Andy Warhol directed the first ever Batman film
Leslie H. Martinson’s 1966 film Batman: The Movie wasn’t the first time the caped crusader had appeared on film – Andy Warhol directed and produced Batman Dracula, a silent black and white art film, in 1964. The film was made without DC Comics’ permission, and only screened as part of Warhol’s exhibits. Batman Dracula has no official release, but scenes from the film appear in the 2006 documentary Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis.
Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27 was initially set in an unnamed metropolis, and in #31 was directly identified as New York. The first mention of Gotham City came in Batman #4 in 1940, after writer Bill Finger saw the name Gotham Jewelers in a phone book. In recent years, Batman writers have acknowledged the connection to Nottinghamshire village Gotham, which is said to have inspired author Washington Irving to coin “Gothamers” as a nickname for New Yorkers after his visit to England. In The Batman Chronicles #6, released in 1996, a scheming villain plans to create the city and asylum that Bruce Wayne would come to inhabit, saying: “We could call it ‘Gotham’ after a village in England where, according to common belief, all are bereft of their wits”. Gotham isn’t Nottingham’s only connection to the Batman mythos – filming for Christopher Nolan’s 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises took place at Wollaton Hall, which was used as Wayne Manor.
Luke Skywalker played the Joker
When thinking of famous actors who have played Batman’s nemesis the Joker over the years, it’s Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson who initially spring to mind. However, Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, voiced the Joker in the classic early nineties Batman: The Animated Series, seminal animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, as well as the Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games.
Batman’s costume wasn’t always so dark
As the world’s most brooding superhero, Batman’s favourite colour is undoubtedly black – though he almost looked completely different. Bob Kane’s original design saw Batman decked out in a bright red leotard with black pants, a basic black eye-mask and blonde hair. The design was revised by Bill Finger, who introduced many of Batman’s key characteristics, including his costume and origin story. Finger was only officially given credit as one of Batman’s creators on the cover of a comic this year.
Robin is an opinion-splitting character amongst fans, and in 1988 readers were given their say on what happened to the character. In a four-issue arc titled A Death in the Family, the fate of Jason Todd, the second incarnation of Robin, lay in the hands of readers who could call through to special hotlines and choose whether Todd should live or die. Over 10,000 votes were cast, with 5,343 voted cast for Jason to be killed off, which he promptly was.
The designs for Batman’s cape were based on Da Vinci’s sketches
Bob Kane and Bill Finger noted various influences in the creation of Batman’s costume – the cloak and double-identity were inspired by pulp radio character The Shadow, his wealth by Douglas Fairbanks’ 1920 film The Mask of Zorro, and his wings by Da Vinci’s sketches for his Ornothopter flying vehicle.
Heath Ledger met with Christopher Nolan to play Batman
Imagining Heath Ledger in any Batman role other than The Joker is near impossible, but the late actor originally met with Christopher Nolan as a potential Bruce Wayne for Batman Begins. Nolan has quoted Ledger as saying, “I would never take a part in a superhero film” – he must have been impressed with the finished result, as he signed on to play The Joker in The Dark Knight before the script had even been completed.
It’s not just Gotham that exists in real life – Batman does too, as a city in Turkey. While you would assume that the city would welcome the connection to one of the world’s most iconic comic book heroes, the mayor of Batman, Huseyin Kalkan, tried to sue Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan for using the name without permission after the release of The Dark Knight which grossed over $1 billion worldwide. “There is only one Batman in the world,” Kalkan has said, incorrectly.
Batman was once merged with Wolverine
A Marvel and DC Comics crossover story saw Batman and Wolverinemerged into one character known as Logan Wayne, aka Dark Claw. The origin story for each hero was incorporated, with Logan witnessing his parents’ murder as a child and moving to Canada to live with his uncle. Dark Claw sports Batman’s trademark cape, with Wolverine’s classic yellow costume and adamantium claws. Needless to say, the chances of Dark Claw leaping from page to screen are highly unlikely.
A version of The Beatles exists in the Batman universe
On top of his nightly crime-fighting activities, Batman keeps half an eye on popular culture – a version of The Beatles named The Oliver Twists feature in Batman #222, published in 1970. The band are depicted onthe front cover of the issue in costumes inspired by the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band artwork, with Robin clutching a copy of their LP Dead Till Proven Alive. The Oliver Twists appear as part of a mystery where it has been rumoured that band-member Saul has been killed and replaced with a doppelganger – a parody of the rumour at the time of release that Paul McCartney had died.
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