1: How Big Is Batman?

Brian and Alex introduce themselves, and talk about what the show is going to be. Why bother talking about the history of Batman? And how much are we signing up for? Clearly the topic is big… but how big?

You can find an archive of all episodes at batlessons.com. Send your comments, questions and corrections to contact@batlessons.com or tweet at us @batlessons

Podcast Artwork by Sergio R. M. Duarte

Podcast Music by Renzo Calma

[00:00:00] Brian: I’m feel bad for the person who came to this show, hoping it was going to be about like bats, the animal.

[00:00:08] Alex: welcome to the inaugural episode, the maiden voyage of Bat Lessons, the Batman history podcast. I am your “duly deputized officer of the law”, Alex Cash. And I am joined today by Brian. “the boy wonder” Anders. How are you doing Brian?

[00:00:29] Brian: I’m doing pretty good, man.

[00:00:31] Alex: That’s good to hear.

So I, I, you know, I’ve, I’ve done a lot of prep work. I’ve, I’ve built an outline. There’s things I want to talk about. You’re coming in kind of blind. Are you, are you excited? How do you feel about doing a podcast, man?

[00:00:42] Brian: I mean, I’m good. don’t mind coming in blind at all. That’s kind of going to be my role in this thing. I’m I’m super stoked about starting a podcast with you man as far as like podcasts go, um, I have a little bit of experience doing podcasts cause I’ve been a guest on my brother’s podcast called signed in ink, uh, three or four times, I guess.

And, that’s gone pretty well. I generally don’t get too, anxious about talking in front of people. So I feel well-prepared for, this venue. Major podcast listener. And so it’s exciting to be able to get back

[00:01:21] Alex: awesome. So I thought on the first episode, we would talk about the podcast itself a little bit. And we’ll go through the five W’s. Are you familiar with the five W’s Brian?

[00:01:30] Brian: Uh, no.

[00:01:31] Alex: The five W’s are who, what, when, where and why.

[00:01:35] Brian: Oh, well, yeah, I’m familiar with those. Okay.

[00:01:38] Alex: good framework for, I’m sorry, I though I set you up. I, that was awful.

Um, I’m a bad man. Um,

basically just kinda running down and understanding what it is we’re trying to do. And, and why we’re trying to do it. So, the what, when and where those three are like super easy and like we can rapid fire them. So, so I’m just going to, I’m just going to do it. What, this is a show, we talk about Batman, the characters, the stories, the writers, the artists, the movie directors, the business, the politics, everything in and around Batman, and we’re going to do it more or less chronologically.

Next episode, we’re going to start at the very beginning with the beginning of American comics and the creation of Batman. And every episode we’ll move a little bit forward in time talking about something new or different that happened with in or around Batman. And we’ll probably also do more high level episodes.

That tackle a specific topic throughout the history of Batman. So for example, maybe we’ll talk about, different iterations of the joker or various lines of action figures throughout the years. Those could be some really great opportunities for us to reflect on the topic, potentially with a guest who’s either an expert or provides a funny perspective.

But those types of episodes probably won’t be in the first few. Although like, I feel like we’ve got to talk about the, the, the new Batman movie with Robert Pattinson. So we’ll probably do an episode about that, but, we want to get through the table stakes a little bit, so I’ll get that stuff out of the way.

Create a level playing field for everyone, for you and me and the listeners so that, we have a basic framework for what Batman is and some of the history. So that’s the, what, um, w it’s kind of intertwined with the “why” w we’ll we’ll hit that some more later, but, but in the interest of keeping it moving, we’ll go on to when.

this is Alex breaking in from the future. When we recorded this episode, we didn’t know exactly what our cadence was going to be. We know now that this show is going to be coming out monthly. So, um, that’s the when stay tuned, new episodes of bat lessons every month.

Next question. Next question is where that one’s also easy. It’s wherever you get your podcasts, presumably if you’re listening now, you found us already, right? So we’re going to be on apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, you name it. So those are the three, the rapid fire.

And that just leaves two of them. How do you feel, Brian? Okay.

