The Dark Knight himself, Batman, turns 80 years old this year and on March 27th as the 1000th issue of Detective Comics is released. Bruce Wayne has gone through a lot in 80 years, so before issue #1000 of Detective Comics hits the shelves, we want to take you through Batman's varied past!
1939: Batman first appears in Detective Comics #27
Here’s where it all started. Issue #27 of Detective Comics marks the first appearance of one of the most enduring characters in popular culture, The Batman! Created by Bob kane and Bill Finger, the gothic brooding Batman was an overnight sensation. Just a small part of this anthology of detective stories Batman would go on to become a juggernaut franchise, even leading this title to become the namesake of his publisher when they changed their names from National Comics to DC Comics.
1940: Sidekick Robin (Dick Grayson) is introduced in Detective Comics #38
It wasn’t long until they decided to brighten Batman’s image. In order to make him more appealing to young readers Robin, the Boy Wonder was introduced! This would lead to a long string of copycat sidekicks for superheroes including Captain America’s Bucky.
1940: Batman gets his own self-titled comic which and introduces iconic villains Joker and Catwoman in the first issue.
Not only is this Batman’s first staring title it also is the very first introduction to two of his most endearing rogues, Catwoman and The Joker!
1941: Key elements of the Bat-mythos are introduced; Gotham City, the Batmobile, and arch-villains Penguin and Scarecrow.
1942: Two-Face and the Bat-Signal are introduced.
1944: Batman’s underground lair is officially known as the Bat-Cave.
1948. Batman’s origin story is revealed. The Riddler is introduced.
1952: Batman meets Superman in Superman #76
This is it. The first meeting of DC’s two biggest characters and the most enduring team up in all of super hero comicdom. These two would be forever linked as ideological opposites in the minds of readers and some of the best Superman and Batman stories ever written would feature both of them.
1956: Batwoman is introduced as a love interest.
1960: Batman joins the Justice League
1961 Batgirl is introduced in Batman #129.
1966: Bat-mania sweeps the land when the Batman TV Series debuts starring Adam West and Burt Ward.
This controversial take on the caped crusader was a massive hit.Even at the time, people either loved or loathed this light-hearted and silly adaptation of Batman and Robin. No matter how you feel about it though, this was a defining moment for Batman and remains and iconic part of his history to this day.
1970: In Detective Comics #395 writer Denny O’Neill and artist Neal Adams‘ take the caped crusader back to his dark, moody roots.
1971: Batman’s sometimes foe, sometimes friend Man-Bat first appears.
1972: The immortal villain Ra’s Al Ghul debuts in Batman #232.
1980: Arkham Asylum is introduced in Batman #326.
1984: Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing, relinquishing the Robin role to Jason Todd.
1986: Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ redefines Batman for a grittier era.
Even though Batman had returned to his dark brooding roots in the comics for years, this was the comic that signaled a true return of the Dark Knight. Batman must come out of retirement to take back Gotham from gang violence. Full of pulp violence and with a nihilistic philosophy, The dark Knight Returns was critical and commercial hit whose effect can still be felt years later.
1987: Miller continues with ‘Batman: Year One’, a darker version of his origin story, and elaborating on his relationship with Commissioner Gordon.
1989: Alan Moore writes the most iconic Joker story with ‘The Killing Joke’, which expands on his origin story and contains the paralyzing of Batgirl.
1989: ‘‘A Death In The Family’, Jason Todd is killed by The Joker, as determined by fan votes.
1989: Tim Burton brings a slightly darker Batman to the screen in the 1989 blockbuster, pitting Michael Keaton’s Batman against Jack Nicholson’s The Joker.
This was the movie that brought a gothic and brooding Batman to the mainstream. Tim Buton’s stylized version of the dark knight was instantly iconic as well as Danny Elfman’s score which is perhaps the most iconic Batman theme written yet.
1992: The sequel ‘Batman Returns’ introduces Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as the Penguin.
1993: Bane is introduced, breaking Batman’s back which takes the Dark Knight out of commission during the ‘Knightfall’ storyline.
1993: Batman: The Animated Series debuts, appealing to adults and children alike. The theatrical animated film Batman: Mask of The Phantasm soon follows.
This show has been a staple of everyone’s childhood since it began. Bruce Timm created a show that appealed to people of all ages without sacrificing the dark moody atmosphere of the character along with genuinely strong and compelling characters. There’s a reason DC has been returning to this iteration of the character for years.
1999: Joel Schumacher directs ‘Batman and Robin’, considered the worst superhero films to date, crippling Batman’s box-office future for years.
2002: Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee created the critically acclaimed ‘Hush’ comic book saga, which legitimizes the Riddler as a villain to be reckoned with.
2005: Director Christopher Nolan makes ‘Batman Begins’, introducing the grittiest cinematic Batman to date, with Christian Bale inheriting the role.
2008: ‘The Dark Knight’ becomes a box office behemoth, and garners an Oscar for the late Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker.
Not just a great Batman movie. Not just a great comic book movie. The Dark Knight is just plain a great movie, period. Some heavy themes of heroism, and the lengths one must go to to achieve your ideals are conveyed with some of the most well realized versions of these characters. The action is phenomenal, the score is memorable, and the acting is perfect. This was immediately the gold standard for Superhero movies, and in some way, still is.
2011: Batman’s gets rebooted The New 52
Batman was not immune to the line wide restructuring that was The New 52, but he got to keep most of history intact. Because of that Scott Snyder was able to give us a tour de force run on the character that stands as a milestone moment in Batman’s comic history.
2012: Nolan’s trilogy concludes in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, featuring Tom Hardy as Bane.
2014: Director Zach Snyder starts production on ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, the first cinematic team up of the DC titans.
It finally happened! Batman met Superman on the big screen for the first time. Unfortunately, it was a bleak affair that is, at best, controversial to say the least. Ben Affleck plays the Dark Knight here as an aged vigilante that isn’t above killing people. While it was neat to see these super heroes clash in a blockbuster movie for the first time, there isn’t much offered beyond that novelty.
2014: The Lego Movie is released featuring Batman in a prominent role. Followed up by Lego Batman in 2017 and The Lego Movie 2 in 2019
2017: Batman Joins the rest of DC’s biggest heroes on the big screen in Justice League.
2019: Detective Comics #1000
And here we are. 80 years and over 1,000 issues later we’re still talking about the Caped Crusader. Batman is still on of the most popular figures in pop culture and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon! Be sure to come into Level Up Entertainment on March 27 to pick up your copy!