Once upon a time, I had the great privilege of sharing a table with Mike Ford, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Dave Howell, and Neil Gaiman to participate in a Bat-discussion with the following description:
Batman is a rock-solid icon—and changes with the wind. From the 1930s “guy who punches everything” to the cheesy trivializations of the 1950s and the pop caricatures of the 1960s, to Miller’s epochal The Dark Knight Returns and the later movies, this supposedly consistent character has undergone major metamorphoses. What happened, why, and what’s cool about it?
In the course of the discussion, we touched upon a number of caped crusader flavors. Individual preferences were expressed; but a consensus soon emerged—that what makes Batman great is the multiplicity of ways in which he has been, and can be rendered. The Batman character transcends the editorial, story writing, and artistic styles of any given production team. I came away from this discussion believing (and still believe, today) that Batman is an essential piece of American folklore.