The internet exploded with nerd rage as it was revealed that the role of Batman in the upcoming Batman/Superman movie will be played by Ben Affleck.
Instead of more justly raging that the movie isn't titled Wonder Woman.
Once upon a time Warner Bros. could cast a charismatic actor such as George Clooney to play the role, and no one would bat an eye until the movie itself turned out to tank, but over the years it seems that fans have started taking their Batman a little too seriously, and I have a feeling that media such as Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, and the Arkham video games may be somewhat responsible for this as they removing the fun and colorful aspects of the Batman myth and replacing them with grim and grey modern pseudo-realism.
Whenever anyone ask me who my favorite Batman is the answer for me is as easy as it seems to be controversial to others: Adam West. I remember watching the show with my mother. It was a powerful experience for me because I was able to share joy of this character with my mother whom had grown up when the show was on air. It was exciting, colorful, and action packed, funny and often witty. This interpretation of Batman has made a recent resurgence with DC's Batman '66 comic, and it's tone was embraced in the Batman: The Brave and The Bold cartoon.
The Music Meister episode was pure genius!
As the core audience of comics aged, and stories like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns became huge successes comic readers began to demand more sophisticated stories. (The fact that they became anything but sophisticated is a separate discussion all together) It's no doubt that in a story featuring a main character motivated by guilt and vengeance, darker overtones are the most suited.
Often I hear the darker interpretations of Batman defend as bringing Batman back to his roots, but is that what it really is? It's true that the original Batman stories were dark, but they are often looked at with the same rose colored glasses as glorification of the fifties: over looking the glaring negative aspects of the era in favor of a romantic view established after decades after it ended. The gritty Golden Age Batman was based on the heroes populating pulp magazines. He carried a gun, murdered his targets, and, oh yeah, only lasted for about a year.
Somehow Robin has become the symbol of the degradation of Batman when in actuality both Robin and the change in tone are responsible of Batman's longevity. Contrary to popular belief they predate the Comic Code Authority (a self censoring comic regulator resulting from McCarthism) by about 14 years. This adjustment was because it was more interesting to keep intriguing villains alive, Batman needed a support cast to bounce dialogue off of, and a need to appeal to younger audiences (you know, the demographic power fantasy adventures are geared for). Batman's popularity exploded because of these changes, and it is my contention that it is the cast of interesting villains and the colorful personalities of his supporting cast that makes Batman so interesting. Strip him of that and he becomes no better then the dull anti-heroes that polluted the comic shelves in the 90s.
Batman is often thought of as the every man that through determination and preparation is able to fight on equal grounds with gods and aliens. To be honest I hardly see that.
That description more accurately defines Nightwing.
Batman is just as absurdly super as Superman himself, but instead of having every superpower in he book he gets by with insane amounts of cash and is somehow prepared for everything. Coupled with modern Batman's broody emotionless personality Batman himself is exceptionally boring. That's where the criminal psychopaths, the Boy Wonders, and Batgirls come in. Batman is made much more rich, and his personality better to tolerate when he's surrounded by relateable and interesting characters. All dark all the time is stale, even a deep, and dark tale like Neil Gaiman's Sandman is more palatable with characters such as Death and Delirium that contrast the main character, Dream's, somber, dark, and moody personality.
However the modern interpretations of Christopher Nolan's movies opt to neuter or nix the support cast and villains because they are too "silly" for the "serious" and "realistic" (plot hole ridden, lack of subtle narrative) Dark Knight series about a man that puts on a bat suit in a childish act of vengeance and redemption. Choosing instead to cast all of its villains as terrorist, crime bosses, and crooked politicians. Resulting really boring world, and an outlandishly dull third film.
The Arkham City games don't fair well either. Although it has it's fair share of Joker and Harely Quinn; the games place a lot of emphasis on Bane, Ra's Al Ghul, and Killer Croc: The drug pusher, the terroist, and the violent thug. Furthermore Pengiun and Two Face are reduced to petty crime bosses, and everyone else have unimportant cameos. Some of the most interesting parts of the game such as the hallucinatory struggles against Ra's Al Ghul, Scarecrow, and Mad Hatter, and the fantastic battles against Solomon Grundy, Clayface, and Mr. Freeze are out of place in it's gritty narrative. The Arkham City games try to have the fantastic elements of the comic in a story that attempts to disavow them resulting in a hollow narrative. The upcoming Arkham Origins is taking this to a new degree by replacing the cast of amazing and psychotic villains with boring, one dimensional assassins ... and the Joker ... the Arkham series can't let that guy die.
I don't want to say that the darker, moodier Batman is a bad interpretation. It works, but when it's "realism" is used to justify an uninteresting and void of character environment it fails. Frank Miller's Dark Knight gave us a grim, brutal Batman, but never strayed from the aspects that made Batman fun and exciting by building an absurdly amoral Gotham City terrorized by an equally absurd looking gang. The 90's Batman The Animated Series was a perfect mix of dark and engaging with it's episodes that focused on the villain character development and a great supporting cast that was not shy about being funny at times. Grant Morrison's Batman comic run has been taking the character and his new cast of support characters into fantastic places, but these Batmen do not get the same exposure today as the movies and games which seem to think that gritty, grim, real, and dark mean boring, stiff, one dimensional, and boring.