As Batman vs. Superman is released in the UK today, the question being asked is "who will win?".
Two of our favourite superheroes (except Batman doesn't have super powers, right?), who we thought were on the same side, are about to hit the screens in an epic battle against each other. Over the decades, there have been many incarnations of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel beamed onto our movie and TV screens, both live action and animation.
Batman first made the leap from comic book page to screen in 1943. A Colombia pictures production with Lewis Wilson in the title role saw the caped crusader combat the evil Dr Daka in a 15 part serial. Serials other wise known as "chapter plays" were released each week with the obligatory cliffhanger making you hungry for the next instalment.
It was Colombia pictures who first brought Superman to the big screen in 1948 in a 15 part serial. This was followed by another serial called Atom Man vs Superman, sound familiar? In the 15 chapters we see Superman pitted against Lex Luther's alias of Atom Man, who has a new devious weapon to wield upon the residents of Metropolis.
During the next few decades we see more variants of both characters, some more successful than others. However, few would deny the 1960s TV series starring Adam West is the most well known today. Apart from an independent distributor, Lippert Pictures, which released Superman and the Mole Men in 1951, it has been Warner Bros at the helm of the Superman franchise to this day.
Starting with the fantastic ensemble cast of the 1978 Superman, there were three more movies to follow starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackham, Richard Prior to name a few. Superman and Superman II were filmed simultaneously, however director Richard Donner did not return to direct the final cut of Superman II. Donner did put the $55m budget to good use resulting in ground breaking special effects, a $300m box office haul and 3 Academy Award nominations.
It was over a decade later that we saw Batman back on the big screen in the 1989 film directed by Tim Burton. Michael Keaton in the title role starred opposite Jack Nicholson as Joker, who negotiated box office profits as part of his fee.
A good decision on Nicholson's part as the filmed grossed $400m. It was also a critical success winning an Academy Award for art direction, a BAFTA and Golden Globes nomination for Nicholson and a Grammy for the Batman theme. This franchise continued for another three movies. After starring opposite Danny DeVito's Penguin in Batman Returns, Keaton handed the baton onto Val Kilmer and George Clooney with mixed reviews.
In the 2000s we see our hero from Krypton portrayed on the TV screen in Smallville and on the big screen in the 2006 Superman Returns.
Arguably Batman wins the battle of the box office during this time with the critically acclaimed trilogy starring Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros tasked Nolan with telling the origin story and Nolan has been quoted as saying he took inspiration from the 1978 Superman production. The writers wanted to bring an authenticity and realism to the character and for the audience to care about both Bruce Wayne and Batman and the ensuing personal journey.
Audience members had to wait until 2013 to see the Man of Steel and his alter ego Clark Kent return to the big screen. Directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) he had experience of bringing characters and stories from the pages of comic books to the big screen. It must also be noted that Christopher Nolan was a producer on this film and screen writing credits go to David Goyer who wrote Nolans' Dark Knight Trilogy. Other similarities between the productions are attracting all star casts along with the lengendary composer Hans Zimmer in charge of both soundtracks.
So that brings us up to date with today's release of Batman vs Superman. So many questions; will Ben Affleck put that Daredevil behind him as he inhabits the flawed Bruce Wayne/Batman?, what are the much talked about but secreative plots twists?, what easter eggs are there for movie and comic book fans alike?, and we haven't even mentioned Wonder Woman!
One thing is certain, we have much to thank Bob Kane, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when they created these iconic heroes on the pages of DC Comics back in the 1930s. With the blueprint of these characters, filmmakers and animators have continued to entertain us over the decades and the future looks promising.