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This article is about the superhero. For other uses of the term Batman, please see Batman (disambiguation).

Batman is a comic book superhero who appears in DC Comics publications and has become one of the most popular superheroes in comic book history. The character has spanned across all sorts of mediums including film, television, video games and books. His latest appearance on the big screen has been in Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), with Christian Bale in the title role.

History in print

In the early part of 1939, the success of Superman in Action Comics inspired editors at the comic book division of National Publications (the future DC Comics) to request more superheroes for its titles. Bob Kane collaborated with Bill Finger, and the character originally referred to as the "Bat-Man" first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939.

Bill Finger came up with the name of Batman's secret identity: "Bruce Wayne's first name came from Robert Bruce, the Scottish patriot. Bruce, being a playboy, was a man of gentry. I searched for a name that would suggest colonialism. I tried Adams, Hancock … then I thought of Mad Anthony Wayne."

Comic book origin

Bruce Wayne was born to physician Dr. Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha. When Bruce was eight years old, his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, took him to the cinema to see his favourite film, The Mask of Zorro. Leaving the cinema, they turned into an alley where a gunman held them at gunpoint, demanding their money and jewelry. Bruce's father calmly gave him the money, but when the gunman tried to take the pearls as well, Thomas got angry and tried to stop it. The gunman shot him dead without hesitation. Bruce's mother began screaming and was also shot dead. Bruce was left alive while the gunman ran away, never to be seen again.

At the age of fourteen, Bruce leaves Gotham City to study martial arts and forensics. He attempts college and fails, and becomes disillusioned after he joins the FBI at age 20. It is during this time that he realizes thqat his brand of justice doesn't work "within a system." He returns to his training and ends up in a monastery in the Paektu-San Mountains of North Korea. After about a year of training, Master Kirigi tells him that he has exceptional intelligence and physique, but that the trauma in his past has made him self-destructive.

Bruce leaves Korea and heads to France, and studies with the bounty hunter Henri Ducard. When tracking a fugitive, Ducard kills the man and Bruce leaves, disgusted with his mentor.

Afterward Bruce meets and learns from every great detective in the world, when he approaches Willie Doggett. Bruce, now 23, and Doggett track down a man named Tom Woodley to a mountain ledge, where Woodley shoots and kills Doggettbefore he himself falls from a precipice. Bruce, without food or warmth, wanders the snowy mountains. After falling unconscious, he is rescued by a Native American shaman. When Bruce awakens, the old man tells Bruce he has the mark of the bat, an animal sacred in his tribe.

Bruce returns to Gotham to begin his crime-fighting at the age of 26. Bruce's first night out, fighting street thugs while still uncostumed, is deemed a failure. While brooding in the library of Wayne Manor that night, a bat crashes through the study window. Modeling himself after the recurring images of bats, Bruce creates his costumed identity: the Batman.

From gangsters to freaks

Batman successfully managed to rid Gotham of corruption (as depicted in Batman: Year one by Frank Miller) from the now-deceased police commissioner Loeb and his police force, and gangsters running riot like Carmine Falcone and his rival Sal Maroni. (Both were killed in the holiday murders, as depicted in The Long Halloween.) The fall of gangsters was due in part to the rise of what they called 'freaks'. These included supervillians like Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, The Penguin, Two-face and Batman's future nemesis and arch-foe: The Joker.