In 2019, the world will spend 12 months celebrating the 80th anniversary of the birth of The Batman.
Well, I don’t know about the world, but I know BOF and I will be!
And if the world isn’t, it should, right? ANYWAY…
To get the Batman 80 party started early here on BOF, I decided to list — and attempted to rank — the most important things/moments/etc. in Batman history. And let me tell y’all…it was HARD.
To find out how I rank them by importance, you’ll have to tune in to an upcoming episode of the BOF Podcast.
DETECTIVE COMICS #27 (1939)
Where it all started.
The Bat-Man was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and was introduced in the story, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate.”
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: It was the very first appearance of Batman.
DETECTIVE COMICS #38 (1940)
Batman’s sidekick, junior partner, ward, and eventually adopted son, Dick Grayson was introduced as Robin in this issue of DC.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: 1st appearance of Robin, The Boy Wonder.
BATMAN #1 (1940)
Published in the Spring of 1940, about a year after Batman’s first appearance in the aforementioned DETECTIVE COMICS#27, BATMAN #1 (Vol. 1) not only gave us Batman’s classic origin story, but it also introduced the world to Catwoman (known originally as “The Cat”), as well as the most famous and the greatest comic book villain ever, The Joker.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: Introduced Catwoman, The Joker, Batman’s origin story, and was the very first “Batman only” comic book.
THE BATMAN (1943)
Columbia Picture’s 1943 movie serial, THE BATMAN, was the first live-action/on film incarnation of the character. It starred Lewis Wilson as The Batman/Bruce Wayne and Douglas Croft as Robin/Dick Grayson.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: 1st live-action adaptation of Batman on film.
BATMAN, which aired from 1966 to 1968 on ABC, was the first live-action Batman TV series.
Starring Adam West as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Burt Ward as Robin, BATMAN was a cultural phenomenon and produced the first wave of “Batmania” in the character’s history.
Furthermore, BATMAN arguably saved Batman as the character’s popularity was at an all-time low and his comics were on the verge of cancelation.
The TV series also spawned the live-action film BATMAN in 1966.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: 1st Batman live-action TV series; 1st round of “Batmania;” pop culture phenomenon; helped save Batman.
BATMAN #217/”One Bullet Too Many” (1969)
Dick Grayson grows up and goes off to college.
Bruce Wayne decides to close up Wayne Manor, the Batman, and move into a penthouse in downtown Gotham.
This issue marked the return of “dark and serious” Batman stories featuring Batman who has returned to his roots as a lone vigilante and creature of the night.
Batman’s look was also altered as he begins to be drawn in a more detailed and realistic manner. In fact, the legendary Batman artist Neal Adams — who would soon team up with writer Denny O’Neil on BATMAN — did the cover of BATMAN #217. His artwork is a great example of Batman being presented, aesthetically, more realistic than he had ever been previously in the pages of comic books.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: The return of the “dark and serious,” original version of Batman.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (1986)
Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS one of the greatest graphic novels in history, but it also educated the mainstream audience that comic books weren’t kid-stuff.
Additionally, it showed the aforementioned mainstream audience the dark and serious Batman as his creators intended, and that Batman wasn’t simply the “Pow!, Zap!, and Wham!” campy version from the 1960s BATMAN TV series.
It also played a big role in bringing a dark and serious live-action version of Batman to the big screen.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: One of the greatest graphic novels in history; showed the mainstream the dark and serious Batman for the first time.
Along with SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978), BATMAN ushered in the modern age of the comic book/superhero movie.
BATMAN brought about the second wave of Batmania across the world and was an absolute cultural phenomenon during the Summer of 1989.
It was also the culmination of Michael Uslan’s 10-year struggle to bring the original, dark and serious version of Batman to the silver screen.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: 1st major big-budget, dark and serious live-action Batman film; cultural phenomenon; Batmania 2.0.
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1992)
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES is arguably the best and definitive depiction of Batman in any medium…arguably.
If it’s not the best, it’s there up with whatever is.
Without this TV series in the 1990s, Batman wouldn’t have the number of fans that the character enjoys today as it is how tons of kids were introduced to the character.
And lest we forget, BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (which is totally under the umbrella of BTAS).
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: 1st dark and serious animated Batman TV series; arguably the definitive depiction of the character.
THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY (2005-2012)
Bottom line here folks: I simply cannot separate the three Batman films that make up THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY because it’s all ONE big story.
The genius of TDKTrilogy is that it’s not really about Batman; it’s about Bruce Wayne.
BATMAN BEGINS is one of the greatest comic book/superhero origin films of the genre…maybe even the best.
THE DARK KNIGHT brought about Batmania 3.0 and is arguably the greatest comic book/superhero film of them all.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is ambitious and bold and capped off Bruce Wayne’s story in a fantastic, emotional manner.
Finally, filmmaker Christopher Nolan and his team managed to tip their hat to many classic Batman comic book stories: YEAR ONE, THE LONG HALLOWEEN, THE MAN WHO FALLS, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, NO MAN’S LAND, and KNIGHTFALL are amongst them.
ON THE LIST BECAUSE: Global cultural phenomenon; includes the greatest/best comic book film of all time; Batmania 3.0.
That concludes my Batman History Top 10 list…in chronological order, that is. I’ll reveal how I rank them 1 through 10 — or vice-versa — during an upcoming BOF podcast.
This was a very, Very, VERY, VERY hard list to come up with, and I had a hard time eliminating things on my original brainstorming to cut the list down to 10. On that note, here are a few “Honorable Mentions” in no particular order…
BATMAN: YEAR ONE, BATMAN #251/”The Joker’s 5-Way Revenge,” the BATMAN: ARKHAM video game series, BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT, and several others.
What did you think of this list? What would make up your Batman Top 10? Discuss in the comments section below! – Bill “Jett” Ramey