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Posted by pompos 02/25/2009 @ 18:05

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Batman (TV series)

1966 Batman titlecard.JPG

Batman is a 1960s American television series, based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network for two and a half seasons from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968. Despite its short run, the series had two weekly installments for most of its tenure, giving the show a total of 120 episodes (the equivalent of roughly five regular seasons). It currently airs on the AmericanLife TV Network and on BBC Four in the UK.

In the early 1960s, Ed Graham Productions optioned the TV rights to the comic strip Batman, and planned a straightforward juvenile adventure show, much like Adventures of Superman and The Lone Ranger, for CBS on Saturday mornings. Mike Henry, who would later go on to star in the Tarzan franchise, and is best known for his portrayal of Jackie Gleason's not-too-bright son Buford T. Justice, Jr. in the Smokey and the Bandit movies, was set to star as Batman.

Reportedly, DC Comics commissioned publicity photos of Henry in a Batman costume. Around this same time, the Playboy Club in Chicago was screening the Batman serials (1943's Batman and 1949's Batman and Robin) on Saturday nights. It became very popular, as the hip partygoers would cheer and applaud the Dynamic Duo, and boo and hiss at the villains. East coast ABC executive Yale Udoff, a Batman fan in childhood, attended one of these parties at the Playboy Club and was impressed with the reaction the serials were getting. He contacted West Coast ABC executives Harve Bennett and Edgar Scherick, who were already considering developing a TV series based on a comic strip action hero, to suggest a prime time Batman series in the hip and fun style of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

When negotiations between CBS and Graham stalled, DC quickly reobtained rights and made the deal with ABC. ABC farmed the rights out to 20th Century Fox to produce the series. Fox, in turn, handed the project to William Dozier and his Greenway Productions. Whereas ABC and Fox were expecting a hip and fun, yet still serious, adventure show, Dozier, who loathed comic books, concluded the only way to make the show work was to do it as a pop art camp comedy. Originally, espionage novelist Eric Ambler was to write the motion picture that would launch the TV series, but he dropped out after learning of Dozier's camp comedy approach.

By the time ABC pushed up the debut date to January 1966, thus foregoing the movie until the summer hiatus, Lorenzo Semple, Jr. had signed on as head script writer. He wrote the pilot script, and generally kept his scripts more on the side of pop art adventure. Stanley Ralph Ross, Stanford Sherman, and Charles Hoffman were script writers who generally leaned more toward camp comedy, and in Ross' case, sometimes outright slapstick and satire. Instead of producing a one-hour show, Dozier and Semple decided to have the show air twice a week in half-hour installments with a cliffhanger connecting the two episodes, echoing the old movie serials. Initially, Dozier wanted Ty Hardin to play Batman, but he was unavailable, filming Westerns in Europe. Eventually, two sets of screen tests were filmed, one with Adam West and Burt Ward, the other with Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell, with West and Ward winning the roles.

The typical story began with a villain (often one of a short list of recurring super-criminals) committing a crime, such as stealing a fabulous gem or taking over Gotham City. This was followed by a scene inside Police Commissioner Gordon's office where he and Chief O'Hara would deduce exactly which villain they were dealing with. Gordon would press a button on the Batphone, a bright red telephone located on a pedestal in his office. The scene then cut to stately Wayne Manor where Alfred the butler would answer an identical Batphone beeping loudly on the desk in Bruce Wayne's study. Frequently, Wayne and his ward Dick Grayson would be found talking with Dick's Aunt Harriet (who wasn't aware of their dual identities). Alfred would interrupt with some pretext so they could excuse themselves and answer the Batphone. Upon learning which criminal he would face this time, Bruce would push a button concealed within a bust of Shakespeare that stood on his desk causing a bookcase to slide back and revealing two poles. "To the Batpoles!" Wayne would exclaim, at which he and Grayson would slide down to the Batcave, activating a mechanism on the way that dressed them in their costumes. Often, at this point, the animated title sequence would begin.

Similar in style and content to the 1940s serials, they would arrive in the Batcave in full costume and jump into the Batmobile, Batman in the driver's seat. Robin would say "Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed" and Batman would respond "Roger, ready to move out" and the two would race off out of the cave at high speed. As the Batmobile approached the mouth of the cave (actually a tunnel entrance in Los Angeles' Bronson Canyon), a hinged barrier dropped down to allow the car to exit onto the road. Scenes from the Dynamic Duo sliding down the batpoles in the Batcave, to the arrival at Commissioner Gordon's building via the Batmobile (while the episode credits are shown), are reused footage that is used in nearly all part 1 and single episodes.

After arriving at Commissioner Gordon's office, the initial discussion of the crime usually led to the Dynamic Duo conducting their investigation alone. During the investigation, a meeting with the villain would usually ensue, with the heroes getting involved in a fight and the villain getting away, leaving a series of unlikely clues for the Duo to investigate. Later, the Duo would face the villain again, and he or she would capture one or both of the heroes and place them in a deathtrap with a cliffhanger ending which was usually resolved in the first few minutes of the next episode.

