Discovered and used long before by Bruce Wayne's ancestors as a storehouse as well as a means of transporting escaped slaves during the Civil War era, Wayne himself rediscovered them when he fell through a dilapidated well on his estate. Much like Superman's Fortress of Solitude, the Batcave serves as a place of privacy and tranquility where Batman can be himself.
Upon his initial foray into crime-fighting, Wayne used the caves as a sanctum and to store his then-minimal equipment. As time went on, Wayne found the place ideal to create a stronghold for his war against crime and has incorporated a plethora of equipment as well as expanding the cave for specific uses.
The cave is accessible in several ways. It can be reached through a secret door in Wayne Manor itself, which is located in the main study, behind a grandfather clock. The panel unlocks when the hands of the clock are set to the time that Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered: 10:48. Alternately, the study entrance has been shown to be behind a bookcase which slides to the side when a secret button is pushed, revealing the "Bat-Poles," which allow Bruce Wayne and his ward to change into their Batman and Robin costumes en route as they slide down to the cave. There is also an entrance under Bruce Wayne's chair in his office in Wayne Enterprises, as shown in Batman Forever. In Batman Begins the cave is accessible through a secret door disguised as part of a large display case and unlocked by pressing a sequence of keys on the nearby piano.
Another secret entrance, covered by a hologram or a camouflaged door, allows access to a service road for the Batmobile. Another alternate entrance is a dry well- which was actually the hole that Bruce fell into when he originally discovered the cave as a child- highlighted especially during the Knightfall storyline. At one point, Tim Drake and Dick Grayson use the dry well to get into the cave, which they had been locked out of by Jean-Paul Valley during his time as Batman, with Bruce using it himself during his final confrontation with Valley to force Valley to remove his armour in the confined space.
The Batcave serves as Batman's command center, where he monitors all crisis points in Gotham and the world.
The cave's centerpiece is a supercomputer whose specs are on par with any of those used by leading national security agencies; it permits global surveillance and also connects to a massive information network as well as storing vast amounts of information, both on Batman's foes and his allies. A series of satellite link-ups allows easy access to Batman's information network anywhere in the globe. The systems are protected against unauthorized access, and any attempt to breach this security immediately sends an alert to Batman or Oracle. Despite the power of Batman's computers, the JLA Watchtower is known to have more powerful computers (composed of Kryptonian, Thanagarian and Martian technology), and Batman does occasionally use them if he feels his computers are not up to the task; on occasion, he also consults Oracle for assistance.
The Batcomputer is generally considered to be one of the world's most powerful supercomputer systems (albeit, unknown to everyone aside from Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and a few select others), as Alfred Pennyworth is able to program a replication (his "brain algorithms") of himself that can be conversed with.
The Batcave also has a collection of ancient armor due to Batman's study of military history. It includes outfits worn by European Knights, Desert nomads, and Samurai warriors throughout the centuries.
Additionally, the cave contains state of the art facilities such as: crime lab, various specialized laboratories, mechanized workshops, personal gymnasium, a vast library, parking, docking and hangar space (as appropriate) for his various vehicles as well as separate exits for the various types, trophies of past cases, a large bat colony, and a Justice League teleporter. It also has medical facilities as well as various areas used in training exercises for Batman and his allies.
The cave houses Batman's vast array of specialized vehicles, foremost being the famous Batmobile in all its incarnations (mostly for nostalgia as well as for contingencies, as all are serviceable and in excellent working condition). Batman keeps a fleet of regular cars of various models and utility vehicles such as an ambulance as well when the Batmobile would be too conspicuous for a mission. Other vehicles within the complex include various motorcycles, and various air and watercraft such as The Batplane, a single occupant supersonic jet.
Another vehicle found in the Batcave is the subway rocket, first used during the time when Jean Paul Valley was substituting for Bruce Wayne after Bane had broken his back. It let Batman get into Gotham City very fast, and could electronically clear a path via the Gotham Rail system. The cave is sometimes powered by a nuclear reactor, but most often by a hydro-electric generator.
Batman later incorporated safeguards against earthquakes and even nuclear catastrophe, outfitting the cave as a virtual bomb shelter or an enhanced panic room.
It is rumored that the world's last Lazarus Pit was constructed inside the Batcave, although the validity of this claim is suspect.
