‘Batman’: A Brief History In Film

David Cornell - Author

Aug. 23 2017, Updated 4:51 a.m. ET

Batman has always been a prominent character in film, even from the very beginning.

Of all of the early super hero movies, Batman was one of the few that everybody actually liked from the start, even if the character was changed for audiences at the time.

Adam West was the first actor to play the caped crusader, turning what was originally a dark and brooding borderline psychopath into a dancing vigilante. In the ’60s, TV was trying to avoid anything too violent, instead making everything music-heavy, hence the dancing and partnering with Robin for many a silly adventure. The movie set Batman and Robin against every villain possible at once, and despite the lack of a budget, it became a cult favorite.

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Michael Keaton was next for the role of Batman, teaming with then-breakout film-maker Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands) to make the dark knight dark and foreboding once again. After fighting off the Joker, Catwoman and the Penguin, Michael Keaton decided he wanted more money to play the role.

With the success of the new live-action Batman films came a series of animated TV shows, as well as feature films that are still being done to this day.

Val Kilmer stepped in as Joel Schumacher took the reigns of the live-action films. Aside from some painfully embarrassing scenes where the color was just too much and Jim Carrey got a little too personal, it had potential to be a great film, almost rivaling Michael Keaton’s original film. Unfortunately when Joel Schumacher made Batman & Robin, he took everything bad about Batman Forever and doubled it, therefore creating the worst Batman film ever made.

A while later, Christopher Nolan came along with a bold idea of making Batman plausible in the real world, casting a who’s-who of renowned actors including Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Katie Holmes before Tom Cruise got involved. Christian Bale helped complete the reboot by giving Bruce Wayne a depth we’d never seen before. Aside from the recasting of Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal (Jake’s actual sister who co-starred with him in Donny Darko), the cast stayed with the franchise to the end.

With the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Christian Bale made his exit as Batman, and speculation has arisen ever since over who will be the next to play Batman in the upcoming DC Comics epic Justice League.

What do you think about the history of the Batman films?


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