The same pattern was repeated in the following episode until the villain was defeated in a major brawl where the action was punctuated by superimposed onomatopoeic words, as in comic book fight scenes ("POW!", "BAM!", "ZOKK!", etc.). Not counting six of the Penguin's henchmen who disintegrate or get blown up in the associated Batman theatrical movie, only four criminal characters die during the series: The Riddler's moll Molly (played by Jill St. John in Episode 2) who accidentally falls into the Batcave's atomic pile, a fake "Commissioner Gordon" who gets shot by the "Bookworm," and two out-of-town gunmen who shoot at the Dynamic Duo toward the end of the "Zelda the Great" episode, but end up killing each other instead. In "Instant Freeze," Mr. Freeze freezes a butler solid and knocks him over causing him to smash to pieces. In "Green Ice," Mr. Freeze freezes a policeman solid, and in "The Penguin's Nest," a policeman is electrocuted by Penguin's accomplices. It is unclear if these last two characters survive or not.

Robin, in particular, was especially well known for saying "Holy (insert), Batman!" whenever he encountered something startling.

The series utilized a narrator (producer William Dozier, uncredited) who parodied the breathless narration style of the 1940s serials. He would end many of the cliffhanger episodes by intoning, "Tune in tomorrow — same bat-time, same bat-channel!", or, just "... same time, same channel!".

Only two of the series' guest villains ever discovered Batman's true identity: Egghead by deductive reasoning, and King Tut on two occasions (once with a bug on the Batmobile and once by accidentally mining into the Batcave). Egghead was tricked into disbelieving his discovery, and Tut's recurring amnesia made him forget both times. Also, of the big four criminals (Riddler, Joker, Penguin, and Catwoman), only Riddler never entered the Batcave. However in the movie Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, Riddler finally entered the Batcave.

In Season 1, the dynamic duo, Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward), are super crime-fighting heroes, contending with the villains of Gotham City. It begins with the two-parter, "Hi Diddle Riddle" and "Smack in the Middle".

Aunt Harriet was reduced to just two cameo appearances during the third season, due to Madge Blake being in poor health. (Aunt Harriet was also mentioned in another episode, but was not seen; her absence was explained by her being in shock upstairs.) The nature of the scripts and acting started to enter into the realm of the surreal, specifically with the backgrounds, which became two-dimensional cut-outs against a stark black stage.

At the end of the third season, ABC planned to cut the budget by eliminating Chief O'Hara and Robin. Batgirl would become Batman's full time partner. Both Dozier and West opposed this idea, and ABC canceled the show a short time later. Weeks later, NBC offered to pick the show up for a fourth season and even restore it to its twice a week format, if the sets were still available for use. However, NBC's offer came too late: Fox had already demolished the sets a week before. NBC didn't want to pay the $800,000 to rebuild, so the offer was withdrawn. Batman was replaced on ABC by the sitcom The Second Hundred Years.

Several cast members recorded records tied in to the series. Adam West released a single titled "Miranda", a country-tinged pop song that he actually performed in costume during live appearances in the 1960s. Frank Gorshin released a song titled "The Riddler" which was composed and arranged by Mel Tormé. The track captures Gorshin's insane portrayal perfectly. Burgess Meredith recorded a spoken word single called "The Escape" backed with "The Capture", which was The Penguin narrating his recent crime spree to a jazz beat.

Other popular villains included George Sanders, Otto Preminger, and Eli Wallach as Mr. Freeze, Victor Buono as King Tut, and Vincent Price as Egghead.

Tallulah Bankhead's role as the Black Widow turned out to be her final screen appearance. Three other actors also played their final parts on Batman: Francis X. Bushman as Mr. Van Jones in episodes 31-32, Reginald Denny as Commodore Schmidlapp (in the Batman movie), and Douglass Dumbrille who portrayed the Doctor in episode 10.

Many sports, music, and media personalities, and a number of Hollywood actors, looked forward to and enjoyed their appearances as villains on the Batman show. They were generally allowed to overact and enjoy themselves on a high-rated TV series, guaranteeing them considerable exposure (and thus boosting their careers). The most popular villains on the show included Cesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, and Julie Newmar as Catwoman. Other famous names from the "rogues gallery" in the comic book series made appearances on the show (notably The Mad Hatter), and some were taken from other superheroes, such as The Archer and The Puzzler (Superman villains) and The Clock King (a Green Arrow villain). Many other villains were created especially for the TV show, and never did appear in the comic books (e.g., The Siren, Chandel, Bookworm, King Tut, Lord Ffogg, Dr. Cassandra, and Louie the Lilac), while some were hybrids. The comics' Mr. Zero was renamed Mr. Freeze (a name change that was copied in the comics with lasting effect), and the comics' Brainy Barrows was reworked as Egghead.