Memorabilia: Three memorabilia items often seen in the cave are a defunct full-size mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex, an equally large U.S. penny and a Joker playing card. The T. Rex comes from an adventure on "Dinosaur Island"; the penny was originally a trophy from Batman's encounter with a penny-obsessed villain named the Penny Plunderer. Other "keepsakes" in the cave include Two-Face's original coin, Deathstroke's sword, the shroud of the Mad Monk, a collection of the Penguin's deadly umbrellas, a Joker laughing fish, one of Harley Quinn's popguns, a Scarface dummy, Bane's mask and Venom tank, Mad Hatter's top hat, the Red Hood's domed helmet and original costume, Maxie Zeus's lightning weapon, and an over-sized collection of bowling ten-pins.
There is also a glass case display of Jason Todd's Robin costume as a memorial to him, with the epitaph "A Good Soldier." Barbara Gordon's Batgirl costume also remains on display. Following his death at the hands of The Heretic, Damian Wayne's costume always remains on display.
- T-Rex Animatronic: Nicknamed by Bruce as "Fido", in original continuity the T-Rex was a deadly robot which came from the failed amusement-park known as Dinosaur Island. When the Batcave was attacked by Talons, Bruce activated the T-Rex as a security-system to attack the assassins. In certain older stories, a robotic (scientifically outdated) brontosaurus appeared in the cave in-place of the T-Rex.
- Giant U.S. Penny: A giant U.S. Lincoln-headed penny which in original continuity, was used by the Penny Plunderer to try and kill Batman. In later continuities this was retconned to have been used by Two-Face to the same effect.
- Giant Joker Playing Card: A giant Joker playing card which likely came from one of Joker's old lairs. Originally in comics, there was a bust or paper mâché bust of the Joker's face in-place of this but they were opted out in favour for the card. In the New 52, Bruce explains that it's a model of a card that Bruce found in the bat cave after a run-in with the Joker which lead to him believing the Joker knew where the bat cave was but just didn't care.
- The Red Hood's Helmet: The helmet which was used by the Joker back when he was the Red Hood. Sometimes it is shown as being kept with the Red Hood tuxedo and cape, but most of the time it is only a helmet.
- Joe Chill's Gun: The rifle used by Joe Chill to shoot Thomas and Martha Wayne dead in Crime Alley when Bruce was a child.
- The Monk's Shroud: The red shroud which belonged to the vampiric Monk of Hungary, the second super-villain Batman fought in comics.
- Thomas Wayne's Bat-Suit: In the original golden-silver age comics continuity, Bruce was inspired to take up his batsona after remembering his father once dressed up as a "Bat Man" for a costume-party. Bruce put this costume up on display in the batcave. In later continuities, this outfit became the model for the wardrobe of Doctor Hurt (another Thomas Wayne).
- Judge Clay's Gavel: A gavel which belonged to the corrupt Judge-turned murderer Judge Clay AKA The Judge who surrendered himself after his schemes accidentally resulted in his own daughter's death.
- Deathstroke's Sword: The sword of the mercenary assassin Deathstroke. Swords have been shown to be on display in the bat-cave before Deathstroke's first-appearance in comics however.
- Egyptian Sarcophagus: An Egyptian mummy sarcophagus which was used by the jewel smuggler "Doctor Doom" to smuggle himself into the batcave after the sarcophagus was given to Batman as a souvenir. After trying to rob the bat cave, he tried to detonate a grenade to kill the dynamic duo and hide inside of the sarcophagus for protection. He accidentally locked himself inside however and suffocated to death.
- Killer Croc Tooth: A tooth from Killer Croc which Batman collected after he knocked it out in a fight.
- The Diary of Dana Drye: A diary which belonged to world-renowned detective Dana Drye who up-until her untimely death was considered the world's greatest detective, even greater than Batman. One night Batman and three other detectives were invited to Dana's residence only to to watch him die before their eyes. When the four began investigating, Batman not only learned that Dana's death was a suicide meant to perplex the world's greatest detectives, but that he had discovered the secret identities of Batman and Robin but chose to keep them a secret. After learning this, Batman decided to pay his respects by pretending he couldn't solve the case and convince the other detectives likewise.
