The 75th Anniversary of "The Batman"
The time has come, (well, it's actually come and gone being two days late), to honor one of the greatest heroes in all of comics. (As if we don't honor him enough by buying all the comic books, movies, video games and misc. bat-crap) It was seventy-five years ago when Bob Kane and Bill Finger came up with this infinitely iconic character that first appeared in DC's Detective Comics No. 27.
Turning 75 years old hasn't been easy on the dark knight. He has seen quite a bit of action in the past 75 years, and finds himself growing weary more often these days. In addition, Batman hates birthday parties.
No pouting Batman, you have a birthday to celebrate!!! (I hear your old pal Joker is performing ;))
With DC Comics kicking off the birthday bash of the century, (ie. "Batman Day"), at San Diego Comic Con just two days ago, I felt it appropriate to celebrate the "bat legacy" by sharing my top five personal favorite Batman portrayals in any artistic medium below:
The Vigilant Geek "Top 5 Batman Portrayals"
5.) The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
**DC Comics animated film, The Dark Knight Returns, voice talent by: Peter Weller
One of the most beloved and game-changing Batman story arcs ever written still to this day is, The Dark Knight Returns. To sum up the story in just a few sentences, I would state that, "it's a thrilling tale of crime noir, as an aging hero past his prime refuses to give in to his limitations and fights a variety of old and new adversaries to the bitter end."
Frank Miller took control of this character at a time period when most its story arcs were quite silly and unrealistic. He was able to take a character that was starting to become stale and corny, and transform him back into the brutal punisher of street crime he was meant to be even on the earliest pages of Detective Comics. This story was fresh, raw, gritty and violent. This formula, rediscovered by Miller, is still working for the character in present day.
The DC Comics animated film adaptation of the graphic novel was an instant hit. Although when it comes to voice talent, no one can touch Kevin Conroy's Batman, I have to say that Peter Weller had a perfect voice for an aging caped crusader. It was deep, dark, powerful and it worked. One of my favorite types of "Bat-Media" right here.
4.) The Dark Knight Trilogy Batman, played by Christian Bale
This guy needs no introduction. Perhaps the darkest, coldest, most brutal portrayal of Batman we will see for a long time..
The first "nonsense-free" live-action portrayal of the caped crusader. (Keep in mind this is all my own personal opinion ;))
Bale and Ledger played off each other so damn well. This scene above is particularly epic.
3.) Batman: The Animated Series, vocal talent by Kevin Conroy
This show is second only to Marvel's X-Men cartoon as my favorite tv show from my youth.
Kevin Conroy, who voiced the character for the show's entire run, and still continues to be the voice of Batman on most DC Comics animated films and Batman video games (Arkham). In my opinion, he had the perfect Batman voice. It was deep and stoic, but not overdone like Bale's bat-voice has been criticized as.
The show did a lot for the Batman story in regards to redefining and reintroducing numerous characters to mainstream media. Batman's rouge's gallery was celebrated very well in this series. Each episode featured a new villian, each with a new story. Batman mastermind Paul Dini, who wrote numerous "bat-books" throughout the years, as well as the "Arkham" video game series, wrote the series in its entirety. His attention to detail in regards to conveying story arcs through animated plots is unmatched, and it shows.
BATMAN VS. BANE
Bane was a character that benefit quite a bit from this series. Created in the early 1990's, Bane was a relatively new character when this show first aired. Besides the source material, there were no other portrayals of Bane at the time. This cartoon helped create the immense popularity that the character has attracted over the years.
2.) BATMAN (1990 feature film), directed by Tim Burton, played by Michael Keaton
Once again, strictly my own opinion, but I firmly believe that Michael Keaton was a phenomenal Batman in the 1990 title film. Keaton played a great dark, stoic Batman, while simultaneously playing an illuminating take on Bruce Wayne.. perhaps my favorite Bruce Wayne of all time.
Mike and Jack really created an epic on-screen rivalry like no other film in that time period.
Don't mess with Keaton, he's a badass.
You want to get NUTS?? OK. Let's get NUTS!!
Even this Batcave ruled in comparison to others. I do also enjoy the Joker monopolizing all of Batman's monitors. Well done gentlemen!
1.) Zero Year, written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo
There is just no disputing the greatness of the creative team that has taken the reigns over in Gotham City since the start of the New 52, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Their work on Batman has been nothing short of graphic novel excellence, seen prevalent in such great story arcs as The Court of Owls, The City of the Owls, Death of the Family and of course Zero Year, the duo's fresh new dark knight origin story.
The Snyder / Capullo formula for the character appears to be tough as nails, darker than pitch black, smarter than Sherlock Holmes and valiant as the bat has ever been. Every issue has been thrilling to read. Snyder really knows how to throw curve balls at his readers, and they all seem to keep wanting more, myself included..
As Zero Year comes to a close next week, we find Gotham City in a complete blackout during one of the worst storms ever recorded, all thanks to Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler. As Batman, Gordon, and Lucious Fox all scramble to solve Nygma's next riddle before the city is destroyed, Batman and the gang find themselves in even worse trouble than before. Will the dark knight persevere?? (Of course he will, he's Batman!) It will be fun to see how this one concludes.
The Snyder / Capullo "New 52" Batman
Well there you have it folks. These are my top-5 portrayals of Batman, to celebrate Batman's belated 75th anniversary.. Please comment below with your top 5 favorite batmen!
But wait... what about.......????
The Top 5 Silliest Batman Portrayals
5.) Batman Forever, played by Val Kilmer
Hilariously awkward in the batsuit, no charisma, no balls.. Val Kilmer's too much of a sissy boy for this role.
4.) Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Just too goofy and cartoony. They had a lot of trouble staying true to the source material in this series as well. However, I'd bet it's fun to watch while high as a kite.
3.) Batman: 1960's tv series, starring Adam West
I know it was the 1960's, but look at his costume, he's making me cry!! It looks like his mother sewed it for him. How is anyone, let alone the criminals, going to take this man seriously?? Yeah, let's put this wrinkly old actor in a really tacky-looking Batman costume and make a hit tv show!! Hey, at least they had a really cool Batmobile in this show:
2.) Lego Batman, The Lego Movie, voice talents by Will Arnett
The DC Comics / Lego mash-ups I have been witnessing lately have been surprisingly well-done and entertaining.
I was skeptical of Will Arnett's portrayal of Batman, but only at first. The veteran tv and film actor/comedian did a spot-on, hilarious Batman voice.
1.) Batman and Robin, directed by Joel Schumacher, starring George Clooney
This one just gets me every time. Clooney, an excellent actor by the way, in just about any other application besides Batman, seems lost throughout the entire film as its main character. He sounds ridiculous trying to talk like Batman, and to make matters worse, they give him a batsuit complete with fake nipples, abs and butt cheeks. Clooney was the silliest, (worst), Batman that has existed so far..
**What's your opinion?? Leave a comment below and let us know which Batman portrayals you find silly, hilarious or just plain awesome.