The original concept of Batman was developed by writer/artist Bob Kane. Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, a Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a bat-winged flying machine, and his own imagination, Kane sketched an early version of the character.
Taking his idea to writer Bill Finger, they further developed the concept. Finger himself said on more than one occasion that Kane did indeed create a version of the character before Finger got involved with the project. Kane was inspired by the flying machine of Leonardo Da Vinci, a movie he had seen called The Bat and of course, Bela Lugosi's 1931 film Dracula which featured a "man-bat" in its opening credits. However, Finger did suggest a different costume direction for "The Bat-Man."
In an interview for Jim Steranko's History of the Comics: Vol. One, Finger described in detail, the extent of his suggestions about the costume. He felt the original character (The Bat-Man) looked too much like Superman with a mask and bat-wings. He recommended replacing the Da Vinci-inspired wings with a cape, giving him gloves, and changing the character's bodysuit from red to grey. Perhaps most importantly, Finger found a book with a picture of a bat in it and encouraged Kane to replace the character's domino mask with a more bat-like hooded cowl, complete with "ears" which would make the character distinguishable even in silhouette. It's generally agreed that Finger encouraged Kane to leave out the character's eyes when he wore the mask. Although Kane would accept many of these suggestions, one cannot escape the direct influence of Lee Falk's character The Phantom, as Kane admitted that he studied newspaper strips on a routine basis.
Finger wrote the first Batman script, while Kane provided art. Because Kane had already submitted the proposal for a Batman character to his editors at DC Comics, Kane was the only person given official credit at the time for the creation of Batman. This was not unusual in the comic books of that time, where the artist would often sign his name to the first page of the story and the script would be uncredited, but it was in contrast to other features on which Finger worked where he was identified as scripter, such as Wildcat and Green Lantern, and in contrast to the credits on features by the same publisher such as Superman, where writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster both received credit during the time they were affiliated with the publisher, even on stories ghosted for them by other writers and artists.
According to Wizard Magazine, Bob Kane had Finger enter a work for hire contract. It is this contract that provided National and DC their strongest defense against later claims by Finger.
Finger was a very meticulous writer and as such, a slow one, leading editor Whitney Ellsworth to "suggest" that Kane replace him with someone else. During Finger's absence, Gardner Fox contributed scripts that introduced Batman's early "Bat-" arsenal (the utility belt, the Bat-Gyro/plane and the Batarang). Upon his return, Finger created or co-created items such as the Batmobile and Batcave, and is credited with providing a name for Gotham City. Among the things that made his stories particularly distinctive was a use of giant-sized props: enlarged pennies, sewing machines, or typewriters.
Kane and Finger brought together such diverse influences as pulp magazines, comic strips, film noir, and the slapstick comedy of teams like the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges, creating a "Cartoon-Noir" that was widely imitated. Eventually, Finger left Kane's studio to work directly for DC Comics where he still supplied scripts for Batman as well as many other characters.
Supporting Characters and Villains
Batman was featured in solo adventures for nearly the first year since his creation. It was then that Kane and Finger decided to introduce a new character. Finger, who was the regular writer of the Batman comic, would find it difficult to write the stories when the main character had nobody to talk to, and thus, they decided to create a partner for Batman. Robin was introduced in 1940 and he remained a constant character for the rest of Batman's history.
Soon after Robin's introduction, many other characters were introduced to the Batman history, but instead of being supporting characters, they were all villains. Characters like Joker, Catwoman and Hugo Strange debuted immediately after this. For years, these characters remained as the main cast, and they were soon followed by others like Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, Scarecrow and many other minor characters like Alfred Pennyworth.
Batman and his supporting cast remained unchanged for years until the late 1950s, in which many colorful characters were introduced. Among them were Batwoman, Ace the Bat-Hound, Bat-Girl, Bat-Mite and several others that were created as caricatures of the main concept of Batman. However, their existence was short lived and they were soon eliminated from the history of Batman.