[00:03:51] Brian: I feel good. I mean, I, this is my opportunity. Everyone talks about like the, those top three podcasts, um, places, but what do you use as your podcast

[00:04:01] Alex: Overcast. I, so I’m kind of like, I’m a, an apple geek I’ve, I’ve, I’ve done, uh, you know, Macintosh’s and iPhones for ever. And so that’s kinda my thing and, and the, the, the, the in crowd as it were, in the blogosphere, in, in, in sort of my field, they’re all on overcast though. Um, I, I follow the trend.

I’m a trendy, man. What about you?

[00:04:23] Brian: I’ve, I’ve bounced back and forth between, Android and iPhone a couple of different times. So I like pocket casts because it’s on both and you?

have an account and, it keeps track of stuff. So I’ve got data about like how much I listened to and stuff, which, uh, I really dig, But, Yeah. So whenever I talk to people and they’re telling me about podcasts, I’d be like, well, let me tell you something.

If you ditch the standard podcast apps, you’ll have like a lot of cool stuff.

[00:04:49] Alex: Yeah, yeah.

yeah.

[00:04:50] Brian: that’s, that always kind of bugs me. People like in your normal podcast places now, but the normal ones, aren’t the best ones in my

[00:04:57] Alex: We can, we can make it part of the script. I can plug pocket casts every week, if you want. That can be a thing.

[00:05:02] Brian: no, I don’t want to plug what I use. I just, I just wanted to sit. I liked the whole where and wherever you get your podcast thing,

so Yeah. Oh, I, we were going to do it. I have it. It’s at the end of the, it’s a it’s at the end of every episode, but, so who, who, Brian, what is your first memory of Batman?

My first memory of Batman?

Oh my goodness. Um, probably, so, so in the early nineties, there was this thing called a Quillo and it is a quilt that can be folded into a pillow. It’s great for traveling. It’s definitely kid’s size. I still have my Quillo from 1994

when I was four years old.

[00:05:44] Alex: Wow, this is, so this is like a commercial product. This is something you could buy at a store.

[00:05:47] Brian: Yes. I could walk out into my living room and grab it and bring it in here and show

you, but it’s got Batman, the animated series.

[00:05:53] Alex: Interesting. I’ve never,

[00:05:55] Brian: my brother still has his am. Pretty sure my sister still has hers, but they’re all different. So like, my brothers was like Wolf and nature related. My sisters was, like Pocahontas, I think. And mine was Batman, the animated series. And so that’s probably my earliest memory of Batman. I had Batman action figures and really love Batman forever. Cause it came out when I was like five or six.

[00:06:20] Alex: like right in this sweet.

[00:06:21] Brian: Yeah, for me it was. Yeah, definitely.

[00:06:24] Alex: Very cool. So yeah. So my first memory of Batman is right before kindergarten, I lived in the same town as my grandparents, very briefly. We were there for about a year and a half, um, on, on my father’s side, my, my grandparents. And, I would go over there every single day and I would hang out with my grandparents for a couple hours.

And yeah, my, my grandma would like make cookies and we would, we would play monopoly and chutes and ladders and board games together. And we do that first and we’d have some activities, you know, and then it was grandpa’s turned to watch me, which meant that they put me in front of the television set. And they had a, you know, wooden set television.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of these or remember these,

[00:07:08] Brian: The furniture,

[00:07:09] Alex: yeah. It’s furniture and there’s like speakers built in and it was color and it couldn’t have been more than 27 inches, but it was, I mean, which for the time is huge, right? So this is, this is probably 1994, something like that.

And, they had cable, which we did not, that was a big deal that they had cable. And one of the channels that they had was Nick at night, which was new at that time. And, um, if you’re not familiar with Nick at night, what they did was reruns of, of, classic television shows. They called it Nick at night because it started as a, as a programming block on Nickelodeon.

And eventually it became its own channel. And so they would have, I love Lucy, um, and you know, the monsters and different things like that.

[00:07:48] Brian: Andy Griffith show. I remember I love Nick at night

[00:07:51] Alex: Nick night was great. And one of the shows that they ran in the time block that I visited at, and I would request this specifically was Batman 66, with Adam West and brute ward, Burt ward.

Sorry. And so that, that campy sixties live action. Television show is, is my Batman. That’s the first Batman memory that I have.

[00:08:11] Brian: that’s awesome.

