Over the years, Batman has faced plenty of enemies, and he’s even fallen in love with some of his more notable foes like Catwoman and Talia Al Ghul. While those romances have famously been adapted in cartoons, video games, and movies, the Dark Knight also had a similar connection with a much more minor foe, Nocturna.
While Batman’s various sidekicks haven’t always gotten along with his romantic partners, Nocturna went as far as adopting Jason Todd and tried to marry Batman. And shockingly, this all came surprisingly closer to working out for everyone involved.
Created by Doug Moench and Gene Colan in 1983’s Detective Comics #363, the pre-Crisis version of Nocturna was Natalia, an orphan who was taken in and raised by the gangster Charles Knight, although she initially resisted any attempts to join her family in a life of crime. Developing an affinity for astronomy, she found work with the Gotham City Observatory, where she was subjected to a form of radiation that stripped her body of all pigment and left her extremely vulnerable to light. Deciding to work with her adopted brother Anton to earn some cash and procure a calmer life, she participated in a scheme to rob a Wayne Gala Event.
Although she briefly caught the eye of Bruce Wayne, she and Anton eventually ended up being captured by Batman and was sent to prison. Nocturna eventually escaped and worked with the villain Nightshade on a new scheme. When she turned down his romantic interest, however, she ended up having to leave this alliance and decided to focus on a different plan: throwing herself into the battle over the legal custody of Jason Todd in a bid to take a certain amount of the Wayne fortune.
Returning on the identity of Natalia Knight, she filed formal adoption papers for the orphaned Jason Todd. By manipulating the legal system, she was able to cast doubt on her criminal past and even briefly take custody of Jason. Her core plan was to force Bruce Wayne to marry her to regain a connection to Jason, so she could have access to his fortune. But along the way, she ended up fighting alongside Batman against Anton. Now going by Night-Slayer, Anton killed Nightshade and tried to convince his adopted-sister to be with him. When she refused, he ended up attacking Batman, who Anton believed was in love with her. Nocturna ends the fight by shooting Anton in the back and forcing him to retreat. Nocturna reveals that she somehow knows the truth about Bruce Wayne and Batman being the same person and adds that she finds it enticing.
She also reveals that she’s even started developing feelings for Bruce and agrees to keep his identity a secret. Nocturna successfully finishes the adoption, slowly forming a connection with Jason. She even makes a seemingly honest attempt to try and start a romantic relationship with Batman. But even after helping Batman attempt to bring her brother to justice and proving to be willing to turn herself into the police, she realizes that she can never fully win over the trust of Batman and Robin. She gives up her adoption of Jason and leaves, departing without a word and leaving Batman and Jason alone.
Nocturna would return during the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, this time finding Jason and Bruce more willing to accept her. Bruce even shares a kiss with her. Secretly, however, Nocturna took control of the False Face Society to fund her investigations of the mysterious red skies caused by Crisis. Nocturna was shocked to discover that despite everything, Batman was more concerned for an injured Catwoman than he was for her. Coupled with deadends in all of her research, Nocturna gave up on life and alerted Night-Slayer to her location at the Gotham Observatory. Night-Slayer arrived and mortally wounded her. Although Batman and Catwoman helped capture Night-Slayer and brought him to justice, the balloon carrying the dying Nocturna ended up being seemingly destroyed in the storms caused by the red skies.
The events of Crisis on Infinite Earths led to the reboot of the entire DC continuity, and a version of Nocturna (who has only been hinted to be the same character as the Pre-Crisis version) has only appeared sporadically since her Pre-Crisis appearances. She appeared in Salvation Run as one of the villains sent to the prison planet, and would later fight Stephanie Brown and Tim Drake upon returning to Earth. In the Post-Flashpoint version of the DC Universe, Nocturna has been reimagined as Natalia Mitternacht, a manipulative femme fatale who targeted Batwoman and possessed genuine vampiric abilities.
However, her original role still makes her stand out the most. She could have actually had the potential to begin a romantic relationship with Batman, who was shown to at least be interested by the time of her apparent demise. Even Jason, who was very distrustful of her, eventually even referred to her as “Mom” before her death. If she had been present for more of Jason’s life, she may have had an impact on his eventual death or even potentially helped prevent it. In the end, Nocturna did seem genuinely romantically interested in Bruce. Perhaps they could have truly found love. But even in the Pre-Crisis reality, Bruce’s concern for Catwoman outweighed that of almost anyone else.
The minor DC villain Nocturna came shockingly close to adopting Jason Todd and marrying Batman before Crisis on Infinite Earths.