Top 10 Batman Differences: Then and Now

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Top 10 Batman Differences: Then and Now

VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada WRITTEN BY: David Foster
The Caped Crusader has undergone a number of important changes throughout the years. For this list, we'll be looking at how elements of The Dark Knight's mythos have changed between his early Detective Comics appearances and modern times. Our countdown includes Bruce's Wonderful Toys, The Joker, The Batmobile, and more!
Transcript

Batman Differences: Then and Now


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Batman differences between then and now.

For this list, we’ll be looking at how elements of The Dark Knight’s mythos have changed between his early Detective Comics appearances and modern times.

Are our picks Bat-tastic or Bat-ty? Sound off in the comments.

#10: Origin of Batman

In November 1939, we first learned of The dark knight’s origins. Shortly after we meet Thomas and Martha Wayne, they’re fatally shot by a mugger in front of young Bruce's eyes. Fifteen years later, "The Bat-Man'' begins his war on crime. Many elements of the story have remained unchanged in the decades since. We often see a criminal rip Martha's string of pearls, witness a fateful encounter with a bat that becomes his inspiration, and hear Bruce vow to avenge his parents. However, the actual shooter’s identity has been known to change. We’ve seen both muggers wearing clown masks and the Joker himself hold the gun. But it’s usually Joe Chill that commits the act in the alley that creates Batman.

#9: Bruce’s Wonderful Toys

Batman's gadgets have to come from somewhere, right? After all, there aren’t usually pockets on that batsuit. While he used a rope and a few smoke bombs in his first few issues, his yellow belt appeared to do little more than hold his trunks up. But it soon became evident that this fashion accessory held a wide range of gadgets. Admittedly, Wayne relied more on his brains and brawn than his toys in the early days. Modern storytellers have gone the opposite direction and expanded Batman's arsenal to be more spy-like. He has gadgets to help him fight and investigate crimes. While Bruce may lean more on technology nowadays, the mind of the world’s greatest detective is still as sharp as a batarang.

#8: The Cape & Cowl

The Batsuit’s design has felt fairly uniform over the years. One of Bob Cane’s earliest drawings would’ve put Bruce in a red costume and a domino mask. Over time, the Batsuit became remembered as a grey full body suit with black trunks, boots, and a yellow weightlifter-like belt. The first appearance of Batman also had him wear purple gloves to prevent leaving fingerprints and more angled ears. Over the years, the supporting colors of the suit would vary or darken. And designers have taken a few…bold creative liberties. But the basic idea of the Batsuit today is still very reminiscent of the original. Fortunately for Bruce, one element that has remained almost completely consistent since “Batman #1” is that the suit tends to be bullet-proof.

#7: The Batmobile

Surprisingly, the first few Batman stories had The Dark Knight travelling to crime scenes in a shiny red car. The powerful vehicle wasn’t exactly subtle. Fortunately, Batman’s ride soon got darker and was officially named the Batmobile. The live-action cars had a similar progression. Early interpretations had the batmobiles look essentially like other vehicles on a road. Naturally, they were equipped with fun tricks and additions to make them special as the hero sped into danger. Over time, creators have made the Batmobiles stand out with designs that range from seemingly impractical to incredibly tanky. 2022’s “The Batman” aimed to pay homage to the classic ride by making the dark knight’s vehicle look more like a standard car.

#6: The Rogues Gallery

While Batman's early days were spent fighting corrupt industrialists or violent bank robbers, the number of his recurring enemies has become notably more diverse, memorable, and deadly. Theories suggest these villains have spectacular costumes and abilities to measure up to the uniquely dressed vigilante. Surprisingly, influential Batman creator Bob Kane was originally concerned about the idea of having recurring bad guys appear. He believed it could make the Dark Knight seem bad as the whole hero gig if the same people kept causing trouble. But today, the villains are almost as compelling and beloved as the heroes. We can’t imagine Gotham without its wide range of sinister rogues.

#5: The Bat-Family

Though he started as a solo act, the number of people that help Batman has grown considerably over the years. The writers had a desire for their Holmes to have a “Watson” about a year in. So, Dick Grayson was introduced as Robin. While Batman’s fiancé Julie Madison came and went, the trusted butler Alfred Pennyworth became essential to keeping the dark knight in business. And the Bat-family has only continued to expand since then. We’ve seen multiple Robins, various Bat-themed heroines, Ace the bathound and more. Bruce Wayne’s love interests and even his son have also joined in on his crusade. There’s no telling how big the Bat-family might be in the future.

#4: Who is The Batman?

After over 80 years in pop culture, most people would say that the alter-ego of Batman is Bruce Wayne. But at various points in The Dark Knight’s history, that wasn't the case. The mantle of the bat has been taken up by other crimefighters for varying reasons. Dick Grayson has been known to put on the cowl when Bruce has gone missing or been unable to be the Bat. At other points, the unstable Azreal AKA Jean-Paul Valley has taken up the heroic mantle. Even Superman has switched to a black suit when it was necessary. The mantle usually ends up back in Wayne’s hands. However, there’s no telling who might become the bat next.

#3: The Joker(s)

A Clown Prince of Crime known as The Joker has served as the dark knight’s nemesis for a very long time. When the villain made his debut a year after Batman did, it was clear that this antagonist was unlike anything that had been seen before. He was a criminal with a distinct look that used a special toxin. Originally, Joker was intended to be used in one full story before being permanently retired. However, an editor decided to save the clown so he could make many, many more appearances. The villain’s personality and motivations have varied throughout tons of adaptations. And there might be multiple clowns around. But no matter who Joker is or what he wants, he’ll always be at odds with Batman.

#2: Batman in Live Action

Just 4 years after Batman made a splash in comics, Columbia’s “Batman” serial appeared in theatres in 1943. While many aspects of the character remained intact, the film introduced Bruce’s cave hideout. It also brought in an actor that became the model for many versions of Alfred Pennyworth. And as a big contrast to the free agent Batman we know and love, this dark knight worked for the government. The success of this 1940’s film paved the way for Batman to be reinterpreted in a wide range of live-action movies. While not every story is equally well-received, the dark knight consistently brings home a good box office haul. Nearly 80 years after the first serial, it’s incredible that Batman still brings people to the movies.

#1: Batman’s One Rule

Most people know the Dark Knight’s moral code stops him from taking lives. But sticking to this rule has caused issues. Batman’s been blamed for letting villains like the Joker continue to live and rack up higher body counts. Although many incarnations of the dark knight follow this rule, he wasn't always so committed to keeping his enemies alive. For his first year, the Batman would administer his own justice and even use a gun at times. But parental complaints and the comic’s growing influence pushed DC to make the dark knight a hero that didn’t take lives. While this rule has certainly been bent by a few Batmen over the years, it endures as one of his most defining traits.
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