A wealthy philanthropist, Thomas Wayne, his wife, Martha, and their 8 year-old son, Bruce Wayne, were coming out of a movie theater at 10:47 p.m. As they stepped onto Park Row (now called Crime Alley), a thug named Joe Chill armed with a gun approached them from the shadows to steal the pearl necklace Martha was wearing. With Bruce watching, Chill shot and killed Thomas Wayne in cold blood when he protected his wife and then Martha as she screamed for help he was said to have said "this'll shut you up". Bruce, traumatized by the deaths of his parents, would never be the same. Afterward, Bruce was raised by his wise and loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and inherited his family's vast fortune as well as his father's company, Wayne Enterprises. Standing at his parents' gravestones, Bruce made a solemn oath to avenge their deaths. After the story called Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Batman of Earth-Two was erased from history. DC Comics attempted to reboot many major characters' origins including Batman. The re-tooled history was recounted in Frank Miller’s run on the Batman: Year One story arc, or, at least the more serious, less campier sides of The Dark Knight. This made Batman darker and more believable and showed how much Batman dominates Bruce Wayne's psychology, so much so that Bruce has fully transformed into the Dark Knight, both physically and mentally. The character of Jim Gordon was portrayed in greater detail, and the corruption of the Gotham City Police Department was more pronounced, giving more of a reason for Gotham City to need Batman. d**k's back story remains the same, but Jason Todd's origin was changed, turning the boy into the orphan son of a petty crook, who tries to steal the tires from the Batmobile. Philip Wayne and Thomas, Jr. were removed from continuity and Bruce was raised by his father's trusted friend and butler, Alfred Pennyworth.
In addition, Batman was no longer a founding member of the Justice League. During the Son of the Demon story arc, Batman marries Talia, and she becomes pregnant with their child. When Talia was attacked, Batman nearly dies trying to save her. Talia concludes that she was a hindrance to Batman and pretends to have a miscarriage. The two annulled their marriage, but Talia delivered the baby and gave him up.
Despite fiscal security, happiness eluded Bruce. Young Bruce was comforted by Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who helped him to mourn his parents and find a purpose in life. At age fourteen, Bruce started a twelve year walkabout around the world seeking experts in many fields, training himself mentally and physically. From an academic standpoint, he studied at Cambridge in England, the Sorbonne in France, and other famous European universities. A Frenchman named Henri Ducard taught him man-hunting, a ninja named Kirigi taught him stealth, an African bushman trained him in the art of the hunt, and Nepalese monks taught him healing. In the new continuity Batman found Jason trying to steal the wheels off the Batmobile. Unlike d**k, Jason would question and eventually defy Batman's orders. It would get to the point where Jason was becoming a danger to himself and others around him. Batman considers removing him as Robin, but Jason manages to convince him otherwise. Jason Todd eventually learns that the woman who raised him was not his biological mother and became determined to find his true mother. He travels to the Middle East, where he encountered Batman (who was searching for the Joker), and explained that he was searching for his birth mother. Batman saw the list of candidates and recognized one of the names on the list as Sandra Woosan: the assassin Lady Shiva.
After a brief fight Batman learned that she was not Jason's mother. Jason managed to find his mother, Sheila Haywood, and revealed his secret identity to her, but she turns him over to The Joker. Jason's mother was being blackmailed by the Joker, but as she had some shady dealings herself she did not want attention being drawn to her. Joker savagely beats Jason with a crowbar, then detonates an explosive that kills Jason and his mother. This was during the story arc Death in the family.
After this tragic event, Batman becomes even darker and more violent when he battled crime. Tim Drake, a young boy who witnessed the death of the Graysons, noticed the dark nature of the Batman after the loss of Robin. He had figured out that the original Robin was d**k Grayson and thus, Bruce Wayne had to be Batman. Tim knew that Batman needed a friend in his war and after being unsuccessful in convincing d**k to return to the role, d**k petitions Bruce to train Tim to become the next Robin, in order to keep Batman sane. After a grueling training regime, Tim finally becomes the new Robin.
Bruce returned to Gotham City, where he became a vigilante. But despite all his honed skills, he knew something was missing. Bruce believed criminals to be a "superstitious and cowardly lot," and in order to rid Gotham of evil, he needed to reinvent himself to become a terrifying symbol that would strike fear in to the hearts of criminals. While in his father's study, a large bat crashed through the window. Bruce saw this as an omen and recalled his fear of bats as a child. This would be his symbol; the Bat would strike terror into the Gotham underworld. Using his vast wealth, Bruce designed a costume and state of the art equipment, thus beginning a difficult double life: By day, he would be the billionaire playboy and businessman, Bruce Wayne and by night, he was The Batman. In the Knightfall storyline's first phase, the new villain Bane paralyzes Batman, leading Wayne to ask Azrael to take on the role. After the end of "Knightfall," the storylines split in two directions, following both the Azrael-Batman's adventures, and Bruce Wayne's quest to become Batman once more. The story arcs realign in "KnightsEnd," as Azrael becomes increasingly violent and is defeated by a healed Bruce Wayne. Wayne hands the Batman mantle to d**k Grayson (then Nightwing) for an interim period, while Wayne trains to return to the role.
The 1994 company-wide crossover Zero Hour changes aspects of DC continuity again, including those of Batman. Noteworthy among these changes is that the general populace and the criminal element now considers Batman an urban legend rather than a known force. Similarly, the Waynes' killer is never caught or identified, effectively removing Joe Chill from the new continuity, rendering stories such as "Year Two" non-canon.
Batman once again becomes a member of the Justice League during Grant Morrison's 1996 relaunch of the series, titled JLA. While Batman contributes greatly to many of the team's successes, the Justice League is largely uninvolved as Batman and Gotham City face catastrophe in the decade's closing crossover arc. In 1998's "Cataclysm" storyline, Gotham City is devastated by an earthquake and ultimately cut off from the United States Government afterwards. Deprived of many of his technological resources, Batman fights to reclaim the city from legions of gangs during 1999's "No Man's Land".