Other celebrities often appeared in scenes where the Dynamic Duo were scaling a building wall and the celebrity would suddenly open a window and have a short conversation with the superheroes. Lesley Gore, a popular singer of the '60's, played "Pussycat" one of Catwoman's henchwomen. On the January 19, 1967 episode, she sang her top 20 hit "California Nights". Gore was also the niece of Howie Horwitz, one of the show's producers.

Adam West enjoys the story that he was part of two of the three Big B's of the 1960s: Batman, The Beatles and Bond. West says he was actually invited to play Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service based on his popularity as Batman, but declined the role as he felt it should be played by a British actor (ironically, the role went to an Australian, George Lazenby).

The popularity of the TV show did not translate well to the silver screen, however. A movie version of the TV show was released to theaters (see Batman (1966 film)), but it did not become a large box office hit, even though creatively the movie was generally regarded to be just as good as the first season episodes, and superior to most of the second and third season episodes. The movie continued to be profitably re-released to theaters, TV, and video for decades. Originally, the movie had been created to help sell the TV series abroad, but the success of the series in America sold itself, and the movie was brought out after season one had already been aired. In fact, the movie's budget allowed for producers to build the Batboat and Batcopter, which were used in the second and third seasons of the TV show.

The live-action TV show was extraordinarily popular. At the height of its popularity, it was the only prime time TV show other than Peyton Place to be broadcast twice in one week as part of its regular schedule, airing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Episodes of the show were often filmed as two-part cliffhangers, with each storyline beginning on Wednesday and ending on the Thursday night episode. At the very end of the Thursday night segment, a little tag featuring the next week's villain would be shown, e.g.: "Next week -- Batman jousts with The Joker again!" (this started the third week of the series' run and continued until the end of season two). The first episode of a storyline would typically end with Batman and Robin being trapped in a ridiculous deathtrap, while the narrator (Dozier) would tell viewers to watch the next night with the repeated phrase: "Tune in tomorrow — same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!" Even now, many years after the show ceased production, this catch-phrase is still a long-running punchline in popular culture.

Batman would even have influence in the sports world. During the height of the show's popularity, the Pittsburgh Steelers--a team that rarely experiments with uniform changes--unveiled new uniforms influenced by Adam West's Batman outfits. The uniforms were introduced for the 1966 NFL season, and had gold triangle-like diamonds on the shoulders of both the black home jerseys and white away jerseys. However, the jerseys turned out to be very unpopular and, coupled with consistent losing, were discarded in 1968 in favor of the team's current-style uniforms.

In 1972, Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig reunited as Robin and Batgirl, with Dick Gautier stepping in as Batman (Adam West was, at the time, trying to distance himself from the Batman role) for a Women's Liberation Equal Pay public service announcement. In 1977, Adam West and Burt Ward returned to the Batman universe in animated form. West and Ward lent their voices to Batman and Robin respectively, on the Filmation-produced animated series, The New Adventures of Batman. West would once again reprise his role as Batman in animated form when he succeeded Olan Soule in the final two seasons of Super Friends. In 1979, West, Ward, and Frank Gorshin reunited on NBC for Hanna-Barbera's two Legends of the Superheroes TV specials. In the 1980s, several cast members would team up for a series of celebrity editions of Family Feud.

The series' stars, Adam West and Burt Ward, were typecast for decades afterwards, with West especially finding himself unable to escape the reputation the series gave him as a hammy, campy actor. However, years after the series' impact faded, West found fame and respect among comic book and animation fans, who appreciated his work on the TV series. One of the more popular episodes of Batman: The Animated Series paid tribute to West with an episode titled "The Grey Ghost". In this episode, West played the role of an aging star of a superhero TV series Bruce Wayne had watched as a child, and would be inspired by as a crimefighter, who found new popularity with the next generation of fans. He would also play Gotham City's Mayor Grange as a somewhat recurring role in The Batman. In addition, the most frequent visual influence is that later Batmobiles usually have a rear rocket thruster that usually fires as the car makes a fast start.

In 2003, West and Ward reunited for a tongue-in-cheek telefilm titled Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt which combined dramatized recreations of the filming of the original series (with younger actors standing in for the stars), with modern day footage of West and Ward searching for a stolen Batmobile. The film included cameo appearances by Newmar and Gorshin, as well as Lee Meriwether, who had played Catwoman in the 1966 film and Lyle Waggoner, who had been an early candidate for the role of Batman. Yvonne Craig did not appear in the movie because she reportedly disliked the script. The movie received high ratings and was released on DVD May 2005.

A line spoken by Robin (Chris O'Donnell) in Batman Forever is a straight homage to the TV Robin's catch-phrase. During the movie he says, "Holey rusted metal, Batman," (referring to the island's land-scape which is made from rusted metal and has holes in it) which sounds intentionally similar to lines spoken by Robin beginning with the word "Holy" and ending with "...Batman".

