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Since everybody is talking about the new Batman movie, I've read people claiming that this one does look like the Batman from the comics and cartoons.

I've done some research and now I know people refer to Frank Miller's Batman, the one from The Dark Knight returns.

I feel like there are many other Batmans, meaning that they are different characters. For instance, I am pretty sure Frank Miller's has nothing to do with the character played by Adam West.

I'd like to know how many Batmans have existed (TV and movies) and how they differ from each other.

  • A lot – Andrew Martin Feb 15 '16 at 20:29
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    Comic books, too? This might fall under the jurisdiction of Sci-Fi.SE... – Walt Feb 15 '16 at 20:32
  • @Walt I reduced the scope (TV and movies), so the question is in the right community. – sosegon Feb 15 '16 at 20:40
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    Frank Miller's as the most preferred? I would have figured it would be Bruce Timm and Paul Dini's version in Batman: The Animated Series that's the most preferred. – MattD Feb 15 '16 at 20:44
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    I doubt a single more has more references compared to wanting to know each film and television iteration and their differences of a franchise that's over 75 years old.... – MattD Feb 15 '16 at 22:20
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At least 21 distinct Batmans across films, series and animated series where he is the dominant character.

So, there have been 10 Batman films (11 if we include future releases). This number includes 3 serials. The films are:

These thirteen film star eight men as Batman, as indicated above. So if we take each of these different actors to represent a "different" Batman, that's eight so far.

If we include live-action series, we have to add the following:

These three series featuerd two men as Batman. We've already counted Adam West once, so we'll add just one man, bringing the total up to nine.

If we include commercials:

  • "Equal pay" public service announcement [stars Dick Gautier]
  • "OnStar" commercials [stars Bruce Thomas]

However, whilst these both featured Batman, I'm not going to include them as I don't believe you really want them included in the scope of your question.

So taking all live-action films and series, we have ten men starring as Batman and thus arguably ten interpretations of the character.

Where things get much, much muddier is if we include animated series.

Phew! That's a lot of animated films and series. I count thirteen separate adaptations. We'll remove one, as Adam West was counted in the films continuity. That leaves twelve

So, if we add those in to our live-action series:

Live action films: 8
Live action series: 1
Animated films and series: 12 continuities

This would give a total of 21 "Batmans".

Of course, there's a massive problem with the list I've created above - it only looks at animated series or films where Batman is the dominant character.

He appears in cameo roles in an insane number of animated films and series. To be frank, I'm not sure there is value listing them here, not least because it will be very debateable as to what canon all of those various appearances belong to.

Conclusion

Hopefully this answer gives you some idea of what you wanted to know in your question. I'm aware it's arguably incomplete, but I hope it gives you enough! The short answer is, at least 21 Batmans and likely a lot more if you factor in all his various cameos in other shows.

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    Also, don't count Adam West for movie and series. They are in continuity. – cde Feb 15 '16 at 23:20
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    I'd argue for including Terry in the counts of Batman as far as portrayals. He may not be Bruce Wayne, but he's still a Batman, all his own. – MattD Feb 16 '16 at 4:12
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    Adam West appears in the films and live action-series part, so I think you need to reduce your count by 1. – CodeNewbie Feb 16 '16 at 8:42
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    Thanks Andrew for your answer. Very impressed about your knowledge of the franchise. – sosegon Feb 16 '16 at 20:48
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    Another to add to this list: youtube.com/watch?v=iMdQXYQ_MD8 – BCdotWEB Nov 14 '16 at 12:43
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@andrew's great answer aside, I'll describe the differences in characterization. For the most part, Batman is Batman, the only differences are really how serious the medium makes him. And a good part are actually adaptations of existing comics for Batman. I'm going over the notable ones.

First up is Adam West Batman, from the 1960s TV show, Batman: The Movie, and evidently a few 60s and 70s cartoons. This Batman was very kid friendly, upbeat, borderline ridiculous, and defines camp. Dick Tracy-like, this Batman is basically the late Golden-Age, early Silver-Age comics Batman (1955-1965).

Then there is the Tim Burton's Batman, and Batman Returns. While these are in continuity with Schumacher's Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, their style differ greatly. Burton's Batman drops the camp, and goes with very early Golden-Age (40s) Batman. Some aspects of late 70s Copper-Age Batman too, which also dropped the Silver-Age camp. Grim, noir style. A Brooding bat.

Schumacher's Batman, which again, is technically also Burton's Batman (Burton didn't direct, but he stayed to produced it). Back to a campy, technicolor gadget world. Larger than life. A return to the Silver-Age, well, childish silliness. The only Brooding here is teen Angst Robin.

Between the movies, the cartoons had Bruce Timm. Bruce Timm defined Batman for most anyone under 35 today. The DC Animated Universe Batman was a fairly no nonsense take on Batman. Very Bronze-Age (70-85) serious with a heavy mutual give and take on Modern-Age (85 to then present day 95). Similar to Burton's, not yet on the ultra gritty that 90's comics became. A blend of noir and modern story telling. Didn't patronize kids. Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya, Bullock, many characters born in the cartoon got fully adopted in the comics. The DCAU Batman covers almost 2 decades, including the Justice League Batman, in continuity. Batman has a human side, but it's only revealed around family.

Also includes Batman Beyond, which is in continuity, but nearly 60 years into the future. A different Batman, Terry McGinnis, mentored by Bruce Wayne, who's similar but a teen, deadpan sarcastic joker.

Nolan's Batman is pure Modern-Age (95-Then Present Day). Gritty. Serious Business Batman.

Cartoon wise in the 2000s, we have The Batman which tries to recreate the Tim Burton feel, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold which successfully imitates the Adam West Batman Golden/Silver fantastical whimsy. Young Justice features Batman at times, in a broodier version of the Bruce Timm DCAU, but as the series focuses on the new generation, Dick/Robin/Nightwing and Tim/Robin/Red Robin, again in very Bruce Timm manners.

Finally, we get to the new Batman, Ben Affleck. The grittiest, almost grim dark version, based on the true Modern Frank Miller Dark Knight based. An extreme, non-mainstream version of the Modern-Age. If he was Marvel, he would be XTREME. Essentially the Punisher, minus killing. The most A**hole of the Bats. No nonsense. In the movie, he's dealing with 30 years as Batman, a heavy toll has destroyed any sense of humor. He's not the occasionally cheerful Bruce every other version has.

In short, most are the same Batman, but it ebbs back and forth on the level of seriousness, depending on which era of comic Batman they are following. As the modern comic trend is darker, meaner, grittier, this is what you get in film and tv.

Don't even get me started on Flashpoint Batman.

  • I feel this answers the question a lot better, the other answer answers "how many people played Batman" which I feel is a totally different question. – Theoriok Sep 16 at 7:56

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