Batstravaganza! – The Many Masks of Batman

Today’s installment of Batstravaganza! is by Halit Bozdogan. His preferred Batman is Kevin Conroy’s animated version. Heath Ledger’s Joker takes the top spot for villain, whilst he prefers Grayson’s Nightwing over Drake’s Robin.

There have been many superheroes created throughout the years, but none have had the same impact as the one who actually has no super powers. Yes, Batman has been around since 1939 and, although from the same company that created Superman, is wholly different in many ways. You sometimes might forget that this is a character that has no super-speed, or cannot defy gravity under his own power. This might actually be why Batman is so revered amongst comic fans. He is somewhat more human and therefore, we can relate to him on a level that’s within the realms of possibility.

Although the comic is where Batman is most at home, there have been numerous incarnations of the Dark Knight on television and the silver screen.  Adam West’s TV version of Batman in the 60s was very different than the comics. Appealing to a wider audience, this Bat-West had a very camp tone but was also family friendly. The show’s popularity cemented it as a genuine phenomenon of that era, although it did cause some consternation with comic fans for not adhering to the style of the publications.

After the television show, Batman kept to the comics more or less until 1989, when Tim Burton’s Batman was released. Michael Keaton was chosen to play the character. A move which was met with criticism. Until the film was released. Bat-Keaton brought a dark, brooding intensity which silenced the naysayers. Again, being an everyman seemed to work for this incarnation.

Val Kilmer took up the mantle in the third Batman movie. Bat-Kilmer wasn’t as well received, not was George Clooney in Batman and Robin. However, with Bat-Clooney, he did try to do the best he could with what was certainly terrible script, plot and overall design flaws.

In 1992, Batman was played by Kevin Conroy. Or at least, his voice was. Batman: The Animated Series was released and was a commercial and critical success. Bat-Conroy was also credited with being the first Batman to use two distinct voices for Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego. Well, it makes sense when you think about it. People would know immediately that Batman was Bruce if he used his regular voice.

This idea was carried into Batman Begins starring Christian Bale. Bat-Bale’s entry was a breath of fresh air into a tiring film franchise. It’s dark, realistic take on the character was a huge success. Its sequel is one of the biggest box office successes of all time, with the upcoming conclusion, The Dark Knight Rises, looking set to be a major box office winner also.

Batman has many faces, ever changing with the times. But that face is always an intriguing one.

Which is your favorite Batman? Sound off in the comments!

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.

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