Lieutenant Max Eckhardt was a corrupt police detective working for the Gotham City Police Department during the time period that Batman made his presence known in Gotham City. He was also employed by mob boss Carl Grissom.
Max Eckhardt was in charge of looking after Carl Grissom's illegal front companies such as Axis Chemicals. Police Commissioner Gordon always suspected that Eckhardt was corrupt, but presumably didn't have enough evidence against him to make any difference.
A few days before Gotham's 200th anniversary celebration, Eckhardt secretly met with Grissom's number one hitman Jack Napier to accept a payoff. The history between the two men is unclear, but each clearly held great disdain for the other. Eckhardt scoffed at the notion of Jack one day leading Grissom's organization, calling him an "A-one nut boy". In return, Napier warned him to think about his future and then pushed him against a wall. An angry Eckhardt pulled his gun on Jack, but Napier's loyal crony Bob produced his own weapon, forcing Eckhardt to ease up.
Embittered by the encounter, Eckhardt decided to teach Jack a lesson. He was aware that Jack had been having an affair with Grissom's girlfriend, Alicia, so he called Grissom to tell him what he knew. Grissom decided to set Jack up for a fall, using Eckhardt as his trigger-man.
That evening, Carl assigned Jack Napier to clean out their front company at Axis Chemicals. Eckhardt and several other officers raided the plant with orders to "shoot to kill". Unfortunately for Eckhardt, Commissioner Gordon learned of the attempted hit, and intervened. He pulled rank on Eckhardt and ordered his men to take Napier alive so he could stand trial. As police raided the factory, Jack Napier tried to escape via an upper level catwalk. Upon seeing Eckhardt down below, he withdrew his pistol shouting, "Eckhardt! Think about the future!" He fired a single shot that hit Eckhardt squarely in the chest, killing him.
- When Eckhardt says "Where have you been spending your nights?", it's likely a hint that he found out about the affair Napier was having with Grissom's mistress, and therefore told Grissom.
- Although this has not been directly confirmed, it is widely believed that Max Eckhardt was inspired by the Batman comic book characters Detective Harvey Bullock and Detective Arnold Flass, both of whom were, at least one point, corrupt policemen on crime's payroll, and partners of Commissioner Gordon. Also to be noted is Eckhardt's physical structure and attitude: overweight, unshaven and gruff, also characteristics of Bullock.