When Batman came out in 1989, I was in junior high. I went and saw that movie again and again and again! 5 times I headed off to the movies to see the Caped Crusader in action! It started a connection with Batman that has never gone away.
As a kid, I had a cabinet full of every picture, toy, news article, and drawing that a boy with limited income could get his hands on. If it had the yellow bat logo on it, it was in there. I called it my bat-cave.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Batman character from his first appearance in DC Comics’ Detective Comics #27 (1939). Since his Bob Kane first created the character, he has even surpassed his Kryptonian predecessor in popularity. His comic has spawned several other heroes: Robin, Batgirl, Knightwing, and even his heroic butler, Alfred. It also given us numerous super villains as well: The Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bane, Harley Quinn, and Scarecrow, just to name a few!
Batman can now be found in numerous media sources all over the world.
Obviously, Batman got his start in the comics. Several Batman comic lines exist, including his first weekly, Batman Eternal. Even the Boy Wonder, Robin, has taken on a life of his own in comic book form.
On TV, Batman is most famous for his hilariously campy 60’s show with its “Biff,” “Pow!,” and “Zlonk!” interjections written on screen. Coming soon is going to be a new series that features Bruce Wayne as a young boy in Gotham City, called simply “Gotham.” Why not… it worked for Superman in Smallville! The Dark Knight has also found life in animated form, starring in several different series for kids.
Batman video games do very well too. Batman: Arkham Knight and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham are his newest.
My personal favorite are the Batman movies, sharing his next film with the Man of Steel in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. An attempt by DC to follow Marvel’s uber-successful Avengers franchise by building a Justice League franchise of their own. Batman’s onscreen personalities have come from several talented actors:
- Batman (1943)
A 15 part serial Starring Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin.
- Batman and Robin (1949)
Another 15 part serial to follow the success of Batman. It starred Robert Lowery as Batman and Johnny Duncan as Robin.
- “Batman” (1966-68) and Batman: The Movie (1966)
The intentially silly hit show starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. The movie, featuring 4 of the show’s villains, takes place after season 1. This series is so popular that it is being released on DVD and Blu-ray just in time for Christmas this year… for an insanely large price tag!
- Batman (1989)
Tim Burton decided to darken the mood for his Batman film, intentionally getting away from the goofiness of the 60’s version. Michael Keaton starred as Batman with Jack Nicholson playing the Joker.
- Batman Returns (1992)
Keaton returns to the cape and cowl one more time in Tim Burton’s follow up to the mega-hit, Batman. This time he’s joined by Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Danny DeVito as The Penguin.
- Batman Forever (1995)
Val Kilmer took over as Batman for this colorful adaptation. Joel Schumacher gave a very… different style to the franchise for his two films. Also featured were Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face (Not Billy Dee Williams, even though he played Harvey Dent in Batman).
- Batman and Robin (1997)
Schumacher was at the helm again for this poorly received final film in this version of Batman. Even the star-studded cast of George Clooney as Batman, Chris O’Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman and Alicia Silverstone could not distract people from the overly-busy plot. The nipples on the Batsuit didn’t help either!
- Batman Begins (2005)
Batman got a much-needed reboot in this film. Christopher Nolan gave us his version of the origin story of Batman. Christian Bale took over the lead as Batman, accompanied by Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul, and Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow.
- The Dark Knight (2008)
Nolan and Bale are back in this follow up. Additionally, Heath Ledger did a terrific job as The Joker, giving a different feel to the character than Nicholson’s equally great job. Also, Aaron Eckhart was brought in as Two-Face.
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The final instalment of the Dark Knight trilogy added Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as Bane to the great cast.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
What will happen when Ben Affleck dons the Caped Crusader’s costume? We shall see! But notice which hero gets his name first in the title!
He has had a good 75 years so far, with much more to come! Now I turn it over to you. Do you prefer colorful silliness or dark and brooding? Do you want a back-story where Jack Napier or Joe Chill killed Bruce Wayne’s parents? You tell me!
Which is YOUR favorite Batman movie? Who is YOUR favorite Batman?