The new Batman movie debuts in special showings at midnight tonight.

First a comic book, then TV show, then series of movies, Batman has evolved over the years. These days you never see Batman with guns and the guess is he hates guns because his parents were killed by one. The early Batman did carry a gun.

Playboy magazine tycoon Hugh Hefner was always a Batman fan. He once threw a Batman party at the Chicago Playboy Club in 1965 and had actors bring the comic book characters to life – even with the silly “Bam” “Pop” “Kapow” captions included. An ABC executive happened to be at the party and thought the idea would be a great TV show. Batman premiered in 1966.

Some people may think of him as some kind of kook, but a guy in Jackson, Michigan just got so sick of the rising crime rate in that town he decided to do something about it. He put on a caped costume and a mask and patrolled the streets of the town and gained the trust of the police department. He never confronts criminals on his own, just calls police when he sees something suspicious. In the few years Captain Jackson has been on patrol, crime has dropped.

The original location of where Batman fought crime was New York City. Later the decided it should be in a fictional city so they could create the history of the city on their own. But what to call it? They opened a Manhattan phone book at random and saw the name Gotham Jewelers. Good enough.

There’s a rumored series of Batman stories from the mid 60’s that have Batman hunting down the killers of JFK. Supposedly it was a plot by the Riddler. They were never released because the publisher thought it might seem to trivialize the assassination of the president.