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Hollywood Boulevard Presents: The Evolution of Batman

Hollywood Boulevard Presents: The Evolution of Batman

The second full-length Batman movie (think back, folks – the one with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson) turns 25 this year. If you think that’s retro, prepare to get schooled: The Bat goes much further back. To celebrate 75 years of the character’s existence, Hollywood Boulevard will screen “Batman” (1989) as part of our Throwback Thursday series on October 23.

Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics in 1939, following the success of Superman. However, creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger purposefully crafted a moodier, more mysterious hero whose grim origin story would be one of the few things to remain constant throughout the character’s re-interpretation by subsequent artists and writers. Unlike his predecessor Superman, whose alien parents died on a faraway planet, Bruce Wayne watched as his all-too-human parents were robbed, shot and killed in front of him as a child. Wayne never did acquire any superpowers, but as heir to a multi-million-dollar industrial empire, the Caped Crusader relied on deductive reasoning, physical and psychological intimidation, and cool gadgets –though never guns – to clean up his hometown of Gotham City.

All great superhero franchises have gone through marked shifts in tone and style, but none as drastically as Batman. Whether through comics, graphic novels, TV series, movies, merchandise and more, the ongoing Batman legend is known for swinging sharply through thematic cycles: Mysterious, grim beginnings in the 1940s, cartoons and camp in the 1960s and 70s, and back to much darker, violent phases in the 1980s and early 2000s.

The legacy of Batman in film began in 1966, hot on the heels of the new TV show on ABC. Most of the actors from the television series, including Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, reprised their roles in “Batman: The Movie,” released by 20th Century Fox. Through a comical, child-friendly plot, several small-screen vets helped establish the “Rogues Gallery” of Gotham City villains that are still popular today: the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and the Penguin (Burgess Meredith). Actress Lee Meriwether took on the role of Catwoman, famously originated by Julie Newmar in the TV series.

A generation later, now-famous Hollywood directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan built their careers on Batman films that each re-defined the superhero movie genre, and injected new life into the Batman franchise. Burton’s ’89 “Batman” even won an Academy Award for its Art Design, which gave Gotham its iconic, neo-noir atmosphere fifteen years before Nolan started filming his recent, record-shattering trilogy in Chicago.

Join us for Throwback Thursday on October 23  at 6:45 p.m. as we pay homage the World’s Greatest Detective – Batman!

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