In 1964, DC Comics introduced the "New Look" of Batman. His costume was changed in order to feature a yellow oval/circle surrounding the Bat insignia on the Batsuit. This new appearance also marked the change of direction in the Batman stories, which had been based around science-fiction and fantasy elements. The new stories featured a more serious context and they were often presented as mysteries and detective stories, as they did in the early days.
A couple of years later, in 1966, the notorious Batman TV Show premiered on national television and the popularity of Batman increased to levels that were never reached before. As a result of the TV show, Batman was changed once again and became a friendlier version of himself. Around this time, a new wave of colorful character were created in order to keep the direction of the TV show and characters like Spellbinder, Poison Ivy and Batgirl were introduced into the Batman history, while other forgotten characters from the early days were reintroduced. Unfortunately, the popularity of the Batman TV Show didn't last long and in 1968 it was cancelled.
After the "Bat-mania" created by the TV show disappeared, Batman's levels of popularity decreased dramatically and the writers had to recreate the character once again. In 1970, Batman was transformed into a dark figure of the night and his stories were based around murder mysteries and thrillers. Around this time, notorious characters like Ra's al Ghul, Black Mask, Lucius Fox, Jason Todd and several other new characters were introduced. However and despite this changes, the general public was no longer interested in the character and the Batman comic book reached historical low selling numbers in 1985.
In 1986, writer Frank Miller created a dark version of Batman as an elder hero who returns to action after years of retirement. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was set outside of the main DC Universe continuity and it became the graphic novel that defined the Batman for the new generations. This version was much more psychologically complex, dark, gritty and based on real situations which made Batman a more feasible character. Soon, Miller was assigned to write the new origin for Batman in the regular continuity in Batman: Year One. In 1988, writer Alan Moore created the shocking graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, which further defined Batman as a dark, menacing figure as well as Joker's title of Batman's arch-nemesis.
Not long after this, Batman returned to the screens, but this time under Tim Burton's direction. The Batman film of 1989 was a complete success and Batman became once again, one of the most popular figures in pop culture. After the success of the film, a new TV series started production and Batman: The Animated Series made its debut in 1992.
It was around this time that new characters were introduced into the Batman history. Bane was a new villain, who was capable of defeating Batman with catastrophic consequences. Harley Quinn was another new character, who was adapted from the Animated Series, due to her extreme popularity.
Ever since then, Batman has remained a mainstay figure for DC Comics. He has become the comic book character with the most films and TV series, as well thousands of comics and hundreds of interpretations and his legacy keeps growing.
Batman is one of the comic book characters with the largest history in comic books. He was created in 1939, during the so-called Golden Age of comics and his books have remained in publication to the present date without interruption.
The Golden Age of comics is defined by the creation of several characters and elements that helped define the super-hero comic book genre. This is no different for Batman, as the Golden Age was the time period in which his main concept and supporting cast were created and developed.
Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 and during his early appearances, the character was somewhat pulp-influenced, either killing his opponents, or, at least, letting them die and also he would have no problems carrying weapons and using them against the criminals. During the entire first year of Batman's existence, he became the main feature in Detective Comics. This is something that has not changed to this day.
Batman was a complete success and soon after, National suggested that character receive a youthful sidekick who the readers could use as an audience surrogate. Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Robin after a suggestion by artist Jerry Robinson, who had arrived at the studio while Kane and Finger were kicking names around. Robin first debuted in Detective Comics #48 and soon after his introduction, the notion of a superhero with a sidekick became ubiquitous as shown by the many other characters who decided to follow the same patter. Among them were Sandman & Sandy the Golden Boy, Black Terror and Tim, Captain America & Bucky and many others.
The introduction of Robin was another success and soon Batman was featured in his own comic book. Immediately after this, DC Comics (National back then), urged the writers to create enemies for the heroes and so, Joker and Catwoman debuted on the very first issue of Batman.
As Batman grew larger in popularity, the workload that Bob Kane and Bill Finger had to mantain was too much for them and soon, other artists and writers became part of the Batman and Detective Comics titles. Some of them included artists such as George Roussos, their early collaborator, Jerry Robinson, Jack and Ray Burnley, Lew Sayre Schwartz, Paul Cooper and most importantly, Dick Sprang, who defined the way Batman looked in the Golden Age. Various writers were also involved in the creation of the comics including Gardner Fox, Don Cameron, Joe Greene, Edmond Hamilton, but Bill Finger remained the main writer of the Batman books.
