Saturday 21 September 2019

The Dark Knight at 80 on Batman Day

Batman celebrates 80 years of fighting crime on newsstands this year and Batman Day is the perfect opportunity to honour orphaned billionaire Bruce Wayne.

From comics to video games (rumoured to be Fortnite next), the shadow of the bat looms large in popular culture.

30 years ago director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands) was the cool kid in Hollywood town and brought Batman vividly to life on the silver screen in a postmodern ode to Fritz Lang's Metropolis and film noir. It coincided with my first ever visit to HMV Oxford Street, seemingly the epicentre of 'Batmania' in the UK and Prince's tie-in album reverberated around the store. However, I wanted Danny Elfman's soundtrack CD (remember those?) much to the chagrin of a member of staff. Well, I was more geek than chic.

In the wake of Burton's blockbuster, Batman: The Animated Series was born. This is considered by many fans (myself included) as the definitive dark night, with Kevin Conroy's performance regarded as one of the very best, and spawned a thrilling theatrical tie-in: Mask of the Phantasm. Conroy will next play a live-action Bruce Wayne for The CW's 5-part Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Before all that, my Batman adventures began in the mid-seventies with Saturday morning reruns of the sixties Batman live-action series starring Adam West as the titular crimefighter. Bruce Wayne's childhood trauma would become a metaphor for a life-changing head injury at primary school. You can read my tribute to the late actor here.

The Bat-Signal will be lighting up cities around the world today.

How are you celebrating Batman Day? Let me know in the comments below.

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