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The A-Z Blogging Challenge is something that I am taking part in for the first time. It has been going for a few years and is more popular that ever. The premise is very simple. Each day in April with the exception of a few Sundays, bloggers from around the world blog for 26 days in April with each day’s blog beginning with the next letter of the alphabet, so April 1st is “A”, the 2nd is “B” and so on. The subject of each blog can be anything as long as it is to do with the appropriate letter. Some people blog about anything, some people theme their blogs. I hope you enjoy reading some of my posts and if I would love to read your comments about my challenge.

“B” is for Batman.

ruce Wayne. Born into a wealthy family and has everything a child could wish for. That is, until it is taken away from him when his parents are murdered in front of him. Growing up knowing only loneliness and his faithful butler and friend Alfred, Mr. Wayne embarks on a secret life of fighting crime under the guise of the winged creature of the night, Batman.

He is often described as a superhero. This is a term I have always had a problem with because he has no super powers like Spiderman or Superman, he is just a vigilante with nice gadgets. Lets look at some of the movies in the franchise, there have been 7 live action movies made with a 8th on the way this year.

Starting way back in 1966 with Adam West in the lead role following the successful TV series, the film continued the familiar format with the “pows” and “whams” but as a feature. The funny thing is, and I didn’t realise it until now, is that even back then the Batman films had multiple villains. Everyone is in this movie. The Riddler, The Penguin, The Joker, and Catwoman. So the use of them in the modern movies is no new thing. As a movie, its your typical classic 60s Batman episode, but longer and still as silly, but many of us look back at those days of Batman with much fondness.

The Keaton Era

After that movie, Batman disappeared from our screens for many a year until a certain Tim Burton decided to give it a fresh makeover in 1989 featuring the then very popular Michael Keaton as the caped crusader. No Robin here either. I love this version of the movie and I think it remains one of my favourite versions of the character. What makes this movie a great movie is the casting of Jack Nicholson as The Joker. He was brilliant! Jack also took a share of the box office gross which was a smart move on his part, the film was hugely successful and took well over $400M, so quite a payday for him I think.

The story itself was much grittier and darker than the Adam West version we had seen and although there was much scepticism when Keaton was given the part, he really brought life to the character and portrayed him a little closer to the comics as the moody, melancholy man that he has become since losing his parents. Keaton went on to reprise his role 3 years later in Batman Returns which featured Danny DeVito as The Penguin and the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. It was good, but had lost the impact of the original reboot.

Kilmer & Clooney

Someone in the Hollywood world decided that it would be a good idea to bring Robin into the fold in the next installment of the movie entitled Batman Forever which starred some of the big names of the time. Val Kilmer took on the title role and I actually thought he was ok, not Keaton, but passable. In the villain roles, we had The Riddler whose portrayal by man of the moment Jim Carrey was brilliant, he really nailed that part and it’s going to take some performance by someone to beat it in the green outfit. The story featured more on Robin (Chris O’Donnell) here and his teaming up with Batman to foil the dastardly plans by The Riddler and Two Face (Tommy Lee Jones). The movie was alright and I remember seeing it in the cinema. The less said about Batman and Robin, the better. Don’t you think? Awful…

The Bale Era

Director Christopher Nolan signed on to reboot the Batman franchise as early as 2003 and released Batman Begins in 2005. This was a complete overhaul of what we had seen in previous movies and would go back to the actual origins of the character once more and explore how Bruce Wayne became Batman and more to the point, why. I liked Christian Bale at the time following movies like Equilibrium and thought he would do a good job and for the most part he was good as the caped crusader in his first outing.

As it was a back story movie, there was no Robin again and this was welcomed by everyone following the disastrous Batman & Robin. Instead we had bad guys played by Liam Neeson (Ra’s al Ghul) and Cillian Murphy (The Scarecrow). Personally, the master stroke by the film makers was the casting of Michael Caine as butler Alfred. He really was perfect for the role and continues to provide the best performances in any role he is given. Truly a national treasure.

In 2008 after much speculation, it was finally revealed that the role of The Joker that had been so brilliantly played by Jack Nicholson back in 1989 would be reprised by Heath Ledger. This caused much debate amongst fans as to whether he could pull it off, but I reckon he did it before he died from a suspected prescription drug overdose. A performance that won him a posthumous Oscar award. However as good as his performance was I don’t think he would have received that award if he had still been alive. This story again featured Two Face (Aaron Eckhart) and in my opinion was hugely underwhelming in this movie, although the special effects were pretty decent.

Now 4 years later we are all eagerly awaiting what is intended to be the last in the series of Nolan’s Batman movies, The Dark Knight Rises. After taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes in the previous film, Batman is hunted by the Gotham City Police Department led by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). Batman only returns 8 years later to fight the evil Bane (Tom Hardy) who has some nasty plans for the now clean City of Gotham aided by the latest incarnation of Catwoman, Anne Hathaway (mmmm). I am looking forward to this movie, but I seriously hope that Bale has removed the stupid “Batman voice” that he put on in the last movie. It really was silly and made him look like a complete amateur which he isn’t.

Here is the trailer..

So what for the future of Batman? That is uncertain. Rumour has it that in 2015 the Batman universe will be revamped expanded to incorporate the Justice League. Although that is a few years off yet, I think for now we can be happy with the Batman series as it stands and with a massive box office take of nearly $1.5 Billion making it the fourth largest film series, the Caped Crusader is still one of favourite comic book heroes ever.

Please check out my related article – The Evolution of the Batmobile.