Batman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). Originally named “the Bat-Man”, the character is also referred to by such epithets as the “Caped Crusader”, the “Dark Knight”, and the “World’s Greatest Detective”.
Batman’s secret identity is Bruce Wayne, an American billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, and owner of Wayne Enterprises. After witnessing the murder of his parents as a child, he swore revenge on criminals, an oath tempered by a sense of justice. Wayne trains himself both physically and intellectually and crafts a bat-inspired persona to fight crime.
Batman operates in the fictional Gotham City, with assistance from various supporting characters, including his butler Alfred, police commissioner Jim Gordon, and vigilante allies such as Robin. Unlike most superheroes, Batman does not possess any superpowers; rather, he relies on his genius intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, detective skills, science and technology, vast wealth, provocation of fear and intimidation, and an indomitable will. A large assortment of villains make up Batman’s rogues gallery, including his archenemy the Joker.
Batman became popular soon after his introduction and gained his own comic book title, Batman, in 1940. As the decades went on, differing interpretations of the character emerged. The late 1960s Batman television series used a camp aesthetic, which continued to be associated with the character for years after the show ended. Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in 1986 with The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. The success of Warner Bros.’ live-action Batman feature films have subsequently helped maintain public interest in the character.
An American cultural icon, Batman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film, and appears on a variety of merchandise sold all over the world, such as toys and video games. The character has also intrigued psychiatrists, with many trying to understand the character’s psyche.
In May 2011, Batman placed second on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time, after Superman. Empire magazine listed him second in their 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time. The character has been portrayed on both film and television by Lewis Wilson, Robert Lowery, Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and, soon, by Ben Affleck.
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