It’s been almost 20 years since the first Batman movie was released, but fans of the Dark Knight are still talking about it. This year will mark the 90th anniversary of Batman – the most popular and influential superhero of all time. To celebrate this milestone anniversary, Warner Bros. decided to reissue the entire cinematic Batman canon this year to theaters across the country.
The result is The Dark Knight Trilogy, comprising of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Dark Knight Surprise!, which will premiere on the big screen on July 12th, 20th, and 27th, respectively.
As the title suggests, the year 2021 will mark the 100th anniversary of Batman, and to honor the Dark Knight’s amazing legacy, here are five interesting facts about the most popular and influential superhero of all time:
1. He Was Inspired By A Penny Arcade Comic
To say that Batman was inspired by a comic would be an understatement. In fact, it was the 1930s comic The Penny Arcade that helped to create the modern Batman legend. This seminal comic was known for its crazy comic books that would often parody famous films and superheroes.
The Penny Arcade comic would go on to inspire a generation of creators, including Bob Kane, the co-creator of The Dark Knight.
The film The Penny Arcade (2019) is arguably the best adaptation of a comic yet, and the perfect film for fans of The Dark Knight. It is not only based on the comic but also stars many of its original cast, including John Goodman, Martin Mull, and Jim Carrey. The dialogue remains largely intact, and the story of “Two-Face” is told in a way that is just as memorable as the comic book version.
2. Batman’s Inspiration Was A Character In A Comic Book
It’s been said that Batman was inspired by Detective Charles “Chip” Raines (played by Adam Brock in the film) from the comic book Doomed, a character who was the opposite of everything the Dark Knight was – a coward who used his gadgets and intelligence to escape danger rather than fight crime. (Some even say that Batman himself was inspired by Doomed.)
Interestingly, Raines was not the first character to inspire Batman. The Dark Knight’s earliest incarnations were an allegory for the Depression era, a time when Batman was first created, and a superhero who fought against injustice and corporate greed. (Fans of the 1989 Batman movie will recognize the Depression-era Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne, the future caped crusader himself.)
Batman’s first appearance was in 1934, just three years after the inauguration of the New Deal in 1933. The era was filled with superheroes like the Flash, Green Lantern, and Ironman, as well as political figures like Franklin Roosevelt, J. Paul Scherrer, and Joe DiMaggio. (In fact, the anniversary of the inauguration of the New Deal is this year, so it would be fitting for Batman fans to celebrate this historical milestone by watching one of the greatest documentaries ever made about the Great Depression.)
3. Batman Was Created As A Comic Book Character, But It Wasn’t Always Easy To Get The Characters On-screen
Batman was originally created as a comic book character named Bruce Wayne, whose modest lifestyle was a satire on the rise of the crime wave that was sweeping the country in the 1930s. (The original Bruce Wayne’s modest lifestyle is what made him an opposite of everything that the Dark Knight was—a coward who lived in a small apartment with his pet cat, Robin.)
It wasn’t until the 1940s that the idea of making a feature-length film about Batman happened. During that time, Hollywood went through a serious of films that included Batman (1935), The Ringside (1940), and Dick Tracy (1942).
Even though these films were made, it wasn’t until the 1980s that Batman made it to the big screen again with Michael Buckley’s Batman (1981) and Harrison Ford’s Batman (1989). (Buckley’s Batman is considered by many to be the greatest of all the Batman movies.)
The films of the ’70s and ’80s would later reinvent and redefine Batman, as we know him today, and made him an icon that endures to this day.
4. Batman Was Developed As A Military Propaganda Effort
Before becoming an international movie star and renowned face of Hollywood, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) was a flight officer during World War II. It was in the military that he first became familiar with the idea of fighting crime, after which he converted the ideas he developed as a military spy and agent into a private investigation company named “The Agency,” which became the foundation of his later work. (The Agency was originally depicted in the 1966 Batman episode, “Mr. Grumpy.”) The episode remains one of the best of the Batman TV shows because of the excellent screenplay by Drew Barrymore and Ken Reynolds, and direction by George Barris.
Even though the idea of making a film about Batman first came to Hollywood in the 1970s, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that the idea of making a series of Batman movies became a reality. In fact, Warner Brothers CEO Warren Shatz had the first Batman movie in mind for some time. He wanted to make a film that would celebrate the 60th anniversary of Henry Miller’s black and white novel Tropic of Capricorn, which centers on a psychological war between the youth and the hippie counterculture.