This is the second in a 3 part series covering the history of Batman. You can read part one here.
In 1966 Batman was given a shot in the arm by the hit Pop Art inspired television series that is still iconic today. Starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, as well as a wealth of guest stars including Caesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar and even horror icon, Vincent Price, Batman was a show that was watched and treasured by adults and children alike. Bright colours and Dutch angles peppered the show, as well as the thunderous and vivid onomatopoeic cries of “Pow”, “Bam” and “Biff.”
While not overtly true to the original comic book origins, this interpretation of Batman maintained his existence, and would help the persona persevere into the 1970’s. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams transported the caped crusader back into the real world and helped to construct even more iconic scoundrels for our hero to battle – including Ras Al Ghul – who would go on to play an integral part in Christopher Nolan’s franchise re-boot, Batman Begins.
Over the years directors such as Ivan Reitman and Joe Dante took turns at developing a Batman feature, but nobody could achieve the appropriate tone or plot. Actors such as Bill Murray, Charlie Sheen and even future James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, were considered for the role, but with no feasible script and a non-existent director, it looked like Batman might not make it on to the big screen.
In 1988 director Tim Burton was working on his second feature, Beetlejuice, at Warner Bros, when the director was offered a Batman film. For the first time in a decade, the project gathered real momentum. Bringing along his Beetlejuice star Michael Keaton, Burton’s Batman was the first appropriate big-screen incarnation of The Dark Knight. Furthermore, Jack Nicholson’s legendary Joker seized the limelight, but Keaton’s Batman/Bruce Wayne persona came under a lot of fire even before a trailer was cut. Fans bombarded Warner Bros with letters of protest in the belief that the actor (who was best known for his comic performances) would deliver a character who was similar to Adam West’s crime fighter. After a trailer was rush released for a comic convention to soothe fans’ worries, Batman media hype went into overdrive.
Continued in Part 3 – How Batman survived Joel Schumacher and began again with Chris Nolan.