[00:08:12] Alex: And I also watched like that man forever and Batman and Robin, those weren’t as big or as important to me, they came a little bit later. Right. Um, I, I did not watch Batman the animated series.

[00:08:22] Brian: I didn’t either. Not until now.

[00:08:25] Alex: Yeah. That’s the thing is that there’s a big Gulf for me from, you know, Batman 66, all the way to Batman Begins, you know, the Christopher Nolan movie and when I was in high school. And I would say that, I came a little bit bigger of a Batman fan of that. And then as an adult.

So in my late twenties, I’ve come to comic books and I’ve just been reading and reading and reading, partly because like I’m into the MCU, right. Marvel movies and stuff like that. And, and just in the last, I don’t know, three or four years, I’ve kind of gone deep on Batman. So, I, I, you know, Batman is important to me because, because of that memory, that is like very fond, like of my grandparents.

I like, I love those memories. I cherish those memories of like spending quality time with them every single day. it was, it was super cool.

[00:09:11] Brian: Yeah, it’s, it’s kinda hard for me to unravel my nostalgic feelings from my current feelings, because I never stopped watching the stuff that I watched when I was little. So like Batman forever, I watched it probably a couple months ago. Um, and I, Yeah,

and I feel it differently now, or I absorb it differently than I did then.

Obviously I’ve always had this long love for Jim Carey. I think he’s just the bomb, possibly the greatest comic actor who’s ever lived. I think he’s just amazing. And I like all this stuff and like Batman forever was right in that sweet spot. Like I think it was right before ACE Ventura. And so he was big, but he wasn’t huge yet.

And he didn’t like all the crazy overacting stuff and it just fit in so well, The vibe of Batman forever, which is like silver age silliness, in, in a movie, you know, like the whole, like they even have like the holy rusted metal Batman. And Batman’s like, what in Robin’s like, no, no, the island it’s, it’s solid steel.

And just, it’s like, it’s got some of the tropes and stuff. And I just, I always really

loved it. It was fun. It wasn’t over the top. There’s a lot of humor in it. So like, that’s a movie that I still really dig to this day. But a lot of it’s driven by a nostalgia and I don’t think I could see it through my child mind anymore.

[00:10:43] Alex: The, the Schumacher movies are very, very interesting to me because I think they hit at a point for me where it was just, I watched them just a few years after. Batman 66 and in many ways, Schumacher is homaging, right? Like that is the Batman that, that he knew.

Right. And, and he was brought in after, Burton to, to make the movies, frankly, more marketable to children. Right. Like one of the things that happened with Batman returns was they had, you know, these, these happy meal gifts for things like Catwoman and the penguin. And there’s a scene in that movie where like, the penguin like bites a dude’s nose off.

Right. And there’s like blood squirting everywhere. And like, there are parents that like are super upset. So Schumacher

[00:11:30] Brian: parents didn’t let me watch it.

I was in college when I watched it the

[00:11:34] Alex: I think I was, I was older as well. And so, you know, Schumacher is, is asked at that time to like, make it more, more kid friendly and, and, and make it more.

Palatable and enjoyable and lighthearted. Right. And he does that, but like for me, it was hitting at a time where I was looking for material and media, that was like much, much more serious, like, which is funny because I was like, you know, seven. And when I say more serious, I mean, like the teenage mutant ninja turtles, which, as a child, you’re not really in the mindset to understand that teenage mutant ninja turtles is literally satire, like it’s making fun of over serious comic books.

But like, I didn’t get that. And, and I think because you know, it it’s intentionally lighthearted. It’s something that, that I didn’t have an appreciation for at the time. And it’s so hard for me to go back and view it as a child because I think I might, I might feel differently. Had I been exposed to it sooner.

It had potentially like, had it been my first Batman.

I do think that there’s something that’s really special about sort of the neon, you know, colors and lighting and like, you know, there was definitely like a set designer who was given the first batch of intelligent lights that were ever made, which like, I don’t know if you’ve ever been like in a high school theater production or whatever, but intelligent lights are those.

Okay. So are these, if you go Google intelligent lights, but like, they’re these like, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re lights that are on a gimbal and they have filters that you can put in the front and they can be remotely controlled to, to, to point at, at whatever. Right. And so this was like a revolution in the nineties of theater where like, instead of just having cans, that could point on one place, you could like program ahead of time and you’d have cues, you hit a little button, you know?

