1920: ‘The Mark of Zorro’
Arguably the first superhero movie, this silent film launched leading man Douglas Fairbanks on a new phase of his career as a romantic hero and swashbuckler. Like a proto-Batman, Zorro dons a half-mask and plenty of black to fight corruption in his home town, while maintaining a cover identity as a rich and feckless playboy. Unlike the Caped Crusader, who requires a utility belt and half a police station’s worth of Kevlar before leaving the mansion, Zorro manages it all with a few yards of black silk and a fancy bit of sword play. Score one to the fox.