Before “Batman” was released in theaters, the perception of the Dark Knight was vastly different than the gritty hero he’s known as now. More akin to the Adam West incarnation, “Batman” comics from the 1940s through the 1960s were written with younger audiences in mind, stripping the Dark Knight of some of his, well, darker inclinations. By the ’70s and ’80s, DC Comics matured the Caped Crusader, publishing stories like “The Dark Knight Returns,” “Batman: Year One,” and “The Killing Joke,” which set the tone for Batman comics for decades.
Of course, in the public eye, Batman was still often associated with the outlandish Adam West caricature, so when Michael Keaton played him as darker, grittier, and more troubled than before, it took audiences by storm. In Batman’s earliest adventures, the ones still penned by co-creator Bob Kane, Batman was darker and more violent — especially before Robin showed up in “Detective Comics #38.” Back then, Batman actually killed his enemies.
Though Keaton’s Batman isn’t a carbon copy of Kane’s original vision, he doesn’t stray too far from the model. Using a combination of specialized gadgets and detective skills, Keaton’s Batman feels like he was ripped from the page. In many ways, he’s one of the most comic-accurate portrayals of the character, especially since his Batman persona is played as Bruce’s “real self.”