Have you ever wondered how and why the original Batman was made?
I mean besides the cashable intellectual property The Dark Knight represents, the rich source material that can be stretched out over decades of movies, and all the merchandising opportunities?
Well Michael Uslan, an executive producer of the original Batman film franchise and an executive producer on Joker, explained that it was due to people around him making fun of The Dark Knight after the Adam West series debuted.
In a panel Friday night at NYCC, Uslan held court at a Batman 30th anniversary panel and explained how the original Batman came to be. Uslan, upon realizing how far Gotham’s savior had fallen due to the campy nature of the original Batman series, made it his mission to bring Batman back to his serious and gritty roots and recounted all the steps he took to get there.
Uslan’s mission started in college. There he levied his love of comic books and convinced the deans to allow him to teach a course on comic books, the first ever of its kind in the country. This led to him obtaining a position as a writer at DC Comics, penning Bruce Wayne’s adventures of course, and then raising the funds to buy the film rights from DC. Hollywood then shellacked Uslan with rejection after rejection. As Uslan recounts, studio executives and other powers told him that Batman was no longer viable, that the film needed to follow Adam West’s path to camp, and that the movie would never get made.
Enter Tim Burton with his realization that the movie needed to be focused on Bruce Wayne. Then comes the casting of Michael Keaton. Add in a dash of Danny Elfman and you’re left with the magical movie that became a global phenomenon, led to a resurgence of the caped crusader, and is revered as a archetypical movie that launched an entire genre of movies. Not bad for a kid from Bayonne, NJ yea?
Uslan ended the panel with a passage from Robert Frost’s, The Road Not Taken. His story is a testament to the power of belief and determination. His story is a reminder that adversity is fuel for your potential. And of course, that we should all never forget the virtue of taking a road less taken.