliens. I will say that anything Scott Snyder has done and probably will do with Batman is infinitely more palatable to me than Morrisson's schlocky writing.

Posted by Nova`Prime`

They need to keep it simple, simple muggings happen all the time and people get killed during them. Making this into a huge conspiracy is as bad as when Marvel revealed Spidey's parents weren't dead they were working for the CIA.

Posted by leokearon

This was explored way back in the First Batman Story, it is was revealed that the Wayne's mugging was actually a murder disguised as a mugging.

Posted by Cafeterialoca

How about this?

Did a mugger simply kill Uncle Ben? Or was Uncle Ben some MEGA crimelord that was able to hide it from his family, and the man who shot him some hitman rubbing him out?

Sounds ridiculous? That's why redoing origins is silly.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@InnerVenom123 said:

Simple mugging. Anything more is kinda lame.

Agreed. Thankfully, Snyder said at NYCC that he didn't want to mess with that element with retcons and such.

Staff
Posted by StarKiller809

I really enjoyed Batman #4. I really liked how they added that Bruce was really trying to figure it out. I think it would be a great idea because this is the first arch of the new Batman series. There should always be something related to an origin in the beginning of a series in my opinion. I think Scott Snyder is a brilliant writer and I have enjoyed this issue the best out of the whole run so far.

Posted by mynameis7

I gotta admit for being a huge batman fan i never thought about this, but after reading the newest batman(Issue#4) and bruce bringing this exact topic up, that being that theres more than just a random guy killing a couple in a dark alley for some pocket change. Now that i saw this and read the issue i have been giving this some serious thought and i think that there is something more sinister that just two random killings and i dont thing that they were random at all.

Posted by etragedy

I hope Batman's origin remains the result of a simple robbery gone bad - it's much more powerful that way - Bruce Wayne's war is on crime - all crime, from the global terrorists to the corner mugger no criminal is safe from The Batman!

Posted by allison_scag

Wasn't it already established that Joe Chill was given cash to kill Thomas Wayne and his wife by Lew moxon ? So it wouldn't be a simple mugging, but more of an execution hit, masked as a mugging.

Posted by Mayo88m

@Outside_85 said:

Some things are better left as they are and making it into a big conspiracy just ruins this.

If you make it into a conspiracy, then it means there is an end, since Batman will have done his when the conspiracy is uncovered and the members of the Court are exposed then he's reached the roots of his quest; the gunman is in jail or dead, the people behind him are the same. If it is left as it is, Batman is fighting something bigger; the society that created the Joe Chills and continues to produce more of them; random, desperate people who have to resort to crime to get by.

Yep, if it was a conspiracy then when he destroys the owls that would just signal the end of Batman. I mean they could have him keep going, but they would have to almost completely re-purpose his character because he could no long really be fighting the society that allowed a criminal individual such as Chill to thrive. Besides, like someone above wrote, the entire issue was spent kind of proving that the Court of Owls is something else. I didn't really like this spin though considering all the proof to the contrary that has been provided, but maybe it'll all be made clearer in the next issue.

Posted by BoosterBold

Occupy Crime Alley did it. They hate the rich and successful. :D

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