Despite considerable popular demand, no official home entertainment release (VHS, laserdisc or DVD) of the series has occurred to date in North America, with the situation seemingly unlikely to be resolved in the near future.

The series, under the Fox/ABC deal, is however still in syndication, and regularly shown on a number of channels around the world. Thus far, though, only the 1966 feature film is available on DVD for non-broadcast viewing in North America. This also affected the 2003 television movie reunion Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, which was only able to make use of footage from the 1966 movie.

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The Batman (TV series)

Robin, Batman and Batgirl.

The Batman is an Emmy Award-winning American animated television series produced by Warner Bros. Animation based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. It ran from 2004 to 2008, on the Saturday morning television block Kids WB.

Although the series borrows many elements from previous Batman storylines, it does not follow the continuity set by the comic books, the film series, nor that of the previous Batman: The Animated Series or its spin-offs. The character designs were provided by Jackie Chan Adventures artist Jeff Matsuda. The series won two Emmy Awards and one Annie Award.

In the first season of The Batman, Bruce Wayne (Rino Romano) is 26 years old and in his third year as the Batman, protector of Gotham City. Along with a secret Batcave, high tech Batmobile, and a new technology he created called the Bat-Wave, he has his trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth (Alastair Duncan), who guides both Bruce Wayne and Batman when needed. Other characters include Ethan Bennett (Steven Harris), a cop who believes Batman is needed in Gotham, and at odds with Chief Angel Rojas (Edward James Olmos in his initial appearance, Jesse Corti in all his subsequent appearances), who has no room for vigilantes, and Ellen Yin (Ming-Na), Bennett's partner torn between her belief in law and order and her personal feelings toward Batman and his existence. Both Bennett and Yin are charged with capturing the Batman throughout Season 1. Adam West, who played a campy version of the Caped Crusader in the 1960s Batman TV series, provides the voice for Gotham’s Mayor, Marion Grange, for the first four seasons.

While crime in Gotham is at an all time low, new foes emerge and Batman confronts his rogues gallery for the first time. The first season featured new interpretations of Batman's villains such as Rupert Thorne (Victor Brandt), The Joker (Kevin Michael Richardson), The Penguin (Tom Kenny), Catwoman (Gina Gershon), Mr. Freeze (Clancy Brown), Firefly (Jason Marsden), Ventriloquist and Scarface (Dan Castellaneta), Man-Bat (Peter MacNicol), Cluemaster (Glenn Shadix), and Bane (Joaquim de Almeida in the first appearance, Ron Perlman in the second).

At the end of Season 1, Ethan Bennett turned into Clayface after being tortured and accidentally mutated by the Joker. At that time, Yin changes her view on the Batman and from that point on the two become allies. They help each other get through a tough battle with the Joker, which results successful.

Season 2 introduced more villains with some being fan favorites, complete brand new origins: a sinister version of Riddler (Robert Englund), Professor Hugo Strange (Frank Gorshin, replaced by Richard Green after Gorshin's death), Rag Doll (Jeff Bennett), Spellbinder (Michael Massee), Killer Croc (Ron Perlman), and Solomon Grundy (Kevin Grevioux). At the end of this season, Yin is found out to have been working with Batman. At the same time, another main character to the Batman mythos, Commissioner James Gordon (Mitch Pileggi) is introduced in the show along with the Batsignal that is used throughout the show from that point. Gordon changes the GCPD's view of Batman. The last episode of the season is the final appearance of Ellen Yin.

Season 3 introduced a young Barbara Gordon, who becomes Batgirl (Danielle Judovits) and plays a major role along with her father. Barbara tries to be Batman's sidekick, but he refuses to accept the need for a partner until the end of the Season. This differed from the comics, in which Robin was Batman's sidekick. This was due to Teen Titans animated series having the character in that show, and was off limits in appearing in other shows, much like the others in Batman's cast other than Batman weren't allowed to appear in Justice League Unlimited.

Several brand new villains for the series are introduced this season: Poison Ivy (Piera Coppola whose character is Barbara's best friend in this continuity), a different version of Gearhead (Will Friedle), a more threatening version of Maxie Zeus (Phil LaMarr), Cosmo Krank/Toymaker (Patton Oswalt), Prank (Michael Reisz), Temblor (Jim Cummings) and D.A.V.E. (Jeff Bennett) - a H.A.R.D.A.C.-like super computer created by Hugo Strange.

Season 3 is ended with Professor Hugo Strange becoming one of Batman's enemies. Before the season finale, the ending to A Fistful of Felt had Batman uncovered that Strange turned the Ventriloquist, who had been cured of his multiple personality disorder, back into a criminal. In "Gotham's Ultimate Criminal Mastermind", the season finale to Season 3, Strange is brought to justice and becomes a patient in Arkham. In Season 4's "Strange New World", it is revealed that Strange went to Arkham only so he could come up with new schemes.

