Today marks the 75th anniversary of a character that has become an icon in superhero cinema. He first appeared in “Detective Comics #27” as a comic book character created by Bob Kane (or arguably Bill Finger) and since then has evolved into a symbol much greater than his original inception.
In addition to evolving in the comics through different writers and artists, Batman has had a similar evolution through film. While today he may be known as “The Dark Knight,” he didn’t always have the look and persona to live up to that name.
Batman Gets Groovy – 1966
The 1960s were a very groovy time so it was apparent that Batman should be a groovy hero. Adam Wests’ portrayal of Batman was pretty comical but very popular. With both a television show and a feature film, Adam West was the first well known face of Batman.
Batman Gets Gritty – 1989-1992
Almost 20 years after the Adam West version of Batman, Director Tim Burton had the idea of a grittier Batman. Despite Tim Burton’s desire for dark yet lavishly quirky films, the combination of him in the director’s chair and Michael Keaton as the lead recreated the character for a pleased audience. Audiences were so pleased that shortly after “Batman” came “Batman Returns” which was almost just as impressive.
Batman’s Awkward Years – 1995-1997
Once Director Joel Schumacher took over for Tim Burton on “Batman Forever,” things became a mess. Michael Keaton was replaced with Val Kilmer as a blonde Bruce Wayne/Batman and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) was back in the picture. The villains were over the top and the dark gritty feel was completely lost. After “Batman Forever” came “Batman & Robin” and as you can see pictured above, the suit got an upgrade with prominent nipples. Both films were an attempt to fall between dark and childhood fun, but failed miserably. Joel Schumacher actually apologized for both films later on.
The Batman We Deserve – 2005-2012
In 2005 a great thing happened. Director Christopher Nolan took over the franchise with “Batman Begins” and Christian Bale was cast as a darker, yet real world applicable, version of Batman. Christopher Nolan, inspired by the comic “Batman: Year One,” infused all versions of Batman into a character that translated to a universal audience. This version of Batman is arguably the most popular of all film Batman’s to date. Because of this popularity, audiences received their first Batman trilogy on the big screen and “The Dark Knight” was even honored with an Oscar for Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker.
The next Batman has been cast and the film has been set but we have yet to see if Ben Affleck can fit into the role. “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” could be bigger than “The Dark Knight” based on hype alone but many fans are concerned and downright angry regarding the casting of Batman. Only time will tell if this next film will be one worthy of Batman’s name but one thing is for sure, Batman will continue to be in our lives for quite some time.