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The Evolution of Batman and His Universe

By on March 31, 2015

Image © Bruno Redondo 2013

After 76 years the Dark Knight is still an enigma, even to many of his most die-hard fans. Having gone through many metamorphoses along the way in comics, movies, television shows and video games, do you really think you know Batman? Many writers and scripters thought they did through the years and consequently brought new levels of ‘understanding’ to Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman. Here are some of the highlights spanning three-quarters of a century of this beloved superhero.

Bat-Man Is Born

No it isn’t a typo! Did you know that the original spelling was hyphenated? Many fans aren’t aware of that. As trivial as it may seem, this is just one indicator that Batman, like his real-life counterparts, changes with the times. Batman first hit the press in Detective Comics #27 way, way back in 1939. Even then, readers weren’t given a clue as to his origins and it wasn’t until several issues later, DC #33 to be exact, that creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane thought to reveal who he actually was and where he came from.

Batman Comes into His Own

During the 1940s Batman actually got his very own comic, not-surprisingly called Batman. During this time, two of the show’s most popular, if not beloved, characters were introduced – Catwoman and the Joker. However, did you know that the original Bat-man carried guns? During the 1940s he surrendered them to the writers. Why? We were never told! However, it is the ‘thinking,’ then as now, that Batman’s aversion to guns needed to be written in because his ‘origins’ explained that his parents were killed with them.

Along Comes Robin

Backtracking for a moment, whilst Batman was still cloaked (no pun intended!) within the Detective Comics series, Robin his sidekick, the Boy Wonder, was introduced into the script. This lent an air of trustworthiness to Bruce Wayne, former playboy. The addition of Robin paved the way for numerous other plots and characters which we have all seen in print, films and on television. The greatest experiences of Batman and the Boy Wonder came during the 1960s where the Batman television series was a huge success.

Batman, Sci-Fi Superheroes and the Batmobile

During the 1950s and 1960s Batman delved into time travel that made him a superhero amongst superheroes, a role model for generations of superheroes yet to come. During this time, the Batmobile saw a metamorphosis as well. Having been originally introduced in 1941 in DC #48, and modelled after the Cord of 1936, the Batmobile now took on a rounded glass dome, more in keeping with sci-fi imagery of the time. In the 1970s the Batmobile morphed once again to resemble more of a full-sized vehicle and even feature films envision different renditions of the superhero’s car. Even so, no matter how many times the vehicle evolves, its place of importance is never more highlighted than by Jeep, one of the key Batman sponsors of the Fox television series.

Bat Culture

Today, Batman has a global following and is often one of the most represented comic characters in cosplay conventions. Batman video games have been topping the charts since 1986 and oddly, this American ‘born’ superhero never saw a video game in the US until a full two years after its European release. Toymakers have been selling Batmobiles like they are going out of style, well actually they have but only to be replaced by the latest models. There is a whole Bat culture out there for fans of all ages to enjoy.

Few superheroes have ‘lived’ as long as Batman, so it is understandable that he evolves with current pop culture and the times. Whether in major films such as Batman and Robin (1949) or the Dark Knight Rises (2012), this beloved superhero continues to enthral audiences around the globe. Fans are looking forward to the 2016 release of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice as two superheroes vie for top honours. Nothing can slow Batman down, but did you think anything could? After all, he is one of the original superheroes and will always set the stage for superheroes to come.

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