So, you want to learn as much about Batman as you can, right? Well, you came to the right place, as I love Batman.
If I was to list my all-time top three super heroes/comic book characters, I would list Superman, Spider-Man and Batman. No word of a lie, these are my top three.
Superman embodies everything that a hero needs to be, while Spider-Man has the best origin. But Batman is without doubt the most interesting hero – no contest.
Since 1939, Batman has been a captivating character. From comics to television, radio, movies and more, he has garnered a legion of fans through a wealth of exciting and imaginative stories.
But if you’re new to Batman it can be pretty scary. This is a character with decades worth of material to devour, so where do you even start?!
Well, I’m glad you asked, because I can help. Whether you’re 13, 33, or 333 there is never a better time to get into Batman than today.
The Batman of this current era is great. As is the Batman of the era before. And the one before that. And the one before that.
The truth is, with every new generation there is a new Batman. Whether this is the dark figure who appeared in the late 1930s, the camp crusader of the 1960s, or the futuristic depiction of the Dark Knight during the early ‘00s, every so often a new take on the character emerges.
Are they all worthy of your time?
Some will tell you yes. Others will tell you no.
The important thing to realise is that YOU will discover the right Batman for YOU. If you like light Batman stories there are plenty of those, and if you like dark twisted tales then there are plenty of those too.
I believe the best way to approach Batman is to immerse yourself in as much of the Batman mythology as possible. Soak up all the different takes on the character, then gravitate towards the version of Batman you prefer.
Getting to know YOUR Batman
I first became aware of Batman through Batman ‘66 – the hugely successful 1960s television show. Re-runs of the series were in regular rotation throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and watching the show was my gateway into Batman.
From the ‘60s show I progressed to the Tim Burton movies: Batman ‘89 and Batman Returns (1992), and from here to the critically acclaimed (and frankly bloomin’ marvellous) Batman: The Animated Series.
If Batman ‘66 was my way into Batman, Batman: The Animated Series was what got me hooked. To this day, I still re-watch episodes of the show and marvel at how good it is, and how important it is to the Batman mythology as a whole.
Although I was a comic book fan prior to watching Batman: The Animated Series, I wasn’t a Batman comic book fan. But all that changed after watching the show – I picked up many of the iconic comics and learned about all the characters, including those that didn’t appear on the show.
My interest in Batman then continued through the movies, the cartoon shows, the animated features, and of course even more comics. Sometimes I would dip in and out, while other times I would do a deep dive.
As I moved forward, I also learned to appreciate the Batman stories of yesteryear – the many, many, many Batmancomic book tales that were published before I was born. There are lots, and most are available as either physical copies or in a digital format, so I threw myself into them.
Have I read them all? Heck, no! I simply pick and choose what I want to read, when I want to read it. But this means I can enjoy ‘new’ stories all the time, even if they are technically ‘old’ stories.
And I think that’s something quite important to note. We live in an age where new content is freely available all the time, be it new comics, new movies, new TV shows etc. Sometimes it can be overwhelming keeping up with the latest releases; so much so, we forget about all of the older material. But don’t forget about older content – it can be just as good as new content. After all, old content was new content once.
But how does all this help you get into Batman?
Well, my main point here is that there are many ways to get into Batman. I started with a TV show, then over the course of time I progressed to various different outlets, until I became a big fan of the Dark Knight. You could do the same too, to discover your Batman.
There’s no hard and fast rule about where to start your journey. As mentioned above, it’s all about finding what works for you. But getting started and taking those first steps is the key.
In this post I want to help you as best as I can. I love Batman and I want you to love him too; so I’m offering up a few pointers.
I’m not telling you that you will love all of the Batman content, but I am going to suggest you seek out certain titles – from comics to movies and more – that will give you a good start.
Batman: The Animated Series
My first suggestion would be to dive straight into Batman: The Animated Series. To anyone who grew up watching this show during the 1990s, it will seem like the obvious choice, but us long-time Bat-fans have to remember that this series came out a while ago.
If you’re new to Batman, or you grew up long after the 1990s had ended, then you might not have ever watched Batman: The Animated Series. That’s fine, there is plenty of time to check it out.
Is it as good as everyone makes out? In my humble opinion, yes. OK, I might be a little biased, as I grew up watching the show, but regardless of this, I still believe that Batman: The Animated Series is terrific. The show is very respectful of the Batman mythology, and was written and produced by a team that truly adore the Dark Knight.
When putting the show together, the creative team took inspiration from some of the best Batman material available at that time, and used it to help inform their choices and shape their stories. The end result was (and still is) a smartly written series, with fully rounded characters, and engaging adventures.
There are over 100 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. I have previously published a post detailing what I believe are the 35 best episodes, so if you believe that watching the whole series is too much of a commitment, I recommend you start here instead.
The really great thing about Batman: The Animated Series is it’s episodic nature. Many of the episodes are self-contained and can therefore be watched in any order – you don’t need to know anything about Batman before you start the show.
After Batman: The Animated Series, I recommend you move towards the comics. There are so many great Batman comics, from the seminal The Dark Knight Returns, through to Year One, Hush and The Long Halloween – all must-read stories.
I have previously written a rough guide to some of the best Batman stories from the world of comics, with the above titles and many more featured in the post. My advice is to give this a read, then pick up a few of the comics.