And, and I worked in the booth in theater, in high school. And so like, you know, you knew that like when someone said line X, you hit, you know, button 32, and that was cue 32 two and intelligent lights would move to this part of the stage and like. It would, you know, you put the, the snowflake filter over the front of it and then rotate.

And like they were programmed to do these things. And very clearly the Schumacher movie, like some set designer, I assume that had like hot off the presses. They’re like new technology at this point. And they’re like, let’s put them everywhere, man. There’s black lights and intelligent lights and like every scene of those movies.

it’s like, so over the top, but like it’s very distinct, right? Like it, it had a visual styling that was trying to be, of a piece with the Burton movies, but very much more their own thing as well. And I don’t think really anyone has gone there again. And so, you know, I have an appreciate for the appreciation for those as something that’s very like unique and distinct.

So it’s interesting to hear you talk about it. I interrupted

[00:14:13] Brian: Yeah.

[00:14:14] Alex: talk about.

[00:14:15] Brian: Oh, I was, I was going to say I’ve always liked to Christopher Nolan movies. Those were obviously when I was older. I remember when I was little, I always liked, mystery books.

I was really into reading and like elementary and middle school.

And I always liked, mystery books, like Harry Potter.

Those are all just mysteries. And, I remember reading some of the Batman books, like mask of the Phantasm, the book,

[00:14:38] Alex: I didn’t know. There was a book for masking the Phantasm.

[00:14:40] Brian: yeah, I didn’t know. There was a movie when I read the book, so,

[00:14:45] Alex: Is it a comic book or is it like a novelization?

[00:14:48] Brian: Oh, it’s like, it’s like the Scholastic book. Fair book.

[00:14:51] Alex: Sure, sure, sure, sure. Sure. Like it’s a

young

adult

[00:14:54] Brian: role. Yeah, no younger than that.

It’s like fourth grade reading or something.

I just, I always liked the mysteries and stuff. And so that, that’s one of my early draws to Batman as well, is that he’s a detective and he’s solving mysteries, you know? It’s just, they’re like at a grander scale than like who murdered this person who, who broke into that store.

It’s, they’re always like really intense and, and

[00:15:20] Alex: You know, I don’t, I don’t want to, I don’t want to get, too ahead of ourselves and start talking about, the history too early, but like, very much, uh, w w one of the influences or early inspirations for Batman was, was Sherlock Holmes. And he was always sort of, posed as a, as a detective character,

I mean, It’s interesting to me that is sort of the angle that interests you most, because I think it’s the angle that we’ve gotten probably the least of in pop, popular media, of, of Batman.

If you think about like popular detectives, right. And popular detective, You have Sherlock Holmes, you have like , and you know, in, in television and movies, I think there’s, there’s no better example than, than sort of like the BBC British tele drama, like murder mystery shows like, inspector Morse and, you know, Midsomer murders and, and, and all

of those sorts of things. Sure. I didn’t, I didn’t watch a lot of murder she wrote, but I guess Scooby doo, I wouldn’t necessarily be bucketed in with the rest of those, but, but, yeah. And, and, and, and when you think about sort of the prevailing adaptations of Batman or the, the most popular adaptations of Batman, you have, you know, the Christopher Nolan movies where I don’t think he does anything sort of remotely, you know, mystery solving or, or detective being in those movies.

Likewise, you know, You know, the Schumacher and Burton movies. I don’t know that he really does either. He mostly just beats up bad guys. You know, the same with the 1966 show there, they, there is superficial sort of mystery solving in those where, you know, the Riddler poses, a riddle and then they solve the riddle

Or the thing that they do in the 66 show a lot is they will, sort of have something that is not actually solvable. Like, I feel like a good detective history gives you clues and red herrings, and then like, you’re supposed to sort of use your intuition or

[00:17:12] Brian: like Agatha Christie novels. You’re

[00:17:14] Alex: Absolutely.

[00:17:15] Brian: out

without

[00:17:16] Alex: that’s right.

And, and the 66 show is like, they don’t give you any sort of information. They just like, it’s, they’re just showing you how smart, you know, Batman is over and over again because he, he figures out this, this impossible.

