Come 23 July this year, the caped crusader turns 75 years old… the date is officially Batman Day and Warner Bros. has prearranged a VIP studio tour including Batmobiles, masks, capes and other souvenirs of the ‘Dark Knight’ in order to mark the occasion in Hollywood.
“The world has no heroes… Batman gives you some hope and some faith,” said actor Danny DeVito in an interview with AFP. DeVito played the role of the caped one’s nemesis, the Penguin in the 1992 feature Batman Returns.
Batman is the creation of artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger and was born in May, 1939 who was then tasked by DC Comics in the midst of creating a new superhero in the wake of the success of Superman.
Unlike Superman, the new hero was given a dark side, and rapidly became a global pop culture icon, decades before the latest generation of superheroes like Captain America, Spider-Man or Iron Man took to the big screen.
While Superman represents the archetypical hero with superhuman powers, a brightly coloured costume and appears in daylight, Bruce Wayne is a wealthy tycoon who changes into a mask and dark cape to bring justice to Gotham City when the sun goes down.
Bruce Wayne has remained popular through the decades thanks to the varied formats, from the 1960s TV series Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward, the success of which rekindled sales of the original comic books.
“The passion of fans is very, very high, it’s a way of life,” said Jim Lee, artist and co-editor of DC Entertainment, at the presentation of the Warner Bros. exhibition.
“People tattoo images of Batman all over the body. It’s amazing to see how Batman has become a huge part of pop culture, he has really captivated the imagination of the entire world,” he added.
Overall the seven Batman films (including the first four in 1989, 1992, 1995 and 1997) have made $3.7 billion around the world, according to the boxofficemojo.com.
In terms of merchandise, apart from the usual T-shirts, baseball caps and posters, Batman video games have recently became a rage among the young fans of the superhero.
At the recent E3 video games conference in Los Angeles, studio Rocksteady tempted fans with their new game Batman: Arkham Knight, in which the hero has an ultra-light Batmobile which can transform into an armored tank.
In 2016, Batman will be back on the big screen, for the first time along with Superman, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Ben Affleck will play the caped crusader, although some have been cynical about his casting.