Take a glimpse into Batman's evolution from the year 1940 to today's Ben Affleck portrayal.
Batman debuts in April 1939 in Detective Comics No. 27. A hit, the series sells about 800,000 per issue. The Joker, Robin and a solo title followed in the first year.
Sales drop so low that DC considers killing the title. But Batman has his first meeting with Superman in 1952 when they are booked into the same room on a cruise ship (no, really).
The campy 1966 TV show -- which lasts three seasons -- reinvents Batman for a new generation. Reflexively, the comics return the Caped Crusader to his detective roots.
A blandified version of Batman becomes a Saturday morning staple on the Super Friends cartoon. The comics introduce the villain Ra's al Ghul, who will prove vital in Nolan's films.
Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986), the single most influential Batman story, offers an elderly, hyper-violent hero. It kicks off a gritty, realistic era in comics.
Tim Burton's 1989 film begins the modern, comic-based blockbuster era. The movies in the Burton cycle (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) gross $1.25 billion worldwide.
Starting in 2005, Christopher Nolan reboots the character with his Dark Knight trilogy, a critical and commercial hit that grosses $2.4 billion worldwide.
Batman is everywhere: He steals The Lego Movie, Ben Affleck will play him in the Man of Steel sequel, and a TV prequel, Gotham, is in the works for this fall.
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