Few fictional characters have made such a long-evolving impact as DC Comics caped crusader Bruce Wayne Aka Batman, who resides in Gotham City. This is a character that has been taken in several forms and spawned into several franchises like videogames, comics, and TV series besides the movies. This is a character everyone is familiar with and during this articles-series Batman: The Caped Crusader we’ll take a deep dive behind the mythology of the famous comic-book character.
Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939. The character showed up in the DC issue on March 30, 1939, like a strip. The creator tried to create a new character after superman. Even though Bob Kane has been credited solely all the time and is primarily the one who gets the credits, Bill Finger is one who often becomes forgotten. Hulu’s Batman & Bill, explains and depicts the story of the unknown co-creator Bill Finger and how he has contributed to the success of the famous detective.
The most recognized traits of the character, you might find in Sherlock Holmes with Wayne’s detective skills that he provides during his evaluations and investigations. Another one that has been supplied, is Zorro’s. how it culminates in creating an urban hero. A legend. His personality as a billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist has been one of the appealing characteristics adding to his character. As you might already be aware, the character doesn’t have any superpowers like Superman or Spider-Man. Instead, he’s been through a childhood trauma when his parents are killed, and he seeks to justify their death through his crime-fighting in the corrupt city of Gotham. Compared to other superheroes’ evolutions, Wayne resonates with his audience in a different way. It’s a more human-driven background which makes him a character easier to relate to.
For the time being, it’s been over 80 years since his comic books debuted in Detective Comics and have mesmerized readers and audiences and fans worldwide. The creation of Kane and Finger has been a phenomenon and continues to bring in the big money for studios even today.
One day I called Bill and said, ‘I have a new character called the Bat-Man and I’ve made some crude, elementary sketches I’d like you to look at.’ He came over and I showed him the drawings. At the time, I only had a small domino mask, like the one Robin later wore, on Batman’s face. Bill said, ‘Why not make him look more like a bat and put a hood on him, and take the eyeballs out and just put slits for eyes to make him look more mysterious?’ At this point, the Bat-Man wore a red union suit; the wings, trunks, and mask were black. I thought that red and black would be a good combination. Bill said that the costume was too bright: ‘Color it dark grey to make it look more ominous.’ The cape looked like two stiff bat wings attached to his arms. As Bill and I talked, we realized that these wings would get cumbersome when Bat-Man was in action and changed them into a cape, scalloped to look like bat wings when he was fighting or swinging down on a rope. Also, he didn’t have any gloves on, and we added them so that he wouldn’t leave fingerprints.
One thing that the first issue of Batman has contributed is how stories are told and what effect trauma has on the main character. Bruce’s parents’ death has been reinvented in other stories and pushed the trait of an origin story. A similar origin is told in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series where he becomes an orphan as a toddler, and which impact it has had. Even if the Potter stories are for children per se, the trait is still there and viable. The character is gloomy, and dark and the pages don’t make the reader happier at times. The crimes are often gruesome with murder and serious crimes, a sign that the character and the world behind it aim for a more mature audience. As people are trying to forget is the Golden Age of Comics, as the character just debuted in May 1939 in his own issue. It’s described as one of the best times for a comic-book reader as the inventions of animation were discovered and the Disney Corp made money on their now-classic cartoons. Superman was also a new character, combined with Batman. Even Wonder-Woman and The Flash and Spider-Man grew up during this evolving time in the American Comic-Book business, but few have made an impact on it as Stan Lee has with inventing a character that people can relate to despite having super-power. Maybe that’s what Finger and Kane had in mind creating their caped detective. Probably not. But as we know, Stan Lee worked both for Marvel Comics and DC Comics during his pro-longed career, a true legend in the industry. Neither Kane nor Finger will ever have the status or impact Mr Lee has concurred. But Batman has still been a successful character, even during the turbulent times of World War Two Donald Duck becomes a part of the War-propaganda in the USA, and Batman gets a new friend. Robin aka Dick Grayson becomes introduced in the strips as his crime-fighting partner.
Most of the popularity is what Kane has laid as a ground for a character that doesn’t belong to a fixed time period, only on how the material is produced for the audience and that’s what the audience resonates with the character itself. The stories have a certain template that makes the story writes itself with Alfred Pennyworth, Commissioner James Gordon, and Catwoman Selina Kyle. All these are returning characters. Most prominent are probably Gordon and Alfred as Wayne’s closest allies. During the Golden age of Comics, Batman founded Justice League with Superman aka Clark Kent. There are some of the debuts that have left an impact on the character and the mythos behind it.
- Catwoman – Batman #1 – 1940
- Joker – Batman #1 – 1940
- Clayface I (Basil Karlo) – Detective Comics #40 – 1940
- Penguin – Detective Comics #58 – 1941
- Scarecrow – World’s Finest Comics #3 – 1941
- Two-Face – Detective Comics #66 – 1942
- Solomon Grundy – All-American Comics #61 – 1944
- Mad Hatter – Batman #49 – 1948
- Riddler – Detective Comics #140 – 1948
This rouge gallery has returned several times later, even during the Silver Age of Comics, where Adam West and Bill Ward’s performances of the character become a more serious thing. With both a TV-Series and a film, the plink-ploy series ran for 120 episodes, gaining the recognition of the character even more. Its approach is more of an adventure-like display of today’s gloomy dark defender. Between 1966-1968 the series ran and earned 3 Emmy Awards nominations. Most prominent as well is Cesar Romero’s incarnation of The Joker which has made a certain impact on the antagonist. For a while between 1970-1980, few stories about our favourite detective shared the screen with anyone else. Nothing peculiar happens in the cinema area with the character. Mostly because iconic comic books were written and reformed the character in a major way.
Up until 1989 and Tim burton’s iconic films, comics reinvent the character as we move from the sway 1960s to the more serious 1970s and it reflects on the pages. The 1980s have been named the Modern Age of Comic Books or more accurate Dark Age of Comic Books. The latter is mostly due to the influence of Miller’s Batman and Watchmen. The comics grew large during this time and in the 1980s, Frank Miller’s masterpiece The Dark Knight Returns turns the whole shebang around with its retelling of the character as an old, bitter man returning after retiring as a superhero.
Frank Miller stated:
“He was created in 1938, and the character was just ruthless in his methods, terrifying to criminals. Over the years, that got softened and softened, because people started thinking that comics had to be just for kids… and Batman had to be made much nicer. And eventually, no kid could relate to him anymore.”
The story Miller crafted during the mid-80s has given a lasting impact for decades that still resonates with the superhero even to even today, inspiring aspiring filmmakers to produce and adapt the source material in a proper way.
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