This season also had a change in its theme music, swapping the original theme, performed by The Edge, for a more 1960s-esque theme more than a little reminiscent of both the live-action TV series and Hawaii Five-O.

Season 4 was considered, by fans and the producers, as the show's "fan friendly" season. Season 4 featured a redesign to Bruce Wayne, with a stronger face structure, making him reminiscent of the DC Animated Universe Batman design.

Dick Grayson as Robin (Evan Sabara) was finally introduced into the show, as the Teen Titans animated series had been cancelled early in the year before this season started. Batgirl is now part of the team and found out the secret identities of both Batman and Robin, and Lucius Fox (Louis Gossett Jr.) is introduced in the season finale.

More villains appeared such as Tony Zucco (Mark Hamill), Killer Moth (Jeff Bennett), Black Mask (James Remar), Rumor (Ron Perlman), Everywhere Man (Brandon Routh), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), Francis Grey (Dave Foley), and the Basil Karlo version of Clayface (Wallace Langham in the first appearance, Lex Lang in the second appearance) with a different origin. Ethan Bennett, the first Clayface, making his last appearance in the series, was redeemed and cured of his condition.

One of the highlights of Season 4 was a possible future episode "Artifacts", that had elements from Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns series. Set in the future of 2027, with the main storyline in 3027, it featured a wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon as Oracle (Kellie Martin), Dick Grayson as Nightwing (Jerry O'Connell), with both Batman and the Batmobile resembling the versions in Miller's DKR.

The season finale featured an alien invasion by entities called The Joining and another superhero from the DC Universe; Martian Manhunter J'onn J'onnz and his alter ego Detective John Jones (Dorian Harewood). The ending of the finale had J'onn bringing Batman to a Hall of Justice Watchtower orbiting the Earth where he introduced him to Hawkman, Green Arrow, Flash and Green Lantern, in the character's cameos, as part of the Justice League of America.

This season also marked the departure of Jeff Matsuda and Michael Jelenic from the show.

The fifth and final season was said by producer Alan Burnett to be the show's "The Brave and the Bold season." This season primarily focused on the Dynamic Duo (Batman and Robin) teaming up with members of the Justice League. Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon were dropped from the show as main characters, and only appeared rarely as guests or cameos. In Batgirl's case, this is because she graduated and is attending college.

The opening to Season 5 has Batman team-up with Superman (George Newbern). Besides Martian Manhunter, other team-ups for the season included Green Arrow (Chris Hardwick), Flash (Charlie Schlatter), Green Lantern (Dermot Mulroney), and Hawkman (Robert Patrick). The series finale featured the entire Justice League .

Villains for this particular season were a combination of rogues from the superheroes appearing on the show with some of the Batman villains. Villains included are Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown), Mercy Graves (Gwendoline Yeo), Metallo (Lex Lang), Count Vertigo (Greg Ellis), The Wrath (Christopher Gorham), Toyman (Richard Green), Shadow Thief (Diedrich Bader), Sinestro (Miguel Ferrer), Mirror Master (John Larroquette), and the Terrible Trio (David Faustino, Grey DeLisle, and Googy Gress). Also, Firefly becomes Phosphorus. The Joining returns in the finale in alliance with Hugo Strange. The final episode is a 40-minute movie, featuring all the members of the Justice League who have made an appearance in the show. The two final episodes were aired on March 8, 2008.

According to former producer Jeff Matsuda, Gordon is the young officer seen in the flashback in the episode Traction. He is voiced by Mitch Pileggi.

Yin no longer appeared after Season 2, though it is implied she becomes Police Commissioner in the near future during the fourth season episode "Artifacts." She is voiced by Ming-Na.

It was implied he becomes Police Chief in the near future during the fourth season episode "Artifacts." He is voiced by Steve Harris.

At the conclusion of Season 4's finale "The Joining", Batman is taken to an orbiting satellite (resembling the Hall of Justice from Super Friends) where he meets members of the Justice League of America. Season 5 features the JLA in crossover episodes. In addition, Superman makes his first The Batman appearance in Season 5.

Batman, Robin and Batgirl have faced a slew of evil doers from the classic Batman Rogue's Gallery. Using some of the comic's most famous villains, The Batman's writers have created a unique spin on some classic characters (Poison Ivy’s origins, for instance), while introducing some of their own non-comic-book-based baddies. Some main villains of the comic book, such as Two-Face are not included in the show.

The Batman Strikes! is a DC comic book series featuring Batman and is a spin-off comic book series of The Batman. Part of the DC's younger reader line, the series survived for 50 issues in total, with the last issue shipping in October 2008 .

While many characters from the mainstream Batman (and other DC Characters) comics appear, some of them only appeared in The Batman Strikes. Characters that were planned for a guest appearance were Wonder Woman , Bizarro , Vigilante , and Owlman.

