Bruce Wayne is an incredible athlete.
Sure, having a Batsuit and an arsenal of equipment from Wayne Enterprise help. However, he was also recruited for the League of Shadows and climbed his way out of The Pit without the help of anything except his physical abilities.
Despite his notable combat skills, there aren’t many indications that Bruce Wayne enjoys sports at all. He spends his nights beating down criminals instead of watching games and never used any of his billions of dollars to purchase a Gotham sports franchise.
Batman himself might not have an appreciation for sports, but there are plenty of connections between sports and the Caped Crusader. Ahead of the release of “The Batman,” here are a few times the hero crossed over into sports:
Batman connections to football
NFL players love "The Dark Knight," as well as his most famous nemesis.
As chronicled by The Ringer’s Danny Heifetz, a number of NFL stars have commemorated Heath Ledger’s Joker. San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and Los Angeles Rams wideout Odell Beckham Jr. both have Joker tattoos, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson once wore Joker cleats in pregame warmups and Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson even lifted his jersey during a touchdown celebration to reveal a T-shirt with the Joker’s famous “Why so serious?” line.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb and Green Bay Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari are also big Batman fans. Chubb has a Batman chain and two Batman-inspired cars, while Bakhtiari uses Hans Zimmer’s score from “The Dark Knight” as hype music before games.
All of these players would be jealous of the opportunity a group of Pittsburgh Steelers got in 2011. Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Keisel, Mike Wallace, Maurkice Pouncey and more got to suit up for the Gotham Rogues in “The Dark Knight Rises” during a scene filmed at the Steelers’ home field, Heinz Field. Hines Ward was involved in one of the movie’s most iconic moments, running back a kickoff return for a touchdown as Bane blew up the field along with tunnels and bridges across Gotham.
Batman connections to baseball
Did you know Batman actually played Minor League Baseball?
Well, it wasn’t the Batman. Jean Batman pitched in 16 games with the Miami Marlins organization from 2011-12, going 0-4 with a 5.18 ERA.
While Batman never reached the big leagues, “The Dark Knight” became a hero for the New York Mets. Matt Harvey was given the nickname when he became a Sports Illustrated cover athlete in 2013.
Harvey got to start the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at the Mets’ home ballpark, Citi Field, that season. He continued his career in Gotham until he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds during the 2018 season.
One last Batman-baseball connection comes from Michael Keaton. The “Batman” star insisted on a clause in his film contract that allowed him to leave the set if his favorite MLB team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, made the playoffs.
“They thought I was kidding,” Keaton told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale in 2011. “I wasn’t.”
Batman connections to basketball
There's Batman, and then there's Bat-Manu.
San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili was the hero in 2009 during a scene that would have made a young Bruce Wayne shudder. A bat was loose in AT&T Center until Ginobili swatted his famous left hand and knocked the bat onto the hardwood.
In some off-the-court drama, Dwight Howard faced a personal Batman vs. Superman dilemma. Howard donned a Superman cape on his way to winning the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. That upset Shaquille O'Neal, who is a major Superman fan and adopted the nickname during his playing days.
Twelve years later, Howard referred to himself as another DC hero. During Game 3 of the 2020 Western Conference Finals, he took a dig at the Denver Nuggets' Joker.
Batman connections to hockey
While Wayne intended for Batman to be a symbol in "The Dark Knight" trilogy, not everyone can be Batman.
During the titular hero's introduction in "The Dark Knight," he took down Dr. Jonathan Crane, a handful of other criminals and some copycats (copybats?) posing as the Caped Crusader. Before leaving the scene, Wayne pointed out a distinct difference in tactical gear between the real Batman and his imitators:
"I'm not wearing hockey pads."
Robert Pattinson’s connections to sports
Let’s end with the newest on-screen Batman, because there’s a lot to unpack.
First, there’s Robert Pattinson’s patented Baltimore Orioles hat. The ballcap became a shared item between him and his "Twilight" co-star turned girlfriend Kristen Stewart in the early 2010s.
While Pattinson’s actual Orioles fandom remains unclear, he has spoken about his love for his favorite sports team, Arsenal F.C.
Another Pattinson clothing choice involved a lot more fabric. At a London special screening for “The Batman,” Pattinson reminded fans of vintage NBA fashion with his red carpet look.
Last but not least, Pattinson starred in a sports movie, and by sports movie, we mean “Twilight.”
The first movie in the saga features a game of vampire baseball that … well, just watch.
If the Orioles finally get to play this season, it might be worth giving Edward Cullen a call to improve their outfield.