Pre-Dawn of Justice: Superman and the Mole Men and Batman (1966)

In the late 1930s, National Periodical Publications had two magazines that would change history: Action Comics, the first issue of which featured “Superman,” a colorful, powerful character created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, and Detective Comics, the 37th issue of which featured “Bat Man,” a darker, nastier character created by Bill Finger & Bob Kane. They quickly became the two main templates for the modern superhero: the one a big, bold, brightly colored hero of the people with tremendous power, the other a darker, scarier defender of justice who used his brains, training, and wealth.

Both characters became huge hits, and they were quickly adapted into other media. Columbia Pictures licensed the rights to do movie serials, of which four were produced—two Superman ones starring Kirk Alyn as Clark Kent and his alter ego and Noel Neill as Lois Lane, and two Batman ones starring, respectively, Lewis ...