Interestingly, all of the DVD releases are in 4:3 aspect ratio. However, the first two seasons are available on iTunes in 16:9.

The Batman received the Annie Award nomination for Best New Animated Television Show 2004.

In 2006, The Batman won two Daytime Emmy awards. One for Outstanding Achievement In Sound Editing and another for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program.

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Batman (film series)

The Batman film series refers to a series of six superhero films based on the DC Comics character of the same name, all of which have been financed and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. In the film series, Batman has been portrayed by Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns), Val Kilmer (Batman Forever), George Clooney (Batman & Robin) and Christian Bale (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight). This series does not include the feature length adaptation of the 1960s live action television series.

Development for the first Batman film started as far back as 1979, when the film rights were purchased by producers Michael Uslan and Benjamin Melniker. It was Uslan's wish to make a dark and serious film, but he and Melniker were turned down by various film studios (among them were Columbia Pictures, United Artists and Universal Pictures). The Batman film was finally set up at Warner Bros. in late 1981.

In the late 1970s, Batman's popularity was waning. CBS was interested in producing a Batman in Outer Space film. Producers Michael Uslan and Benjamin Melniker purchased the film rights of Batman from DC Comics in April 1979. It was Uslan's wish "to make the definitive, dark, serious version of Batman, the way Bob Kane and Bill Finger had envisioned him in 1939. A creature of the night; stalking criminals in the shadows." Richard Maibaum was approached to write a script with Guy Hamilton to direct, but the two turned down the offer. Uslan was unsuccessful with pitching Batman to various movie studios because they wanted the film to be similar to the campy 1960s TV series. Columbia Pictures and United Artists were among those to turn down the film.

A disappointed Uslan then wrote a script titled Return of the Batman to give the film industry a better idea of his vision for the film. Uslan later compared its dark tone to that of The Dark Knight Returns, which his script pre-dated by six years. In November 1979, producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber joined the project. The four producers felt it was best to pattern the film's development after that of Superman (1978). Uslan, Melniker and Guber pitched Batman to Universal Pictures, but the studio turned it down. Though no movie studios were yet involved, in late 1981 the project was publicly announced with a budget of $15 million. Warner Bros. decided to accept Batman.

Tom Mankiewicz completed a script titled The Batman in June 1983, focusing on Batman and Dick Grayson's origins, with the Joker and Rupert Thorne as villains, and Silver St. Cloud as the romantic interest. Mankiewicz took inspiration from the limited series Batman: Strange Apparitions (ISBN 1-56389-500-5), written by Steve Englehart. Comic book artist Marshall Rogers, who worked with Englehart on Strange Apparitions, was hired for concept art. The Batman was then announced in late 1983 for a mid-1985 release date on a budget of $20 million. Originally, Uslan had wanted an unknown actor for Batman, William Holden for James Gordon, and David Niven as Alfred Pennyworth. Holden died in 1981 and Niven in 1983, so this would never come to pass. A number of filmmakers were attached to Mankiewicz' script, including Ivan Reitman and Joe Dante. Nine rewrites were performed by nine separate writers. Most of them were based on Strange Apparitions. However it was Mankiewicz' script that was still being used to guide the project.

Tim Burton took over as director in 1986. Steve Englehart and Julie Hickson wrote film treatments before Sam Hamm wrote the first screenplay. Numerous A-list actors were considered for the role of Batman before Michael Keaton was cast. Keaton's casting caused a controversy. In 1988, Keaton had been typecast as a comedic actor, and many observers doubted he could portray a serious role. Jack Nicholson accepted the role of the Joker under strict conditions that dictated a high salary, a portion of the box office profits and his shooting schedule. Nicholson's final salary is reported to be as high as $50 million. Principal photography took place at Pinewood Studios from October 1988 to January 1989. The budget escalated from $30 million to $48 million, while the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike forced Hamm to drop out. Uncredited rewrites were performed by Warren Skaaren, Charles McKeown and Jonathan Gems. Batman received positive reviews, broke numerous box office records, and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film grossed over $400 million. Batman has also left a legacy over the modern perception of the superhero film genre.

Burton originally did not want to direct a sequel because of his mixed emotions of the previous film. Sam Hamm's first script had Penguin and Catwoman searching for hidden treasure. Daniel Waters delivered a script that satisfied Burton, which convinced him to reprise his duties as director. Wesley Strick did an uncredited rewrite, deleting characterizations of Harvey Dent, Robin and rewriting the climax. Various A-list actresses lobbied hard for the role of Catwoman before Michelle Pfeiffer was cast, while Danny DeVito signed on to portray the Penguin. Filming started at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California in June 1991. Batman Returns was released with financial success, but Warner Bros. was disappointed with the film's box office run because it earned less than its predecessor. However, Batman Returns was released with critical acclaim, but a "parental backlash" criticized the film with violence and sexual innuendos that were unsuitable for children. McDonald's shut down their Happy Meal tie-in for Batman Returns. The film's legacy is also notable for leaving behind the Catwoman spin-off.

