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Film/TV detective-comics-batman-header

Published on March 11th, 2019 | by voxx

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Batman through the Ages

Batman is arguably one of the most, if not the most, popular superheroes of all time, and probably my favourite character in all of fiction, from the creative stories to the thrilling action to the great cast – the list goes on. Though the world’s greatest detective has taken up form in many formats, some depictions of the caped crusader are especially wonderful.

The 60s Era

As important as this era was for the Dark Knight and his comedy-filled adventures, I have never been the biggest fan of his campy TV show run. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Adam West and everyone involved for the impact they had on the small screen, but for me it is just such a radically different Batman than what he has since become. The show was funny, nonsensical and provided a ton of entertainment, which is what it was made to do, but I have never personally had an urge to return to The Bat TV Show.

The Burton Era

Tim Burton was undeniably huge in the 80’s and early 90’s, with his gothic style, unique character types and jawdropping cinematography. Beetlejuice, for example, is a film I’ll always love. Similarly, after The Dark Knight Returns changed the face of this character, Burton was brought in to create two further films that would reinvent Batman. I love both Batman and Batman Returns. Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito… They all play their iconic characters brilliantly, adding their own twists that made them stand out and transform the comic world into a twisted gothic creation filled with violence, in the best way. The characters are great, but the adaptations only loose, with some unusual writing decisions such as having The Joker kill Bruce’s parents. For the mostpart though, I would still recommend these films to anyone.

The Schumacher Era

No. Just no.

The Animated Series Era

Coming straight from the Burton universe, the animated Batman series is fantastic, with great stories a great score, and dripping with atmosphere. Once again, it truly changed the character and world forever, even more so than Tim Burton. Mr Freeze and Harley Quinn were redone, born from the brilliant minds of Bruce Timm and Paul Denie, and have since become staples of the Batman mythos. It may not be all perfect, but with the best voice actors, the best portrayals of characters and an entire new TV universe, the series inspired almost a whole decade before Marvel introduced its MCU, and I still to this day continue to hail it as the best piece of Batman media we’ve had.

The Christopher Nolan Era

This is the trilogy that brought superheroes into a more realistic light, with ground-breaking characters, cast and a story so big in scope it shaped a generation. The gritty tone and Batman’s backstory was explored deeper, the realistic approach transforming each and every character from the comics into something unique. Now, I love The Dark Knight as much as anyone else, but unfortunately I have to say I don’t love the other two. They’re not inferior as such, but I feel too much focus has been put on the wrong things, creating issues with length and huge boring chunks. I admire what this trilogy did, but it could also get a little annoying in the way it explains every detail. It no longer feels like it’s been born from a comic. I understand why they did this, but it consequently set the tone for the rest of the DCEU – and we all know how well that’s gone. In short, it’s a great trilogy let down by big pacing issues.

The DCEU Era

The latest era Batman had a lot of potential. Batman v Superman showed a lot of promise, with a surprising performance, a decent look and two fantastic battles that depict the Caped Crusader in a way that has only ever been seen in comics and video games, and never on screen. The problem is just about everything else. He is constantly gunning people down, given the most laughable scene in recent memory, and is more out of place than ever with weird dream sequences that are just wrong. And then, other than his brief appearance in Suicide Squad, his tone is completely flipped for Justics League, where he is suddenly this caring team leader who must keep everyone together and even cracks jokes now and again. He just feels like a different character altogether. It’s a shame Ben Affleck left the solo movie as I felt he too had great potential if put in the right place, but clearly that will no longer be the case.

Every time Batman has been revived the creators have tried adding to the formula, always bringing something new to the iconic character – whether it’s for better or for worse. And yet for me, the definitive era of Batman is still the animation, for not only revolutionising the character but for actively remaining everything Batman should be, and much, much more, without taking things too far. We probably wouldn’t even still have Batman movies being released today without it.

- By Sam Wood


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