the Phantom! possibly the first costumed hero (standard superhero style, that is) in comics (strips or books).
Tom Tyler as the Phantom in the 1943 The Phantom serial of the same name. it's a pretty good serial overall, and relatively faithful to the source material (something that was hit or miss back then). later on there was an unsold pilot for a tv show. it was also faithful, and would have been an interesting show in 1961, long before the Batmania slight superhero craze five years later.
then there's the Phantom 2040 cartoon, from 1994, which I didn't like at first but then later on enjoyed. it was successful enough to run for two seasons, which is a pretty good run for a cartoon.
there have been some other adaptions (I hear Sci-fi has one) and an alleged movie being made called "Phantom: Legacy" which will feature another update.
still the 1996 The Phantom is all you really need to see for the real Phantom. it's quite a good movie, full of adventure and suspense. a great cast and score rounds it out, and Billy Zane, who plays the Phantom is a huge fan. no padding in this costume.
it's a shame it didn't do well in the theater. apparently the home sales are quite good.
I think I'll watch it again!