Batman first appeared in the Detective Comic #27, in May 1939. His first TV appearance was in 1943
The IMDb has only two entries for the genre of the 1943 film - Action
and Crime, whilst the TV series that ran from 1966 to 1969 did have the
sci-fi tag. The 1969 film lost the sci-fi listing (although it did,
correctly include the word "comedy"). It did not return when Michael
Keaton played the lead character in the 1989 film, so what's going on?
Is Batman science fiction, or not?
The question is important if you are going to have a collection of
females from science fiction films and TV series, because if they aren't
from the genre, then they shouldn't be included - right?
It was a question I asked myself many times. Right from the start,
I was insistent that this site would be about science fiction and one
of my first criteria was that the media from which the character came
MUST be categorised as such. A starting point for me was an
already-prepared database in the shape of the International Movie
Database (IMDb). Here I could research a film or TV series to check
that it was actually classified as science fiction, either in the
genre description, or as a plot keyword. This was especially important
if I hadn't actually seen all of the footage.
Then I came across the Batman question, which worried me.
Now I have already stated that I would use IMDb as a starting
point, knowing that
it would only be that. I devised a list, created from research on what makes science fiction unique, of characteristics of
the genre - and they are as follows:
- Time travel
- Settings in the future
- Alternative timelines
- Utopian/dystopian societies
- Aliens from other worlds
- Advanced technology
Cutting straight to the point, I want to make the
point that, in many comic books, characters like
Batman belong in a universe which itself is filled
with science fiction. Some people may argue that
these universes don't strictly fit in with the
principle that a scientific possibility exists, and
that we are more into realms of fantasy here. I
don't agree. In the Marvel/DC universes, we find
aliens from other worlds and outer space - where do
you think Superman came from? Superman IS an alien
from another world - Krypton! And who is to say that
an alien species can't fly? Evolution here on Earth
shows that is most definitely possible, so why not
on other worlds? For me then, if a character belongs
to this universe, he/she/it is automatically eligible to
make the list. That makes any character from the
DC/Marvel worlds a true science fiction character. Just to clear up a
few points though...
Its fairly clear that neither the Batman TV series or the
early films directly
suggest that we are in a superhero universe. We are
in Gotham city, but in the present time. We can rule
out time travel, settings in the future, alternative
timelines, utopian/dystopian societies, space, aliens from
other worlds and robots.
However, the TV series in the 1960s contained technology
that was advanced for its time. Sure we know about
lasers and supercomputers now, but then it was
fiction. So I am happy with the TV series and the
1966 film (right
down to the batsharkrepellentspray).
In the more modern films, we also have technology which is not available to us yet.
Examples are Batman's memory fibre cape, his exoskeleton, "jumping" cars, a plane that
converts into a submarine and a computer that uses mobile phones to create a "map" of the city.
Now these are not to be confused with the gadgets he carries in his utility belt - strictly
speaking these are current or at least not particularly advanced. So no,
James Bond doesn't make sci-fi because of this! But I am convinced that Batman does. And so the rest of the characters in Batman's
world. Let's see which scifi babes make the list....