Throughout the history of the Batman franchise, both in comics and the movies, The character of Batman has a duality to it that seems to follow a progression.
The Bob Kane comics (in the 1st year) were classic Dark Knight. Batman was seen as the lone brooding hero/detective out fighting crime in Gotham's mean streets.
The character of Batman underwent a change with the addition of Robin in 1940, as a ploy to boost readership among young boys. They added a sidekick to make the comics more kid-friendly and make Batman more of a Hero/father figure rather than the brooding anti-hero.
In the 1950s when horror comics were all the craze, Superhero comics were on the wane. That is until a series of Senate hearings was brought about mainly by the Psycologist Fredric Wertham- who was plugging his book at the time about how America's youth were being subverted by all the violence and gore of the horror comics of that period. He even went so far as to imply that Batman & Robin was homo erotica in the guise of children's comics (I sense he was "projecting" with this idea.)
In response to all this goody-good nonsense, the "Comics Code Authority" was formed, which basically set guidelines on what could and could not be displayed on the pages of comics. Drug use, nudity and sexually explicit acts were prohibited. Depicting Corrupt Public Officials and Supernatural creatures (Vampires, Werewolves etc) was banned until the 1970s when the standards were updated to allow for them. (I guess we can thank Nixon for that one.)
With the campy "Batman" TV show in 1966 and "Super Friends" In the 1970s, Batman and Robin were still a kid friendly commodity. In the 1980s, Batman changed back to a Darker Broodier, more [email protected] crime fighter following the Death of Robin (Jason Todd) in Alan Moore's: the Killing Joke and the crippling of Batgirl.
This [email protected] of Batman continued with Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" also in the late 80's.
Tim Burton's Batman movies were influenced heavily by the comics of this period and Batman was back to being more Dark Knight than Caped Crusader.
Batman Forever which introduced Robin and the follow-up Batman & Robin which introduced Batgirl, seemed to bring Batman back around to being the mentor/father figure once again, but people liked the darker broodier Batman films without all the sidekicks.
Nolan's films followed on the theme of the lone anti-hero with Batman Begins & The Dark Knight but began to introduce Robin in the Dark Knight Rises, with Bruce Wayne giving up the mantle of Batman with the feigned death.
Now that Snyder is set to introduce Batman in his follow-up to Man of Steel, it will be interesting to see how he and Ben Affleck choose to do the character and how much backstory from the events of Dark Knight Rises they include (if any.) Will he be the kinder gentler Caped Crusading Hero of Gotham? or will he be the Dark Knight; The Hero that Gotham deserves-just not the one it needs?
What say you? Caped Crusader or Dark Knight?