|Court of Owls|
|First appearance||Batman (vol. 2) #6 (February 2012)|
|Created by||Scott Snyder (writer)|
Greg Capullo (artist)
|Type of organization||Organized crime|
|Base(s)||Gotham City, later international|
|See: List of Court of Owls members|
The Court of Owls is a criminal organization and secret society appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. They appear as adversaries of the superhero Batman. Created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the Court is described as an organization of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of the city of Gotham, having existed since the city's founding and completely unknown among its general population outside of an urban legend centered around their reputation for grisly assassinations carried out by indoctrinated agents known as Talons. The 2015–2016 "Robin War" story line details their international expansion, with the group renaming itself the Parliament of Owls.
The Court of Owls made their on-screen debut in 2015's Batman vs. Robin as part of the DC Animated Movie Universe before making their live-action debut later that same year in the Gotham television series. They appear as the main antagonists in the 2023 television series Gotham Knights.
The Court of Owls was created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo and feature as Batman's main antagonists in the first two-story arcs of The New 52, the 2011 reboot of DC's continuity. They are first mentioned in Batman (vol. 2) #2 (2011) and make their first cameo appearance in Batman (vol. 2) #3 when Batman discovers one of their secret bases of operation and where they are seen posing with one of their assassins, the Talon William Cobb, in a series of old photographs, finally providing Batman with proof of their existence. The Court of Owls make their first full appearance in Batman (vol. 2) #6 with Batman fighting his way through the Labyrinth.
The Court of Owls is a violent cabal of some of Gotham City's oldest and wealthiest families who use murder and money to wield political influence throughout history. To carry out their interests, they employ a breed of highly trained assassins known as Talons. The leaders of the organization appear to be human and wear white owl masks on their faces. The earliest history of the Court of Owls dates back to Gotham's earliest days in the 1600s.
Bruce Wayne recounts that, as a child, he believed the Court of Owls responsible for the death of his parents and personally investigated the conspiracy before determining that there was no evidence. When Wayne announces plans to rebuild and reshape Gotham City for the future, the Court sentences him to death and their assassin, the Talon William Cobb, attempts to murder him during a meeting with Lincoln March. They struggle at the top of Wayne Tower and the killer survives a fall from the top. Batman discovers that their society has various secret headquarters throughout hidden rooms in every building established by the Alan Wayne Trust, created by Bruce's great-grandfather Alan Wayne.
In the 2012 storyline Night of the Owls, the Court of Owls, angered at William Cobb's defeat at the hands of Batman, awaken all of their other Talons to reclaim Gotham City from Batman. The Court's goal is to prove that they, not Batman, are the superior legend of Gotham City. The Bat Family and Birds of Prey work together to defeat them.
During the Forever Evil storyline, the Court of Owls see the news from the Crime Syndicate that the Justice League is "dead" and claims that the Court of Owls will prosper. With their existence threatened, they dig into the foundations of their arcane history and use it to adapt. A prominent member of the Court of Owls shows his daughter where the Court of Owls began: the chamber of the First Talon.
At the conclusion of the 2014-2015 series Batman Eternal, it is revealed that Lincoln March used the Court's resources to fund the Cluemaster's campaign against Batman, reasoning that Batman's public death at the hands of an unknown enemy would forever end the "myth" of the Dark Knight. However, the plan fails when Batman's allies and the people of Gotham City rally together against March's assault after Commissioner Gordon calls on them to stand up for the city in Batman's name, forcing March to retreat.
In the 2015-2016 storyline Robin War, the Court of Owls reanimate Lincoln March, who has devised a way to obtain their prophesied Gray Son. Councilwoman Noctua, a member of the Court, rises to power in Gotham City and implants a set of laws and regulations that ban all Robin paraphernalia and will imprison those caught possessing or wearing anything Robin-related. This gets the attention of the original four Robins: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne (the current Robin), who all arrive in Gotham to train the hundreds of members of the Robins street gang.
In Nightwing (vol. 3), Lincoln March addresses the Parliament of Owls as they decide to cast aside their connection to the Court of Owls in Gotham and don black owl masks. As March begins to preach his new role in the Parliament, he is killed by the Raptor, who reveals that both he and the Parliament agree that March's own desires began to become a hindrance to them and they needed a clean path to Nightwing. Dick Grayson has finally re-obtained his secret identity and has returned to the role of Nightwing. He willingly works for the Parliament to bring them down from the inside; they are wary of and suspect Grayson's true intentions, but they do not know that their leverage over him has been resolved. To keep him in check, the Parliament partners him with the Raptor to aid in his missions.
In the 2017 storyline Dark Nights: Metal, it is subsequently revealed that the Court of Owls were predominately a cult that worshiped Barbatos, a dark god associated with bats who hailed from the Dark Multiverse beneath the DC Multiverse. A cell of members ambush the Justice League and offer Batman up as the key to open up the Dark Multiverse, but are subsequently brutally murdered by The Batman Who Laughs and his Robins.
In the Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock, the remaining representatives of the Court of Owls are among the villains that attend the underground meeting held by the Riddler to talk about the Superman Theory. Their judge states that the Court of Owls are not relocating to Kahndaq.
The Talons are a group of highly trained assassins loyal to the Court of Owls. Among the known Talons are:
The Court of Owls appears in Batman vs. Robin, consisting of the Grandmaster (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes), socialite Samantha Vanaver (voiced by Grey DeLisle), and an unidentified Talon (voiced by Jeremy Sisto) who is the son of an abusive jewel thief. Throughout the film, Talon attempts to help Robin realize his potential and join the Court. However, Talon betrays them after refusing to kill a kidnapped Robin and seizes control of the Court's army of zombified Talons. After his army is destroyed by Batman, Nightwing, and Alfred Pennyworth and he is defeated by Robin, Talon commits suicide.