It is no secret that the Batman movie series has been a huge success, with each installment receiving mostly positive reviews from critics and fans alike. Although many consider the Dark Knight to be a fictional character, the caped crusader is very much a part of popular culture, with merchandise and t-shirts bearing his famous likeness and the phrase “I Am Batman” becoming commonplace. Moreover, the Batman brand has proven to be quite robust, as the franchise has continued successfully for over 70 years, while also maintaining a strong foothold in pop culture.
As impressive as Batman’s longevity is, it is actually Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of the character in the recent Batman movie, The Batman, that is garnering the most praise. The actor not only embodies the iconic characteristics of the character, but he also brings a level of authenticity to the role that has not been explored before on film. In the following, we’ll take a closer look at how Batman came to be, as well as how Robert Pattinson’s transformation into the Dark Knight was influenced by his admiration for comic book heroes, growing up in Australia, and having a troubled past.
How Did Batman Get His Start?
Though he first made his cinematic debut over 70 years ago in the serials Batman and Son, and later reprised the role in television series spanning from the 1950s to the early 2000s, it was Batman Forever, released in 1995, that truly established the Dark Knight as a household name. The critically panned but financially successful film introduced many elements that would later be considered defining characteristics of the Batman persona, including his preference for psychological rather than physical violence, and his affinity for gadgets and technology. It also showcased a more mature and realistic approach to the caped crusader, as the film focused on his personal life as much as his methods of fighting crime.
The following year, Batman Returns was released, with Tim Burton reprising his role as director and Jack Nicholson making a cameo appearance as the Joker. The film received even more positive press than its predecessor, thanks in part to Burton’s unique artistic vision and the phenomenal performance by Michael Keaton, who would eventually become the franchise’s mainstay as Batman. It is worth noting that although Batman is best known for his involvement in the film series, the character has never been portrayed by anyone other than Keaton.
Comic Book Influences
As previously mentioned, the Batman brand has been around for nearly seventy years, with the most recent movie, The Batman, paying tribute to the original serial that premiered in 1940. Interestingly, many of the defining characteristics of Batman were first presented in Jimmy Prichard’s Comic Book No. 1, which was published in 1939 and made into a movie serial four years later. Although many have credited the character and his success to the early exposure to comic book culture in the 1950s, it was actually born out of popular culture in the late 1910s.
The character first appeared as a literary character in 1917, when he was adapted into a comic book series called The Adventures of Batman by DC Comics. It was originally based on the 1916 Batman serials produced by Film Booking Office of America (FILBOA), which starred William Gillette as Batman and Jack Dougherty as the Caped Crusader’s sidekick, Robin. In the comics, Batman used a phonograph attached to a record player with a loud speaker so he could listen to the music while fighting crime. He also sometimes wore a gas mask and carried a utility belt with a torch, a whistle, a stethoscope, a revolver, and other items. These elements would later be used to create the “classic” Batman look, which has become synonymous with the character, making it easy to spot a Batman comic or cartoon from the early 20th century.
The Dark Knight As We Know Him
With the success of the Batman brand in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, it was only a matter of time before filmmakers started paying homage to the “Dark Knight.” In fact, it was the 1940s that saw the first of many Batman film series. Warner Bros. released five feature films between 1940 and 1949, starring an actor other than Michael Keaton in the title role and featuring various shades of gray when it came to the character’s ethical ambiguity. These earlier films are best remembered for being the first to feature Batman’s traditional “no masks” policy, with Keaton taking the wraps off his identity in an iconic scene in which he forcibly removes his mask after falling into a vat of corrosive chemicals.
Despite the character’s popularity, there were still many who felt that Batman was, at best, a literary character who existed only in comic books. The character finally broke out of the horror genre in the 1960s, with Adam West and Burt Ward reinventing him as a comedy, and he continued to appear in various comedy and animated series throughout the next few decades. To this day, some viewers still prefer to see Batman as a joker, with the character’s origin and overall look remaining a source of speculation and debate among comic book fans.
The Rise Of The Modern Batman
With the release of the first Dark Knight movie in 2005, directed by Tim Burton and featuring the now-iconic visual style of Alex McDowell, the character finally broke into the mainstream, with many citing his new appearance as the beginning of a renewed interest in the Dark Knight.
In keeping with the franchise’s 70th anniversary, DC Comics released a special edition of Batman that featured never-before-seen concept art, extensive behind-the-scenes material, and a recreation of the character’s original comic book debut. The following year, Burton returned to direct his seventh full-length feature, Planet of the Apes, with a cameo appearance by the Batman. Also in 2006, the highly anticipated film version of Batman: The Game, based on the 1990s video game, was released, with Matt Wagner providing the voice of Batman and Frank Welker providing the voice of the Joker. Though the movie received mixed reviews, it was a box office success, propelling the Game character into the mainstream as never before, and paving the way for further cinematic adventures of the Dark Knight.
The Rise Of Robert Pattinson
It was not until 2007 that we saw the first hints of what would later become a wave of popularity for the Dark Knight, with actor Robert Pattinson playing the role of the Caped Crusader in the independently produced, British thriller, The Fool. Though the film was a critical and commercial success, it would be four more years before we saw the 32-year-old actor portray Batman again, in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. This time, the movie received more positive reviews, with critics praising Pattinson for his convincing acting and approach to the character, which they felt was in contrast to Hollywood’s traditional presentation of the Dark Knight.
Pattinson has since gone on to appear in several more films as Batman, with the final installment of The Twilight Saga, The Twilight Saga: The Fall of Twilight, seeing the hero take on the role of vengeful god. The actor will also soon be seen on the big screen alongside Ben Affleck in the live action adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300, directed by Zack Snyder. This will be the first collaboration between the prolific Mr. Miller and his favorite cinematic creation, with the author noting that “[Robert Pattinson’s] performance in the movie will be something to behold.” Indeed, fans of Miller’s comics should feel confident in predicting that Pattinson’s portrayal of the Dark Knight will push him to new heights.