Written by Bill Finger and drawn by Bob Kane, "Detective 27" brought The Bat-Man (as he was called in the issue) to life. The debut issue introduces us to Bruce Wayne, Commissioner Gordon, Wayne Manor, as well as Batman's Batsuit and utility belt. In the issue, The Bat-Man is a bit of a mystery who protects a few men from assassination by a business associate, and in the end readers learn that the oafish Bruce Wayne was The Bat-Man all along.
The Bat-Man continued to appear in the pages of "Detective Comics" and a number of key characters, moments, and motifs were introduced along the way. "Detective Comics #29" introduced the first major villain for the Batman, Doctor Death, while "Detective Comics #31" dropped the hyphen from Batman's name and gave us our first appearance of the Batarang. "Detective Comics #33," however, was when the story of Batman began to unfold and we were given the origin of the character with the first appearance of both Thomas and Martha Wayne, as well as their killer Joe Chill. "Detective Comics #35" gave us our very first Batmobile--Batman just drove a regular car up until this point--and "Detective Comics #36" gave us another major villain for the Batman - Professor Hugo Strange!
"Detective 38" is when things started to change for Batman. For his first eleven appearances, he was very much a grim and gritty pulp noir character who had no qualms about killing, but with this issue he was given a cheery sidekick in the form of Dick Grayson, aka Robin. The issue not only tells the origin of Grayson, it also has him come to live with Wayne and shows him being trained and swearing to be Batman's partner.
Just two months after the debut of Robin in "Detective Comics #38," Batman was giving his very own self titled ongoing comic series, the first issue of which not only introduced us to The Joker but Catwoman as well (though she went by The Cat at the time). Once he was given a sidekick and his own title, Batman begin to steer away from his dark roots and become a more fun focused comic book featuring stories titled "The Ugliest Man in the World," "The Crime School for Boys," and "Report Card Blues." These stories were later retconned as having taken place on "Earth 2" in the DC Multiverse.
In 1943, Columbia Pictures released the first live-action adaptation of Batman in the form of the 15-part serials simply titled "Batman." Though it featured a number of departures form the series--Batman in fact works as government agent in the context of the shorts--it did actually introduce one of the most important pieces of the Batman mythos into the canon - The Batcave. Six years later another set of serials, this time titled Batman and Robin, would debut.
From the mid 1950s well into the 1970s is described as the "Silver Age" of comics, and with it came new stories featuring Batman, this time relegated to "Earth-One." Though the lightheartedness of the Golden Age Batman comics remained for much of this era, the Silver Age Batman stories lean more into the realm of science fiction using the likes of giant animals, robots, and aliens. The Silver Age Batman also introduced the yellow emblem on Batman's chest as the only major costume change.
In 1966 came a character-defining moment for the caped crusader as "Batman: The Series," starring Adam West and Burt Ward as the dynamic duo, hit the airwaves. Known for its campy tone and colorful aesthetic, the series ran for three seasons and 120 episodes before concluding in 1968. A number of villains from the comics were portrayed in the series, but several new characters were introduced in the show including King Tut and Egghead.
The first feature film of Batman spun out of the TV series and hit theaters in July 1966, just a few weeks after the first season concluded. Sharing the tone of the TV series, the film marked the first big screen appearance of The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman, and The Riddler. Written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who penned the first four episodes of the series, and directed by Leslie H. Martinson, who directed two episodes of the series, the film was released in theaters by 20th Century Fox, making it the only Batman-related film not distributed by Warner Bros.
Following the end of "Batman: The Series," Filmation brought Batman to life in his very first animated series in "The Batman/Superman Hour" featuring Olan Soule and Casey Kasem as Batman and Robin. The series would only run for 34 episodes and would later be revived as "The New Adventures of Batman" nine years later with Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles from the live-action series.
In 1972, Hanna-Barbera introduced the dynamic duo in an episode of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" where they quickly proved to be a hit. Just a year later, Hanna-Barbera would begin airing the first "Super Friends" series which featured Batman and Robin, who would go on to appear in "The All-New Super Friends Hour," "Challenge of the SuperFriends," "The World's Greatest Super Friends," "Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show," and "The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians."
In 1986, one of the most seminal Batman comics of all time was published when comics auteur Frank Miller brought us "The Dark Knight Returns." Set in an alternate future where Bruce Wayne retired and Gotham went to hell, Wayne gets the itch once again and breaks out the cape and cowl to fight back against the criminal elements that have taken over. The comic signaled a change in direction for the character as he returned to his dark and grim roots following the publication of "Returns."
That same year we would see the release of the very first Batman video game, titled Batman or Batman 3D. Released for personal computer systems, the simple game had players collecting pieces of a vehicle in the Batcave in order to save Robin. Countless other video games for the Dark Knight were released throughout the years, mostly tied into the films or cartoons of the time, but some original titles debuted (more on those later).
