One of the most beloved superheroes in history is celebrating a big birthday. Batman, also known as the Caped Crusader and The Dark Knight, turns 80 years old on Saturday, having first appeared as wealthy playboy-turned-crime-fighter Bruce Wayne in Detective Comics #27 on March 30, 1939.
Batman has become nothing short of an entertainment icon over the past eight decades, gracing the cover of countless comic books, appearing in various Saturday morning cartoons, television series and video games, and becoming a huge box-office draw in both animated and live-action films. He's been made into toys and had amusement park rides based off his fictional world, and his face has appeared on trading cards and board games, coffee mugs and U.S. postage stamps.
On Saturday, March 30, DC Comics will present a special "Happy Birthday Batman" panel at Wondercon, the pop culture expo in Anaheim.
Additionally, the streaming service DC Universe is marking the date by offering all Batman-related content to viewers for free over 24 hours. This includes access to television shows and feature films like 1989's "Batman," 1996's "Batman Forever," and all episodes of "Batman: The Animated Series" in HD.
There will be other Batman tie-in events at Comic-Con International this July in San Diego, and a worldwide Batman Day will be held on September 21, where multiple cities plan on lighting up the sky with Bat-signals.
Batman's origins are familiar to any fan of comic books or cartoons, and the character has only grown in stature over the past 15 years since the success of Christopher Nolan's feature film trilogy, which grossed nearly $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office.
The Caped Crusader's story is one of trauma and retribution, self-improvement and secrecy, vengeance and justice. In various incarnations of the Batman mythos, the superhero's birth begins as a tale involving young Bruce Wayne witnessing the murder of his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, at the hands of mugger following a night out together in Gotham City. Having experienced this traumatic event, the orphaned Bruce Wayne inherits the vast wealth and resources of Wayne Enterprises and decides to reinvent himself as a masked vigilante whose life is dedicated to fighting crime.
While Batman creates a secret identity for himself, he differs from other superheroes in that he acquires no supernatural or magical superpowers, but rather fights crime through his own physical training, guile, intelligence and ingenuity.
Over the years, Batman's fictional world has been populated by some of the most memorable characters in comic book history. From villains like The Joker and Bane, to allies like butler Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner James Gordon, and fellow heroes Catwoman and Robin, the characters who encompass the universe of the Dark Knight have become an indelible part of our pop-culture imagination. After 80 years, we still find ways to celebrate them.