Martha Wayne was the wife of Dr. Thomas Wayne, and the mother of Bruce Wayne, who would grow up to become Batman, sworn protector of the innocent of Gotham City. Dedicated to philanthropy as much as her husband was dedicated to medicine, Martha was well known and respected in Gotham City. She shared Thomas' charitable nature and was dedicated to her son Bruce's upbringing. Mrs. Wayne was fondly regarded in the city's social circles and helped host lavish charity balls at Wayne Manor. Her tragic murder at the hands of a desperate mugger in Gotham City's Crime Alley shook Gotham City to its core and indirectly led to years of urban blight. It also inspired Martha's son Bruce to eventually become Batman.
Born Martha Kane, Martha was the heir to the Kane Chemical fortune and a member of one of Gotham City's wealthiest families. It has not been revealed whether she has any connection to the other prominent Kanes of Gotham, Kathy or Bette. In her youth, Martha had a reputation as a notorious party girl, socialite, and debutante, frequenting all the most prestigious country clubs, night clubs, and soirees. However, she also had a developed social conscience and often used her family's wealth and status to champion causes and charities.
Martha's closest friend in those days was a woman named Celia Kazantkakis. Both were renowned for their beauty, which caught the attention of a gangster named Denholm. Martha dated Denholm for a time prior to meeting Thomas Wayne, though she was unaware of his true nature at the time. Celia, who had had previous dealings with Denholm, became very protective of her friend and conspired to get this thug out of her life. However, in the process it came to light just why Celia was familiar with him. Celia, it turned out, was a criminal herself and had been embezzling money from an orphanage that was one of Martha's charities. She attempted to hide the evidence of this by setting fire to the building but Martha discovered her duplicity. Before Celia departed for her family's home in Greece, Martha threatened to expose her should she ever return to Gotham.
Shortly after Celia's departure, Martha met and fell in love with prominent physician and philanthropist Dr. Thomas Wayne. They were wed soon after and Martha eventually gave birth to a son, Bruce.
Some stories have indicated that, like Bruce, she was unable to allow the crime of Gotham to continue unabated. Thus Martha Wayne fought against the abuse of Gotham's children and against the trafficking of children around the globe. She headed a covert detection agency with help from Commissioner Gordon and the family butler Alfred--their goals were to stem abuse against children, in the hopes that those children would not grow up to turn into abusers and criminals themselves. Learning of his mother's mission prior to death, Batman gained further inspiration and motive for helping the innocent of Gotham.
When Bruce was eight years old, his parents took him to a screening of The Mark of Zorro at a cinema in Gotham's Park Row. Returning to the car through an alley, they were confronted by a lone gunman, who attempted to steal Martha's pearl necklace, an anniversary gift from Thomas. In the ensuing struggle, the thief shot both the Waynes dead. In the wake of this tragedy, Park Row was given the nickname "Crime Alley."
The identity of the Waynes' killer has varied through different versions of the Batman story. Initially, he was said to be a criminal named Joe Chill. Later retellings would claim that Chill had been hired by gangster Lew Moxon, an enemy of Thomas Wayne, and told to make the killings look like a robbery. After DC Comics' history-altering Zero Hour series, this interpretation was abandoned in favor of the Waynes' deaths being a random street crime. The killer was thought to have never been caught, adding to the tragedy and universality of Batman's origin.
After the further continuity tweaks of the Infinite Crisis miniseries, DC has once again returned to the Joe Chill interpretation. It is unknown at this time whether Chill acted alone or under orders.
In the Flashpoint story arc, due to Barry Allen's meddling with time to save his mother from Professor Zoom, Martha Wayne and her husband Thomas Wayne ended up surviving the attack by Joe Chill with their son Bruce Wayne dying in their stead. Ironically, however, her fate afterward was even worse than the main timeline as she went completely insane out of grief for Bruce's death and became that timeline's equivalent of the Joker. She eventually regained some semblance of sanity when fighting Thomas Wayne (who became that timeline's equivalent of Batman) for the last time, and accepted her fate of being killed by Joe Chill if it ensured their son survived, although she quickly lost her sanity again and committed suicide when Thomas reluctantly revealed that their son in another timeline would "follow in [Thomas's] footsteps", and not by becoming a doctor.
- Dedicated philanthropist
- Mother to Bruce Wayne, wife to Thomas Wayne
In other media
Motion Picture Anthology
Dark Knight Trilogy
DC Extended Universe
In Batman: The Animated Series Martha Wayne makes a few appearances in flashbacks, dreams and hallucinations as well as in pictures and photographs. She was voiced by Adrienne Barbeau, though she went uncredited for the role.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum: Bruce, while under the effects of Scarecrow's fear toxin, sees a zombie form of his mother and father in the Arkham Asylum morgue.
- Batman: Arkham City: While near death after being exposed to the Titan poison affecting the Joker, Bruce imagines his mother asking him to step into the light to be with her and his father.
- She briefly appears in a flashback in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 showing the deaths of her and Thomas Wayne by an anonymous gunman when Bruce Wayne ultimately is having the Batman identity resurface as a result of the mutants' crime spree.
- In Justice League: Flashpoint, although she herself does not actually appear in the film unlike in the comics, nor is she actually shown to adopt her Joker identity, she does appear in a flashback where she sobs over Bruce Wayne's corpse as Thomas Wayne, in anger over Joe Chill shooting his son, repeatedly beats him to death, before all of a sudden proceeding to laugh maniacally with his blood smeared over her lips in a clown like manner, indirectly alluding to how she ultimately became that reality's version of the Joker. Similarly, Thomas Wayne (who became that timeline's version of Batman) also indirectly references Martha's transformation into the Joker with his telling Barry Allen "You'd be amazed the monsters this world can create."