However, the introduction of Robin forced the writers to change Batman from his original concept. He could no longer carry weapons, much less kill enemies intentionally. For this reason, Batman stopped being a dark menacing figure who stalked the streets, hunting down criminals, but instead, he became a "father figure", always looking out for his young protege and capturing criminals in the least harmful way possible. It was an editorial edict that Batman would never kill, with any weapon of any kind. It is for this reason that he stopped being a vigilante who worked outside of the law and became a deputized member of the Gotham City Police Department in Batman #7.
This decision, helped DC when it came to Batman's enemies. In the early days, the criminals would die very easily and Batman would never confront a criminal more than a couple of times. With this new direction, the enemies were left alive and thus, they could return to haunt Batman. It is like this that the ever expanding list of enemies of Batman started to grow. In the Golden Age, several villains were introduced, some of them include Clayface, Hugo Strange, Penguin, Two-Face and Scarecrow, who became notorious characters in later years. There were also minor villains that were not featured during the Golden Age, but would appear on later years. They were the Cavalier, Deadshot, Killer Moth, Firefly, Mad Hatter and the Riddler.
Batman's supporting cast was also increased. Batman would also become friends with James Gordon, the Police Commissioner of Gotham City. Batman and Robin were soon joined by Alfred Pennyworth, who became their trusted butler and aid in many cases. As Bruce Wayne, he would also have romantic interests such as Julie Madison, Linda Page, who disappeared shortly after. Perhaps the most notorious of the women in Bruce's life is Vicki Vale, who is still around in modern times. Batman had also a flirtatious relation with his enemy, Catwoman.
Over the years, the Batman's arsenal to fight crime was expanded and various elements were introduced. The first elements were the gadgets such as the Batarang and Batrope. Then came the vehicles, starting with the Batgyro and going to the Batplane, Batmobile, Batboat, Bat-Sub and even the Batcycle. The Batcave and the Bat-Signal where some of the latest additions to the ever-growing arsenal of Bat elements.
Batman started as a serious manhunter, but in less than 2 years, he became a family law enforcer and remained the same for an entire decade. The stories featured in the Batman comics were also similar, to the point where they became repetitive in the late 1940s. By the end of the decade, the use of the well known villains like Penguin and the Joker, became more scarce as writers would rather have Batman and Robin confront regular criminals.
In 1950, the Golden Age ended, and the Batman comic books had a different concept from the very first books. By that time, the stories about the masked heroes fighting everyday criminals had oversaturated the market and most of the super-hero comic books were cancelled. Only Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman remained in constant publication, but the Dark Knight was the most affected by this change. Superman and Wonder Woman were characters based on science-fiction elements, and thus, in the new upcoming age, their books expanded upon those concepts without seriously damaging their image. Unfortunately, Batman was never closely related to sci-fi. Some of the Batman comics from the Golden Age featured a very rare and occassional fantasy or sci-fi story, but with the end of the Golden Age, this elements were forced on the Batman comics, creating all sorts of scenarios, characters and situations never seen before in the books; which was not always a good thing.
At the start of 1950, the Golden Age of comics had ended, but the next era of comic book publication would not start until 1956. During these 5 years of intermission, the Batman comics underwent a transformation process. The demand for super-hero comics was low and DC started publishing Western, Romance, Space and Mystery comics. These were the genres with the most popular demand and in order to follow the market trend of the time period, the Batman comics started featuring elements from said genres.As a result, Batman was no longer a crime-fighter who would usually stand against criminals, but instead, he became a public figure, often regarded as a law enforcer. This trend was short lived, as elements from the upcoming Silver Age were starting to become more notorious. Batman was occassionally confontred by evil scientist with powerful machines or criminal geniuses who would try to reveal Batman's secret identity. In this time, few new characters were introduced and all of them were created as costumed criminals with a certain gimmick. Clear examples of these are the Human Magnet, Firefly and Killer Moth.
