Looking back at an iconic superhero: Batman

Batman fanatics and ordinary film goers alike are flocking to theaters to see the latest superhero film, The Dark Knight Rises.

Comic book superhero Batman has been fighting crime and enchanting audiences since 1939. Created by the joint effort of artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, “The Batman” first appeared in Detective Comics #27. Since then, the publication company has become known as DC Comics.

Most retellings keep true to the original, citing Batman’s secret identity at Bruce Wayne. After witnessing the murder of his parents as a child, Wayne vowed his revenge on criminals. He has come a long way since this childhood trauma; now a billionaire playboy and philanthropist, Wayne doubles as a kickass superhero working in the shadows. Exercising a “no guns” stance, Wayne trained himself to rely only on physical and intellectual strength to take down lawbreakers. Suiting up as Batman, he serves as the protector of the fictional Gotham City.

Batman’s not without help, however. He would be nowhere without his partner, Robin, his butler, Alfred Pennyworth, or the police commissioner, Jim Gordon.  There’s also the occasional appearance of heroine Batgirl.  Working as a unit, these crime fighters face villains like the Joker, the Riddler, and Two-Face, just to name a few.

A hit from the beginning, Batman earned his own comic book title in 1940. In the late 1960’s, a Batman television series hit airwaves. Following Batman back to his darker roots, Frank Miller’s miniseries The Dark Night Returns released in 1986. Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke followed suit, among others.

In 1989, the Batman reached another milestone with the first big budget adaptation of the story: Tim Burton’s film Batman. Joel Schumacher followed Burton’s lead, creating two cinematic sequels. In tune with today’s audience is director Christopher Nolan; 2005’s Batman Begins, 2008’s The Dark Knight, and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises have only added to Batman’s following, stimulating a widespread fascination with the hero.

Nearing 75 years of crime fighting, Batman knows nothing of the generational gap. Reaching audiences of every age, race, gender, and so forth, Batman is a hero the public has no problem supporting. Adapted into a variety of media, the hero’s commercial success continues to grow.

In May 2011, Batman came in second on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time, solidifying his place in superhero history. (x)

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