The terrible death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha, was the impetus for his battle as Batman. Bruce had to see his parents die in front of him as the gunman escaped, but who was the perpetrator?

While the moniker Joe Chill is frequently used, there have been other shooters over the years. While some were anonymous and had no motivation worth mentioning, others were pivotal in shaping Bruce’s future. Whether they were future adversaries or hired shooters, the backstory of the Wayne murders is as fascinating as Batman himself.

1. Joe Chill from General Canon

Joe Chill featured
Joe Chill/DC

Joe Chill is the most often associated name with the Wayne killings. Joe Chill is typically portrayed as an ordinary criminal who has fallen on hard times. When he sees the Waynes leaving a theatre, he decides to go on strike. Chill sometimes knows exactly who they are, while other times it is simply being in the wrong place at the wrong moment.

The random nature of the crime contained in the general canon was enough to inspire Bruce Wayne to wear the cape and cowl later on since that terrible night showed him how vicious the city is. Joe Chill’s murder of the Waynes is one of the most violent scenes in Batman comics, as well as one of the most famous in comic history.

2. Joe Chill from The Batman: Telltale Series Game

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Joe Chill/Telltale Series

The video game Batman: The Telltale Series gradually reveals that the Wayne killings were not as random as Bruce was made to think and that Thomas concealed a horrific truth from Gotham and his son. Bruce Wayne had always assumed that Joe Chill murdered his parents in a random act of violence.

When Bruce investigates his father after hearing tales of his father’s criminal background, he discovers that Joe did not act alone. This Joe Chill was a hitman hired to assassinate the Waynes. Thomas Wayne was not the White Knight Bruce believed he was when he discovered he had links to the mob and was responsible for frightening experiments at Arkham Asylum.

3. Dastardly Criminal from Batman ’66

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‘Dastardly Criminal’

The 1960s Batman series had a more campy tone. As a result, the stakes were minimal, and lives were rarely jeopardized. However, Batman cannot exist in the absence of his parents’ deaths, and this series is no exception. The Waynes are not seen in a flashback, as is common in most other forms of Batman media, and the killer is not even correctly named.

When asked about his history, Bruce just answers that his parents were murdered by a “dastardly criminal” and leaves it at that. While no reason was revealed, it is safe to believe that the Waynes were victims of a random mugging. According to IMDb, the series featured many excellent and some terrible episodes, and this speech in the first episode is one of the few instances of grim subject matter.

4. Jack Napier from Batman 1989

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Jack Napier/Batman 1989

Tim Burton’s first Batman film, released in 1989, revealed that a teenage Jack Napier murdered the Waynes. Fans of the film are aware that Jack Napier would eventually transform into The Joker, bringing a new dimension to the iconic Batman/Joker conflict.

Napier was a ruthless crook who would kill a police officer in front of Commissioner Gordon for wrongdoing him, thus the random assassination of Gotham’s elite society was child’s play for him. This account of the murder is also responsible for a concealed element in the Burton-Schumacher movie. When Batman confronts the Joker in the film’s conclusion, it is a personal struggle for the Caped Crusader, providing a rare opportunity for Bruce to confront his parents’ killer in live-action.

5. Matches Malone from Gotham

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Matches Malone/Gotham

When Batman fans hear the name Matches Malone, they immediately think of a deceased gangster that Bruce Wayne uses as an identity to obtain information from Gotham’s underbelly. However, in the prequel series Gotham, he portrayed a far more serious role. Matches Malone is revealed to be the guy who murdered Thomas and Martha Wayne as the episode proceeds. As it is revealed that the Wayne killings were merely a job for Matches, the program presents him less as a mafia and more as a gun for hire.

Malone was recruited to perform the crime by The Lady, acting on Hugo Strange’s orders, and even begged Bruce to kill him when they met. Bruce recoils, laying the groundwork for the no-kill rule he would eventually embrace as Batman. Matches, as influential as he was on Bruce, pales in comparison to the other key villains presented.

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