Batman - The Dark Knight - On Screen History
Batman was born in 1939, in the mind of comic book artist and writer Bob Kane (1915-1998).
Superman had been a success for Detective Comics (DC) in early 1939 and the editors were scrambling for more super heroes. Kane came up with “the Bat Man”, according to Kane he was influenced by the masked hero Zorro, the 1930 movie The Bat Whispers and Leonardo da Vinci's design of a flying machine with giant bat-like wings.
The first Batman story appeared in May 1939 in Detective Comics #27. Batman’s origin appeared in issue #33 and the first appearance of sidekick Robin in #38.
Detective Comics is still being published today 73 years and nearly 900 issues later. It is the longest running comic book in the U.S.
The success of the 1960’s TV series Batman gave the superhero a worldwide boost in popularity and mega-hits like Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster movie Batman and Christopher Nolan’s phenomenally successful The Dark Knight (2008) has kept Bruce Wayne and his alter ego in the top league of successful movie franchises.
Marvel Comics may have a greater range of popular comic book characters but DC Comics can lay claim to the two most popular superheroes of them all – Superman and Batman.
Batman (1943) directed by Lambert Hillyer, starring Lewis Wilson as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Douglas Croft as Dick Grayson / Robin, J. Carrol Naish and Shirley Patterson. 260mins.
A serial in 15 Chapters.
Lewis Wilson (1920-2000) is the first actor to play Batman, and at 23 the youngest to date to take up the role. Wilson is the father of James Bond producer, Michael G. Wilson.
Douglas Croft (1926-1963) is the first actor to play Robin on film.
Batman drives a black Cadillac.
IMDB rating 6.7
Batman and Robin (1949) directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet, starring Robert Lowery as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Johnny Duncan as Dick Grayson / Robin, Jane Adams. Lyle Talbot and Leonard Penn as The Wizard. 263mins.
Another serial in 15 chapters.
Jane Adams plays Vicki Vale, it would be 40 years before the character appeared on film again, played by Kim Basinger in Batman (1989).
Batman and Robin drive around in a 1949 Mercury, the Batmobile had yet to make it's film debut.
IMDB rating 6.3
Batman (1966) directed by Leslie H. Martinson, starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Burt Ward as Dick Grayson / Robin, Lee Meriwether as Catwoman, Cesar Romero as The Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, Alan Napier as Alfred and Neil Hamilton as Commissioner Gordon. Music by Nelson Riddle. 105mins.
The Batman TV series had debuted in January 1966, thanks to it's camp tone, crazy villains and cliffhanger endings it became a TV phenomenon totalling 120 episodes, shown twice a week, the last episode appeared in March 1968.
The movie version was filmed at the end of the first season, with the four most famous villains appearing on screen.
Adam West (1928-) was Batman to an entire generation of comic book fans and still has a cult following, ditto Burt Ward (1945-) as Robin, Cesar Romero (1907-1994) as The Joker, Burgess Meredith (1907-1997) as The Penguin and Frank Gorshin (1933-2005) as The Riddler.
Julie Newmar (1933-) played Catwoman in the series and would have appeared in the film but was busy making a movie when this went into production, Lee Meriwether (1935-) became cinema's first Catwoman. Eartha Kitt (1927-2008) took over as Catwoman in the final season of the Batman series.
IMDB rating 6.3
Batman (1989) directed by Tim Burton, starring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier / The Joker, Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox, Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon, Michael Gough as Alfred, Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, Jerry Hall as Alicia Hunt and Jack Palance as Carl Grissom. Music by Danny Elfman. 126mins.
Nic: Don't kill me! Don't kill me, man!
Batman: I'm not going to kill you. I want you to tell all your friends about me.
Nic: What are you?
Batman: I'm Batman.
There was some concern at the time over the casting of comedian Michael Keaton (1951-) as Bruce Wayne / Batman, other actors considered include Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Tom Selleck and Bill Murray (!).
Joker: "Winged freak terrorizes" Wait till they get a load of me!
David Bowie, Willem Dafoe and Tim Curry were considered for The Joker, Robin Williams wanted the part badly which eventually went to Jack Nicholson (1937-).
Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) would eventually turn into the villain Two-Face, played by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever (1995) and Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight (2008).
Won an Oscar for Best Art Direction.
Batman cost $35m to make, it opened in June 1989 with a record breaking $43m in just 3 days, going on to gross $411m worldwide.
IMDB rating 7.6
Batman Returns (1992) directed by Tim Burton, starring Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle / Catwoman, Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin, Christopher Walken as Max Shreck, Michael Gough, Michael Murphy and Pat Hingle. Music by Danny Elfman. 126mins.
Selina Kyle: I am Catwoman. Hear me roar.
Annette Bening was originally chosen to play Catwoman but got pregnant and was replaced by Michelle Pfeiffer (1958-). Michelle complained that the cat suit was so tight it was vacuum sealed on her and she could only wear it for a certain amount of time or she would pass out.
Shreck: Selina Kyle, you're fired! And Bruce Wayne, why are you dressed up like Batman?
Selina Kyle: Because he is Batman, you moron!
In an early draft of the script Max Shreck (Walken) turns out to be the Penguins brother. The character Max Shreck is named after the actor who played the vampire in Nosferatu (1922).
Oscar nominated for Best Make Up and Best Visual Effects.
Batman Returns cost $80m to make and has grossed $266m worldwide.
IMDB rating 6.9
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) directed by Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm, starring the voices of Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Stacy Keach as the Phantasm, Dick Miller, John P. Ryan and Mark Hamill as the Joker. Music by Shirley Walker. 76mins.
The first Batman animated movie.
Originally planned as a direct-to-video film the budget was increased to $6m and it was released in cinemas, grossing $5.6m in the U.S.
A spin-off of the Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995).
IMDB rating 7.6
Batman Forever (1995) directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent / Two-Face, Jim Carrey as Edward Nygma / The Riddler, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian, Chris O' Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle and Drew Barrymore. Music by Elliot Goldenthal. 121mins.
The decision was made to make the Batman movies more family-friendly and a new director was brought in. Keaton bowed out of playing Batman wanting to play other roles, he felt the character was too easily upstaged by the villains.
Robin: Holy rusted metal, Batman!
Robin: The ground, it's all metal. It's full of holes. You know, holey.
Johnny Depp, William Baldwin and Daniel Day-Lewis were considered for the role of Batman before it went to Val Kilmer (1959-).
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Linda Hamilton and Rene Russo were considered for Dr. Chase Meridian.
Riddler: Riddle me this, riddle me that, who's afraid of the big, black bat?
Various close shots of the butt, crotch and nipples (!) on Batman and Robins costumes created concern among the fans, the neon lighting, gaudy colours and campy tone signalling the end was nigh for the current movie series.
Oscar nominated for Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Cinematography. Batman Forever cost $100m to make and has grossed $336m worldwide.
IMDB rating 5.4
Batman & Robin (1997) directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze, George Clooney as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Chris O' Donnell, Uma Thurman as Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy, Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson / Batgirl, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, John Glover, Elle Macpherson and Jeep Swenson as Bane. Music by Elliot Goldenthal. 125mins.
Director Joel Schumacher had problems with Val Kilmer on Batman Forever and the actor wasn't asked to come back for a second go.
Anthony Hopkins and Patrick Stewart were considered for Mr. Freeze. Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone and Demi Moore were considered for Poison Ivy.
Mr. Freeze: You're not sending me to the cooler!
Mr. Freeze: The Ice Man cometh!
Mr. Freeze: Tonight, hell freezes over!
Mr. Freeze: Ice to see you!
Mr. Freeze: In this universe, there's only one absolute... everything freezes!
Mr. Freeze: Cool party!
Poison Ivy: Come join me. My garden needs tending.
Nominated for 11 Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies) including - Worst Movie, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple (George Clooney & Chris O' Donnell), Worst Supporting Actor (Schwarzenegger), Worst Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman) and winning for Worst supporting actress (Alicia Silverstone). For the curious, Kevin Costner's The Postman was the big Razzie winner that year.
George Clooney (1961-) criticized the movie saying it was a waste of money, "I think we might have killed the franchise."
Batman & Robin cost $125m to make and has grossed $238m worldwide.
IMDB rating 3.6
Batman Begins (2005) directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred, Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard / Ra's al Ghul, Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane / The Scarecrow, Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone, Rutger Hauer as Earle and Ken Watanabe as Ra's al Ghul (decoy). Music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. 140mins.
After the gaudy, campy franchise-killer that was Batman & Robin it would be 8 years before anyone dared to resurrect the caped crusader. A clean reboot was necessary. British director Christopher Nolan was hired by Warner Bros to bring Batman back to the cinemas, teaming up with David S. Goyer to write the script.
Ra's al Ghul: You were my greatest student. It should be you standing by my side, saving the world.
Bruce Wayne: I'll be standing where I belong. Between you and the people of Gotham.
Ra's al Ghul: No one can save Gotham.
Billy Crudup, Joshua Jackson, Ashton Khutcher and Jake Gyllenhall were among the actors considered to play Batman. Ewan MacGregor and Marilyn Manson were considered for the Scarecrow.
Christian Bale (1974-) had previously been considered for the role of Robin in Batman Forever (1995).
Oscar nominated for Best Cinematography.
Batman Begins cost $150m to make and has grossed $372m worldwide.
IMDB rating 8.3
The Dark Knight (2008) directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger as The Joker, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Eric Roberts and Anthony Michael Hall. Music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. 152mins.
Joker: You just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
Batman: You'll be in a padded cell forever.
Joker: To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
Robin Williams and Steve Carrell wanted to play the Joker but Nolan had wanted to work with Heath Ledger for some time and he was his only choice for the role.
Heath Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose in January 2008, shortly after filming his scenes for the film, he was 28.
Nominated for 8 Oscars - Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Make Up, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects and winning for Best Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger) and Best Sound Editing.
The Dark Knight cost $185m to produce and was a major success, breaking box office records and grossing $1,004,558,444 worldwide. The biggest film of 2008.
IMDB rating 8.9
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) directed by Brandon Vietti, starring the voices of Bruce Greenwood as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Jensen Ackles as Red Hood, John DiMaggio as the Joker, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing, Jason Isaacs as Ra's al Ghul and Wade Williams as Black Mask. Music by Christopher Drake. 75mins.
The 8th Animated movie released by DC Universe and one of the highest rated.
Other animated Batman movies include - Batman & Mr. Freeze - Subzero (1998), Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000), Batman vs Dracula (2005), Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) and Batman: Year One (2011)
IMDB rating 7.8
The Dark Knight Rises (2012) directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle / Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Matthew Modine, Music by Hans Zimmer. 165mins.
One of the most anticipated movies of 2012, The Dark Knight Rises reunites five actors from Nolan's previous film Inception (2010), Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy and Michael Caine.
Bane (Tom Hardy) had appeared previously in Batman & Robin (1997) played by wrestler Jeep Swenson.
Four actresses have played Catwoman in movies - Lee Meriwether, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway.
In Aurora, Colorado on July 20 a gunman wearing a gas mask shot dead 12 people, including a six year old child, at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, 58 people were injured. The psycho was identified as 24 year old James Holmes, he was caught by police while driving away from the theater.
The killings may have frightened some people from seeing the film that weekend but it still opened to $160.8m in 3 days, the highest opening for a 2D movie, the previous record for a 2D only movie was The Dark Knight (2008) which opened with $158m in 3 days.
The Dark Knight Rises cost an estimated $250m and has grossed an amazing $1,084,439,099 at the worldwide box office, making it the 3rd biggest film of the year, after The Avengers and Skyfall.
Nominated for 3 Empire Awards - Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress (Anne Hathaway).
One of the AFI's 10 Best Films of the Year.
IMDB rating 8.6
Selina Kyle: There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.
Batman: Why didn't you just kill me?
Bane: Your punishment must be more severe.
Selina Kyle: You don't owe these people any more! You've given them everything.
Batman: Not everything. Not yet.