[00:17:30] Brian: It’s like Sherlock. Yeah.

[00:17:32] Alex: It’s worse than Sherlock, like so often, he just has knowledge that, oh yeah, there’s this thing happening at the museum downtown. And I remember that that is happening. And so I have solved it. Right. And like, they never told us that that was a thing. I think, I think that the example and sort of popular media, where, he’s the most detective, he is probably, the video games, interestingly, because I think, I think pacing wise, like you get to get away with that.

There are times and it’s, it is also superficial in a different way where it’s like he busts out, you know, some sort of doodad gadget. Sequences like the, the sort of pattern of someone’s breath. Like he had alcohol in his breath and you can see the breath of the alcohol in the air. And like, you turn on the detective mode and you can see it floating and you follow it like a path.

Right. But like, at least he’s doing sort of like forensic science stuff. Yeah, I think it’s something that, that in my opinion, has, has been done better in the books than anywhere else, but, it’s supposed to be something we’re getting from the Pationson movie is he’s more of a detective and he’s, he’s, he’s sort of trying to solve mysteries.

So I’m looking

[00:18:34] Brian: Yeah. I saw the trailer the other day, pretty stoked about it. I was just down in LA visiting my brother and there, I mean, it’s Hollywood and there are billboards for it all over the place. And I’m pretty stoked.

[00:18:48] Alex: They have been, I don’t know how much of an overlap there really is between the people who go and see comic book movies and like comic book readers. I’m convinced that like, You know, the comic book, publishers think that there there’s this massive cross-pollination. And like every time someone goes, sees a movie, they get a bunch of new readers and vice versa, but it’s all over every issue of DC comics for like the last six months.

Literally on the cover, man, they’ll have like a little blurb in the corner. That’s like the Batman, March 9th or whatever. And then the back has like a full page ad. And then sometimes on the inside they have full page ads about like with the movie poster and like, they’re trying to get people to go see the movie.

So they’ve been pushing it pretty hard. I’m interested to see how successful it will be. I actually don’t know if it, if it will bring in the type of money that they will want it to bring. I think, you know, Batman versus Superman and the justice league movie has like burned a lot of Goodwill. Like if this was a follow-up to, the Christopher Nolan movies, like I think they’d probably pull in like a billion dollars, but like, I don’t know, man, especially in like this, this day and age, like I say that like as, as the new Spider-Man movie is like, The fifth, highest grossing movie of all time.

But like, I don’t know, man, like if people are going to go to the theaters for that,

[00:20:00] Brian: Yeah. The, yeah. So based on what you’re saying, I think my hypothesis would be that it will make a ton of money, but not on the opening week. I think, I think it’ll make money after some people watch it. And the reviews start rolling in like, oh, it was good. And then more people start to watch it. I think that’s where they’ll end up making their money, but not, it won’t be a blockbuster.

[00:20:23] Alex: I hope you’re right. Especially, I believe it’s coming to HBO max on like April 15th. Like it’s only going to be exclusive to theaters for like a month, a month and change. And I think people know that.

[00:20:33] Brian: I did not know that.

[00:20:34] Alex: yeah. Well, that’s, that’s why like the streaming companies keep getting themselves in hot water, right.

Is like, HBO has done it with like countless movies where they, like there were going to be day and date and they don’t like ever talk to the, to the filmmaker or like, the one that was all over the press was, was Disney plus and, and, Scarlett Johannson for like black widow. Like she sued them.

Right. Cause she didn’t get her money and like, I don’t think they’re wrong. Right. Like I think if you, if you tell people like, oh, you can just wait four weeks or five weeks or six weeks or whatever it is. And like see it online for $15. Like I think people will do that.

[00:21:07] Brian: I mean, I think it depends on patience like I think a lot of people just have awful patience I have this friend who I used to work with, and we had this conversation once where I don’t remember the artist, but this guy, he loved hip hop and he was like, oh, this artist, I love, he just dropped a new album, but it was tidal exclusive and I don’t have tidal

and so for the first two weeks it was a tidal exclusive. And he was like, F that man, I pirated it. And I was like, you couldn’t wait like two weeks. Like if it had just come out like two weeks later

and not been exclusive anywhere, you wouldn’t have known, he was like, no, ain’t nobody got time for that. and and I just think about that all the time.

