He is known as the Caped Crusader, the World’s Greatest Detective, the Dark Knight. The Batman. He is that lost soul attempting to save Gotham from the rot that has set in, to redeem that fallen city of inequity from the evils which have crippled her. That is the reputation. That is not the truth.
For decades, Bruce Wayne has worn the cowl, dedicating his life to stop crime and protect the innocent. It is his burden, his chosen curse. This moral crusade he has embarked upon is far from righteous. In fact it is both a detriment to both Bruce as well as an even greater danger to Gotham than the criminals the Batman rises to combat night after night.
There is no Bruce Wayne. The night of his parents’ deaths, that part of him was lost forever. His faith in what is good was shattered and a fear was engendered by the evils that lurked in the shadows. He was now alone in the world, despite Alfred’s best attempts to draw him back. That trauma during his formative years twisted his spirit into something truly vile. He brooded, dreamt of vengeance, cut himself off from the world. Grew apart. He never allowed himself to let the pain go, to find the courage to confront his demons. He never reconciled his childish guilt. Eventually, he succumbed to it. Hating who he was, a weak boy unable to save his parents, he put on the mask and became something else. Strong, feared, of the very shadows from whence his own terrors arose.
Bruce Wayne/Batman is a classic symbol of anti-social disorder: Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations; Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them; Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; Marked readiness to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior that has brought the person into conflict with society. He does not respect the law, superseding it when he sees fit due to its inability to halt the crime that has overridden Gotham. He aggressively attacks those he sees as criminals and a threat to society, despite the illegality of his actions. He does not allow emotional connections save for appearances or when offering an incentive to do so. He blames criminals, especially men such as the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, and others for the ills of Gotham when Batman himself is to blame.
Gotham was corrupt before the rise of the Bat. Police were on the take, the mob ruled the streets, but violence was nowhere near what it has become. The city accepted “protection” under Carmine Falcone. Batman changed that. He caused infighting within the GCPD by revealing corruption turning cop against cop and stripping the police of the public’s trust. He destabilized the city further by removing Falcone. Into that vacuum, civil war emerged. The various families fought for control as well as against the Batman himself. Violence became a common occurrence. In such circumstances, it is not hard to believe the city suffered further economic depression from fleeing businesses, dropping property values, and increased spending on rebuilding, security, and more. The city became dysfunctional spawning the births of a whole new type of criminal, men and women who thrived in the chaos, just as Batman did. With no endgame in sight, with a simple mind directed towards striking out at crime wherever he saw it, Batman created the perfect environment for himself: a place where he was eternally needed and where he could again and again rectify what happened to him that night his parents died.
There is no surprise the city came to rely more and more on Wayne Corp. It was the sole business that had no intention of ever leaving. In a way, Wayne became even more of a tyrant, increasing his economic control over the city. Whereas he could have used strategic thinking to save Gotham, creating jobs, enacting initiatives meant to draw economic growth, seeking out and supporting idealistic public officials with the same vision towards a better Gotham, he instead went it alone tearing the city apart in his search for that vague memory of a man who took the life of those most dear to him. The sole two people he ever truly trusted to help him, James Gordon and Harvey Dent, were both exactly like him: loners driven to do things on their own, the rules be damned. These two men would find themselves destroyed in aiding the Batman, Dent being scarred and mentally broken, Gordon suffering the depredations of the Joker and the crippling of his daughter. And where was the Batman? Nowhere to be seen, having used the men for his own needs but failing to be there when they needed him most.
Batman is no hero. He is a mentally ill, crippled soul who cannot exist without chaos. He needs enemies to fight, he needs to relive that horrific night because he cannot get past it. Gotham doesn’t need the Batman. It needs a Bruce Wayne who can forgive himself.