33 years ago - 6-year-old Bruce Wayne meets Alfred Pennyworth, who has returned to Wayne Manor for his father's funeral. Alfred helps young Bruce outsmart a bully and chooses to stay on as the Wayne's butler.
31 years ago - 8-year-old Bruce Wayne falls through an abandoned well into the future batcave. His parents are gunned down by a mugger. Bruce is found by Leslie Thompkins and cared for by Officer James Gordon.
25 years ago - 14-year-old Bruce Wayne leaves Gotham City to travel the world, training for his mission. Alfred Pennyworth maintains the illusion that he is away at a series of boarding schools.
21 years ago - 18-year-old Bruce trains briefly under an assumed name with David Cain, who begins developing his theories about replacing language with movement.
20 years ago - 19-year-old Bruce Wayne studies under an assumed identity with Zatara and meets his daughter Zatanna.
15 years ago - 24-year-old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City. He attempts to fight crime on the streets but fails, leaving him nearly dead. After an epiphany in his study, he crafts his identity a Batman. Gordon is the only man on the police force Batman trusts, and soon they are working together. The League of Assassins send Lady Shiva to test him. He confronts The Joker for the first time, stopping him from poisoning the Gotham Reservoir.
14 years ago - 25-year-old Bruce Wayne takes in Dick Grayson when his parents are killed, who becomes Robin. He first meets Selina Kyle, and soon also meets her new costumed alter-ego Catwoman.
12 years ago - 27-year-old Bruce Wayne first meets Barbara Gordon's Batgirl. He asks 20-year-old Zatanna for help on a case, & works with Knight & Squire. Carmine Falcone puts a hit out on Batman, bringing in some of the best assassins in the world, including Slade Wilson, Deadshot, Thomas Blake, Patricia Trayce
11 years ago - 28-year-old Bruce Wayne is confronted by Ra's Al Ghul. He has a night of passion with Talia Al Ghul. He works for the first time with Jason Blood
9 years ago - 30-year-old Bruce Wayne fires Dick Grayson and takes on Jason Todd as the new Robin. Barbara Gordon is shot by the Joker.
8 years ago - 31-year-old Bruce Wayne & Jason Todd track down the Joker, who kills Jason. Without a Robin, he forms the Outsiders & joins the newly-formed Justice League.
7 years ago - 32-year-old Bruce Wayne takes over leadership of the Justice League from Aquaman. He approaches Zatanna for help with a case, helping her return to adventuring. Selina hands over Jack Chavez to him.
6 years ago - 33-year-old Bruce Wayne disbands the Outsiders & quits the Justice League to become a reservist. Oliver Queen stops Merlyn from making a hit on Bruce.
5 years ago - 34-year-old Bruce Wayne takes on Tim Drake as the new Robin. Barbara Gordon resurfaces as Oracle, and Jean-Paul Valley is rescued from the Order of St. Dumas. Swamp Thing tries to stop him from fighting Solomon Grundy so he can become a new Earth elemental, but is unsucessful. He saves Selina Kyle from certain death at the hands of Black Mask's men, and finally condones her work in the East End.
4 years ago - 35-year-old Bruce Wayne's back is broken by Bane. Jean-Paul Valley takes over as Batman, but has to be removed when he rebuilds it as a shadow of Azrael. Bruce retrains his body under the guidance of Lady Shiva. He reveals his identity to Selina Kyle, who helps him recover his batsuit. Dick Grayson takes over as Batman until Bruce is completely recovered. His relationship with Selina moves forward.
3 years ago - 36-year-old Bruce Wayne is among the Justice League reservists that found the Watchtower after the White Martian Invasion. Gotham is destroyed in an earthquake. Cassandra Cain appears in Gotham and after he battles David Cain, becomes the new Batgirl. He confronts Bane again, finally defeating him. He recommends that Selina Kyle's daughter Helena be sent to Phantom Lady's Universite Norte Dame Des Ombres. Bruce pays for her tuition and board.
2 years ago - 37-year-old Bruce is framed for murder. He discovers that Lex Luthor hired David Cain to frame him, but Cain is convinced to turn himself in when he is defeated by Cassandra Cain. He rejects Stephanie Brown's attempt to become Robin after Tim Drake quits, inadvertently starting the War Games. He helps Clark Kent clear his name when Lex frames him for attacking the Earth, battling Lex in his battle armor, costing him the presidency.
now - 39-year-old Bruce Wayne is defeated by the League of Assassins and is presumed dead. He is imprisoned alongside Kate Kane.
Without a doubt, Batman is the central character of the entire DC universe. his story lines are the framework that the rest of the story's hang on. We started the entire timeline here. The hardest part was trying to get the huge number of stories featuring Batman and his supporting cast in place without making Bruce too old.
If any one element of Batman is up in the air, it's his age. There's an element of fatalism in his story, the idea that his mission against crime simply can't continue indefinitely. It can be argued that that's a good thing, that he's doing far more damage to his city than good, but that's a whole other conversation. We decided to make him just under 40, which allowed enough time for his sidekicks to grow into adults but still gives him some time before the inevitable questions of his ultimate fate become relevant.
The most effort went into getting all of his stories lined up in a way that feels natural. Hopefully there's a natural flow from event to event that feels like the progression of an actual person and not like the arbitrary machinations of a rotating cast of writers. The most recent element in his story as we've conceived of it is his capture by the League of Assassins, something we're imagining taking the better part of a year. This is largely a stand-in for his supposed death during the Final Crisis, something we're deliberately removing from continuity. Several other characters experience major growth during that arc, but I've READ those comics, and I still don't understand what happened to Bruce.
Bruce's destiny is bound to the League of Assassins, that much is clear. Using them as the reason he is assumed dead makes a lot of sense, and opens up their prominence in his story even further so that, wherever his story goes from here, they are always going to be a part of it.