It’s like the people who are like the, the two weeks exclusive on title, like I always got time for that. I want to now.

[00:21:53] Alex: Sure, sure, sure. I mean, to be honest, like if I was in a different place in my life, you know, I have a, I have a two year old. Right. And, it, it like dominates your time and like such a big way. And like things that she used to be really simple become just like this logistic nightmare of like, how am I going to find a babysitter to like, go see

[00:22:11] Brian: Especially during COVID.

[00:22:13] Alex: Right. Right, right. And so like that colors my perception, for sure. Like, I think, I think if it were, you know, five years ago, like, I’d be like, there’s no way I’m not going to go see a Batman the week it comes out because I’m not waiting, you know, five weeks or whatever. so

[00:22:27] Brian: Spoilers. There’ll be spoilers everywhere,

[00:22:29] Alex: true.

I’ve gotten pretty good at here’s here’s the, the Konami code. Here’s the secret to avoiding spoilers. Are you ready?

[00:22:37] Brian: but Don’t

[00:22:37] Alex: don’t be on the

Yeah. Just don’t be on the internet. Easy.

Easy.

[00:22:43] Brian: I remember when, the new star wars movie was going to come out in 2015 or whatever. Uh, uh, force awakens and there were Chrome extensions that would just black

out whole pages. If it detected that.

they were going to be spoilers.

[00:22:59] Alex: I was one of those people on Twitter. I had. I was using tweet bot at the time and they had a way to blacklist words. And so like, if you, if you had, you know, if you didn’t want to see any tweets about star wars, you could put star wars in the dictionary and you wouldn’t see tweets that had the word star wars in it.

And then like I had like Skywalker, you know, force awakens, you know, star wars, episode seven or whatever, you know, like, yeah man, like landmines have a two-year-old and then, and a full-time job. And then you just won’t be on the internet. Not a problem. I don’t read Twitter anymore. And that’s saying something cause I was addicted to Twitter, man.

[00:23:32] Brian: you are addicted to Twitter.

[00:23:34] Alex: yeah, I’m sure I will be again someday, but just don’t read it and you won’t see spoilers.

[00:23:42] Brian: You’re like the guy who like quit smoking and his like fingers crossed. I’ll get back on it someday.

[00:23:48] Alex: Yeah, that’s me for sure. For sure

Yeah. So obviously I think, I think we’re already launching into, to, to topics and, and you can tell that we’re, we’re, we’re passionate about it. Brian, are you a Batman expert?

[00:24:00] Brian: No, not at

all. but not I know enough to be

yeah.

[00:24:06] Alex: So, so it begs the question, why are we doing a podcast about Batman?

And if we’re not experts, why is it called bat lessons? Right. Why are we trying to teach you, on a lessons on a podcast if, if we’re not really teachers and, so just sort of answer that, right. Obviously we’ve just shown that we love this character. But, um, I I’m a big fan of, of something called the Fineman technique.

Are you familiar with the feynman technique?

[00:24:28] Brian: I am not.

[00:24:29] Alex: Okay, so Richard. feynman is a famous, theoretical physicist. He worked on the Manhattan project, right? So that’s, uh, the, the invention of the atomic bomb for the United States during world war II. And later he would go on to get a Nobel prize in quantum electrodynamics.

And what his team did was they explored how particles exchanged electrons or the interaction between particles and their electrons when they approached each other. And it’s actually like, it’s a really complicated topic and I don’t really even fully understand it. But if you Google like go Google image, search, what I find men diagram is you’ll see something that like is actually like remarkably easy to understand, right.

He sort of draws particles as these dots. They travel on these straight lines and then they have some sort of interaction that’s, that’s sort of signified by a squiggle and then you can see exchange of electrons, little pluses and minuses that go between the particles and then they go away from each other.

Which is, which is literally quantum mechanics, right? Like expanded our understanding of the, of the universe in a significant way. And his contribution to that was these diagrams. But that’s not how it would be. He became sort of famous. The way he became generally known to the public, was his work on the Rogers commission and the Rogers commission was the group that investigated the cause of the, the challenger explosion.