After successfully telling "The Last Batman" story with "The Dark Knight Returns," Frank Miller was hired to retell the origin of Batman which gave us "Batman: Year One." Little was changed about Batman's origin in this retelling, though some elements were embellished and expanded on such as his training and James Gordon's involvement in the start of it all. This story would go on to lay the groundwork for the character for the next 30 years and serve as part of the inspiration for countless adaptations on film and in animation.
1989 was the year, and Warner Bros. was set to give Batman the big screen adaptation fans were clamoring for. Up and coming director Tim Burton was at the helm of the film with Michael Keaton (a choice that did not sit well with fans) set to star in the titular role. The film took its own visual style for Batman's costume giving him an entirely black look, but using one element from the comics: the yellow emblem. Batman was budgeted at just $48 million and grossed over $400 million at the global box office. A sequel, "Batman Returns," followed in 1992.
After the success of Tim Burton's films, the Warner Bros.-owned theme park chain Six Flags began to debut different versions of a roller coaster all collectively known as “Batman: The Ride.” Most of the rides are inverted roller coasters, meaning the track is above the heads of the riders instead of below them. As riders go through the course, their feet dangle as they perform any number of acrobatic moves that the Dark Knight would have to attempt during any crime fighting spree.
Following the success of Burton's Batman films, Warner Bros. Animation brought us "Batman: The Animated Series," which was heavily inspired by the films in terms of is visual tone. Made famous by Bruce Timm's character designs, Paul Dini's scripts, and Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill's voice acting, "Batman: The Animated Series" became a cultural stamp for the character just like the Adam West series 30 years prior. The series also made other lasting impressions on the canon by introducing Harley Quinn, the sometimes sidekick and love interest of The Joker, and reinterpreting several villains such as Clayface and Mr. Freeze. It would go on to both be nominated for and win a Primetime Emmy.
In 1993, a brand new villain at the time would be introduced in the pages of DC's Batman titles who went by the name of Bane. Enhanced by the Venom drug that Batman himself was hooked on previously, Bane came to Gotham City for the sole purpose of taking on and defeating the Batman, which he did by breaking Bruce Wayne's back. In the time it took Bruce to heal, one of his proteges, Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael, took on the mantle of Batman for a short time. This proved to be a bad idea as he was quite deranged. Valley took some liberties with the Batman costume and added his own armor and weapons, plus a little bit of color.
In 1995 some new blood would come into the live-action Batman franchise as Val Kilmer would step into the role of Bruce Wayne in place of Michael Keaton and Joel Schumacher would sit in the director's chair. The primary difference in the film's costume from the previous is the chest emblem, which is now a substantially larger bat imprint instead of the yellow oval, but also the much-maligned "bat nipples." Despite fan disapproval, the film went on to make over $330 million at the global box office.
Two years later, a follow-up would be released, this time with George Clooney in the lead role, with "Batman & Robin." Loathed by fans and critics alike, the film's costume did return to a smaller bat emblem on Batman's chest but also a new metallic version of the suit was used in the film's final act.
1999 was a weird time as the "threat" of Y2K was looming around the corner of the new millennium. With that in mind, Warner Bros. Animation debuted a brand new take on the Batman mythos tied into these cultural ideas with "Batman Beyond." Set in the far future where Bruce Wayne is old and retired, Wayne passes the mantle off to one Terry McGinnis to pick up where he left off. The series featured him going up against mostly new villains though some old favorites such as Mr. Freeze, Ras al Ghul, and Bane did show up. The series lasted just three seasons but did produce a spin-off feature film "Return of the Joker" in 2000.
Before "Arrow" and after "Smallville" premiered, The CW tried their hand at another DC Comics-based series with "Birds of Prey," focusing on Helena Kyle, the daughter of Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne. Batman made a few appearances in the series but only in flashbacks and in the opening titles. It's unclear who actually played the character on the series, as it was previously reported that actor Bruce Thomas, who played Batman in the Batman OnStar commercials, wore the cowl, but he has denied that it's him.
Eight years after the collosal failure of "Batman & Robin," WB rebooted the franchise with director Christopher Nolan at the helm and Christian Bale in the title role. The series took much of its inspiration from Frank Miller's "Year One" storyline while also introducing villains not seen in previous Batman films such as Ra's al Ghul and the Scarecrow. Batman's costume in the film was a very traditionally Batman costume, taking the things that worked about its predecessors and delivering a fine product.
Three years later the sequel to the film would debut and Nolan and Bale returned with Heath Ledger as The Joker. The primary difference in the film's costume from past films was the slick Kevlar appearance and Christian Bale's ability to actually turn his head in the suit, a problem he had with the initial costume and one that is actually addressed in the film's dialogue. The Dark Knight would go on to become the first billion dollar grossing film in the entire franchise.
Following the success of "LEGO Star Wars" and "LEGO Harry Potter" video games, Warner Bros. Interactive debuted "LEGO Batman: The Video Game," the first in a successful franchise that blended the quirky nature of silver age Batman with the popular LEGO building toys. The game sold over 12 million copies upon release and would be followed by "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" in 2012 and a forthcoming "LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham."