- Robotic Penguin: A defunct robotic penguin which once belonged to the Penguin.
- Giant Dice: A giant pair of dice which the Joker used in gambling death-traps he made to gamble on whether victims would live or die. He tried to use the dice on Batman before escaping.
- Oversized Ten-Pins:
- Human Chess Board:
- Key to Gotham City: An honorary key to Gotham City which Batman was bestowed.
- Letter from Thomas Wayne: A letter from the Flashpoint universe's Batman, Thomas Wayne. When Barry Allen went back in time and caused the Flashpoint paradox, Thomas gave the letter to Barry to deliver to Bruce.
- Kryptonite Ring: A Kryptonite Ring stolen from Lex Luthor which Batman keeps in-case he ever needs to fight Superman. He keeps it under glass and lead at all times though due to it's radiation having given Lex cancer.
- Original Freeze-Ray: The original freeze-gun used by Mr. Freeze.
- Jason Todd's Robin Suit: The suit of Jason Todd which Batman put up after the boy's death at the hands of the Joker.
- Penguin's Umbrellas: A series of weaponized umbrellas used by the Penguin.
- Two-Face Coin: One of Two-Face's double-headed, scarred silver coins.
- Hats: Batman's hat collection includes hats belonging to: The Riddler, the Mad Hatter, Harley Quinn, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
In Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman destroys the Batcave in order to eliminate Dracula's followers; having lured them into the cave after a prolonged pursuit through the sewers, he sets off explosive charges to destroy the Batcave's walls at the moment the sun rises, destroying the vampires within it, before setting off additional charges to destroy Wayne Manor in order to preserve his secrets. Following this, Batman relocates to a cellar beneath a brownstone owned by Alfred Pennyworth, which serves as a lair/laboratory for Batman after he has transformed into a vampire, his new wings meaning that he no longer needed a place to keep larger equipment such as the Batmobile. Although Wayne Manor collapses into the remains of the cave, part of the tunnel system is still intact, with the now-vampiric Batman establishing his lair there after he succumbs to his vampire side, the interior now including a deep chasm within walking distance of the areas where Batman kept the giant penny and the Batmobile when he was human. At the story's conclusion, Commissioner Gordon sets off explosive charges to destroy the cave's roof, letting the sun into the cave once again in order to destroy the monster that Batman has become once and for all.
In the alternate reality of Flashpoint, the Batcave- here used by Thomas Wayne rather than Bruce- is far smaller and more run-down than the traditional version, containing merely a couple of tables for Thomas to work on his equipment and a medical area, with a conventional computer in the upper manor, reflecting Thomas's more brutal and solitary M.O. as Batman as opposed to the more sophisticated training undertaken by his son.
In the 31st century, the Batcave has been long abandoned, although Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad briefly infiltrate the cave while looking for evidence that Krypton existed to counter the xenophobic claims of the Justice League of Earth that Superman was a human given powers to fight against aliens
In a possible future, Bruce Wayne has used a machine to download his memories and training- up to the point where he witnesses the bat and makes his vow to become Batman- into a series of clones of himself, each one aged to a point where they can act as Batman for around twenty-five years before they need to activate the new clone. By the time that the tenth generation clone is created, the Batcave has become a vast workshop, including a flying Batmobile, a robotic shark as a trophy, and costumes in glass cases, but the older Batman informs the new one that the contents of the cave will be burned upon his death so that the new Batman can make room for his own things while using the recorded memories to keep track of anything important from the past.
Background Information and Notes
The Batcave is the best example of the comics being directly influenced by the new ideas presented in outside media adaptations, first appearing in the 1943 serial starring Lewis Wilson.
- The Batcave is made of bedrock and limestone.
- The Batcave was formed by a stream from the Atlantic ocean underground.
- The Batcave houses American Brown Bats, which are fed by Alfred.
- Tomahawk once used the Cave as a base.
- The Batcave is powered by a hydrogen generator as well as power siphoned from city lines.
- The cave was used to transport slaves in the 1800's by Solomon and Joshua Wayne.
- The password to the Batcave entrance in the sewer is "Fairbanks". This is a direct reference to Douglas Fairbanks, who played Zorro in "The Mark of Zorro," Batman's favorite film.