So that the space shuttle that exploded shortly after takeoff, in the eighties and. The public became particularly in hammered with feynman at that time, because of his communication ability. He took things again that were very complicated, and made sense of this tragedy for people, right. Made them simple to understand.

And so, he’s celebrated, in the science community as this great science communicator. He was a scientist. Yes. But more importantly, right. He was able to communicate, in a very clear way. So he’s sort of the prototypical, you know, person in that regard for making complicated things not right.

And when he was asked about his philosophy, he he’s quoted as saying that the best way to learn something is to teach it. So I think that’s the journey that Brian and I want to take with you. The listener, is we want to become experts. We are, we’re obviously passionate about this. We want to know more and we want to take you on that journey with us, in the form of, of the research that we do with the topics we bring.

And, and I hope you’ll, you’ll come along.

[00:26:44] Brian: I’m I’m feel bad for the person who came to this show, hoping it was going to be about like bats, the animal.

[00:26:53] Alex: You know, the, the podcast artwork at first, when, when I was talking to, Sergio, the artists that did it, um, he, he, he had, a teacher in a, in like a suit. And I was like, I’m not sure if people are gonna understand that this has to do with Batman. And so, so we had him, we had him put the bat inside a superhero suit, although he

[00:27:13] Brian: Yeah,

it’s a good move.

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[00:29:13] Alex: So that brings us to the final w which is why. Why are we doing a show about the history of Batman? If you look at the landscape of podcasts out there, there’s a few podcasts about Batman. There’s a sort of the most notable one is a podcast that Kevin Smith did for a long time called Fatman on Batman.

Unfortunately, the, the past is so good. It’s so good. He still does a show called fat man beyond, that, that releases every week. But unfortunately the, the, the back episodes of fat man on Batman, aren’t available for free on the internet anymore, he has, this thing called that Kevin Smith club, where he makes you pay to get to get the former episodes.

I recommend it. He interviews lots of people, lots of creators and people who worked on movies and comic books. But it’s a little bit different, like it doesn’t work chronologically through the history of Batman. And, there’s another podcast that, is really good called, word balloon at a guy named John Suntres runs that.

And he’s kind of like one of the big comics, journalists that still working again, he does interviews with comic book creators and things like that. If you look on YouTube, there’s some really great YouTubers, like, NerdSync and comic tropes. And, and other people like that, that talk about the history of Batman, but there’s no one that kind of, sort of does it in chronological order.

So I think there’s a niche there that, hasn’t been filled, but you know, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea. So, um, you know, there’s a space that’s not being filled. I think we could do it. Why, why is that a space that is worth filling? Brian, you and I, we talk a lot. We talked before we started recording about our personality types.

And one of the things that you’ve said before about us is that you’re a generalist and I’m a specialist. Is that right? Like, is that,

[00:30:56] Brian: Yeah, I mean, I w I would say that, like, I know a bunch of random stuff at a fairly shallow level and, you know, a smaller number of things at an incredibly deep level.

[00:31:07] Alex: I think the way that you’ve described it is absolutely right. I think I probably wouldn’t use the word specialist. I like to call myself serially obsessive. And, and I, I go through lots of different topics and I go very, very deep. So I don’t have that sort of broad set of, of knowledge. And, and so that’s just how my brain works.

And like, that’s how I’ve envisioned this podcast to work. Basically the idea is from, from my perspective, the way I think about it is that, to really appreciate something, to really love something, you have to know the context under which it was created. No decision has ever made in a vacuum, no creative, a musician, a director, an author is uninspired.

And no action that’s taken, ever lacks a consequence. So everything is informed by everything else. I think that our understanding of history and pop culture often lacks that sense of causality. And the bigger, the topic is the harder it is to do that.

So like, it’s really easy to say that, the guys in this band had a fight and that’s why this song is the way it is. But it’s harder to say, why did they get in the fight? How do you get from a to B to C to D right. And so on. So the way I think about Batman is the history, like going back to the beginning, why was it created?

Who was involved? What was the culture like at that time? Why were people buying comic books at all? Um, and so I’m hoping that by doing this, this podcast, I can, I can win you over to my side. Right? We can, we can illustrate the history Batman.

