To me, one of the most interesting things about Batman is how he’s managed to go through so many different incarnations—from a campy live action TV Adam West, to an animated Bruce Timm iteration, to an older post-retirement Frank Miller version—and rather than turning us off or getting fans upset, we’ve embraced so many of them. As a character he’s just so malleable. He has no powers, so anyone could be under that cape and cowl and give him a new vibe.
With this being the 75th celebratory year of the Bat, I thought I would take some time to talk about which three of these takes most influenced my love of Batman and how I view him.
Batman (1989 movie):
I remember being on a family vacation, and me, my sister and two of our family friends stayed up way later than we were supposed to and watched Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. The whole world was so colorful and exciting, and Batman was just so freaking cool! After first seeing that movie there was probably a good two years where all I wanted to do was play Batman. I’d make all my friends reenact moments from the movie. My sister and I would always fight over who got to be Batman, but whichever of us would win, we’d still force the neighbor boys to be Vicki Vale.
And yes I still hold out hope for Michael Keaton to return to the role at some point! A girl can dream. ;)
Batman: The Animated Series:
I wrote about Batman: The Animated Series a couple of months ago, but frankly, I could write about it every day!
After getting a little taste of the Dark Knight in the movie, I needed more. So I started reading more comics, and then when I discovered that I could multi-task doing homework while watching TV, I would come home every day after school ready to see what was going on in Gotham on Batman: The Animated Series. It was the first time I was introduced to many of the characters and I loved the way the show was done. It was much darker and didn’t make me feel like I was watching a show for kids. And now looking back and seeing all of the iconic voices on the show… Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, all guided by the one and only Andrea Romano.
Recently for an episode of DC All Access (look for it tomorrow!), I got to chat with Bruce Timm, and trust me I had to try to keep my giddiness intact! To see some of his artwork and hear his plans for his animated short celebrating Batman’s 75th was a pretty surreal and epic moment.
For me the look, voice and world created on that series will forever be engrained in my memory.
The Killing Joke:
When discussing what influenced my view on Batman the most, it would be impossible to ignore the villains. That’s because, any way you look at it, Batman wouldn’t be who he is or even necessary if it wasn’t for characters like the Joker. So the great Alan Moore one-shot, The Killing Joke, remains one of the most loved and impactful Batman stories for me. It was one of the first extremely adult comics I read, and trust me it is dark! If you have not read this one… GO GET YOUR HANDS ON IT RIGHT NOW!
There are so many ideas tackled and played with here, from how brutal the Joker is and what he does to Barbara Gordon to the true definition of insanity and how close we all are to crossing that line. This story is also one of the best examples of untrustworthy narration in all of fiction. We don’t know what stuff is really true and what things the Joker may just be making up. It puts the reader in a really interesting position and leaves the ending of the story rather ambiguous as well! In fact, it’s arguably one of the most controversial and widely discussed endings in all of comics. And wherever your mind takes you is very telling of who you think Batman really is! AHAHAHahhahahahahahahAHAHa!
So there you have it. I’m looking forward to hearing more stories from fans about how and what influenced their love of Batman throughout the year ahead… Cause I mean come on, who doesn’t love Batman? ;)
So Bats, here’s to 75 more years of amazing stories, awesome writers and artists all spending some quality time telling your story because well… you’re not just the hero Gotham deserves. You’re the hero we all deserve.