May 1 is a favorite celebration for comic book fans everywhere, as it is the anniversary of the first issue of Batman. That has become “Batman Day,” a holiday celebrating everything that has to do with the Caped Crusader. With “Batman Day” upon us, let’s take a look at the superheroes trip through the world of movies.
“Batman: The Movie”
While most people thing of Tim Burton’s movie as the first official Batman film, the classic TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward produced a movie as well in 1966. This film featured a super villain team-up with Joker (Cesar Romero), Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) joining forces to conquer Gotham City. Much like the TV show, the movie was a tongue in cheek effort, with cultish humor mixed with the superhero action.
In 1989, Tim Burton completely changed what Batman was all about. He signed Michael Keaton and then turned the entire franchise into a darker, more gothic feel. Gone were the innuendos and wise cracking that went on in the first, as well as the over-dramatic styling’s of Adam West. Instead, the movie was darker, included death and danger, and brought Batman into the dark world that his comics resided at the time. With his second movie, “Batman Returns,” Burton created the best Batman film until Christopher Nolan came aboard the franchise years later.
After Burton left the franchise, Joel Schumacher came aboard. While many fans derided Schumacher for his work in the series, he was simply doing what Warner Bros. told him to do – create a movie that sells toys, games and merchandise. His first effort, “Batman Forever,” was actually really good, with Val Kilmer fantastic as Brice Wayne and Jim Carey a great Riddler. However, “Batman and Robin” was a very poor Batman movie and killed the franchise.
When Christopher Nolan took over the Batman series with “Batman Begins,” he ignored everything that came before. He chose not to go cartoony, gothic or glossy and instead brought Batman into the real world and created a movie that fit just as well in the crime film genre as the superhero genre. The three films that Nolan created, jointly called “The Dark Knight Trilogy” remain the most successful comic book franchise of all time, eclipsing over $3 billion.
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