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Batman: A short history

Batman: A short history
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First Published: Fri, Jul 11 2008. 11 57 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Jul 11 2008. 11 57 PM IST
May 1939
Bob Kane—inspired by pulp detectives, Sherlock Holmes, and the movies ‘The Mark of Zorro’ and ‘The Bat Whispers’—creates Bat-Man. The masked hero makes his first appearance in ‘The Case of Bat-Man and the Chemical Syndicate’, published in Detective Comics #27.
April 1940
To introduce a “Watson” to Batman’s Holmes, Robin, the orphaned child of acrobat parents, becomes Batman’s sidekick in Detective Comics #38.
May 1940
Batman, and his alter ego Bruce Wayne, gets a self-titled series. The Joker and Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle, make their first appearance in Batman #1. The Joker, a failed comedian turned psychotic killer, remains one of Batman’s iconic enemies. Batman and Catwoman, and Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, share a love-hate relationship throughout the series.
February 1941
The first Batmobile debuts in Detective Comics #48, as a red convertible with a bat hood ornament.
August 1942
Harvey Kent (later changed to Harvey Dent) first appears in Detective Comics #66. Harvey Kent starts off as the district attorney of Gotham City, and one of Batman’s close friends and supporters. But, after a mob boss throws acid on his face, he becomes Two-Face, a criminal mastermind and one of Batman’s biggest foes.
April 1943
Columbia Pictures brings the Caped Crusader to the silver screen in ‘Batman’, a serial in which Batman battles evil Japanese scientists.
Psychologist Fredric Wertham publishes his book ‘Seduction of the Innocent’, accusing comics of corrupting the morals of children. Batman comes in for heavy criticism for its supposed homosexual overtones.
February 1960
Batman debuts as a member of the Justice League of America in ‘The Brave and the Bold’, #28.
January 1966
Adam West and Burt Ward play Batman and Robin in ABC’s Batman series, a campy, sci-fi, hugely successful hit that runs for three seasons.
February 1977
A new cartoon series, ‘The New Adventures of Batman’, premieres on US television, with the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward reunited as the Dynamic Duo.
Frank Miller publishes ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ about Batman coming out of retirement. It is a runaway best-seller and is often referenced as creating the modern version of Batman—a dark and psychologically damaged loner who does whatever it takes to destroy criminals.
‘The Killing Joke ’, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland, hits bookstores. It is a violent, twisted look into the origins of The Joker and his attack on police commissioner James Gordon. Heath Ledger is said to have based much of his performance as The Joker for the 2008 movie ‘The Dark Knight’ on this book’s characterization.
June 1989
Tim Burton brings Batman back to the big screen in ‘Batman’, with Michael Keaton as Batman, Jack Nicholson in his highly praised portrayal of The Joker and Kim Basinger as a seductive Vicky Vale. The film is a huge success.
June 1992
Tim Burton’s sequel, ‘Batman Returns ’, brings back Keaton as Batman and introduces Danny DeVito as a raw-fish-eating Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as a secretary-turned-sex kitten, Catwoman. The success of these two Batman films spurs Joel Schumacher to make two more Batman sequels, so bad they deserve no further mention here.
September 1992
‘Batman: The Animated Series‘’ premieres on Fox, and becomes an Emmy-winning animated television series.
After 15 years, Frank Miller’s long-awaited sequel to ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’ hits bookstores. It is called ‘The Dark Knight Strikes Again’.
June 2005
Christopher Nolan braves the Batman movie curse by starting at the beginning of Batman. The film, ‘Batman Begins’, featuring Christian Bale as the playboy Bruce Wayne who becomes the Caped Crusader, is based heavily on graphic novels, has a dark edge and finds a rabid fan base.
18 July 2008
Nolan brings Batman back in ‘The Dark Knight’. A movie that has garnered much buzz before its release, in part because of the untimely death of Heath Ledger, one of its stars.
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First Published: Fri, Jul 11 2008. 11 57 PM IST
More Topics: Comics | Batman | Batman history | Books |