In 1954 the author and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham published a book about juvenile delinquency and the harmful effects of comic books in the younger generations. The book was called Seduction of the Innocent and it condemned the comic book industry for promoting evils of society such as violence, sex, drug use, and murder. Werham's main focus were the horror, mystery and superhero genre. The book had such a cultural impact, that society started a campaign against comic books and the "evil" it was supposedly conveyed on the magazines. For this reason, the comic book industry was forced to create an organization that would self-regulate the content of the comic books published in the US. By the end of 1954, the Comics Code Authority was formed and DC Comics became part of the self-regulatory movement.
The Batman comic books were not exempt from following the Code's norms, since some elements of the books were attacked by Wertham and his book. The psychiatrist made conjectures and theorized that Batman and Robin were the perfect image of a gay couple, and because of his success on other claims, this one was taken slightly seriously by the creative team in charge of the Batman comics.
Some of the writers from the Golden Age remained throughout the 50's, including Edmond Hamilton and Bill Finger, who were the most active writers in the Batman comics. Several of the artist who contributed to the books in the Golden Age remained until the mid-50's, when they eventually moved away from the books. Bob Kane was still involved in the creation of the art and he was still given credit as the sole creator of all the Batman comics published. This however, is false, as Bob kane had arranged a deal with his long-standing ghost artist, Sheldon Moldoff. It was Moldoff, who was the main artist in the Batman books for almost an entire decade, starting in the mid-50's. The inkers who worked alongside Moldoff were Charles Paris and Stan Kaye.The Silver Age officially started in 1956 after the publication of Showcase #4, featuring a redesigned version of the Golden Age character, Flash. Partly to counteract Wertham's claims about Batman and Robin's homoexuality, editors Whitney Ellsworth and Jack Schiff started a movement and introduced new female characters to the Batman comics. Batwoman was first introduced in 1956, giving Batman a romantic interest as well as a partner for his various adventures. However, the movement didn't stop there and soon, many other characters were introduced in the Batman comics, as part of the trend started by the Silver Age. Batman and Robin were soon joined by Ace the Bat-Hound, Bat-Mite and Bat-Girl. The latter was used as a romantic partner for Robin and the whole cast of characters were placed on several strange adventures, but despite this explosion of new charcters, there were very few new villains introduced. The most notable villain introduced in this time period was Mister Freeze, who made his debut in 1959.
In the late 1950s, the Batman comics started featuring newer elements, proper from the decade and soon, Batman started going on space adventures, fighting aliens, robots and mythological creatures, travelling in time to meet his ancestors and descendants and using weapons based on science-fiction such as the Batman Robot and the Flying Batcave. A new kind of "Imaginary Stories" became notorious and they would often depict an unlike future for Batman, in which he married Batwoman and had a son, who would become the second Robin along with the second Batman, Dick Grayson. This elements and stories became a fixture by the end of the decade.
During the first couple of years of the 1960s, the Batman books featured some of the most bizarre adventures ever recorded in the history of the character. Batman was often placed in extreme situations in wich he was transformed into a giant, or some kind of creature or reduced to the size of a baby. He would also gain superpowers, just to lose them in the same story. In these years, the only new villains created were Catman, a male version of Catwoman and Clayface, who was a different version from the original Golden Age villain.
This entire direction in the books was causing a drop in the selling numbers and DC considered cancelling the Batman comics altogether. However, being one of their most iconic characters and once their second most profitable intelectual property, DC decided to try a different approach on the books in order to revitalize the character. For this purpose, a simple change was made. Jack Schiff, who was the editor of the Batman comics since the mid-50's, was replaced with Julius Schwartz, the editor responsible for bringing back the Golden Age heroes Flash and Green Lantern and modernize them for the new generations. Schwartz was the man responsible for starting the Silver Age and DC assigned him to change Batman with a complete overhaul.Julius Schwartz's first action was to eliminate all the silly elements from the Batman comics including Batwoman, Bat-Mite, Ace the Bat-Hound and Bat-Girl, leaving Batman and Robin as the main characters of the books. Schwartz also wanted to have a different approach to the stories and make them more detective oriented. For this reason, he hired his long-time collaborators John Broome and Gardner Fox, who created some fine detective stories, much proper for Batman. Julius also wanted to redesign Batman's look, which has been the same for almost 25 years. He hired Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella and he promoted the change to the "New Look", in which Batman was no longer a stiff figure and the Bat-symbol on Batman's chest was surrounded with a yellow oval.
