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For other uses see Batman (disambiguation)

Batman, more properly known as "The Batman," is a fictional character, a comic book superhero created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939; however, only Kane has received any official credit for the character. Batman first appeared in the title Detective Comics, and is currently the lead character of a number of comic books published by DC Comics. Batman and Superman are DC Comics' two most popular and recognizable characters.

Table of contents
1 Overview and history
2 Supporting characters
3 Enemies of Batman
4 Batman in popular culture
5 Batman in other media
6 External Links

Overview and history

The character's creation was inspired by a number of different sources, including but not limited to: Zorro, Doc Savage, The Shadow, the Bat, Dracula, Douglas Fairbanks, and Superman.

In most versions of the Batman mythos, Batman (also called the Batman, and originally The Bat-Man) is the alter-ego of Bruce Wayne, a millionaire industrialist who was driven to fight crime after his parents were murdered by a mugger when he was a child. To that end, he spent his youth learning criminology, forensics, martial arts and disguise, among other relevant skills. He wears a bat-like costume to frighten his enemies, holding the opinion that criminals are a "Cowardly, superstitious lot". The details of the costume have changed with each new incarnation of the character, except for its most distinctive element: a dark cape and cowl with a pair of pointed ears. He also wears a stylized bat emblem on his chest.

To the world at large, Bruce Wayne appears as an irresponsible superficial playboy. He is known for his contributions to charity, notably through the Wayne Foundation, a charitable foundation devoted to helping the victims of crime and preventing people from turning to it. He guards his secret so well that his true identity is known only to a handful of individuals, including Superman. Occasionally, a villain will be struck by the idea that Bruce Wayne is Batman, only to dismiss the possibility because Wayne clearly doesn't have the brains or the nerve to be Batman.

Batman operates in Gotham City, a fictional city modelled after New York City -- specifically altered to emphasize a "dark side," in contrast to Metropolis from the Superman series. He operates from the "Batcave," a cavern located beneath Bruce Wayne's manor which contains his vehicles, crime lab, gym, computers and trophies.

An important part of the mythos is that Batman – unlike, for example, Superman – does not possess any superhuman abilities. He is a normal human who has elevated himself to near-superhuman status through discipline and training. He fights with martial arts, high-tech gadgets, custom designed vehicles, esoteric weapons, and (especially) brilliant detective skills and a well-trained mind.

from a Lincoln Futura concept car.]]

The equipment often shares a common design theme of being dark-colored (black or deep blue) and having some element of design to suggest a bat. A prime example of this is his car, the batmobile, often depicted as long, black-colored and having large tail fins to suggest a bat's wings; another is his chief throwing weapon, the batarang, which often looks like a bat. In proper practice, ideally, the "bat" prefix (as in batmobile or batarang) is never used by Batman himself when referring to his equipment, especially as this has been stretched to camp in some versions (namely the '60s TV show and the Super Friends series) where his arsenal included everything – including a bat-computer, bat-rope, bat-scanner, bat-radar, bat-handcuffs, even a bat-phone – down to his trademark line "To the Batmobile!"

He keeps most of his personal field equipment in a signature piece of apparel, a yellow utility belt. It typically contains items such as smoke bombs, batarangs, a fingerprint kit, a cutting tool, explosives, a grappling hook gun, a breathing device, etc. As a rule, Batman has an aversion to carrying a sidearm (being the method of his parents' murder), though some stories forgo this plot element; and other stories have him make an exception to this rule by arming his vehicles (although their use is usually only to disable vehicles or remove inanimate obstacles). He is also typically portrayed as a brilliant tactician and detective, but typically flawed with a humorless personality obsessed with seeking justice.

Nicknames for the Batman include The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader, and The World's Greatest Detective. This last phrase comes from the fact that in addition to his James Bond-styled arsenal of gadgets and weapons, Batman is also a brilliant detective, criminal scientist, tactician, and commander. His best stories have almost without exception been ones where he has displayed intelligence, cunning, and planning to outwit his foes, even more so than merely out-fighting them. His deductive skills put him on par with Sherlock Holmes, and in several stories he has even met the "Great Detective" himself, proving him to be a worthy successor to Holmes. Batman is the mastermind behind the Justice League of America, offering brains and tactical skills to guide the raw power of the other members of the team. He has also been briefly affiliated with other superhero teams, including a short-lived team he founded in the 1980s called "The Outsiders".