The same year as both "The Dark Knight" and "LEGO Batman: The Video Game," Warner Bros. Animation brought us "Batman: The Brave and the Bold," a kid-friendly animated series featuring the caped crusader teaming up with other DC heroes in each episode. The series was inspired by Silver Age Batman stories right down to the costume used.
In 2009, WB Interactive Entertainment and Rocksteady Studios would bring us "Batman: Arkham Asylum," a wholly original Batman game written by fan-favorite scribe Paul Dini and with Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin reprising their roles as Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn. Set within the walls of the titular asylum, the game saw players take a stealth approach to things though plenty of punches are thrown throughout. The game sold over 7.5 million units and was followed by "Batman: Arkham City" in 2011 which sold over 10 million units.
Following the events of "Final Crisis" and "Battle for the Cowl," former Robin Dick Grayson assumed the mantle of Batman after the presumed death of Bruce Wayne. Along with Grayson was Bruce Wayne's son Damian as Robin, raised in the League of Assassins by his mother Talia al Ghul, which created an interesting dynamic with a somewhat light-hearted Batman and a ferocious, violence prone Robin. Though Dick didn't completely redesign the Batman costume, he did create alternate versions better suited for himself than the suits Bruce wore.
A potential future was shown in "Batman" issue #666 where his son Damian became Batman. More ruthless and willing to kill, Damian's Batman was very different from both his father and Dick Grayson in terms of fighting crime and philosophy. The character's costume also completely dropped the cape from the design and instead wore an overcoat with a large protruding collar, similar in style to the outfit his grandfather Ra's al Ghul wore.
Before DC rebooted into "The New 52," a mini-series detailing another alternate world titled "Flashpoint" which saw a world without The Flash and very different versions of the characters from the DCU. Batman was quite different in that it wasn't Thomas and Martha Wayne that were shot in the alley on that night, but Bruce. As a result, his father became the Batman with a somewhat similar costume albeit different chest emblem. Instead of a doctor as he was in other continuities, this Thomas Wayne runs Wayne Casinos in Gotham City by day and has no qualms about killing suspects.
Following the Flashpoint mini-series, DC Comics totally rebooted their continuity and along with it came some changes to Batman, most noticeably, his costume. Gone are the traditional black "underwear" on the front of the suit, as Batman is now almost solid grey. DC co-publisher Jim Lee provided the redesign for the character's outfit, which also had some lines added throughout, for what purpose no one knows.
In 2012, Christopher Nolan brought the final chapter of his "Dark Knight" saga with "The Dark Knight Rises," which was inspired by the likes of the "Knightfall" and "No Man's Land" storyline. Though the costume for the titular character didn't change all that much for the film, a new gadget was introduced in the form of "The Bat," the first version of Batman's "Batwing" vehicle since it appeared in "Batman Forever."
Though The LEGO Movie featured cameos and appearances from countless characters, such as Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, a Ninja Turtle, and Abraham Lincoln, Batman played a pivotal role in the film and even had his own song written for the soundtrack. Will Arnett provided the voice for the character, who will be getting his very own spin-off in the summer of 2017.
One of the most recent storylines for Batman in DC's New 52 is the "Zero Year" arc, which went back and told the story of Bruce Wayne's initial return to Gotham and one of his first forays into being Batman. In the story, the iconic villain The Riddler seizes control of Gotham City and sends it back to the stone age. What we're given in the pages of the comic is an almost "post-apocalyptic" version of the Bat-suit sans cape and sleeves and equipped with climbing gear and other survival tech.
The FOX series Gotham tells the origins of not only Bruce Wayne, played by David Mazouz in the series, but his most famous allies and foes. Other notable inclusions from the comics include Jim Gordon, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, and Black Mask.
This summer WB Interactive Entertainment and Rocksteady Studios released the final chapter in their "Arkham" trilogy with "Batman: Arkham Knight." In the game, Batman outfit goes through a few upgrades resulting in a more armored version of his suit as seen in "Arkham City" and "Asylum." The primary difference in this game from its predecessors is the inclusion of the Batmobile, which players can drive around in this time.
In 2016, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment will bring us the next step in their DC Comics cinematic universe with "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," which not only serves as a sequel to "Man of Steel" but introduces the caped crusader into the continuity with Ben Affleck in the role. The film is inspired heavily by Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" which is evident in the design for the Batman costume which director Zack Snyder revealed earlier this year. A solo Batman film is also in development at WB, which Affleck will direct and co-write with comic scribe Geoff Johns, although a release date for the project has yet to be determined.
2016's Suicide Squad will see the cinematic debut of many of Batman's villains, including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Killer Croc, but thanks to videos and photos from the set we do know that the Dark Knight will be making an appearance. He even showed up briefly in the San Diego Comic-Con teaser trailer, pictured left.