Batman is turning 80 on March 30, and it’s time we celebrate the man, the bat, the legend.
Welcome to day eight of this series as we tackle Batman in the 2000s. We will break it down by comics, TV, films, and general culture. Because of the breadth of his impact on the world, there is no way we can hit every landmark moment, but we’re going to try our best to bring you an overall history of the infamous Batman.
Batman in the 2000s
After the heights of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond, it was clear there was a thirst for animated adventures of Batman. Before we could move to something new, there was a direct-to-video movie release for Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. A long battle ensued over this film and scenes that were deemed too violent. Eventually, the full version was released, but it took some time.
In 2004 we finally got our first animated series in some time outside of the B:TAS universe and were introduced to The Batman. The series ended up running for five seasons for a total of 65 episodes, and spawned one direct-to-DVD film, The Batman vs. Dracula.
In 2008, a more fun and light-hearted take on the Caped Crusader emerged in the series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This series followed the concept of the old comic series and each episode we saw Batman teaming up with a different DC character to take on various villains. It ran for three seasons and 65 episodes, ending in 2011.
After pumping out four Batman live-action films in the span of eight years, Warner Bros. took a break from the franchise. After the critical drumming of Batman & Robin in 1997, it seemed like it was time to give Gotham City a rest for a while.
In 2005 things changed, however, and what would come to be known as The Dark Knight trilogy launched with Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan took over the franchise and crafted a Batman quite unlike anything we had seen in theaters before. It resonated with audiences and earned Nolan a second crack at the character.
In 2008 Nolan pitted Christian Bale as Batman against Heath Ledger as a Joker unlike any we had seen before and ended up cracking the magical billion-dollar benchmark at the box office. Sadly, Ledger passed away before the debut of the film and did not get to see the nearly universal acclaim for his performance that would go on to earn him numerous awards including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Of course, before Nolan tackled the franchise, there was one other Batman-related film to hit theaters in 2004, and that was Catwoman. Originally envisioned as a spin-off from Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance in Batman Returns, the character was eventually changed significantly and the role went to Halle Berry. Not only did the actress change, but the character changed from the age-old Selina Kyle, but to a new character named Patience Phillips. The film took a substantial critical beating, and went on to earn just $82M off of a $100M budget.
They can’t all be winners, and that film certainly proved the rule.
Comics are always the life-blood of Batman, and the 2000s saw new characters entering the canvas, and a storyline that has gone on to be named one of the best storylines ever for the character.
Things kicked off early in the 2000s with the introduction of Sasha Bordeaux in Detective Comics #751 published in 2000. Hired as a bodyguard for Bruce Wayne by Lucius Fox – against his wishes, of course – it didn’t take Bordeaux long to wonder where her assignment took off to in the evenings. She pieced together he was Batman and eventually joined him in his crime fighting duties while simultaneously falling in love with him. Eventually, she moved on to work with Checkmate.
Frank Miller returned to his Dark Knight series in 2001 with The Dark Knight Strikes Again, a follow-up to his popular 1980s series. While it sold well during its run, it was not as loved as the original and received mainly mixed to negative reviews.
In 2002, one of the biggest storylines to hit Batman in sometime launched with “Hush.” The storyline has gone on to become one of the most beloved in the history of the character and ran from Batman #605 – #619. A new villain known as Hush arrives in Gotham and brings in nearly the whole Rogues Gallery to utterly destroy Batman. On the off chance you’ve never read it, we won’t spoil the conclusion for you, but it’s an interesting read and had some lasting effects on the series.
Ra’s al Ghul gets another daughter in 2003’s Detective Comics #783 when we meet Nyssa Raatko, eventually Nyssa al Ghul. Born in the 18th century to a Russian mother, Nyssa eventually tracks down Ra’s, who is so impressed with her skills she is given access to the Lazarus Pits.
Of course, the al Ghul family wouldn’t be done growing as the supposedly miscarried child from 1987’s Son of the Demon resurfaced in 2006’s Batman #655 as Damian Wayne. As one would suspect, he goes on to become Robin, but must overcome his violent tendencies.
Around this same time, Kate Kane – who was originally introduced all the way back in Detective Comics #233 – took up the mantle of Batwoman. First appearing in 52 #11, this Batwoman is quickly putting together her own Rogues Gallery, as well as having had a relationship with Det. Renee Montoya.
The Batfamily didn’t stop there as Stephanie Brown became Robin in 2004, and then took on the role of Batgirl in 2006 in Batgirl #1.
Of course, the biggest shock of the decade easily goes to the return of Jason Todd. Killed in the 1980s by phone poll, Todd returned to life as the Red Hood in the “Under the Hood” storyline. He would go on to play a prominent role in the “Batman R.I.P.” storyline, as well as the “Batman: Battle for the Cowl” storyline in 2009.
The 1990s were a crazy time for storylines, and it seemed like everything was a multi-part story. It seems like Batman can’t solve a mystery in just one issue any more.
There were also two other characters worth noting.
- Jezebel Jet – Batman #656 – 2006
- Ventriloquist II (Peyton Riley) – Detective Comics #827 – 2007
Tomorrow, welcome to the final part!
Jay Yaws contributed research to this post.
Check out the other installments in this series:
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 1930s
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 1940s
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 1950s
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 1960s
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 1970s
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 1980s
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 1990s
- Batman 80th Anniversary – The 2010s
Be sure to enter our Batman 80th Anniversary giveaway!