What you will notice on the post is that I include a number of stories from a run of comics called Legends of the Dark Knight (Shaman, Venom, Blades etc). Legends of the Dark Knight is a great place to source classic, solid Batman tales, so keep this in mind.
My general rule of thumb when approaching Batman comics is that the Caped Crusader provides a fairly reliable read. That’s not to say that he doesn’t push boundaries or offer truly stunning stories (far from it), it’s to say that you will find something enjoyable about most Batman comics.
Some characters have peaks and troughs – runs of comics that either work or don’t – but Batman comics are largely consistent. In my opinion, there are more hits than misses when it comes to Batman, so this helps if you are trying to navigate your way through his extensive portfolio.
The Dark Knight trilogy
My next suggestion would be to watch Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy of films. This includes Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
These three films tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end – you don’t need to watch any other movies to enjoy them. They are also really good, and have a strong fan base.
There are other live-action Batman movies I could recommend (Joker (2019), Batman (1989), Batman Returns(1992) etc), but I would start with the Nolan films first. If you know very little about Batman, these three films offer a great starting point, then you can move on to other pictures.
The are a lot of animated Batman movies – a heck of a lot. Some are good, some are OK, and some are aimed more at younger audiences.
Suggested films to watch include Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), Justice League: Doom (2012), and Batman: Hush (2019). The Lego Batman Movie (2017) is also highly recommended and not only is it a fun film, it also features many references to the wider Batman mythology, so it’s good for getting different aspects of Batman all in one place.
If you know next to nothing about animated Batman films, then take a look at my post: Batman animated movies: What you need to know.
If you want something quite lighthearted, or something that is suitable for family viewing (you might not be taking this journey alone), then I would recommend you take a look at two television shows. The first is the aforementioned Batman ‘66 – the show which introduced me (and countless others) to Batman.
Yes it was made in the 1960s, yes that does mean it is a bit dated in places, but it is still enjoyable. Plus, no journey with Batman would be anything without this show.
While many people would argue that the best version of Batman is a mean and moody one, others will tell you a more jovial Batman is for them. Batman ‘66 is about as jovial as Batman gets (more or less) and the show is the perfect example of how different the character can be if he embraces the light.
Batman ‘66 is also a highly influential show. So much of the show has permeated into pop culture, so if you want to learn about Batman, this is something you really should watch.
In total, 120 episodes of Batman ‘66 were produced. My advice would be to watch the first couple of episodes Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack in the Middle and see how you go from there.
As for the other show to watch, this is the animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This cartoon originally aired between 2008 and 2011 and is a real hoot.
Similar to Batman ‘66, Batman: The Brave and the Bold offers a more colourful interpretation of the Caped Crusader. Taking inspiration from the Silver Age of comics (1956 – 1970) the series is driven by some of Batman’s whackier adventures and ideas.
I recommend watching this show for two reasons. Firstly, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is enjoyable. Secondly, it will give you an insight into a period of the comics you might not read.
The early years of the Silver Age were a strange time for comics, with many publishers putting out daft and not always brilliant comics. This was because during the mid-1950s, comics were viewed as a bad influence on young readers – an idea whipped up by Fredric Wertham and his highly damaging book, Seduction of the Innocent(1954).
Wertham’s book painted comics in an extremely negative light, and this concerned parents. To counteract a decline in sales, publishers had to change tactics with their characters and a new lighter (and sometimes pretty hollow) approach to storytelling was introduced.
Some of the comics from this era are not necessarily going to appeal to everyone. But watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold offers a window into this era, by taking some of the fun and making it more digestible for a modern audience. Oh, and it has a musical episode too, which is so, so good!
In addition to cartoons, comics, movies and shows, one of the best ways to learn about Batman is to pick up a reference book. These coffee table style books are good resources for the history of the character.
Numerous books have been published over the years, offering insights into the different corners of the Batmanmythology. Good examples of these include the wonderful Batman: Animated which covers the history of Batman: The Animated Series, or the stunning Batman: Collected which looks at all of the Batman merchandise that has been produced over the years.
But if you want a book that covers a bit of everything, then let me recommend Batman: The Definitive History of the Dark Knight in Comics, Film, and Beyond. This huge tome gives a rundown of all the major events in Batman’s history, covering the blockbusters, the milestones, the highs and the lows.
Reading this book while watching/reading Batman content will greatly enhance your understanding of the character. You will be given a timeline of the character’s development, and a clear explanation of why Batman has continued to change with the times.
The book is widely available.
I’ll Get Drive-Thru
And of course, if you want even more Batman knowledge you can find it here on I’ll Get Drive-Thru. On this blog I do my best to answer many Batman-related questions, from What is Batman: Digital Justice? to When was the first appearance of the Joker?
I can also provide you with information about the Batman movie serials of the 1940s; I can give you a list of the best episodes of The Batman cartoon; and can tell you why everyone is obsessed with Batman’s nipples! You can find lots of these posts and more on I’ll Get Drive-Thru, so make use of the information that is on offer.
I hope this post has been useful to you and has helped to steer you in the right direction. As noted at the top of the post, I love Batman and I’m always happy to see new fans embracing this character.
Batman has an interesting and varied history, which has seen the character change considerably over the years. It might seem like there is simply too much to learn about the the Caped Crusader, but you can pick up a great deal of information very quickly if you know where to look.