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Before Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice came out, I assumed the casting of an older actor in the role meant that he had been Batman for a bit, retired, and the rise of Superman caused him to come out of retirement.

However, in the film it's implied he's only been active for a while; the fact he's not called Batman but "the Bat" (IIRC) and from conversations between Perry White and Clark Kent.

Is there an in-universe or Word of God statement as to how long Bats has been going about his business?

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Probably worth updating this with information from Justice League; Bruce Wayne mentions he’s been at it for 20 years.

Arthur Curry: So, let me get this straight. You do it dressed like a bat? Like an actual bat?

Bruce Wayne: It worked for 20 years in Gotham.

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You've touched on one of the plotting issues in BvS - the timeframe of Batman's operations is very inconsistent. He's clearly been operating for many years, enough to have had (and lost) a sidekick, certainly he's been operating longer than the approximate two years since Superman went public. Bruce talks about the "many years" a couple of times but the news reports and the way the staff of the Planet discuss it, they make it sound as if he only just started.

The expanded version helps explain it slightly - he's been operating for a very long time, but so secretly that he remains an "urban legend" for most of that time. The events where he starts to gain notoriety are partially due to the more violent tack his captures have taken - branding his victims, etc.

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In the film Batman has been active for some time. He has seen darker times like the death of Robin.

Joker graffiti mocking Batman after Robin's death

Regarding Batman's age, I am quoting Zack Synder here

So, this has happened time and again, and it happened with Affleck. To go back to the original thought of Bruce Wayne in his mid-40s, I think he’s going to be extraordinary.

‘Batman v Superman’ producer reveals Bruce Wayne’s age, Joshua Nealey for Hypable, August 11, 2014

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    I had forgotten about the Robin stuff. This seems to contradict the points I made in my question. Also, I haven't seen Suicide Squad - does it depict Bats and Joker having a history as implied by your image? – Darren Feb 16 '17 at 16:56
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    Suicide Squad shows Batman apprehending Joker and Harley Quinn. It does not discuss this aspect. But we might get to see it in upcoming standalone batman movies. – Vishvesh Feb 16 '17 at 17:00
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    One of the best lines in the film: 'I'm older now than my father ever was'. Batman has definitely been doing this for a while. – evilsoup Feb 16 '17 at 17:19
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    @Darren In Suicide Squard, Harley Quinn is labelled as "Wanted for the murder of Robin" in her intro. Since she's connected to the Joker, and initially found him in Arkham Asylum ..... – DariM Feb 16 '17 at 23:27
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    The scene with the trafficked implies that Batman has been out of action for a while so that there are cops who've never encountered him before. – Keith Morrison Feb 20 '17 at 10:12
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He actually said it in Dawn of Justice. He said to Alfred,

20 years in Gotham, Alfred. We've seen what promises are worth.

and as we all know he lives in Gotham since he was born, therefore 20 years as Batman. No plot issue.

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