ByDean Round, writer at Creators.co
Fan of good ol' slasher films. Love me a bit of Jaws too! https://twitter.com/Dean_Round_1979
Dean Round

From his first screen appearance in 1943's Batman to his latest appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Bruce Wayne and his alter ego have seen some pretty radical changes over the years.

Below is an article reviewing some of these changes that have occurred in the 73 years that the superhero has been on our screens.

'Batman' (1943) And 'Batman & Robin' (1949)

The first live-action appearance of the Caped Crusader came in the 15-chapter serial Batman, in 1943. It was based on the DC Comics character, which was first featured in the #27 Issue of Detective Comics in May 1939.

In 1949, Columbia Pictures released a sequel to the 1943 serial entitled Batman and Robin. Like its predecessor, it was a 15-chapter serial.

The Introduction

(Batman Serial, 1943 Intro)

(Batman Serial, 1949 Intro)

The Men Behind The Mask

Lewis Wilson was the first actor to play Batman on screen. Born on January 28, 1920, Wilson is the father of Michael Gregg Wilson, an actor, producer and screenwriter, who has worked most notably on the James Bond franchise.

Robert Larkin Hanks donned the Batsuit in 1949. The actor is best known for his roles in action and Western films including The Mark of Zorro (1940) and Young Guns of Texas (1962).

Lewis Wilson (left) and Robert Lowery
Lewis Wilson (left) and Robert Lowery

The Batmobile

In the 1943 series, the Batmobile was a 1939 Cadillac, whereas in the 1949 series a Mercury Convertible was used.

The Fight Scenes

(From 1943)

The Main Villains

Prince Daka was an evil Japanese mastermind who was part of the "Rising Sun" cult. He used a radium-powered death ray known as the "Electrical Brain" to zombify anyone who stood in his way.

The Wizard (a.k.a Professor Hammil) created a device that could take control of any motor vehicle within a 50-mile radius. Within his secret lair, he uses his weapon to hold the city for ransom.

J. Carrol Naish as Dr. Daka from Batman (1943) (left) and Leonard Penn as The Wizard from Batman and Robin (1949)
J. Carrol Naish as Dr. Daka from Batman (1943) (left) and Leonard Penn as The Wizard from Batman and Robin (1949)

'Batman: The Movie' (1966), 'Batman' (1989) And 'Batman Returns' (1992)

Batman: The Movie (1966) was based on the 1960s hit series, and features the original cast. The 1989 and 1992 film versions were directed by Tim Burton, and between them, they were nominated for three Oscars, winning one.

The Trailers

(Batman, 1966)

(Batman, 1989)

(Batman Returns, 1992)

The Men Behind The Mask

William West Anderson played Batman in both the 1966 movie and in the TV series Batman (1966–1968). ABC executives saw West in a commercial, and approached him to star in the series. Standing at 6' 2" (1.88m), he is the only actor to play the role and be the exact height as Batman was stated to stand in the DC Comics.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael John Douglas (Keaton) played the hero in Batman (1989) and its sequel. At the time when his casting was announced, the production company (Warner Bros.) was inundated with thousands of complaints voicing concerns that the comedian was the wrong choice to play the lead role.

Adam West (Left) and Michael Keaton
Adam West (Left) and Michael Keaton

The Batmobile

The Batmobile used in the TV show was a modified 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car. In the 1989 and 1992 films, the vehicle was taken from Stingrays and Salt Flat racing vehicles from the 1950s. This particular Batmobile was 20ft. long and could go from zero to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.

The Fight Scenes

(Batman vs. Penguin)

(From 1989)

(Batman vs. Catwoman)

The Main Villains

In the 1966 movie, the Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman team up to control the world by using a dehydrator to extract moisture from humans, reducing them to dust.

From left; Cesar Romero as The Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Frank Gorshin as The Riddler and Lee Meriwether as The Catwoman from Batman: The Movie (1966)
From left; Cesar Romero as The Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Frank Gorshin as The Riddler and Lee Meriwether as The Catwoman from Batman: The Movie (1966)

In Batman (1989), Jack Napier falls into a vat of chemicals after being set up with the police by crime boss Carl Grissom. However, Napier soon emerges as the Joker, where he starts a reign of terror throughout Gotham City.

Batman Returns (1992) sees the hero battling the Penguin and Catwoman. The Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot), a man who was dumped as a baby due to his body deformities, is intent on taking control of Gotham City. Catwoman, on the other hand, is the alter ego of Selina Kyle. She may be classed as an enemy of Batman, but she has also aided him as well.

From left; Jack Nicholson as The Joker from Batman (1989) and Danny DeVito as Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman from Batman Returns (1992)
From left; Jack Nicholson as The Joker from Batman (1989) and Danny DeVito as Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman from Batman Returns (1992)

'Batman Forever' (1995) And 'Batman & Robin' (1997)

These two films were both directed by Joel Schumacher. The first was nominated for three Oscars, whereas the latter was nominated for 11 Razzie Awards. Ouch! The 1995 film also features the first appearance of Robin in the Warner Bros.' series of Batman films. The character, however, was meant to appear in the first two Burton films, but following several rewrites to the script, Burton decided that Robin didn't fit in with the dark tone.

The Trailers

(Batman Forever)

(Batman and Robin)

The Men Behind The Mask

Val Kilmer got the news that he was cast as the new Batman while doing research for The Ghost and the Darkness (1996). Things were quiet frosty on set between him and director Joel Schumacher, with Schumacher describing Kilmer as "childish and impossible."

