The character and concept of Batman have been through many iterations. These different versions of the property–from a campy, underwear-outside-the-pants-wearing guy in grey and blue tights of the 50’s and 60’s to the impossibly grim, impossibly gravel-voiced avatar of vengeance depicted by Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale in the 00’s–have been remarked upon in comics throughout the years. But until now, they haven’t been explored through the medium of the music video.
The Piano Guys–a four-piece group of musicians who rework existing compositions for piano and cellos–explore the evolution of Batman in “Batman Evolution,” a video promoting the group’s new album, Wonders, which includes that song, as well as 11 others. The video explores not just the visual themes of Batman, from the four-color pop icon to the grim-and-grittiness of Nolan’s era, but also the musical themes of the different incarnations of the character. The “Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na–BATMAN!” of the 60’s television version of the property flows into the Danny Elfman/Tim Burton theme, which maintains a few whimsical notes, before the brooding Hans Zimmer score from Nolan’s masterpieces dominates the musical discourse.
Throughout the video, the sets change as the themes do: As the 60’s version of the theme plays, the piano and cello are in a gloriously campy, mod version of the Batcave, while the 1989 version takes places in a retro-futuristic art deco space that conjures up Burton’s visual imagination. Finally, for the Nolan trilogy, any trace of color is replaced with a grey color palette, as they play on a set that recalls the climax of The Dark Knight Rises. We’ve come a long way from the Bang! Pow! days, clearly.