He is know as The Caped Crusader, The Dark Knight and The World’s Greatest Detective. He is Batman. The iconic comic book character turns 80 in 2019 and he is as relevant and popular as ever. He, along with Superman and Wonder Woman, make up the trinity of the most famous DC comic book characters of all time, and Warner Brothers and DC comics have big plans for the crime fighter in 2019. Being a huge Batman fan since childhood, I am extremely excited about the coming year for the character. For those who simply know his name and not much else about the character, the character of Bruce Wayne was a kid when he witnessed the murder of his parents, resulting in Bruce becoming the crime fighting Batman when he grew into a young adult. Fans have seen Batman in many forms and interpretations over the years, from the campy Batman (played by Adam West on TV), to the most recent take-no-prisoners version as played by Ben Affleck. Every fan has their favorite Batman. My favorite is Affleck followed by Christian Bale. As a kid, I first became a Batman fan thanks to Adam West and the “Batman” television series, both of which still hold a special place in my heart. Batman first appeared in theaters in two movie serials, both in the 1940’s. The serials were followed by the 1960’s television show (credited with saving the slumping comic book), and then in 1989 with a new big screen film starring Michael Keaton in the title role. Unfortunately, after a sting of hit films, the 1997 release “Batman and Robin”(deemed one of the worst comic book movies ever), nearly killed the character from appearing in theaters again until the 2015 comeback film “Batman Begins” with the aforementioned Bale. Director Christopher Nolan gave the character the grit and seriousness he deserved, and two follow up films, “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” were major hits. The character disappeared from the big screen again until the 2016 film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, with Affleck making his first, and very imposing appearance as The Dark Knight. Affleck followed this debut with a cameo in “Suicide Squad”, and a co-starring role in “Justice League.” Have we seen the last of “Batfleck”? Time will tell. Batman has always had a strong presence in the animated world, most famously in the 1990’s Fox cartoon “Batman: The Animated Series”, which ran for 85 episodes and won many awards, including Emmys. Over the years Batman has had many adventures with his best friend Superman, even though the two often have conflicting viewpoints, and almost married his frequent love interest Catwoman in 2018. In the comic book and animated worlds Batman had a son with Talia al Ghul (daughter of enemy Ra’s al Ghul) named Damien, who is the current Robin in the comic book world. While Batman has no superpowers, the character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, uses his genius intellect, martial arts skills, detective skills, wealth, science, technology, and intimidation to fight his vast rogue gallery of villains, mobsters, and street thugs. To me, Batman’s lack of superpowers make him endearing, and proves what a mere human can truly accomplish. For his 80th birthday, DC comics has plenty in store for fans, including the March release of issue #1000 of Detective Comics, and popular writer Tom King’s continuing with the Batman comic title throughout 2019. In the animation world, Batman will be featured in “Justice League vs the Fatal Five” (spring) and the summer release of “Batman: Hush” (one of my personal favorite comic book stories). The Caped Crusader will also continue his comic book appearances in his most famous titles “Batman” and “Detective Comics”, along with appearance in “Justice League”, “Batman and the Outsiders”, “Trinity”, and other one-shot and limited series titles. The “Batman” comic book consistently lands in the top 10 of the most popular comic book sales chart, further proving the characters enduring appeal. Hopefully 2019 will finally bring an announcement of the characters next big screen adventure, and when we can expect to see The Dark Knight in theaters once more. In the meantime, fans have the opportunity of catch the final season of the television series “Gotham” (started on January 3rd), which will showcase the young Bruce Wayne finally transforming into Batman. On a personal note, I was able to meet and interview Adam Prince in 2018, who is Nashville’s Dark Knight. Prince does an amazing job portraying Batman, and in addition to appearing at various fanboy expos, visits many hospitals as the character to the delight of kids of all ages. To me Prince optimizes what Batman is all about. Be sure to check out his Nashville’s Dark Knight Facebook page. I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for my favorite fictional character, and what actor, if not Affleck, will be the next to don the cowl. Happy 80th Caped Crusader!