in article about The Batman, Bat symbol covering a pink moon and red sky, with Batman facing the symbol but looking over his right shoulder

Does Batman Make a Better Solo Superhero?

The newest rendition of the Caped Crusader takes him back to the days of solitary superhero work, which most fans prefer.
March 24, 2022
8 mins read

In “The Batman,” Robert Pattinson becomes the ninth actor to portray the masked vigilante on-screen. When looking at the superhero’s comprehensive filmography, it is uncommon to see films that feature other DC Comics superheroes. But this raises the question: Does Batman work better as a solo superhero? Or would fans prefer to see the Caped Crusader alongside other beloved defenders?

The Origin of Batman

Batman was initially created in 1939 by American comic book writer and artist Bob Kane in collaboration with fellow American comic book writer Bill Finger. The superhero’s first story is titled “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” and debuted in Detective Comics #27 (later shortened to DC Comics) in May of 1939.

Batman’s junior counterpart, Robin, was introduced in April of 1940 to soften the portrayal of the remorseless hero. Robin was described as the Watson to Batman’s Sherlock Holmes, someone the hero could regularly converse with.

However, aside from Gotham City exclusive characters like Robin, Commissioner James Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth and Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman, Batman rarely appeared alongside other DC Comics superheroes. Though the Superman and Wonder Woman comics thrived, the two otherworldly warriors worked well together, without the hindrance of the Caped Crusader.

Batman was set to be killed off as a regular superhero in the DC Comic franchise in 1964 after sales of his comic titles had fallen drastically. Shortly after this idea began to circulate, Batman made his third on-screen appearance in the 1966 eponymous television series, which kickstarted his long journey as an on-screen icon.

Batman’s Many Portrayals

Avid fans have seen the character portrayed in many different mediums: comic books, animated series, television shows, films, and video games. Most recently, Robert Pattinson had the honor of being the ninth actor to take on the physical role in “The Batman.” However, Pattinson owes this opportunity to the many beloved actors that came before him:

  1. Lewis G. Wilson: “Batman” (1943) directed by Lambert Hillyer
  2. Robert Lowery: “Batman and Robin” (1949) directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet
  3. Adam West: “Batman” (1966-1968)
  4. Michael Keaton: “Batman” (1989) directed by Tim Burton
  5. Val Kilmer: “Batman Forever” (1995) directed by Joel Schumacher
  6. George Clooney: “Batman & Robin” (1997) directed by Joel Schumacher
  7. Christian Bale: “The Dark Knight” (2008) directed by Christopher Nolan
  8. Ben Affleck: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) directed by Zack Snyder

Crossovers Featuring the Caped Crusader

In 1956, Batman made a guest appearance on “The Adventures of Superman” (1952-1958), making it the first time the Caped Crusader shared the screen with another superhero.

The two powerhouse superheroes of the DC franchise — now referred to as the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) — were the only two characters anyone ever wanted to see together on screen. Despite Superman’s status as the face of DC Comics, Batman often outshines him, likely due to his relatability and the dark subject matter of his material.

Batman regularly appears alongside other DC superheroes in comics, animated series and video games. However, he did not often make television or film appearances with anyone outside the Gotham City universe.

The most infamous crossover came in 2016, in Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” where the Man of Steel faces off against Batman, who fears that Superman’s actions have gone unchecked on Earth. Despite the film’s dramatic ending, this was not the last time audiences saw Henry Cavill’s Superman alongside Ben Affleck’s Batman because they worked together again in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (2021).

However, the reception of the 2016 film starring the two beloved superheroes was less than exemplary. With a production budget of $250 million and a box-office opening of $166 million, the film was not off to a great start upon release. Additionally, the movie received a 29% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience rating of 63%. Critic Leo Brady even stated, “It would be nice if there were a moment of dialogue that allowed us to care about the heroes we look up to on the big screen.”

The Batman (2022)

The newest addition to the franchise was released at the end of February. “The Batman” (2022), directed by Matt Reeves, stars Robert Pattinson as Batman, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Jeffrey Wright as Lt. James Gordon and Paul Dano as the Riddler, alongside many other terrific actors and actresses. It’s essential to note that this film does not feature any other DC heroes.

The film had a $200 million production budget and a $134 million domestic opening. While this may not seem like a large number, it is crucial to factor in the closure of many theaters in the wake of COVID-19.

The film’s Rotten Tomatoes scores more accurately represent the audience’s and critics’ feelings toward Reeves’ film. With a critic rating of 85% and an audience rating of 88%, it is safe to say the film is certified fresh. Fans all over the internet are raving about how Pattinson may be the best Caped Crusader yet.

Does Batman Work Better Alone?

Batman is a regular human but not an ordinary guy; he is super strong, intelligent and rich. But he lives and breathes the same as everyone else. When putting him in a universe with heroes from other planets, with abilities beyond belief, it is hard to imagine what he could possibly bring to the table. And while Snyder attempted this in “Justice League,” he was certainly not that successful — at least not until the release of his four-hour extended cut of the film.

Pattinson’s Batman is being hailed as one of the best, if not the best, version of the masked vigilante. However, many fans are adamant about keeping this Batman away from the DCEU and instead allowing him to coexist with his fellow Gotham City characters.

All in all, fans may not agree on their favorite version of the superhero. However, most concur that they want to see Pattinson’s Batman alone in the DCEU, simply fighting crime in Gotham City like he originally did in the comic series.

Janey Schmidt, Columbia College Chicago

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Janey Schmidt

Columbia College Chicago
Bachelor of Arts in English

I have always been an avid reader no matter the format. I am especially eager to read, write, and talk about all things fantasy!

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