Batman's secret identity is Bruce Wayne, an American billionaire, business magnate, and philanthropist. Having witnessed the murder of his parents as a child, he swore revenge on criminals, an oath tempered with a sense of justice. Wayne trains himself both physically and intellectually and dons a bat-inspired costume to fight crime. Batman operates in the fictional Gotham City, assisted by various supporting characters including his butler Alfred Pennyworth, the police commissioner Jim Gordon, and various vigilante allies such as Robin. Unlike most superheroes, Batman does not possess any superpowers; he makes use of his genius intellect, martial arts skills, physical prowess, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, provocation of fear and intimidation, and an indomitable will in his continuous war on crime. A large assortment of villains make up Batman's rogues gallery, including his primary archenemy the Joker.
Batman became popular soon after his introduction and gained his own comic book title, Batman, in 1940. As the decades progressed, differing interpretations of the character emerged. The late 1960s Batman television series used a camp aesthetic which continued to be associated with the character for years after the show ended. Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in 1986 withThe Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, followed by Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison. The success of Warner Bros.' live-actionBatman feature films have helped maintain public interest in the character.
An American cultural icon, Batman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film, and appears on a variety of merchandise sold all over the world, such as toys and video games. The character has also intrigued psychiatrists with many trying to understand the character's psyche. In May 2011, Batman placed second on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time, after Superman. Empire magazine listed him second in their 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time. The character has been portrayed on both film and television by Lewis Wilson, Robert Lowery, Adam West, Michael Keaton,Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and soon by Ben Affleck.
The origin story of Superman relates that he was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton, before being rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father Jor-El, moments before Krypton's destruction. Discovered and adopted by a Kansas farmer and his wife, the child is raised as Clark Kent and imbued with a strong moral compass. Very early on he started to display superhuman abilities, which, upon reaching maturity, he resolved to use for the benefit of humanity. Superman resides and operates in the fictional American city of Metropolis. As Clark Kent, Superman's secret identity, he is a journalist for the Daily Planet, a Metropolis newspaper. Superman's primary love interest is Lois Lane, and his archenemy is supervillain Lex Luthor.
Superman has fascinated scholars, with cultural theorists, commentators, and critics alike exploring the character's impact and role in the United States and worldwide. The character's ownership has often been the subject of dispute, with Siegel and Shuster twice suing for the return of legal ownership. Superman has been labeled as the greatest comic book hero of all time by IGN, as the editors pointed out that Superman was the blueprint for superheroes as we know them today. Several alternative versions of Superman have also been produced.