THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT
summer just gone, Batman celebrated his sixtieth year as
a comic book character, and his tenth year since
returning to the cinemas in Tim Burton’s gothic
Batman. Though the character has undergone many face
lifts over the years, from naive crusader, to camp
clown, to gritty detective, and post-modern anti-hero, he
remains one of the icons of our age, second only to our
Lord Jesus Christ and the man off the Daddy’s Sauce
the movie franchise has seemingly been run into the ground
by Joel “Misguided Evil” Schumacher, and his neon
directing wand, the comic series is undergoing something
of a revival; DC Comics has shaken the Batman mythos on
its head, destroying Gotham City with its ongoing No
Man’s Land story arc, and enlisting - ironically - the
likes of screenwriter Bob Gale to take the character to
new heights. What’s more, Warner Brothers - and
specifically producer Paul Dini - continue to impress with
Batman: The Animated Series, and current futuristic
spin-off, Batman Beyond. Bubblegun’s long-overdue
tribute to this most enduring of tight-wearing thugs,
begins right here.
was created by Bob Kane, and first appeared in
Detective Comics 27, in May 1939. He was joined,
eleven issues later, by Robin, The Boy Wonder, who was
introduced because Kane, and co-writer Bill Finger,
felt Batman needed another character to play against.
remained a fairly straight character throughout the
1940s, spawning a run of live action movie serials.
However, from 1950 onwards, his comicbook adventures
became increasingly outlandish. The surreal slapstick
peaked during the 1960s, when the comics reflected the
absurd 1966 Batman TV series, starring Adam West as
Batman, and Burt Ward as Robin.
the show started, Batman was the third most popular
comic character in America, behind Superman and Dick
Tracy. By the time it had finished in 1968, he was
idea for a TV show came from producer William Dozier.
Seen as a potential saviour for ailing US network ABC,
Batman was designed to appeal to both adults and kids.
Batman adopted a ground-breaking pop-art look, taking
advantage of the colour TV boom, using bright design
and pop-up sound effects.
spent a small fortune marketing the show before it
debuted. The network even went so far as to hire a
skywriter to spell out the words “Batman is
coming” during a high profile baseball final.
show’s Batcave set cost an unprecedented $800,000 in
1966 money. Back then, the average episode of Batman
cost around $75,000.
infamous TV Batmobile was a modified 1957 Ford Futura,
with some pipes stuck on the back.
Romero, who played the TV version of The Joker,
refused to remove his moustache for the role. Instead,
make-up artists were forced to plaster it down using
oil-based face paint.
the first and second season of Batman, the show’s
makers filmed a movie, starring a host of enemies, and
new vehicles the Batcopter and Batboat.
continually found itself defending allegations that
Batman and Robin were gay. The show’s producers
introduced the characters of Batgirl and Aunt Harriet
in order to dispel the rumours. A romance between
Batman and Batgirl was planned, but the show was axed
before it could be fully developed.
Cavern, in Hollywood, doubled for the entrance to the
Batcave. The cavern was also seen in the original
Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers movie.
shared many props, gadgets and sets with Lost In
Space, Land Of The Giants, Time Tunnel and Voyage To
The Bottom Of The Sea.
the end of the show’s run, Robin had uttered “Holy
SOMETHING” no fewer than 352 times.
the axing of the series by ABC, after some 120
episodes, rival network NBC expressed an interest in
purchasing Batman. When studio executives learned that
the standing sets had already been torn down, they
changed their minds.
the wake of the TV series, and changing tastes, DC
Comics reinvented the Batman comics. It dropped the
high camp attitude in favour of more gritty stories,
written and drawn by comic legend Neal Adams.
along with all of DC’s range - Superman included -
Batman’s sales withered until the release of
1985’s classic four part Frank Miller series, The
Dark Knight Returns. Along with Watchmen, Dark Knight
reinvented comics as an adult medium, and began the
graphic novel boom of the late 1980s. Dark Knight told
the tale of a reflective and bitter 50 year old Batman
coming out of retirement to save Gotham from the
clutches of The Joker, and murderous mutant gangs.
the time, Bob Kane disowned The Dark Knight Returns.
He said: “I read it and there was a woman with
swastikas on her breasts. I mean, what’s that about?
I just don’t understand that at all.”
telling the last ever Batman tale (chronologically
speaking), Miller reinvented the character’s origins
with the equally mature Batman: Year One. He would
return to Batman a final time, during the mid-90s, for
the godawful superhero crossover Batman/Spawn.
success of The Dark Knight Returns led to a return to
movie action for Batman, courtesy of gothic maverick
Tim Burton. The film was heavily influenced by the
darkness of the graphic novel, though it split the
Batfans; many felt that Michael Keaton was too short
to play the character, while others criticised the
character’s murderous actions on screen. However,
all were unanimous: Jack Nicholson stole the show as
more Batman films followed; Batman Returns (with Danny
Devito as The Penguin, and Michelle Pfeiffer as
Catwoman), and Batman Forever (with Val Kilmer taking
over the Bat-role, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Jim
Carrey as Riddler, and Chris O’Donnell as Robin).
However, a true nadir was reached with 1997’s Batman
And Robin, the second film in the franchise directed
by Joel “I Respect No-One” Schumacher. Starring
George Clooney as Batman, the garish, neon-lit fiasco
effectively throttled the series, with Clooney later
disowning it. Many looked to the Batman animated
series for genuinely mature Bat-action.
as the movie series has become, Batman comics have
gone from strength to strength. As well as
Batman/Spawn, other inter-company Batman crossovers
include Batman/Judge Dredd (three times!),
Batman/Aliens, Batman/Predator (three times!),
Batman/Spider-Man, Batman/Captain America, and
and Chasing Amy writer/director Kevin Smith was
recently asked to write the first draft of a new
Superman screenplay. The Tim Burton-directed flick was
due to include a cameo from Michael Keaton’s version
of Batman. However, it now looks unlikely to ever be
there are plans for two new Batman movies: one based
upon Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One storyline, and
another vaguely inspired by the futuristic Batman
Beyond animated series.
coming to the end of a year-long story arc, the Batman
comics are set to re-boot in 2000, with a new-look for
Gotham, Batman, the Batcave and Batmobile.
is an anagram of “BT-AAMN” - a sort of sound