Rise and Fall, then Resurrection

The story of the rise and fall of the Batman movies, then the resurrection in 2005.
January 17, 2006

In 1989, director Tim Burton released his eleventh film entitled, "Batman." The film is based on the legendary DC Comics superhero created by Bob Kane. The role of Batman was played by actor Michael Keaton. In the film, millionaire Bruce Wayne must transform into his alter ego, the Dark Knight called Batman to battle his most evil foe the Joker, played by Jack Nicholson. And during all this, he tries to keep a relationship with a reporter, who wants to know who the real Bruce Wayne is, and what made him who he is today.


This film started a whole series of Batman films, where like James Bond, different actors would take on the role of Batman, and leave audiences to pick which one is their favorite.

But Batman didn't start in 1989, he was the vision of comic creator Bob Kane, who first breathed life into the character in 1939. Bob Kane was born in New York city on October 24, 1916. He trained at the Commercial Arts Studio for several months, then moved onto the Cooper Union and then Arts League. In 1936, his first published work appeared in "Wow, What a Magazine."

In 1938, Kane began to work for DC Comics. At the time, Superman was still new and all the rage. Kane was set up to create another superhero as popular as Superman. So Kane came up with a character by combining past characters from other writers. He took Zorro, a millionare playboy who is really a superhero, the Shadow, a dark and mysterious superhero, and Dracula, a bat like creature. Then he threw in some Sherlock Holmes characteristics with detective concept, and he came up with the one and only, Batman. Batman is the story of a man who as a child witnessed the murder of his parents. It gave him a drive for vengeance and justice. A drive that in time changed him into Batman, a hero who fights evil in the name of justice. The character was shown to the publisher of DC Comics, who at the time was Vin Sullivan, and he loved it. Batman made his debut in Detective Comics #27, and became an immediate hit.

The 1989 film based on Bob Kane's classic character was not the first time the Dark Knight was on a screen. There were numerous Batman TV shows and films. In fact, the first Batman film was made in 1943. It was simply called "The Batman." It featured the Dark Knight fighting an evil scientist who uses a ray gun to turn people into zombies.

Then in 1966 the famous cheesy live-action TV series came out. It featured Adam West playing the Caped Crusader, with Robin, played by Burt Ward, at his side. The show lasted till 1968, and is definitly one of the most unusual entries to the Batman saga.

Let us now return to 1989, the first full lenght Batman film has debuted, and even won an Oscar. So naturally, a sequel must follow, so in 1992 director Tim Burton brought the second film into the Batman series to the big screen with, "Batman Returns." It once again featured Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne. But this time, Batman had to fight The Penguin, played by Danny DeVito, and Catwoman, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. And although the film was nominated for an Oscar, it did not get one.

But just two movies was not enough, some filmmakers just had to continue to pull the rubber band and see just how much more the movie series could take. So a third Batman movie was released in 1995 called "Batman Forever." And at this point things began to change. First of all, Tim Burton was no longer the director, he was replaced by Joel Schumacher. And a new face was seen playing the legendary role, actor Val Kilmer replaced Keaton as the Dark Knight. In this film, Batman faces Two-Face, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and The Riddler, played by Jim Carrey. The film also first debuted Robin, played by Chris O'Donnel. The film did not do as well as the first two, and once again there was no Oscar to be won. One could say it was the beginning of the downfall of the Batman movies.

Several years later things went from bad to worse, when the final Batman film was released. And it pretty much destroyed the Batman film legacy. It was the 1997 Schumacher flop entilted "Batman and Robin." It was the worst Batman film of them all, and it ended the series very badly. It featured George Clooney as Batman, and Chris O' Donnel returning as Robin. It also threw in Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. The film features Posion Ivy, played by Uma Thurman, and Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, teaming up to take over the world or something like that. It was a disgrace to the Batman movies. And sadly, that is how the series ended. In fact, famous film critic Roger Ebert gave a thumbs down to every single Batman movie made in the series.

The next year, on November 3, 1998, the father of Batman Bob Kane passed away of natural causes. Kane said that out of all the actors to play the role of Batman, Val Kilmer was his favorite.

Several more years went by and the Batman movies became a thing of the past, that was until director Christopher Nolan and writer David S. Goyer resurrected the character for the 2005 film "Batman Begins," where Christian Bale took on the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman. The film restarts the whole series brilliantly. It gives us a whole new unique look at the legendary character for another generation.

The original Batman series may have fallen downhill in the 1990's, but thanks to some brilliant individuals, it was resurrected. Now we all know that no matter what, Batman will never truly die.

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