In 1965, sales of Batman comics were plummeting, mostly due to the fact that the Dark Knight's comics had become extremely dark and gritty, much like the critically acclaimed Batman films of today (i.e. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice). However, in the 1960's, it was frowned upon for small children to be reading such things while hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight in the dark hours of the night. And so, in order to rescue the franchise from extinction, DC greenlit a Batman tv show. But this show was different. In its efforts to not be labeled "dark" and "gritty", it went too far the opposite direction and turned the entire franchise into a joke that would even be too cheesy for the Clown Prince of Crime.
Everything is labeled, from the "Bat Ladder" to the "Anti-Shark-Repellant-Bat-Spray". Imagine Batman in tights and a rubber mask telling Robin to fake a headache in order to leave school early to help capture the Joker. Yes, that does happen in this series. Now picture Ben Affleck's Batman... We hear a heavily roboticized voice say, "Tell me... do you bleed? You will." Not quite the same tone, right? What changed? Well, in the words of the ads for the iPhone 6, "Not much has changed. The only thing that's different... is everything. So yeah, that's what's changed." To honor yesterday's anniversary of the first episode's original airdate, I thought it might be nice to do a side by side comparison between the show, the Dark Knight Trilogy, and Batman V Superman.
Batman's suit has come a long way from the 1960's. From the days of spandex and rubber, through the kevlar and graphite, to the full leather look of today. Bruce Wayne's look has even had some refinements, each in tune with the time they were meant to be set. In the 60's, Adam West's outfit bespoke both affluence and dignity. In the early 2000's, Christian Bale showed us that the sophisticated playboy could also have a fun side as well. And now, Ben Affleck is showing that the grim and foreboding Batman persona can be echoed in Bruce Wayne's attire and demeanor.
Each Batcave is different, each a reflection of the equipment deemed "cool" and "state of the art" at the time it was filmed. West's Batcave focused mostly on flashing lights and pulsating instrument panels. Bale's was much more simplistic and minimalist, looking more like a garage with a computer array than a cave with the headquarters of the world's greatest crimefighter. Affleck's Batcave takes us back to a much darker, more grim Batcave which reflects the nature of its owner.
As with the Batcave, each of these vehicles personifies what was deemed to be "cool" at the time of filming. Notice that West's Batmobile has a sleek black and red paint job, bubble canopy windows, and massively oversized tailfins. Bale's Tumbler (don't ask me why they call it that, I never have figured it out!) opted for a much more armored tank-like appearance, which is completely in keeping with the fact that within the film's universe, it was originally a military prototype that was appropriated by Bruce Wayne when he became Batman. Affleck's Batmobile takes elements from both of these former vehicles, because, while still heavily armored like the Tumbler, it is still much smaller and sleeker than its bulky big brother.
The Batarang is Batman's primary projectile weapon, mostly because ever since his earliest incarnation, Bruce Wayne has abhorred using firearms. Adam West's Batarang was very rounded and generally was used less as a weapon and more as a grappling hook. By the time Bale's Batarang rolled around, the ends had been sharpened to a razor-sharp point, and Affleck's Batarang, as with the Batmobile, takes the best of both worlds by combining a more rounded appearance with Bale's serrated edges.
Relationship with the police
In the 1960's tv series, it was frowned upon for Batman to appear as a vigilante on the run from the authorities, and consequently, both he and the Boy Wonder are referred to as "fully deputized agents of the law". Indeed, in addition to the Bat-Signal, there is a Batphone in police headquarters that links directly to the Batcave and Batmobile. In the Dark Knight Trilogy, Bale's Batman is first looked upon as just another criminal, until Commissioner Gordon realizes he is there to help. However, due to the circumstances of The Dark Knight, Batman offers to take the blame for Two-Face's crimes in an effort to salvage Harvey Dent's reputation. And so, we are left with Commissioner Gordon reluctantly taking an axe to the Bat-Signal as his son asks plaintively, "Why's he running, dad?" To which Commissioner Gordon answers, "Because we have to chase him." His son protests, "He didn't do anything wrong!" Gordon answers with that now immortal line, "Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight." In Affleck's universe, the new trailer gives us the indication that Batman isn't a well-beloved figure, as evidenced by Perry White's statement, "This Bat-Vigilante is like a one man reign of terror."