I suppose the idea is a bit redundant. How Batman got dark is simple. He always was dark but it was a circuitous route back and forth between various extremes. Batman began dark, was always intended to be menacing and brooding in a bleak, dim world; but sagging comic sales forced the folks at DC to reinvent the character many times to boost the profit margins of his comic book line.
When the live action Batman series starring Burt Ward and Adam West hit TV screens in 1966, all of that dark, brooding nonsense was tossed out the window, even in the corresponding comics line at the time.
Why did they do this in the comics?
Because the TV show was a massive, massive hit. It blew the roof off of the ratings for the ABC network and the comic brand was quick to follow the campy nature of the show. Good for them. I love the show for what it is and that’s a good time; it elevated camp to epic proportions and although modern fans of Batman will cringe at the antics of the Caped Crusader (shark repellant, anyone?), it kept the comics alive and kicking, at least until the show was cancelled two years later.
Batman ’66 had three seasons, an abnormally high 120 episodes for that amount of time on the air, and a live action full-fledged film out of the deal. The ’66 film is currently the only thing available of this series on DVD or BD at the time of this writing but there are (finally!) plans to release this wonderful series on home media sometime in 2014.
It’s about goddamn time.
I had heard they were, in part, hesitant to release it because the crazy camp might interfere with the dark, bleak, serious real world nature of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It seems these rumors are unfounded as most reports indicate they had serious rights issue to clear up involving cameos from many actors and many of the gadgets and vehicles like the Batmobile before they could have a DVD.
I get the idea that they wouldn’t want to screw around with the image Nolan portrayed in his films, though. It’s a strange competition between the two. Batman’s suppose to be dark! You can’t have some silly nonsense with guys running around in tights and whacky villains like they did on the series AND have Christian Bale all moody an despondent over the death of his parents and the sad state of affairs in Gotham at the same time.
The light and dark cancels each other out too much.
There is a thing called public perception that many studios/rights holders concern themselves with. They are worried about what people might think of their properties so mixing two very different interpretations is dicey endeavor at best. I don’t blame them for holding things up until the public had somewhat forgotten about Nolan’s Dark Knight and perhaps now wants a lighter take on the character. The question going forward is what they will do for Ben Affleck’s Batman and the new Justice League film.
Will the release of the TV series have any impact or can we all be friends now? I like both versions but there are many that like their Batman only one way: dark, dark, dark.
So anyway, back to his journey to the Dark Side. During the 1970s, the character returned to his grimmer roots in an attempt to get back to the original version of Kane’s creation.
Batman is a mess up dude, depressed over the murder of his parents and hell bent on punishing criminals and brining them to justice by any means possible.
But this return to form needed more than a twist in the comics’ direction. Sales dropped again and hit an all time low in ’85. Enter Frank Miller and things solidified forever for poor, beleaguered Bats.