Love him or hate him, Batman has been a staple in comic books, animated TV and superhero movies over the last 3/4 of a century (seriously, he's been around that long). For more than 75 years we've watched Batman face off against some of the craziest villains in his ultimate goal to protect Gotham City in his own form of vigilante justice. Batman has appeared on screen numerous times over the years, and with his upcoming appearance in DC's Expanded Universe thanks to Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we are all preparing ourselves to see the newest incarnation of the character.
Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes, and oddly enough when compared to other heroes, Batman is often likened as the more popular. Usually this is attributed to the fact that under the billions of dollars, the expensive gadgets and the dark and brooding sense of justice, the caped crusader is just a man. He has no apparent powers; he can't fly, he isn't super strong, he isn't telepathic. Yet, what he does have is a fervent desire to protect Gotham and ultimately the world from all the massive threats that are still unseen.
With his status as a lasting star of comic-culture as well as pop-culture, he's gone through several changes over the years, and I thought I'd pass along a few things that you may not have known about the Dark Knight.
8. He's killed (many) villains over the years
Batman, currently, is often idolized for his strength of will to not actually kill the villains that he comes across. Even when the villains are so vile or psychopathic, he's kept his composure and hasn't taken their life even though he has the power to. Yet, Batman wasn't always the one to take the moral high road, because there was a time when he was a badass vigilante who was known to hurl gangsters into vats of acid or off rooftops.
In Batman #1, the Caped Crusader also killed a group of henchmen with a machine gun as he declared
"Much as I hate to take human life, I'm afraid this time it's necessary!"
This is quite a far cry from the Batman we know and love who abhors guns as a means to stop criminals.
7. His mother is the Joker
Well she is in an alternate universe, as a result of the Flashpoint storyline, at least. It was during this story that many superheroes were altered, but none more-so than Batman. During this time it was revealed that a young Bruce Wayne was the one who was actually shot that fateful night while his parents both survived. Thomas became a much darker version of the hero, while Martha became unbalanced and traveled down a dark path towards insanity becoming the Joker. She committed suicide once realizing that upon creating the New 52 Bruce would live, but would grow up to become Batman.
6. He once merged with Wolverine
In one of the rare crossover stories between Marvel and DC, Batman and Wolverine were merged into one character: Logan Wayne, a.k.a. Dark Claw. The origin stories of each hero were combined to show Logan witnessing his parent's murder and moving to Canada to live with his uncle. His uncle was murdered by poachers and Logan was then sent to live in a home run by nuns. Once old enough, Logan joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and was then placed in the Canadian Weapon X program - thus learning about his metamutant nature and having adamantium bonded to his bones.
Logan spent years training and traveling after Weapon X program was terminated and used this experience to fuel his crime fighting. Sounds crazy, right? Well it happened because the '90s were a weird time.
5. Batman's identity is not very secret
A heroes secret identity is what keeps them and their loved ones safe, because if an enemy were to discover the truth they would obviously target whoever the hero/heroine holds dear. Makes perfect sense, right?
Well, over the years there have been numerous characters who know or have known that Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same person. This list includes friends and foes like: Amanda Waller, Alfred Pennyworth, Superman, J'onn J'onzz, Green Lantern, The Joker, Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Jason Blood/Etrigan, Dr. Hugo Strange and a few others.
4. The first Batman film was directed by Andy Warhol
Crazy, right? That's probably what you're calling me, but it's true. Officially there were several 'serial films' in the early/mid 1940s which are similar to the current Pixar animation shorts that run with feature films. The serials ranged from 15-20 minutes and were split into chapters. One serial chapter would show before a feature, and then the next would appear at the next film.
The first feature film Batman movie was called Batman Dracula in 1964 with roughly an hour as its run time. This film was in fact directed by Warhol (yes, that Andy Warhol). Yet, we will never see it as it has been all but lost over the years. The movie was never approved by DC Comics and was only screened as part of Warhol's exhibits. Although it was never officially released, there were scenes from the film in the 2006 documentary, Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis.
3. Kevin Conroy (by the numbers) is in fact Batman
Since 1992 voice actor, Kevin Conroy, has logged countless hours as the caped crusader. Kevin Conroy first voiced the hero in the acclaimed series Batman: The Animated Series and has had his voice featured in eight TV series, one feature film, 10 direct to video movies (11th coming soon) and 11 video games over the last 24 years. Kevin is noted for being the first vocalist in animation to use two distinct voices to portray Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman.
2. Hugh Hefner inspired the 1960s Batman series
It's probably strange to think of the Playboy Magazine creating mogul inspiring a campy television series, but it's true. Back in 1965, at the Chicago Playboy club Hefner threw a comic book themed party. Now Hefner has admitted that aside from publishing lovely ladies on the pages of Playboy, and early project of his was cartooning, so it's not surprising that he would be a fan of Batman.
At the party, Hefner arranged for actors to dress as Batman and Robin in full campy outfits. At this party, an ABC executive witnessed the crowd's reaction to the goofy acting and he called ABC with the pitch, and the rest is history as shortly thereafter Adam West and Burt Ward donned the costumes and jumped onto the silver screen.
1. Batman wasn't always dark and brooding
Originally, Batman looked VERY different. Considering that Batman is now considered the foremost brooding superhero, it's strange to think that he was almost completely different. The design for Batman, as envisioned by Bob Kane, was to wear a bright red leotard, black pants, a basic black mask and he even had blonde hair. Batman was revised by Bill Finger (who was only recently given credit for being an original creator) who also brought in aspects of Batman's key characteristics, costume and origin.
Like I said earlier, whether you love him or hate him, Batman is a character with lasting appeal, and we're likely to see him for a long time to come in the comics, animation and live action movies. For one more reminder of how awesome the Dark Knight is, take a look at the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in anticipation of its release in just about a month.
What's your favorite thing about Batman?