Yesterday might as well have been called the day of the bat (at least for me, anyway). I went to the IGN theater to attend a screening of The Batmobile, a one-hour documentary that will also be available on the upcoming Blu-ray release of The Dark Knight Rises. It was introduced by Michael Uslan, the executive producer of the Batman films. Without spoiling it, it pretty much covers the complete history of the Batmobile in comics, on TV, and in film.
I loved the Adam West anecdote about him taking the Batmobile from the 1960s TV show out for trick-or-treating one Halloween (he only made it to three houses before he returned it to the studio for safety reasons). There were also numerous groans in the audience when a comedian popped up in the doc. It turned out that this particular comedian had bought a working Batmobile from the 1989 Tim Burton film on eBay (they showed him driving it around and even filling it with gas). I won’t say who the comedian is, but it’s not who you’d expect and you’ll most likely groan as well. Overall, it was a wonderful doc.
Later on, I went to the Michael Uslan panel. I got there an hour early because I wanted to get a good seat. Well, I not only got to sit in the front row, but I even got to shake Mr. Uslan’s hand as well! He was very casual; he just came down before the panel and he shook the hands of several people in the front row (including mine!). He also personally thanked us for coming.
Once things were officially underway, he spoke about the history of his involvement in comics, from when he read them as a kid to the horror of watching the 1960s Batman TV series to the accredited course he convinced his university to let him teach about comic books (when he was a college junior) to his involvement with DC Comics in getting to write for the Shadow and Batman to his acquiring of the movie rights to Batman to getting the Batman films made.
He plugged his new memoir “The Boy Who Loved Batman,” which goes into even more detail about those stories. He even showed a picture from the book of a Jack Nicholson still from The Shining that he had altered to look like the Joker (using white-out and green and red markers). He used that image to push for Nicholson to be cast as the Joker in 1989’s Batman.
Uslan even perfectly summed up all of the live-action Batman films. 1989’s Batman reflected the Batman comics of the ’80s, where Batman was returning to his dark roots. 1992’s Batman Returns reflected the Batman comics of the ’90s, where Batman was becoming almost more vampire-like in nature. 1995’s Batman Forever reflected the Batman comics of the ’50s, where Batman and Robin would, for example, have to jump onto giant typewriter keys while fighting bad guys. 1997’s Batman and Robin reflected the awful ’60s TV show. And finally, the Christopher Nolan Batman films reflected the Batman comics of today.
There’s one last bit I’d like to share. When asked which of the films was his favorite, Uslan said that it was a tie between 1989’s Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (which he considers as one story, one film). That was the day of the bat for me. It was pretty awesome.