Batman has undergone many tonal transformations throughout his almost century-long career. When Bill Finger and that other guy created the caped crusader, he was a strange creature of the night. The early issues of Batman are remarkably violent for their era, but by the time the superhero boom of the 40s and 50s rolled around, DC scaled by Batman's grit significantly. Similar to Superman's trajectory, which transitioned the man of steel from being a champion of the oppressed to a square-jawed boy scout that fights giant monkeys, Batman became a campy character in comics and multimedia.
By the late 80s, Batman had already begun a successful transition back to his original persona in the comics. While on the big screen, Tim Burton helped the character reach his full maturity with the first Batman film. At the time, Burton's Batman was viewed as a dark departure from the traditional depiction. However, Burton feels that his Batman films feel like a "light-hearted romp" compared to the subsequent films featuring the character.
Burton was speaking at a masterclass at France's Lumière Festival today, discussing how the superhero boom he helped ignite has changed over the years. "When I first did Batman, I'd never heard of the word 'franchise," Burton told the crowd. "After that, it became something else."
Burton says he gets asked, from time to time, about new Batman movies, presumably meaning films like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, or Matt Reeves' recent The Batman:
"The thing that is funny about it now is, people go "What do you think of the new Batman?" and I start laughing and crying because I go back to a time capsule, where pretty much every day the studios were saying, "It's too dark, it's too dark." Now it looks like a lighthearted romp."