The "New Look" was introduced in Detective Comics #327 (1964) and marked the beginning of various changes in Batman, such as the death of Alfred, the introduction of Aunt Harriet and new villains like the Outsider and the Getaway Genius. Bob Kane was sill hired and remained credited as the main artist, although it was still Moldoff who adapted Kane's style and blended it with Infantino's new design. As a result of all this changes, the Batman comics gained a new popularity, one that allowed the creation of a live action TV Series on the ABC Network.The Batman TV Show was a massive success, and the Batman comics reached the highest selling peak in history, being the number one sold comic in the industry for two consecutive years in 1966 and 1967. These were the years in which the TV show was still on air, and as a result of the massive success, the comics were forced to change their new style and adapt the "camp" style used in the TV show. For this reason, Batman and Robin once again became public figures who would often pun while fighting criminals. Alfred was brought back due to the high demand of fans for the return of the character, who was present in the TV show. Many villains featured in the show also returned to the comics such as the Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and the Riddler. The creative team behind Batman was requested to create more villains and enemies for future use in the TV show and as a result, a large array of characters was introduced. Some of them include the villains Spellbinder, Blockbuster (who was a mock version of Marvel's Hulk), Poison Ivy, the Cluemaster, the Eraser and many more that became second rate villains. The most important introduction to the comics was the new female figure, Batgirl, who was in fact adapted to the TV Show.
Unfortunately, the TV Show was cancelled early in 1968 due to low ratings and the popularity of Batman waned. The Batman comics also dropped in sales and the only loyal fans of the character who endured the long "camp" period were extremely dissatisfied with the new approach for Batman. The damage created by the TV Show was noticeable and the fans demanded a change. In 1968 and 1969, Julius Schwartz tried to change the direction of Batman once again and hired Frank Robbins to create new scripts for Batman. Bob Kane was officialy removed from the Batman comics in 1968 and Carmine Infantino was promoted to Editorial Director, the same year. Without artist for the Batman comics, Schwartz hired Bob Brown and Irv Novick as the main Batman artists. The team Robbins-Brown was assigned to Detective Comics while Robbins and Novick worked in Batman.
However, Frank Robbins' style was still reminiscent of the camp days, to some degree. Bob Brown's art was also too similar to the camp era and despite Novick's great art improvement, the imagery did not match the light tone of the stories. The change was not drastic and the people wanted the "real Batman" back.Coincidentally, in 1967, during the top moments of popularity of the TV Show, Batman was used as a marketing tool and he was featured on almost every DC comic book. From Justice League of America to Adventures of Jerry Lewis. It was then that Batman took over the title Brave and the Bold and became the main character, who was teamed up with several other heroes from the DC Universe. During 1967 and early 1968, the scripts of this comic followed the camp style and the art by Ross Andru was similar to that of the show. However, when the show ended, the stories penned by Bob Haney became much more serious and the art style was changed. Neal Adams, a new and upcoming artist, was hired to work in Brave and the Bold and he created what the fans deemed as the definitive and real version of Batman. The B&B version of Batman was different from the one featured in Batman and Detective Comics, because Adams depicted the character with his own style. While Batman was amusing in his own comics, Adams presented a serious, smart and cunning version of the Dark Knight. Batman's suit was also important, since he would wear a very short cape and short ears in his own books, while Adams' version featured a very large cape and long ears, which created a more frightening figure.
