Sunday will mark 75 years since Batman first appeared in “Detective Comics” No. 27, and if you thought DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. were going to let that go unmarked, then you’re crazy enough for Arkham Asylum.
Today marks the beginning of brawling billionaire Bruce Wayne’s yearlong diamond jubilee, with the launch of the anniversary celebration’s online hub, www.Batman75.com, and the release of a commemorative logo that will feature on many DC comics and Warner Bros. products. And, Gothamites, July 23 is Batman Day: There will be celebrations at comic shops, bookstores and libraries, complete with a free Caped Crusader comic special to the occasion.
The months ahead also bring the “Batman Eternal” weekly comics series, the first-ever home video release of the ’60s “Batman” television series starring Adam West, convention events, a 25th anniversary edition DVD of Tim Burton’s Oscar-winning 1989 “Batman” film, new animated releases and more. There are also more screen takes on the Dark Knight’s legend in the works: the pilot episode for the live-action “Gotham” is in production for Fox, and Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” sequel, starring Ben Affleck as Batman alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman, is to begin filming for a 2016 release.
“Batman is one of the greatest characters ever created, in comics or elsewhere, and even after 75 years he continues to wildly fascinate fans,” Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and president and chief content officer, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, said in a statement. “He is an integral part of pop culture and has successfully captured the imagination of the entire world. The origin of Batman, Bruce Wayne and the famous citizens of Gotham are legendary and likely a story you know inside out, even if you’ve never picked up a comic book in your life, and that speaks volumes to the character’s immense popularity and the constructs of the original mythology.”
Since that March 30, 1939, newsstand debut in a story with art by Bob Kane, the character’s credited creator, and a script by Bill Finger, who made essential contributions to Batman’s mythos, the tragic-orphan-turned-triumphant-vigilante has starred in countless comics by renowned talents including Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Neal Adams, Jerry Robinson, Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. He’s fought the criminal element on screen in 1940s serials, through adaptations including the kitschy ’60s TV show; Burton’s distinctively dark big-screen visions; the Emmy-winning, noir-inspired ’90s “Batman: The Animated Series”; Christopher Nolan’s recent billions-grossing, Oscar-winning blockbuster “Dark Knight” trilogy — even February’s “The Lego Movie.” And gamers have made the widely hailed series of video games that began with 2009’s “Batman: Arkham Asylum” into multimillion sellers.
Batman’s allies and nemeses have become icons too. Is there a sidekick more renowned than Robin? A butler more beloved than Alfred? A police commissioner more respected than James Gordon? A love interest more formidable than Catwoman? A villain more unpredictable than the Joker?
DC got the 75th anniversary party started early with a new “Detective Comics” No. 27 in January, and on April 9 will launch the first issue of “Batman Eternal,” a weekly series with bestselling “Batman” writer Scott Snyder as its “show runner.” The Eisner Award-winning comics creator, whose ongoing new-take origin story “Zero Year” with artist Greg Capullo for DC’s New 52 has been rife with nods to the hero’s rich history — including having him don purple gloves like in the Kane days — has promised a bold approach for Batman’s future.
“As incredible as Batman’s history is, I feel like his future, the things planned for the next coming years, are so exciting and really aim to revamp and do new and exciting things with his mythology in a way that I think will bring him to a new generation of readers,” Snyder told Hero Complex in an earlier interview.
April also brings WonderCon in Anaheim, where Bruce Timm, a producer and key force on “Batman: The Animated Series” and a director of the 1993 animated feature “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm,” will show a new animated short he created for Warner Bros. Animation for the hero’s big year. Timm will be on an April 19 panel at the convention celebrating the 75th anniversary, and a second short, produced by Darwyn Cooke, will also premiere.
The new animated film “Son of Batman,” based on a comics story by Morrison and artist Andy Kubert, will be released on home video May 6, with “Assault on Arkham” following in the summer.
For Comic-Con International, July 24-27 in San Diego, there will be an art exhibition, “Cape/Cowl/Create,” featuring contemporary artists’ takes on Batman using a cape and cowl by fashion designer Asher Levine based on the upcoming video game “Batman: Arkham Knight.” DC is also planning convention-exclusive variant covers for Bat-comics.
But for all the screen and interactive versions and merchandise, the heartiest celebration — and most important steps into Bruce Wayne’s next 75 years — may be in the pages of the comics.
“Our goal is to bring you the best Batman we can for the 75th anniversary,” Snyder earlier told Hero Complex. “If you think we’re not going to try to bring you the biggest stories in that year and the biggest changes to Gotham and the biggest instances of Batman being as badass as he can possibly be, then you don’t know us. … It’s going to be a very good year for Batman. I promise.”
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