The Dark Knight Turns 80
This week, the Batman hit the big 8-0. For someone who should be in a walker at a rest home, he looks pretty great, still cracking skulls and dishing out justice on the streets of Gotham. While he didn’t hit the 80th anniversary (or the 1000 issue mark) before Superman, it’s not unbelievable to say that Batman is the most recognizable character in the world, and nothing can really hurt his image. Not nipples on his suit, bad cartoons, or even a misguided attempt to use him to build up a cinematic universe to rival a major studio.
Ever since his creation back in 1939, Batman has left an indelible mark on popular culture. The world that Bill Finger and Bob Kane created (well, Bill more than Bob) is easily one of the best fictional locations in all of fiction, populated by characters that even people who have never opened a comic before are aware of. We’ve seen the origin of Batman played out over and over (and over) again, but there’s a reason why it’s so impactful. At his core, Bruce Wayne is trying to right a wrong that overtook his life. His crusade against crime is both inspiring and tragic. We all want to think that we could devote ourselves to something so fully that we could transform ourselves into the absolute best version of ourselves, but at the same time, the amount of relationships and experiences that Bruce Wayne has shut himself off from in his crusade is also extremely sad, and when done correctly, leads to some of the best Batman stories.
My earliest nerd memories revolve around watching reruns of the Adam West series with my father. While my preferences towards what type of Batman I prefer have changed since then, I still have a lot of fondness towards that show, mainly because of the memories it brings back of watching it with my dad, legitimately worried that Batman and Robin wouldn’t make it out of whatever death trap they were stuck in at the episode’s end. That fascination with the character extended to the classic animated series, and the movies (which I definitely lied about being able to watch). My fascination with the character didn’t even falter much when I discovered Spider-Man, the fictional character that has arguably shaped my life the most. But even with that big of an impact, the Dark Knight still held a spot of esteem next to the wall-crawler, and the two stand as my two favorite heroes ever.
Whether you know him from the comics, the TV Shows, cartoons, the movies, or the video games, there’s no denying the impact that Batman has made on popular culture. The thought of a world where Batman doesn’t exist is frightening not just because we wouldn’t have anyone to fend off the likes of The Joker or Two-Face, but also because of the fact that we’d be denied some truly incredible stories that have made a massive impact on popular culture.
Happy 80th birthday, Batman. Here’s to 80 more.