Although Batman Returns was a financial success, Warner Bros. felt the film should have made more money. The studio decided to change the direction of the Batman film series to be more mainstream. Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton as director, while Burton decided to stay on as producer. However, Michael Keaton decided not to reprise the role of Batman because he did not like the new direction the film series was heading in. Filming started in September 1994, and Schumacher encountered problems communicating with Val Kilmer and Tommy Lee Jones. Batman Forever was released on June 16, 1995 with financial success, earning over $350 million worldwide, but the film was met with mixed reviews from critics.

Development for Batman & Robin started immediately after Batman Forever, and Warner Bros. commissioned the film on fast track for a adamant June 1997 release. Principal photography began in September 1996 and finished in January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule. Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997, and was met with critically panned reviews. The film was a modest financial success, but observers criticized the film for its toyetic and campy approach, and for homosexual innuendos added by Schumacher. Batman & Robin received numerous nominations at the Razzie Awards and is highly considered to be one of the worst superhero films of all time.

During the filming of Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. was impressed with the dailies. This prompted them to immediately hire Joel Schumacher to return as director for a sequel, but writer Akiva Goldsman, who worked on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin with Schumacher, turned down the chance to write the script. In late 1996, Warner Bros. and Schumacher hired Mark Protosevich to write the script for a fifth Batman film. A projected mid-1999 release date was announced. Titled Batman Triumphant, Protosevich's script had the Scarecrow as the main villain. Through the use of his fear toxin, he resurrects the Joker. Harley Quinn appeared as a supporting character, written as the Joker's daughter. George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell were set to reprise the roles of Batman and Robin. However, when Batman & Robin was released with negative reviews, Warner Bros. was unsure of their plans for Batman Triumphant. The studio decided it was best to consider a live-action Batman Beyond film and an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. Warners would then greenlight whichever idea suited them the most. Schumacher felt he "owe the Batman culture a real Batman movie. I would go back to the basics and make a dark portrayal of the Dark Knight." He approached Warner Bros. of doing Batman: Year One in mid-1998.

Despite Warner Bros. and Schumacher's interest with Year One, Lee Shapiro, a comic book fan, and Stephen Wise pitched the studio with a script titled Batman: DarKnight in mid-1998. DarKnight had Bruce Wayne giving up his crime fighting career and Dick Grayson attending Gotham University. Dr. Jonathan Crane uses his position as professor of psychology at Gotham University and as head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum to conduct his experiments in fear. During a vengeful confrontation with a colleague, Dr. Kirk Langstrom, Crane unknowingly initiates Kirk's transformation into the creature known as Man-Bat. Citizens of Gotham believe Man-Bat's nightly activities to be Batman's "bloodthirsty" return. Bruce becomes Batman "to clear his name" and solve the mystery of Man-Bat. Kirk struggles with his "man vs. monster" syndrome as he longs to both reunite with his wife and get revenge on Crane, while Crane exacts revenge on those responsible for his dismissal from both Arkham and the university while encountering truths about his past. Warner Bros. decided not to move forward, and passed on Batman: DarKnight in favor of Year One and Batman Beyond.

In January 2000, Scott Rosenberg turned down the chance to write the script for Batman: Year One. In mid-2000, Paul Dini, Neal Stephenson and Boaz Yakin were hired to write a script for Batman Beyond, with Yakin to direct. The film was based on the Warner Bros. animated television series of the same name. However, Warner Bros. abandoned Batman Beyond almost instantly in favor of Batman: Year One.

Around the same time, Warners hired Darren Aronofsky to write and direct Year One, despite interest from Joel Schumacher. Aronofsky, who collaborated with Frank Miller on an unproduced script for Ronin, brought Miller to co-write Year One with him. They intended to reboot the Batman franchise, "it's somewhat based on the comic book," Aronofsky said. "Toss out everything you can imagine about Batman! Everything! We're starting completely anew." Regular Aronofsky collaborator, Matthew Libatique, was set as cinematographer, and Aronofsky had also approached Christian Bale for the role of Batman. Coincidentally, Bale would be cast in the role for Batman Begins. At the same time, Warner Bros. was moving forward on a Catwoman spin-off. However, by June 2002, the studio decided to move forward on Batman vs. Superman and abandon Year One.

Warner Bros. abandoned J. J. Abrams' script for Superman: Flyby, which had been greenlighted with McG to direct. When McG dropped out in favor of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Warner Bros. approached Wolfgang Petersen to direct Superman: Flyby, however, in August 2001, Andrew Kevin Walker pitched Warner Bros. an idea titled Batman vs Superman, attaching Petersen as director. Superman: Flyby was put on hold, and Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite Walker's Batman vs. Superman.

