WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, now available on Digital HD.
Batman and Darkseid have had some pretty epic feuds in the past, with the best being in Final Crisis when the villain finally took the Caped Crusader down with his Omega Beams. This would send the Dark Knight cascading through time, wrecking him mentally as much as it did physically.
It’s one of the Bat’s biggest defeats, right up there with Bane breaking him in Knightfall, Joker crushing his soul by murdering Jason Todd, and the deaths of family members like Damian Wayne and Alfred. Now, though, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War breaks Bruce Wayne in the scariest way by turning him into an instrument of destruction with no willpower.
Fans know Bruce can suffer, but eventually, he’ll come out on top. As long as he has free will and is able to do what his heart desires, Batman will prevail. This is why Darkseid tweaks his method when he takes control of Bruce’s mind after the League fails to blow Apokolips up.
Darkseid conditions him so that while the villain will stay in control, Bruce won’t just be a lackey; he’ll get to do what the Bat loves: taking control. This is what makes him the perfect puppet as Darkseid hooks him up to the Mobius Chair and turns him into a cosmic security system. It’s something Bruce wanted to do for years on Earth, but now he has a more hands-on approach. He has a lethal army of Parademon/Doomsday hybrids and can cast an eye across the galaxy.
However, there are layers to how Darkseid breaks the Bat. Superman was there when Bruce learned Dick Grayson was killed at Titans Tower. and Kal-El saw a glimmer of hope that Bruce could still feel, but that hope was snuffed out when Bruce assumed the entire Bat-family died. Bruce caved in, not knowing Damian put Dick in the Lazarus Pit, or that Batgirl, Batwoman, and extended members of the family including youngsters like Raven and Superboy survived the onslaught. But as he became one with the machine, he turned from man to monster and it was too late to go back.
Luckily, in the finale, as he slices Damian up with a Kryptonite sword and gets ready to kill him, Damian’s crying face flashes his mind back to the pain of Crime Alley. This breaks Bruce out the hold but when Darkseid blasts the Omega Sanction at Bruce, Damian steps in and takes the blast. He dies in his dad’s hands after telling him to save the world and stay away from the darkness. Bruce has a front up at this point because he’s accepted he has the blood of millions on his hands, as well as his own son. He oversaw so many deaths on Earth, dropped magma on Oa at Darkseid’s behest killing the likes of John Stewart, and now, his inability to stop Darkseid has cost him his son.
Eventually, after Trigon holds Darkseid down and Cyborg drops the planet into a black hole, Bruce comes to terms with his self-defeat at Titans Tower. In the final moments, he admits that Earth is too badly damaged and billions will die soon. Superman wants to keep trying to find a way but Bruce has given up. He’s too broken and it shows when he doesn’t even bother to try to stop Flash from restarting the universe with another Flashpoint. The old Batman would look at the repercussions and at least, discuss it, but here, he just wants to reset as he has nothing left in the tank.
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War stars Matt Ryan as John Constantine, Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Taissa Farmiga as Raven, Stuart Allan as Robin, Tony Todd as Darkseid, Jason O’Mara as Batman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Christopher Gorham as the Flash, Rebecca Romijn as Lois Lane, and Rainn Wilson as Lex Luthor. The film is out on Digital HD and arrives on Blu-ray May 19.
Justice League Dark: Apokolips War breaks Bruce Wayne's Batman in the scariest way possible by stripping him of his family, friends and humanity.