Matt Reeves vision of Batman just came to the screen after months of delays due to the Coronavirus. The film is darker than previous versions of Batman and is true to some comic book versions of Batman. But like many different machinations of this caped crusader, there’s a black cast member or two that is a major part of the plot line, usually having an allyship with Batman.
So instead of a regular review of the film we’ll take a look at the history of black actors in Batman TV shows and movies.
Eartha Kitt- Ms Kitt played the second on screen version of Cat woman that most of the general public ever saw. She was featured as the character on the hokey “biff bam zowie” version of Batman that was on television in the 1960’s where she starred next to Adam West who played Batman. Specifically her version of Catwoman was featured in the third season and final season of the show in 1967.
Billy Dee Williams – Billy Dee was in the first major theatrical version of Batman that was directed by Tim Burton in 1989. Williams played Harvey Dent who was the courageous District Attorney who vowed to clean up Gotham’s streets when the Joker became a menace to society and was running amok. Billy Dee’s Harvey Dent never turned into Two Face, as he was not a part of the sequel Batman returns, he only signed a one picture deal.
Morgan Freeman – Freeman played Lucious Fox a confidante and close ally of the Wayne family. He ends up running Wayne Enterprises and his research and development department develops weapons that Bruce ends up testing and using on the street in his nightly work as a masked caped crusader. Freeman shows up in Batman Begins, the Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises, all three movies in the Christopher Nolan trilogy.
Jada Pinkett – Pinkett played Fish Mooney on the Fox series “Gotham” which is about the city where Bruce Wayne is from, and the city he strives to save in all of his nightly adventures as a mask wearing vigilante. Fish Money was a club owner and a ruthless but sexy villain that sorted with all of the town’s biggest criminals The Penguin, Carmine Falcone, and others. Fish Mooney was not a character from the comics but was written specifically for the Fox series.
That brings me to this current film starring Robert Pattinson as Batman that’s in theaters now.
In the newest version of “The Batman”, Detective Gordon which has been traditionally played by a white actor is played by veteran black actor Jeffrey Wright. In the latest film’s early in the Batman/Gordon relationship and this version of Gordon does not know the Bruce Wayne is Batman. But both characters look out for one another and have a good cop, bad cop relationship as they generally do in most Batman content.
Zoe Kravitz the famous daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, shows up as a karate kicking, sexy, hard-nosed and yet feminine, demure and vulnerable version of Selena Kyle aka Catwoman. Selena Kyle has ties to the mob and is looking to avenge a murder in the film. And she gets tantalizingly close to Batman, and asks him to run away with which is the pretty customary relationship between those two.
The Batman is now in theaters everywhere. Jeffrey Wright and Zoe Kravitz’s performances make it worth your attention.
Eartha Kitt courtesy of Silverstream Collection/Getty Image
Zoe Kravitz courtesy of Cindy Ord
Jada Pinkett courtesy of Gotham Fox Image
Billy Dee W., courtesy of Alberto Rodridgue
Morgan Freeman courtesy of Getty Image