The Dark Knight returns! After an eight-year batnap, the Caped Crusader swoops back onto movie screens this week in director Christopher Nolan's retelling of the superhero's origins, Batman Begins. To celebrate his comeback, we discovered a belfryful of secrets from his long, colorful history.
Batman's Link to Reality TV
The Real World: San Francisco's Judd Winick has become a rock star in comicdom, and is in the midst of a well-received run writing the Batman title. He even stuck a bat-reference into the first episode of his new Cartoon Network series, The Life & Times of Juniper Lee. (Sundays at 7:30 pm/ET).
Famous Bat Voices RevealedAmong the actors who've lent their voices to Warner Bros. Animation's various Batman series are Mark Hamill, who went from Jedi to Joker on Batman: The Animated Series in the '90s, and Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, who quacks wise as the Penguin on the newest series, The Batman.
Also on The Batman is the late Frank Gorshin, the Riddler in the '60s live-action series. Gorshin had already recorded three episodes before his death last month, playing Arkham Asylum chief of psychiatry Hugo Strange. And TV's original Batman, Adam West, gives voice to the mayor of Gotham City these days. "It gives me a certain political stature," West says. (The Batman airs Saturdays at 10:30 am/ET on WB and at 8:30 pm/ET on Cartoon Network.)
Batman's Lost Connection FoundLost writer and story editor Paul Dini — one of the architects of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond — hasn't snuck any bat-references into the ABC megahit yet, but a comic book featuring the Caped Crusader's Super Friends, Green Lantern and Flash, appeared in one episode. "It was a weird moment of DC Comics synergy," Dini says. But "Batman is very special to me, so I kind of leave him alone. If it's a goof on Batman, I'd rather not do it."
Batman Pimps His RideThe latest Batmobile, a 340-horsepower cross between a Humvee and a Lamborghini, was created by Batman Begins production designer Nathan Crowley and his team. "Batman has to drive a car that's tough enough for Gotham," Crowley says. The 2.5-ton vehicle can hit speeds of 100 miles per hour and jump from 4 to 6 feet off the ground for a distance of up to 60 feet. (Eight models were built for various sequences.)
Initially seen in Desert Storm camouflage in the film, Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne gets to utter what may become the film's signature line about the cherried-out ride: "Does it come in black?"