Batman still stands tall in Gotham – a Scyfi Love guest blog from Cheryl Mullin

In the fifth and final guest blog, Cheryl Mullin from the excellent Geekworld, takes a look back at the Dark Knight himself

IT’S been 70 years since Batman made his debut in Detective Comics #27.

From humble beginnings, Batman has proven to be one of DC’s most enduring characters, spawning countless graphic novels, cartoons, TV shows and now a multi-billion dollar movie franchise. He has even cemented himself in the sci-fi world with the excellent Dead End, as well as comic book adventures with Judge Dredd, Aliens and Predators.

But just what is our endless fascination with the Dark Knight?

The character of tortured billionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger in 1938 in response to an appeal from DC for new superheroes.

His back story was that as a young child Bruce was witness to the brutal and senseless murders of his parents. Driven by rage and a thirst for revenge, an adult Bruce creates Batman, a symbol he uses to strike fear into the hearts of Gotham’s criminal underworld.

But unlike many superhero characters  emerging at the time, Batman had no super powers. He was just a man compelled to act against injustice.

His privileged position meant the young Bruce had ample funds to go out into the world and prepare himself for the task ahead.

He learns martial arts, masters the art of disguise and hones his forensic and criminology skills to become the ultimate crime-fighter.

As a character Batman has evolved constantly over the last 70 years.

Originally portrayed as a dark, brooding figure obsessed with righting wrong, the character took a lighter turn in the early 50s  after the introduction of the Comics Code Authority. Batman was one of several comic book heroes singled out as ‘corrupting’ American youth.

The stories were criticised for alleged homosexual overtones, with one psychologist claiming that Batman and Robin were portrayed as lovers.

The debut of the TV show Batman in 1966 also had a huge influence on the character. Sales of the comic surged and in response, DC created a more ‘campy’ Batman.

When the show was cancelled just two years later, comic sales took a nose dive and there was a rush to return him to his rightful place as the ‘dark avenger of the night’.

Batman languished for the rest of the 60s, through the 70s and hit an all time low in 1985. It seemed the end had come for the Caped Crusader.

But in 1986, Frank Miller looked into the character’s future and a limited run of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, telling the story of a 50-year-old Batman about to come out of retirement proved a huge success.

On the back of this resurgence in popularity, Tim Burton made the first Batman movie starring Michael Keaton in 1989.  A sequel followed in 1992 and Burton handed the reigns over to Joel Schumacher’s for the campier Batman Forever and Batman and Robin in the late 1990s.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005 brought the character full circle, with Christian Bale portraying a dark tortured soul, wreaking havoc amongst Gotham’s villains.

It is the character’s dark side which proves such a draw for fans. Bruce is so obsessed with his mission that he is almost as dangerous as the ‘super’ criminals he’s fighting.

His sense of right and wrong blur so that even the residents of Gotham don’t really know who’s side he’s on.

The character’s origins also speak to fans. His family tragedy could befall any of us, and his lack of super powers means any of us could become him.

With talk of a third Christopher Nolan film and comic sales at an all time high, it will be a long time before the Dark Knight hangs up his cowl for good.

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