Supporting characters

James ("Jim") Gordon, the police commissioner of Gotham City, often provides Batman with information to help him solve cases; in return, Batman helps deliver criminals to the police. The main way of summoning Batman for a meeting is with a large searchlight, featuring a bat symbol on the glass, which creates a bright beacon called the Batsignal. In most versions of the mythos, Gordon is ignorant of Batman's identity. In the current DC Universe, James Gordon has retired and been replaced by Michael Atkins. Some writers have a more tenuous relationship between Gordon and Batman.

In 1940, a year after his debut, the original Batman comic book introduced "Robin, the Boy Wonder," a teenage sidekick. Robin is the alter ego of Dick Grayson, an orphaned circus acrobat who was Bruce Wayne's ward. In the current comic book continuity, Grayson grew up and switched to the identity of "Nightwing," continuing as an assistant to Batman. Nightwing was also leader of a 'superhero' group known as The Teen Titans (similar to the Justice League of America, of which Batman was a member). Recently, Nightwing has disbanded his incarnation of the Teen Titans and now is the leader of a new Outsiders group.

In late 1989, DC Comics polled Batman readers regarding whether or not to kill off the second Robin, Jason Todd. They voted "yes" by a small margin, and Todd was subsequently murdered by the Joker in the Death in the Family storyline.

In late 1990, a teenager named Timothy Drake became the third Robin after a training period; according to the "Lonely Place of Dying" storyline, Tim had been a small child the night he attended Haley's Circus and watched John and Mary Grayson-- acrobats, and parents of Dick Grayson-- fall to their deaths. Dick Grayson left such a strong impression on young Tim that when he first saw Batman and Robin on TV he immediately recognized the boy from the circus. Tim spent the next several years tracking Batman and Robin's careers and honing his detective skills. After Jason Todd's death, Tim took it upon himself to track down Dick and urge him to take up the mantle of Robin once again, because Bruce was growing increasingly violent and unstable. When Dick refused, Tim himself volunteered for the job-- arguing that "Batman needs a Robin"-- and after extensive training took the streets as Batman's new partner. Recently, Tim has retired from the job at the behest of his father, who discovered his secret identity. As a result, Tim's girlfriend, Stephanie Brown (the heroine formerly known as the Spoiler), has become the fourth Robin.

Bruce Wayne has a butler, Alfred Pennyworth, who knows his secret identity. Alfred typically holds down the fort at the Batcave, and does not accompany Batman on his cases. However, he is often in radio contact in order to feed information or carry out instructions. His skill in first aid has proven invaluable on numerous occasions when his master or his companions are injured.

In the Late 1950s, about the same time that the Superman mythos saw the introduction of Krypto, the Batman mythos saw the introduction and short duration of Ace, the Bat-hound

In the 1960s, the original Batgirl was introduced: Barbara Gordon, the niece of James Gordon. She continued in the role until the late 1980s, when an attack by the Joker left her paraplegic. She later reinvented herself as Oracle -- a research assistant for superheroes.

In 1999, a second Batgirl was introduced: Cassandra Cain, the daughter of the assassin Cain.

Although far less privy to his life, Lucius Fox is a close associate of Wayne as his business manager responsible for both Wayne Enterprises and The Wayne Foundation.

Enemies of Batman

Batman's adversaries form one of the most distinctive rogue galleries in comics, including supervillains such as:

However, some versions of the Batman mythos put him against more ordinary enemies, such as mobsters.

Batman in popular culture

Ever since his introduction, Batman has been one of the most famous comic book characters, and is known even to people who do not read the comics. In addition to DC's comic books, he has appeared in movies, television shows, and novels.

Batman is known as being an unusually (though not uniquely) grim superhero, particularly for a Golden Age character. He is driven by vengeance, and wears a frightening costume to scare criminals. The contrast to characters like Superman is stark. The grimness is not a constant; in some incarnations of the character (notably the television series of the 1960s, and many of the comic books from the 1950s and 60s), it evaporates into camp and even comedy. In fact, during the 1950s (when the popularity of superhero comics had declined considerably), Batman and Robin engaged in a number of science fiction adventures that resembled the comic book stories of Superman of the time. They had a number of time travel adventures, travelling into outer space regularly; and Batman even acquired a crime-fighting Batdog mascot and an annoying extra-dimensional imp named "Batmite," who had powers similar to Superman's own Mr. Mxyzptlk.

