Hello, all. Being a fellow Retrojunky for quite a while, I've learned a lot about other Retrojunkies and what kinds of interests they have. From what I seem to understand, one of the most popular franchises to a lot of people is Batman. Since there seem to be a lot of Batman fans here on Retrojunk, I thought I'd write a little article about him. Also, with the new Batman movie coming out, I feel it would be appropriate to do something like this anyway.
Batman started out as a comic book superhero in 1939 created by Bob Kane. He was inspired by a 1933 movie called "The Bat Whispers", which was a remake of a 1926 silent movie called "The Bat", to create this superhero that we all love. Originally, he was known as "The Bat Man."
Batman's first movie was released in the early 1940's. The movie was not seen by a lot of people except for maybe hardcore Batman fans. Compared to the later Batman movies, this one's not quite as good. I mean, it follows the comics pretty well, but there was still some stuff in the franchise that was still in development. Another movie came out in 1949 called "Batman and Robin", which is pretty similar to the first movie.
It was in 1966 when Batman made his first television appearance. The original "Batman" TV series was a corny series, but it was still a very memorable series (especially the theme song).
The fight scenes were always the highlights of the series. Every time a character would get hurt, the sound effect would appear on the screen. POW! BIFF! BOOM! BLAT! I guess the creators were trying to make it seem like the comic book was really coming to life. These fight scenes are so famous that they've been parodied in numerous sources in pop culture. In fact, a lot of things in this series were parodied. One of the most parodied I'd have to say would be...
"TO THE BAT-MOBILE!"
That classic transition.
The show also had a lot of nice characters. The villains in the show are all crazy and fun to watch, and most of them would continue on throughout the Batman franchise. Batman, in this series, was played by Adam West, who today, is working on "Family Guy" playing the role of...himself.
Now, I'm gonna talk about "Batman: The Movie", which was released in the late 1960's sometime. Now, I was never a huge fan of Batman, but my dad was. When he was a kid, he used to watch "Batman" all the time on his black & white TV, and when he and his sibblings saw this movie theatrically, they were all blown away by it (especially since they got to see it in color). In my opinion, this movie is campy, but it's still very memorable.
During the 1970's, Batman was mostly ignored, but in the 1980's sometime, Batman was attempting to make a return to pop culture with a darker and more serious approach. What we got was the 1989 movie, simply entitled, "Batman". This movie is a mega favorite to a lot of Batman fans, and if you were to ask someone what their top 10 or 20 or whatever movies from the 80's were, chances are this one will be high up on the list. The movie was directed by Tim Burton, and it stars Michael Keaton as Batman (as obscure as that may sound, it actually worked pretty well) and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. This was the beginning of Batman's more contemporary age.
The success of the Batman movie led to a sequel, "Batman Returns" in 1991. This movie, like the previous one, was directed by Tim Burton, and Michael Keaton is back as Batman. The villains featured in this movie were the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Fieffer). The villains in this movie are just completely psycho. For some fans, this movie met their expectations, but most were disappointed with it. "Batman Returns" is indeed inferior to it's predecessor.
Just one year after "Batman Returns", Warner Bros. premeired one of the most memorable cartoon series' of the 90's, "Batman: The Animated Series". Since I wasn't a hardcore Batman fan, I never really got into this series. When it comes to cartoons, I tend to prefer comedy over action, and that makes me unique because if you were to ask an opinion poll to 100 people if they prefer action or comedy out of a cartoon, action would come out the clear winner. This is a show that always put me to sleep because it was so dark and quiet. Regardless, this is a series that revolutionized animation, and many people still love it to this very day. The series was renamed "Batman and Robin" in 1994. Also, two animated movies were made based on this series: "Mask of the Phantasm" (1993) and "Sub Zero" (1998).
In 1995, the third modern Batman movie, "Batman Forever" was released. Unlike the first two, this one doesn't involve Tim Burton or Michael Keaton. In this movie, Val Kilmer plays Batman, and it was directed by Joel Schumacher. This was the first Batman movie in the more modern era to feature Robin (played by Chris O'Donnell). The villains in this movie were the Riddler (Jim Carrey) and Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones). Some people said this movie was an improvement over "Batman Returns", but most others gave complaints about it. As for me, I found it to be all over the place. There's a lot of stuff about it that could use some more back story, and the Riddler gets more screentime than any other character, not to mention, Batman is rarely ever seen in this movie.
Looking back at these Batman movies, I can clearly tell how they all went downhill, but 1997 is when they really hit the bottom of the barrell. "Batman and Robin" is considered by many as not only the worst Batman movie but also the worst movie ever to be based on a comic book superhero. There were plenty of bad superhero movies (don't even get me started on "Catwoman"), but none like this one. In this movie, George Clooney plays Batman, yet Chris O'Donnell returns as Robin. There were two villains in this movie. One was Poison Ivy (played by Uma Therman), but the main villain is Mr. Freeze (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). I was 12 years old when this movie came out, and Mr. Freeze scared the crap out of me. He's one of the most intense movie villains I've ever seen. I don't mean to spoil anything, but Batman, Robin and Batgirl seemed to defeat Poison Ivy with no problem, but Batman spends like more than half of the movie trying to take out Mr. Freeze. If you thought Ivan Dragno was intense, then look again! You know what? I may have had different thoughts back in the late 90's, but now, I just gotta agree with the critics. "Batman and Robin" is, hands down, the worst comic book superhero movie in history!
In 1998, Warner Bros. took a different approach at the Batman franchise by making a new animated series called "Batman Beyond". The story behind this series is that Bruce Wayne has retired from crime fighting and has handed his bat suit over to his son. This pretty much wraps up this Batman era.
As you can tell, the live-action Batman movies from the 80's and 90's were somewhat disappointing as they seemed to focus more on the villains then they did on Batman. Batman made a big comeback in 2005 with a movie called "Batman Begins". This movie was a lot different as it focused primarily on Batman telling the origin story of Bruce Wayne and how he became Batman. This movie was released around the same time as another comic book superhero movie, "The Fantastic Four". This movie recieved a lot of positive feedback and did very well in the box office while "Fantastic Four" flopped.
That leads us to today. A sequel to "Batman Begins", known as "The Dark Knight", is coming out real soon...this week, in fact! I'm sure you guys are all thrilled about it.
To all you Batman fans out there, I hope this article was a real treat to you all. I also encourage you all to go out and see "The Dark Knight" while it's still in playing at theaters. And now, my night is coming to a close.