The fans noticed the difference between the "funny" Batman from his own comic books and Neal Adam's version from Brave and the Bold. Julius Schwartz became aware of the success that Adam's version of Batman had with the fans and he instructed his artists, Brown and Novick, to follow Adam's style. This, however, didn't prove to be a good solution and after trying many different things, Schwartz decided that it was time to give Batman a complete change. In October-December of 1969, Dick Grayson finally graduated from high school and left Wayne Manor to attend college. Robin had been divided between his sidekick role in the Batman comics and his leader role in the Teen Titans book. After 30 years of history together, Batman and Robin were finally separated and Batman became the lone figure of the night once again. For this reason, Bruce Wayne decided to leave Wayne Manor and moved to his Penthouse Apartment in the middle of Gotham City. Batman became a multi-dimensional character as he started working as businessman at the Wayne Foundation by day and as the Dark Detective at night.
This was promoted as "the big change", and it served as the ending of the silver age.
Batman first came to the Silver Screen in 1943's Batman serial, starring Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin. J. Carrol Naish played the villain, an original character named Dr. Daka. Rounding out the cast were Shirley Patterson as Linda Page (Bruce Wayne's love interest), and William Austin as Alfred.
A second serial called Batman and Robin followed in 1949, starring Robert Lowery as Batman.
Batman returned to the big screen in director Tim Burton's Batman in 1989.
After a series of increasingly cartoonish film adaptations, the franchise was reinvigorated in 2005 with Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale as the Dark Knight. Villains included the Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul.
Batman Begins was the fifth live-action Batman movie since 1989 and was a reboot to the superhero's film franchise. It tells the origin story of the character as he takes on crime for the first time in Gotham. It is a significantly darker film, studying the character's inner struggle between justice and vengeance. It received high praise from critics and general audiences, being considered by many as the best of the series, with praise for Bale's performance. The film is followed by a 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight. In it, Batman encounters the Joker and Two-Face.
Batman was a thirty-minute prime time, live action television series broadcast by the ABC Network between 1966 and 1968. Premiering on January 12th, the series featured actor Adam West as the perennial character of Batman, while Burt Ward donned nylon stockings and fairy boots for his portrayal of the erstwhile sidekick, Robin.
The series took the tradition of Batman into the uncharted territory of camp, oftentimes mocking the character's heritage with trite dialogue and silly plot devices. The show was noteworthy for its memorable use of onomatopoeia during climactic fight scenes. Despite the clumsy nature of the series however, the show proved popular to many fans, and transformed Adam and Burt into modern pop culture icons.
Batman: The Animated Series ran from 1992 to 1999. The series was based on the exploits of Batman and his crusade against injustice. It was arguably a children's show, yet its dark atmosphere and award-winning writing grew a more mature fanbase. The show is based in modern-day Gotham City, a dark, gothic, crime-ridden area. In 1994 the series was retitled The Adventures of Batman & Robin. It now focused more on Robin in an attempt to appeal to children. The rename and inclusion of Robin did not adversely affect the writing and the series bowed out in September 1995.
Aborted Bruce Wayne WB Series
No Related Articles.
- The character of Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Later versions of the character were developed further by several creators including Carmine Infantino, Dick Giordano, Dick Sprang and Dennis O'Neil.
- DC Comics has never made a clear distinction between when the Golden Age Batman stories end, and the Silver Age Batman stories begin. As such, there is also room for interpretation in determining which Bronze Age Batman stories carry over into the modern Post-Crisis environment and which ones should be considered apocryphal. Mike's Amazing World of DC indicates Superman (Volume 1) #76 as the first appearance of the Earth-One Batman. This information is predicated upon the idea that Batman and Superman are meeting each other, seemingly, for the very first time. As the Golden Age Batman and Superman have met each other on several occasions, it is believed by some, that this issue represents the earliest possible appearance of the Earth-One Batman.
- No trivia.
Links and References
- Batman at Wikipedia.org
- Batman at DC Comics
- Batman at DCU Guide
- Batman at Newsarama
- Batman at DC Indexes
- Batman at Comic Book Resources
- Batman Yesterday Today and Beyond
- Batman at TV Tropes
- ↑ 
- ↑ Bruce Wayne: The Series The Batman show that almost was... by Scott Collura