Since his inauspicious debut in Detective Comics #27, Batman’s popularity has steadily increased over the span of his eighty years. The Caped Crusader has grown to become a comic book juggernaut, while also finding success in television, film, animation and games until at last earning his spot as what can only be called a cultural icon. The past decade has had much to do with this, as video game, TV and movie franchises were established around Batman and his universe. With the start of a new decade only a year away, Bat-fans can enter it knowing that their favorite hero has never been more beloved. As he did in 1939, Batman continues to stand as a symbol of human achievement, courage and justice—a Dark Knight among superheroes.
In 2010, it was revealed that Darkseid had not killed Batman at the end of Final Crisis. Instead, Bruce Wayne had become lost in time. Although Wayne eventually returned to the present day and reclaimed the mantle of Batman, he allowed Dick Grayson to continue being Batman as well. At least, for a short while.
DC reset all ongoing comic book continuity in a massive event called Flashpoint in 2011, which kicked off a brand-new era for the DC Universe known as the New 52, complete with new issue #1s of Detective Comics and Batman. In this new continuity, Batman’s history was updated and modernized with the introduction of now-iconic villains like the Court of Owls, who had secretly lurked in Gotham City for generations.
Also in 2011, the Arkham video game series continued with Batman: Arkham City. This award-winning, massively successful sequel once again brought back Batman: The Animated Series’ Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to voice Batman and the Joker, and featured a story co-written by Paul Dini with Paul Crocker and Sefton Hill. It was followed by prequel game Batman: Arkham Origins in 2013 and finally concluded in the climactic Batman: Arkham Knight, the fastest-selling video game of 2015 with over five million units sold worldwide.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold, an animated show focused on the Caped Crusader as he teamed up with various heroes and villains, concluded its three-season run in 2011 after introducing fan-favorite characters like the Music Meister, a song-loving baddie who would be later featured in live action on The CW’s The Flash. In 2013, another animated series, Beware the Batman, premiered and ran for one season.
In 2014, writer Scott Synder and artist Greg Capullo updated Batman’s origin story for the first time in 25 years in the “Batman: Zero Year” storyline, which explored Bruce’s earliest days after donning the cape and cowl and reintroduced the Riddler to the DC Universe as an ambitious, psychopathic would-be despot.
That same year, Gotham premiered on Fox as a live-action reimagining of Bruce Wayne’s childhood alongside iconic members of the GCPD like Jim Gordon. The show garnered a massive fan following and was celebrated for its fresh takes on familiar characters and creative reinvention of both Bruce himself and the city of Gotham as a character in its own right.
The New 52 era came to an end in 2016 with the release of DC Universe: Rebirth #1, heralding a new #1 for the Batman comic and a return to the original numbering for Detective Comics. Writer Tom King took over Batman and refocused the story on Bruce Wayne’s romantic relationship with Selina Kyle, presenting the couple’s first Modern Age marriage proposal in 2017’s Batman #24.
The mysteries explored in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 were investigated further with Batman/The Flash: The Button in 2017, which featured a team-up between Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen as detectives and superheroes. That same year, Batman also took a starring role as the DC Universe collided with the world of Watchmen in the 12-issue Doomsday Clock series.
Academy Award-winning actor Ben Affleck took on the role of Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 alongside Henry Cavill as Superman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, marking the first time DC’s iconic Trinity appeared in live action together. Affleck made a cameo appearance as Batman in 2016’s Suicide Squad and reprised the role fully in 2017’s Justice League, which brought the world-famous team of superheroes together on the big screen for the first time in history and held the #1 box office spot for its opening weekend.
In July of 2018, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi officially opened to the public in the United Arab Emirates, featuring a themed Gotham City land filled with Batman-based rides and attractions such as “Batman: Knight Flight” and “The Joker Funhouse.”
As for Detective Comics, the title that launched the Dark Knight all the way back in 1939? It remains the longest-running comic book in history and reached issue #1000 in March of 2019. The celebratory supersized issue featured the work of legendary Batman creative teams both past and present telling tales that paid creative tribute to the hero’s past while also setting him up for a thrilling, creatively vibrant future.
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