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Batman: A Brief History
In 1937 a company was formed called Detective Comics and their first title was Detective Comics No.1, launched in March of that year. This comic focused mainly on crime/suspense stories. The initials of this title would eventually take over as the company name - DC Comics.
As the comic grew a new form of comic was beginning to take form. Superman, introduced in 1939, was quickly sweeping the nation and everyone began clamoring for more caped heroes and villians. Bob Kane had originally conceived the idea of a caped crusader in 1934, 5 years before The Man Of Steel. Now with success of Superman Bob Kane returned to his notepads. Perhaps the fact that Shuster and Siegel were earning up to $800 a week each helped him see the light. Kane at the time was picking up a $50 a week paycheck.
It wasn't until Detective Comics No. 27 (May, 1939) did Batman make his appearance. Kane claims to have been inspired by the flying machines of Leonardo Da Vinci (and early cape designs would back that up) while the secret identity he ripped off from The Mark Of Zorro.
Instead of the freakish alien type of Superman they wanted their hero to be a vigilante, an every day sort bent on revenge, fighting crime after his parents were killed by a mugger. He would work in the shadows and be aligned with no one, his territory would be Gotham, or any city U.S.A as it were.
The villains however would be far from normal, owing more than a nod to the ludicrous creations of Chester Gould with Dick Tracy Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson (Kane's assistant) and writer Bill Finger would bring forth The Joker, Catwoman, and The Penguin.
In 1943 the comic would be adapted for the first time for the big screen. Simply called The Batman, it told the story of a Japanese spy invents a device that turns men into zombies and only the Dynamic Duo stands in his way. The one thing this serial did do was introduce Alfred and the Batcave, which were, in turn, incorporated into the comics.
As for the Japanese Spy thing, hey, it was 1943, what do you expect? It was a serial that was good for the kids but never really captured the menacing tone of the character. A sequel series was conjured up in 1949 called Batman and Robin which followed in the same format of the first outing.
In 1966 came the campy version that, until the 80's, would be the one everyone remembered Batman as. With Adam West and Burt Ward Batman was a goofy satire of the time that has a lot of charm but has little to do with the comic. The show ran for two years and in the end claims 120 episodes at 30 minutes each.
Then came Tim Burton
1989, and for those who were there that summer they remember the hype, the anger over the casting of Michael Keaton. Those fanboys would soon eat their words. When the screening had ended those who had booed Keaton's names in the credits now rallied around the former funnyman.
It was a box-office smash so inevitable sequels followed. Batman Returns with Keaton once more, Batman Forever with Val Kilmer and now Joel Schumacher directing. Joel Schumacher finally put a nail in the coffin with George Clooney with Batman and Robin which became a parody of itself. However, there is hope as Darren Arnonofsky, director of Requiem for a Dream, is set to bring Batman: Year One to the screen. The only fear is the lingering stench of pre-quelitis.
The funny thing is, during the 90's, the real Batman form finally made it to the screen...animated. In animation the mood is set, the violence is kept to the darkness (for the most part) and oddly enough, the stories are better than their big-budget, live action counterparts. What's the deal with that?
Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul