Batman is a famous comic book hero who dedicates himself to fighting crime in a costume that features a black bat mask and a flowing cape. The character first appeared in 1939 in a Detective Comics comic book. Bob Kane was the artist, and Bill Finger wrote the stories. In 1940, a teen-aged assistant called Robin joined Batman to form a crime-fighting team. In 1961, a young female assistant called Batgirl joined Batman and Robin.
Batman was really Bruce Wayne, a wealthy playboy. As a boy, he witnessed his parents’ murder by a criminal. That memory drove him to become a crime fighter as an adult. Robin was really Dick Grayson, also an orphan whose parents were murdered. Bruce Wayne became Dick’s guardian. As Robin, Dick wore a colorful red and green costume with a yellow cape.
Batman and Robin fought a gallery of colorful villains, including the Penguin, the Joker, Two-Face, and Catwoman. The team were skilled acrobats and employed an arsenal of weapons and gadgets in their crime fighting. Their equipment included the Batmobile and the Batplane, which were stored in the Batcave, and Batman’s all-purpose utility belt.
The popularity of Batman led to motion-picture serials in the 1940′s. Batman also starred in a primetime television series from 1966 to 1968. Adam West played Batman, and Burt Ward was Robin. Celebrities made guest appearances as Batman’s adversaries, notably Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, Cesar Romero as the Joker, Julie Newmar as Catwoman, and Burgess Meredith as the Penguin. The series had humorous scripts that often poked fun at the superhero and his opponents.
In the late 1980′s and the 1990′s, the Warner Brothers studio made a series of full-length Batman motion pictures. Unlike the light-hearted TV series of the 1960′s, the Batman movies featured a film noir style, marked by a brooding atmosphere and many nighttime scenes. The films wereBatman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), both directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton, and Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Val Kilmer and George Clooney, respectively. Both the television program and the motion pictures stimulated a flood of Batman merchandise, especially models of the Batmobile.