I'm going to try and let this adhere to the character of Bruce Wayne as much as possible without going in to great detail about his alter-ego, Batman. The following information is compiled from multiple (often conflicting) sources, some of which have nothing to do with the official comic dogma of the Bruce Wayne character, however, I felt for the sake of the node, it was worth adding in this abstract biography. So, on that note, I give you:

Bruce Wayne: Behind the Cowl.

Bruce Wayne was the only son of prominent Gotham City doctor Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha Wayne. Two events from his childhood forever scarred the future of Bruce. The first was when he accidentally fell through a hole in the grounds of his ancestral home, Wayne Manor, and found himself in a cave system full of bats running under the house. For years afterwards Bruce would catch sight of one particularly large bat over and over again.

The second and most tragic event happened just after the family had left a showing of the classic film "The Mark of Zorro" at the cinema and were walking back home. They were confronted by a mugger who demanded they hand over their valuables. Thomas Wayne put up a struggle and in the process he and his wife were shot dead. The mugger ran off leaving the shocked Bruce alone with the bodies of his dead parents. First on the scene was Dr. Leslie Thompkins, a physician, who sought to look after Bruce.

Thomas's brother Phil Wayne was named Bruce's guardian and with the help of Thompkins and the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth, they raised him as best they could. For days after the funeral Bruce was unsettled, and it came to a head one night when he ran to his parents grave and swore his vengeance on the criminal world.

Bruce graduated high school and left the United States to travel the world, learning from the brightest and the best in each field of speciality. He also travelled to remote schools in the Far East and studied for years under the masters of various forms of martial arts. Upon returning to the US, Bruce resumed control of his father's corporations: most notably Wayne Enterprises and the Wayne Foundation. His friend and colleague Lucious Fox, who had been trying to maintain the dignity of the companies since Thomas Wayne's death, became Vice President. Having recently returned from years studying abroad and reclaimed his birth right, Bruce became a figure of public interest in Gotham City. Apart from being wealthy and educated, he was also a very attractive young man. Women became a constant in Bruce's life, and he began to develop a reputation as a playboy in Gotham. He spent much of his time (and money) supporting charities and foundations for the bettering of Gotham City.

While his career and life in the public eye began to take flight, Bruce's secret promise to his parents was always tucked away inside his mind. He spent his nights infiltrating in to the depraved parts of Gotham's seedier districts to see how the criminal element had evolved. After being badly beaten in a street brawl, Wayne realized that the local criminals would not fear an ordinary man, and that if he were to take them on he would need to find a way to strike fear in to them.

With the help of Alfred, Bruce began converting the cave beneath his home in to a secret lair. He began designing weaponry and costumes, theorizing a way to become more threatening in appearance. He settled on the image of the bat, and the alias of "Batman".

Initially, Bruce's double life was shaky. Always brooding, charismatic and confident in his public persona, he was still a rookie in his crimefighting experience. He was however able to balance both lives, and with the help of a Police Lieutenant named James Gordon, he was able to develop and gain more confidence in his detective skills.

As the years went by, Batman became an even more notable public figure in Gotham City than Bruce Wayne, making Bruce very cautious as to where he should stand in both cases. James Gordon became a Captain and then the Commissioner of Police, and in his third year of crimefighting Bruce Wayne made a lifestyle adjustment by taking in an orphan - a former circus acrobat whose parents were killed in a trapese accident - named Dick Grayson. Grayson would also adopt a secret alias (Robin) and pursue crimefighting alongside Batman.

Grayson left for college and shortly thereafter moved on from studying with Bruce as his mentor. Grayson went off to fight crime by himself, under the alias Nightwing, and Bruce was left as he was before.

Soon after, Bruce would encounter another young boy, Jason Todd, who would replace Dick Grayson as a student of Batman's. As the new Robin, Jason Todd was more aggressive than Dick Grayson, and ended up being killed by the Joker. This caused Bruce unbelieveable grief, making him doubt many of the factors in which he believed. If he had never taken in Jason Todd, if he had never taken in Dick Greyson first, or if he had never even become Batman at all - the boy would still be alive.

Bruce Wayne, heavily questioning himself, spent the next few years as his darkest. He developed a problem with alcoholism, and for a period of time stopped becoming Batman. He reclused from the public eye, almost all together.

A young boy named Tim Drake had discovered Batman's secret identity from studying the acrobatic ability of Dick Grayson, and decided to make an effort to try and stablilize Bruce Wayne. Drake did so, and inadvertently became the third Robin. Wayne, rehabilitated, sent Drake abroad to study with the same teachers who had taught Bruce years before. Bruce returned to his lifestyle, however, in his mind, he was very damaged. The years of living a double life had taken their toll on the man, and Bruce was bordering on a dangerous conflict of identity. However, he was not the only one.

After facing off against Bane during a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum, Bruce would suffer a broken back. The crimefighter Azreal would take over the mantel of Batman as to not garner suspicion about the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Batman. However, as Bruce recuperated, Azreal was becoming more and more violently unstable in his newfound position. When Bruce was well off enough, he took down Azreal and resumed being the Batman.

Bruce continued to fight crime after that, until suffering a mild heart attack on the job and retiring. He once again became lonely and reclusive while crime ran rampant in Gotham City for decades, stepping down from being an active voice in the Wayne Corporation - which would be run by Derek Powers. A teenager named Terry McGinnis discovered Bruce Wayne's true identity and tried to convince him to resume being Batman to no avail. McGinnis became the new Batman under Bruce's guidance when his father was killed by Derek Powers. Bruce would however reinstate himself in to the business operations of Wayne Enterprises, once again being recognized in the public eye, but this time as one of the legendary good men of Gotham City. A Philantropist Multimillionaire who was responsible for providing the people with many of Gotham's prized assets.

Bruce Wayne has been portrayed in Film and Television by Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Kevin Conroy (voice only). He was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.

Detective Comics
Batman (television series)
Batman: The Killing Joke (graphic novel)
The Dark Knight Returns (graphic novel)
The Dark Knight Strikes Again (graphic novel)
Batman: The Animated Series/The Adventures of Batman and Robin (animated series)
Batman Beyond (animated series)
Batman (film)
Batman Returns (film)
Batman Forever (film)
Batman and Robin (film)

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