In 1953, the book Seduction of the Innocent by psychologist Frederic Wertham was published, in which Wertham used Batman and Robin, among several examples, to attack the comic book medium. He insinuated that Batman and Robin had a pedophilic relationship, and asserted that the bare legs in Robin's costume encouraged homosexuality. He also criticized the dark and violent portrayals of crime in comic books as promoting juvenile delinquence. He succeeded in raising a public outcry, eventually leading to the establishment of the Comics Code Authority. The outcry particularly affected Batman comics; the characters of Batgirl and Batwoman were introduced to "prove" that Batman and Robin were not gay, and the stories took on a campier, lighter feel. Characters such as The Joker, who had previously been murderers, became characterized by odd themed crime sprees, such as committing robbery while dressed as famous jester characters from literature. Most current comic book readers regard Wertham's accusations, particularly those about Batman being gay, as utterly baseless; though Batman continues to be a fairly popular figure in gay culture.

The Silver Age of comic books is generally marked by comic book historians to have begun when DC comics re-created a number of its superhero titles during the late 1950s. Editor Julius Schwartz presided over the drastic changes made to a number of DC's comic book characters, including Batman. After a decade of colorful, campy adventures, Batman was returned to his dark and mysterious roots, giving rise to the character that most fans are familiar with. For the next twenty-five years, Batman was the mysterious, dark avenger of the night; though the popularity of the Batman TV series of the 1960s overshadowed the comic books considerably. A plethora of writers and artists took the Caped Crusader on a number of interesting adventures; high points of the comic book series include the R'as Al Ghul storyline, written by Dennis O'Neill; and a brief eight-issue series of Detective Comics written by Steve Englehart that many fans considered to be the definitive Batman. (The classic Joker story "The Laughing Fish" was written by Englehart.)

Writer Frank Miller grounded Batman firmly in his grim and gritty roots with the comic book miniseries The Dark Knight Returns (1986) and . In both, Batman's story runs parallel to that of Jim Gordon. In Year One, Gordon has not yet become the police commissioner, and is instead a middle-aged cop with a shady past working to redeem himself amidst Gotham's corrupt police force. In Dark Knight, Gordon is seventy, and is forced into mandatory retirement from his post as police commissioner. These stories gave Gordon's character a depth he had seldom achieved before. Dark Knight gave a shot in the arm to the entire mainstream comic book industry, as its popularity was nothing short of phenomenal. It allowed Batman to finally shed the image of a campy, clownish character for which he was still known; and it also helped to raise the image of comic books so that they were no longer known solely as a form of children's entertainment.

The Miller series have set the tone for the franchise, including Tim Burton's Batman movies, Warner Bros' 1990s animated series (created by Bruce Timm), and the ongoing comic book series.

Batman in other media

Two Batman serials were released to theaters in the 1940s, introducing Batman and Robin to many viewers for the first time.

There was a 1960s Batman television series broadcast by ABC, with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. The series debuted on January 12, 1966 and was marked for its high camp, and continues to be the version many associate with the Batman character despite it perhaps being least representative of the many versions. Despite the abhorrence of the TV series by Batman's fans from the 1970s through the present day, the live-action TV show was extraordinarily popular; at the height of its popularity, it was the only prime-time TV show broadcast twice in one week as part of its regular schedule.

There have also been several TV animated series starring Batman, produced by at least three different TV animation studios. These cartoons include:

A number of Batman movies have also been made:

Several low-budget, "unofficial" Batman movies have also been made, including Batman Dracula (1964) by Andy Warhol; Batman Fights Dracula (1967), made in the Philippines; and a second Filipino movie called Alyas Batman en Robin (1993). (Critics who have seen this movie say it is very poor quality.) Additionally, an independently funded promo film titled "Batman: Dead End" generated some considerable buzz.

In addition, since 1997 Warner Bros. has released a number of episodes of Batman: The Animated Series on video (both VHS and DVD), including a season one set of DVDs in 2004. One three-part episode involving a team-up with Superman is available on video as The Batman/Superman Movie. In addition to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a number of movies based on the animated series have been released direct-to-video: SubZero, ', and '.

External Links