Goldsman's draft, dated June 21, 2002, had Bruce Wayne going through a mental breakdown after his five year retirement of crime fighting. Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon are all dead, but Bruce's depressed emotions become resolved with fiancée Elizabeth Miller. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is struggling by a recent divorce with Lois Lane. Clark and Bruce are close friends, and Clark is Bruce's best man. After the Joker kills Elizabeth at the honeymoon, Bruce plots a revenge scheme, while Clark tries to hold him back. In return, Bruce blames Clark for her death, and the two go against one another. Part of the script took place in Smallville, where Clark goes into exile with Lana Lang. However, Lex Luthor is held to be responsible for the entire plot of Batman and Superman destroying each other. The two decide to team up and stop Luthor.

Christian Bale and Josh Hartnett had turned down the roles of Batman and Superman. Bale would eventually portray the same role in Batman Begins. Principal photography was to start in early-2003, with plans for a five—six month shoot. The release date was set for the mid-2004. Within a month of Warner Bros. greenlighting Batman vs. Superman, Petersen left in favor of Troy (2004). Warner Bros. decided to move forward on Superman: Flyby and on a Batman reboot. Petersen and Bryan Singer are interested in directing the project sometime in the future, with Bale as Batman.

In December 2002, comic book writer/filmmaker Joss Whedon pitched an origin story that was met with negative feedback from Warners. Whedon's version had "a Hannibal Lecter-type villain in Arkham Asylum that Bruce went and sort of studied with," Whedon said. "It was set in Bruce's early years in Gotham City. I get very emotional about it, I still love the story. Maybe I’ll get to do it as a comic one day." In January 2003, Christopher Nolan was hired to take over the Batman franchise, resulting in the rebooted Batman Begins.

Director/writer Christopher Nolan and co-writer David S. Goyer began work on Batman Begins in early 2003 and aimed for a darker and more realistic tone, with humanity and realism being the basis of the film. The film, which was primarily shot in England and Chicago, relied on traditional stunts and scale models — computer-generated imagery was used minimally. A new Batmobile (called the Tumbler) and a more mobile Batsuit were both created specifically for the film. Batman Begins was critically and commercially successful. The film opened on June 15, 2005 in the United States and Canada in 3,858 theaters. It grossed US$48 million in its opening weekend, eventually earning $370 million worldwide. The film received an 84% overall approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Critics noted that fear was a common theme throughout the film, and remarked that it had a darker tone compared to previous Batman films. Batman Begins has also popularized the notion of reboots in Hollywood.

Christopher Nolan reprised his duties as director, and brought his brother, Jonathan, to co-write the script. The Dark Knight featured Heath Ledger as The Joker and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face. Principal photography began in April 2007 in Chicago. Other locations included Pinewood Studios and Hong Kong. On January 22 2008, after he had completed filming The Dark Knight, Ledger died of a sleeping pill overdose, leading to intense attention from the press and more people showing interest in the film. Warner Bros. had created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screen shots of Ledger as the Joker, but after Ledger's death, the studio refocused its promotional campaign. The film was released on July 16 2008; prior to its box office debut in North America, record numbers of advance tickets were sold for The Dark Knight. It was greeted with extremely positive reviews upon release, and became the second film ever to earn more than $500 million at the United States box office, over 900 million$ worldwide, and setting numerous other records in the process. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning in two categories: Best Sound Editing and Best Supporting Actor, making it the second Batman film ever to win an Academy Award.

Warner Bros. president of production Jeff Robinov hopes a third film will be released in 2011. Nolan is not committed to another sequel, explaining that he does not normally line up projects right after completing a film, noting "Is there a story that's going to keep me emotionally invested for the couple of years that it will take to make another one? That’s the overriding question. On a more superficial level, I have to ask the question: How many good third movies in a franchise can people name?" He added the only reason he would return would be if he found a necessary way to continue the story, but he feared midway through filming another installment he would find it redundant. Nolan had written a rough story outline and made some notes by December 2008, despite his uncertainty in returning for the sequel. Later in December, Alan F. Horn confirmed that while discussions with Nolan about a third film were ongoing, no casting had been done, and Horn categorically denied all such rumors.

Kate Beckinsale has expressed interest in playing Catwoman, while rumors are spreading that Angelina Jolie is reported to be Catwoman. Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman in the Batman series from 1966 to 1967, said "Angelina would own the part." David Tennant and Brian Austin Green wish to portray the Riddler. Aaron Eckhart had expressed his enthusiasm that he would reprise his role for a sequel if asked, although he later confirmed that, in talks with Nolan before Heath Ledger's death, the director considers Two-Face to be dead. Michael Caine commented that a studio executive was interested in casting Johnny Depp as the Riddler, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin. Hoffman later denied the rumor.

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Source : Wikipedia