Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a scientist specializing in the study of bats, develops an extract intended to give humans the bat's sonar sense and tests the formula on himself because he was becoming deaf. While it works, it has a horrible side effect: it transforms him gradually into a hideous humanoid bat-like monster.
He first clashes with Batman when he tries to steal the chemicals needed to reverse his transformation, but his control over the new animalistic instincts resulting from his bat like state is tenuous and Batman is forced to subdue him in order to administer the antidote.
Langstrom later refines his serum, enabling him to retain his human intelligence while in bat form, and allowing himself control over his transformations. He works for a while as a detective and independent crime fighter as Man-Bat, while he and his fiancee, Francine marry and have a daughter, Rebecca. Eventually, however, his instability returns and he is left unable to control his transformations. In this condition, he clashes several times with Batman in the Batcave (which he finds by following other bats through the network of caverns; he does not recall its location in human form, and he never knows Batman's secret identity), believing — erroneously — that his daughter is dead and that Batman is somehow responsible.
Although he briefly regains control of his transformations, this appears to have changed. He begins to suspect that his cures missed an element of the serum, and he's losing control to his bat side. He believes he has slaughtered his own wife, son, and daughter.
However, both Kirk and Francine are shown to be alive in the "One Year Later" story-line. In Batman #655 (September 2006), Talia al Ghul ties up and gags Francine, and then threatens to poison her if Kirk does not give her the Man-Bat formula. After Langstrom gives her the formula, she releases Francine as promised. Talia utilizes the mutagen to turn members of the League of Assassins into Man-Bats.
Man-Bat is also shown to be one of the captured villains in Salvation Run.
Powers and Abilities
- Transformation: Upon injection of his bat gland extract, Kirk Langstrom can transform himself into a half-human/half-bat creature. Once the serum wears off, the Man-Bat returns back to human form. Currently, Langstrom no longer needs the serum to transform.
- Flight: Man-Bat can fly by way of artificially generated leather wings.
- Claws: The Man-Bat has sharpened claws which are strong enough to easily tear through flesh and muscle.
- Echolocation: Man-Bat can navigate through the air by way of echolocation, similar in function to a bat's radar.
- Superhuman Strength
- Superhuman Speed
- Superhuman Senses: Vision, Hearing and Smell in superhuman levels.
- "Professional human eater"
The Batman: Man-Bat mini-series, by Jamie Delano and John Bolton, is an Else-worlds showing Kirk and Francine, now living exclusively in bat form, with a teenaged son, Eugene. Man-Bat, more unstable than ever (although at least coherent), is determined to replace the human race with a "superior" species of man-bat hybrids. There's nothing about this story that suggests it was originally intended to be an Elseworlds episode, which suggests that it was assigned that way because it effectively made Man-Bat into a Ra's al Ghul-style megalomaniac, which apparently contradicted other plans for the character. Some assume that the comic was already completed or close to completion when the conflict arose, leading DC to go ahead with its publication but under the Else-worlds banner.
In other media
Man-Bat has appeared numerous times in the animated Batman cartoons, the associated toys, and in the video games.
Batman: The Animated Series
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Doomsday Sanction," Professor Milo mentions that Dr. Langstrom's research has proven useful to his experiments splicing together human and animal DNA for the Cadmus Project. This ended with a disaster when a mutated warthog was mentioned to have destroyed his lab.
- In Batman Beyond, a new trend called "splicing" involved fusing together animal and human DNA. The new Batman Terry McGinnis, ends up captured by the leader of the splicers, Abel Cuvier aka Chimera, and is injected with vampire bat DNA and ends up resembling Man-Bat. He is later turned back to normal by Wayne.
- A character loosely based on Man-Bat, credited as Tweaker, appears in the DC television series Gotham. He made his first appearance in the third season premiere "Better to Reign in Hell...", as a member of Fish Mooney's monster gang. He later reappears in a brief cameo in the fourth season finale "No Man's Land". The character was originally set to return for the show's final season, inspiring Bruce Wayne to use the image of a bat to take on criminals. However, the character was cut from the season due to a shortened episode count, along with Lady Shiva.
- Man-Bat was considered as an antagonist in the third and fifth films of the Burton/Schumacher Batman series but ultimately wasn't used. A scene was shot for Batman Forever featuring Man-Bat in a dream with Bruce but this went unused.
- A Man-Bat creature appears in Bruce Wayne's nightmare in the film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- A Lego version of Man-Bat makes a cameo appearance in The Lego Batman Movie alongside other Batman villains. He's seen with the other villains attacking the Gotham Winter Galla.
- In the film Justice League: Gods and Monsters which takes place in an else world, Kirk is that world's Batman. Rather than having suffered from deafness he suffered from a blood condition and rather than his experiments turning him into man-bat, they turned him into a vampire. Kirk would go on to become that world's Batman, sustaining himself by draining criminals of their blood not unlike the Batman of Earth 43.
- In the Super Nintendo game The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Man-Bat is one of the bosses. In this game he speaks, although in the show he never spoke in Man-Bat form.
- Man-Bat is perhaps the only major Batman villain never to even be referenced in either Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City.
- It is possible that Man-Bat is referenced in Batman: Arkham Origins as Alfred describes seeing a "king bat" nesting in the Batcave. Screenshots released of the game depict a larger than normal bat, though fans speculate that it is Man-Bat lurking within the Batcave. Despite that, Langstrom would not appear in the series until Batman: Arkham Knight.
- Man-Bat has made several appearances as an action figure as part of Hasbro's Batman: The Animated Series and Dark Knight lines, Mattel's The Batman line, DC Direct's Arkham Asylum line, Art Asylum's mini-mates line, and the HeroClix line.
- Man-Bat is also one of the action figures from the line, Secret Files 1: Batman Rogues Gallery. The Man-Bat version of this is the brown skinned/fur with green pants.
- An unproduced prototype figure of Man-Bat for Kenner's Super Powers Collection was unearthed after the line's cancellation.
- Man-Bat was also featured in Mattel's DCSH line. The brown version was scheduled for series 8, but was dropped and replaced by Catwoman. A white version of Man-Bat was featured as a San Diego Comic Convention exclusive in packaging designed by Frank Varela of Mattel Toys.