David Duchovny was considered for the role before George Clooney was cast. The two time Oscar-winner called the film "a waste of money" and proclaimed that "I think we just killed the franchise." Apparently the actor was so apologetic to fans of the franchise, he has been know to refund viewers who saw this movie.

Val Kilmer (Left) and George Clooney
Val Kilmer (Left) and George Clooney

The Batmobile

The 1995 Batmobile was capable of shooting a 25-foot flame out of its exhaust via its 25-gallon propane tank. The engine belonged to a Chevy 380, and the car was given changeable LEDs to make it look like the car was alive and breathing. Two years later, George Clooney's Batmobile turned into a single-seat convertible, displaying back wings which were meant to retract when the car came to a stand still.

The Fight Scenes

(From 'Batman Forever')

(Batman and Robin vs. Bane)

The Main Villains

Attorney Harvey Dent was left scarred on one side of his face following an accident. Believing Batman was to blame, Dent turns into his alter-ego, Two-Face, and starts a campaign of terror against Gotham City. The Riddler, on the other hand, used to work for Wayne Enterprises. Becoming envious of Wayne's success, he devises a plan to drain information from the brains of all inhabitants of Gotham, including Wayne's.

In 1997, Batman faced Dr. Victor Fries, who has his blood injected with cryogenic liquid. Becoming Mr. Freeze, he plans to take Gotham hostage by creating a permanent winter by freezing everything. Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley is a scientist who discovers that her boss is conducting some nasty experiments. Throwing her into a vat of vegetable chemicals, she soon emerges as Poison Ivy. Her villainous ways stem from the fact that she is an eco-terrorist whose crimes are aimed toward people who harm the planet.

From left; Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face and Jim Carrey as Riddler from Batman Forever (1995) and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy from Batman & Robin (1997)
From left; Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face and Jim Carrey as Riddler from Batman Forever (1995) and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy from Batman & Robin (1997)

'Batman Begins' (2005), 'The Dark Knight' (2008), 'The Dark Knight Rises' (2012) And 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' (2016)

Christopher Nolan directed the first three films, which were nominated for a total of nine Oscars, winning two. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were so impressed with the film that they carried on the tone when working on the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006).

Zack Snyder (Man of Steel 2013), directed the 2016 film. He managed to get Ben Affleck on board by pitching what his vision of Batman would be and showed the actor some concept art that was made for the film.

The Trailers

(Batman Begins)

(The Dark Knight)

(The Dark Knight Rises)

(Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)

The Men Behind The Mask

Christian Bale was not only the first non-American actor to play Batman on screen, but he was also the youngest actor to do so. During filming, Bale was so uncomfortable in his Batman outfit, he was always in a foul mood when wearing it, adding to the character's moody persona.

Ben Affleck was the oldest actor to be cast in the role, having been 40 at the time. On top of this, he was also the tallest actor to don the suit too. Upon being cast, he asked Christian Bale for advice, to which he replied "make sure you can piss in that suit."

Christian Bale (Left) and Ben Affleck
Christian Bale (Left) and Ben Affleck

The Batmobile

The Batmobile in the Christopher Nolan films was a mishmash of a Lamborghini and a Humvee. The vehicle is the shortest one in the film series, measuring 15'2". It went from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds and had a maximum speed of 100 mph. According to some reports, when they were shooting Batman Begins (2005), a driver accidentally drove into the Batmobile. The driver, being intoxicated at the time, believed that the Batmobile was an alien spacecraft.

Production designer for the 2016 film, Patrick Tatopoulos, said:

"It's such a long process, from the time you create the vehicle to the time you are actually looking at it on the internet, and you're dying for that because you want to know, especially for an item so iconic, you want to know how people are going to receive it. For Zack, I'm sure it was huge, and for me it was the same. Finally seeing it and seeing people starting to respond was an unbelievable moment."

The Fight Scenes

(Batman Begins)

(The Dark Knight Garage Fight)

(Batman vs. Bane)

The Main Villains

In Batman Begins (2005), the Caped Crusader battles Dr. Jonathan Crane (a.k.a The Scarecrow). Crane used to work as a psychiatrist, and now finds himself in a mentally unstable state. Employing a variety of drugs and psychological actions, he uses them to exploit the fear and dread of those he considers to be his enemies.

The Dark Knight (2008) sees Batman face the Joker. Intending to take control of Gotham from under Attorney Harvey Dent, he causes the city to enter a state of meltdown. Later scenes see Dent and his girlfriend, Rachel Dawes, trapped in separate locations surrounded by explosives. Batman rescues Dent, but the explosion ends up disfiguring half of Dent's face, and Two-Face is born. The Joker manipulates Dent into seeking revenge on everyone who was involved in Dawes's death, including Batman.

In The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Batman faces Bane, a clever and ingenious villain. Donning a mask to help deal with the pain from injuries he sustained in prison, Bane's enemies are the wealthy and dishonest.

From left; Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow and Tom Hardy as Bane from The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Heath Ledger as The Joker and Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face from The Dark Knight (2008)
From left; Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow and Tom Hardy as Bane from The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and Heath Ledger as The Joker and Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face from The Dark Knight (2008)

In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), not only does Batman face an artificially bred creature called Doomsday, but he also has to battle Superman himself.

Doomsday (left) and Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Doomsday (left) and Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

So there you have it! Batman, his car and his fight scenes have certainly changed over the years. But who is your favorite modern day incarnation of Batman to hit the big screen? Vote in the poll below, and don't forget to sound off in the comments section too!

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