In Part One of our conversation with Michael Uslan, the Batman movie uber-producer recounted his decades-long journey to bring a “dark and serious” version of the Dark Knight from the comic pages to the movie screen, a journey that is the foundation of his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman. After a string of Hollywood studios and financiers initially rejected the idea, the Batman film franchise has gone on to earn billions of dollars in box office and merchandising and solidify Batman as a cinematic legend, with even more big screen adventures on the way.
After the jump, Michael and I continue our discussion of what makes the Batman such an iconic — and enduring — character.
I love Batman and I love toys, so it’s only natural that I’d love Batman toys. I’ve been a collector for as long as I can remember, and my first Batman figure was from the ’80s Super Powers series. I still collect the figures when one catches my eye, and that was the case with Mattel’s new DC Multiverse figures. I’ve long been a fan of Mattel’s DC offerings, but that was when they were being sculpted in the 6 inch scale. I’m not really a fan of 4 inch figures, as I just don’t feel you get enough bang for your buck, especially since these figures are $10 and up. However, when I saw these figures shown off at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, I knew I had to have them. Today, we’re looking at Batman and Penguin.
In 1992, when I was only eight years old, my Batman knowledge was near non-existent. All I had to go on was the old Adam West Batman series that would repeat endlessly on the now-defunct Family Channel and Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, a movie that was too Tim Burton for my tastes. However, like any other kid, I loved cartoons. Getting home after school, my ritual was to grab a snack and watch The Disney Afternoon or Tiny Toon Adventures. Like the Adam West Batman, these shows were all lighthearted and mostly innocent.
Oh, I love me a good origin story. For those who loved Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy starring Christian Bale and a panoply of excellent actors, this fall’s Fox television series Gotham will be giving us a chance to revisit Bruce Wayne as a young boy when the city was as dank and gross as Times Square in the 70s.
Sensing it might have a hit on its hands, Fox’s marketing department has gone into overdrive promoting the show. After releasing an official trailer and first look preview, eight new character posters were just unveiled by Entertainment Weekly. Apparently, they’re celebrating Bat Week, too.
Here are some initial thoughts on the latest live action take on the Batman universe.
Tim Burton’s Batman is 25 years old this week, which means Prince’s Batman soundtrack is also 25 years old! I’ve said it before, and it might be blasphemous to admit, but Batman is my favorite Prince album. While most knowledgeable Musicologists might scoff, it’s true. The main reason is likely because I was too young to really appreciate Prince’s earlier catalog and Batman was my in. I still contend it’s one of his better records, and not just because of the Batman association — even though it has barely anything to do with the movie.
There’s another Prince album celebrating a landmark anniversary this week. Thirty years ago, the Purple Rain album was released — a full month before the movie hit theaters — and the history of pop music was changed forever. Since no one at the NOC wanted write about the Batman album, I figured we’d celebrate that other landmark with one of my favorite pieces of Cliff Chiang art.
Confused by the title? That’s really just me using a bunch of words to say “Batman’s a badass.” More appropriately, he’s a dangerous badass. In recent years, especially due to his many cartoons and animated appearances, two things have become prevalent about Batman: he doesn’t use guns AND he doesn’t kill. That’s all well and good, but this had led somewhat to what you might call “the Pussification of the Bat.” People seem to forget that there are fates worse than death, and Batman has dealt out this kind of justice time and time again. After all, why else would criminals be afraid of him? Anyway, this is just my way of saying that Chris Sims isn’t the only one devoting more thought that necessary to the legacy of Batman.
As you know, yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Batman 89, Tim Burton’s gothic interpretation of the Dark Knight Detective, and the reason we’re celebrating Bat Week this whole week. To mark the occassion, last night around 10pm, I pulled out the Batman disc from my Anthology collection and popped it into the old blu-ray player, fired up my phone, and tweeted along with some dedicated NOC followers on twitter.
A good time was had by all, and I’ve shared some choice tweets after the jump. If you want to relive the whole experience, you can find all the tweets on our twitter feed, or if you prefer them curated, head over to Storify.
If it weren’t for Michael Uslan, we definitely wouldn’t be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Batman this week. In fact, Uslan is the reason there are any Batman films in theaters at all. You see, Uslan and his producing partner Benjamin Melinker are responsible for every live action Batman movie from 1989 to Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, plus 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as the animated Mask of the Phantasm and even The LEGO Movie. Basically, anytime Batman’s been in a movie, you can thank these guys.
When he attained the rights to make movies of the character in the late 70s, no one save for Uslan ever imagined that Batman would be the center of a multibillion-dollar grossing film phenomenon. Not even the brass at DC Comics! Only Michael Uslan — a self-described blue collar, comic fanboy from New Jersey — knew the world was ready for a “dark and serious” take on the Caped Crusader. In honor of the milestone anniversary of his labor of love, Michael agreed to sit down with me to talk about how he ultimately brought his vision of Batman to the big screen. Part One of our conversation is below.
On Monday, June 23, the movie that kickstarted the modern comic book renaissance — Tim Burton’s Batman — celebrates its silver anniversary. So what better way to celebrate the landmark film than to dedicate a whole week’s worth of posts to the Dark Knight Detective himself? Because 2014 is not only the 25th anniversary of Batman, it’s also the 50th anniversary of Carmine Infantino’s iconic “new look” costume design, the 75th anniversary of the character himself, and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Batman’s co-creator Bill Finger.