It Is Just Superman, Spiderman, Ironman: But It Is "The" Batman?

Maybe I just never noticed this before, but when referring to superheroes who might someday appear in my backyard, why do they call all the others just by their superhero name (Superman, Spiderman, Ironman) but it is The Batman in the recent film, instead of just Batman?

Has this always been the case, or just in the most recent movie?
What is with the “The” when talking about Batman, uh, I mean The Batman?

Well the recent cartoon is called The Batman but I dunno if the ‘the’ goes back further than that.

In Nolan’s Batman universe, Batman is still very new, unfamiliar, and mysterious to the people of Gotham. The “The” adds a bit of disconnect.

That’s my interpretation anyway.

Batman was originally referred to as The Bat-Man.

The hyphen was lost, but the definite article still sticks around. Sometimes.

Calling Kal-El The Superman would put a completely different spin on his character, too, of course.

It’s not just the Bat, though. The Flashes are almost always referred to as ‘The Flash’, rather than simply Flash (unless being addressed by someone who won’t use their personal name). Ditto the Blue Beetles. And the Huntress. And The Spirit. And over at Marvel, 3/4 of the Fantastic Four get a ‘the’ - The Invisible Woman, the Thing, and the Human Torch (granted, they’re MOSTLY called by their real names). And the Phoenix. The Black Panther. The Wasp.

When he first appeared in 1939, he was “The Bat-Man”. Not so much a name, as a description for this mysterious crime fighter of the night.
As he developed throught he '40s, he became a safer, more establishment figure – avuncular, even – and “Batman” was what he was called.

From the mid-sixties onwards, there have been successive moves to “return” the character to a darker, more serious portrayal, and this is usually signified by insisting on the definate article.

Broadly speaking, “Batman” is a costumed boy scout superhero who pals around with Robin and his other Super Chums, while “The Batman” is a brooding, dark, and mysterious vigilante who lurks on midnight rooftops.

And The Hulk.

Remember the old Spidey theme song? “Here comes the Spider-Man…”? The definite article is used in his case, though not very often.

And yes, there is a hyphen in his name.

Kal-El is also known as **THE **Man Of Steel

Judging from the recent The Batman cartoon, I think someone missed the memo.

(Quick hijack, I was complaining about that series to a friend a while back in the cafeteria. “Bruce Wayne was smiling!” “What, is he not allowed to have a little chuckle every now and again?” Everyone at the table–“No!”)

Ahh, the definite article and superhero/supervillain names.

Some of them never use it. (Superman, Wonder Woman)

Some of them use it sometimes. (Flash, Batman)

And some of them almost ALWAYS use it. (The Creeper. The Question. The Floronic Man.)

There seems to be little rhyme or reason, other than force of habit based on how the name was introduced. The most popular characters, though, tend to never/sometimes, not always. I think that’s because writers get tired of having to write ‘THE Hulk’ every time.

In one of the older Batman films, Michelle Pfieffer (before she was turned into the Catwoman by magical kitties) asked the Michael Keaton Batman the same question – "Is it Batman or THE Batman?’

He blew her off.

Superheroes with “THE” before their names don’t do press conferences.

Hasn’t Iron Man been referred to as “THE Iron Man” in recent comics? I read a TPB of recent Iron Man comics, and Tony Stark gives an interview in which he and the interviewer both, IIRC, refer either to the suit or the man in it as “the Iron Man”.

I think JL Unlimited Batman (which is just the latest version of the DCUA Batman, obviously) is the best take on Batman to date.

He is still grim and brooding, but all that time around friends that he respects (Supes, Martian Manhunter, GL, and his sweetie WW) has actually begun the healing process.

It is ok to smile and be driven at the same time. The ability to do both is evidence of complexity. Bale shows it in the films (“I’m going to tell them that it was YOUR idea!”), but the JLU Batman really developed it nicely.

Yeah but Stark puts an end to it when he declares “I am Ironman!” so it doesn’t count.

The Batman has been known to smile on many occasions.

Usually when a supervillain gets caught in one of his own deathtraps. Or when a mob boss gets gunned down.

… but it’s a *grim * smile…

See the last couple of pages in *The Killing Joke *for a real Batman laugh.

It’s also worth noting that a number of Lee/Kirby creations used the definite article as part of a “The (Adjective) (Proper Noun)” titling scheme for the comics:
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Incredible Hulk
The Invincible Iron Man
The Uncanny X-Men

While they were the titles of the comics, they also seemed to serve as more formal titles for the characters themselves.

David Letterman had a “Top Ten Batman Pet Peeves” 20-some years ago, and one of them was, “Jeez, it’s The Batman, OK? Get it right, would you?”