[00:32:37] Brian: Yeah,

Yeah. I’m, I’m actually really excited about this particular piece of it, because we’re not just talking about how the comic or the, the story got made, and we’re not talking about just what happened inside of the story. Like from the perspective of Batman in that universe, we’re talking about them both together and how they influenced each other.

Right?

And, and how all of those things riff and swirl and create both the world that we live in and the world that Batman lives in simultaneously, you know, and that, that I think is, is really, really interesting to get the context behind those things. Like at some point, when we talk about golden age, silver age, et cetera, and how that impacted the world, that Batman lives inside of.

That Batman doesn’t know about us regulations and outside of his comic book, world and stuff, but they impact each other. And so like, Yeah.

I’m really excited about all of that stuff. Yeah.

[00:33:36] Alex: Me too. And, and I think, you know, our, our different personalities and our different styles will compliment each other. Right. I think, I think you’re absolutely the type of person that’s going to bring, like the random factoid and, and sort of the gossip and the scuttlebutt, um, and about like the personalities and people that were involved.

And, and I’m going to be more of the type of person that, that wants to understand, you know, the, the sort of like geopolitical climate. Right. You know?

[00:34:00] Brian: Yeah

[00:34:00] Alex: so it’s a really cool idea, but one of the things that I think could be a stumbling block for us. What could make this a disaster and not, not so fun is, is that Batman is big.

So when I say Batman is big, what do I mean? I want to take a step back 10,000 foot view, understand what it is we’re biting off. Is it too, too big to chew? You know, what are we signing up for when we say Batman is big? How big is that phenomenon? So I, I did a little bit of research. I have, I have sort of a laundry list.

I’ve compiled, I’d spent like 30 minutes. I went to like Wikipedia and like different like comics, fan sites. And like, I tried to figure out like, what is everything, like, what does a sample of everything? Like, so a comic book, right, as we think about it is, is actually a magazine. It’s a periodical, right?

Like when you watch a television show, you know, book a Boba Fett on Disney, plus you watch 30 minutes. One week, you wait a week, you watch the next episode. And so on. It’s a serial, comic books are the same way, once a month. There’s another issue of a comic book. Most, most of the time, an ongoing comic book.

And so Batman has been the headline character of many comic books over the years. So the first one is D detective comics. It started in 1939. It’s still going today. So I, I literally like went to my comic book shop, last Wednesday picked up Detective Comics, 10 54. Right. So that’s issue 1054. So if you talk about just that series, there’s 1,054 issues of that.

Can you think of a television show that has 1,054 episodes?

[00:35:32] Brian: uh, general hospital

[00:35:34] Alex: Like yeah. General hospital, like one

piece

[00:35:36] Brian: on

[00:35:37] Alex: is like,

[00:35:38] Brian: like the sixties though,

[00:35:40] Alex: right. Well, and so 1939 80 years of, of Batman comic books,

right?

[00:35:45] Brian: So there’s like probably not a living person who has read all of them.

[00:35:51] Alex: Well, let’s see how much there is to read. Let’s keep going. We’re going to go on this list. Come with me on this adventure.

Okay. So that’s detective comics. There’s a series called Batman, self-titled it started in 1940 – one year later. It’s still going today. They’ve read numbered a few times, but there’s like, you know, 850 issues of that.

There was a series called world’s finest, which is the sort of Batman and Superman co headline. That book it started in 1941. There’s about 322 issues of that. There’s the brave and the bold, which is like Batman teamed up with a different hero in every issue. Like there’s one where he’s like with green arrow and then they have another one where he’s with, you know, plastic man,

that, that ran with him as the title character for about 133 issues. There’s legends of the dark night, which ran from 1989 to 2000. There’s 130 issues of that. There’s a series called Batman eternal and Batman and Robin internal. There’s 78 issues of that Superman, Batman, there’s 87 issues of that Batman Superman.

32 issues of that Batman, Robin there’s 66 issues of that. Those are just books where he headlines, Um, where he’s the main character. Um, there’s about like 3000 issues. If you add all those together and I’m sure I’ve missed them, right? Like not exhaustive. He’s in, he’s in teams, he’s in justice league justice league of America, justice league, international Batman, the outsiders. There’s I say like a thousand issues of that there’s spinoff characters. Like there’s other characters around Batman, they get their own series. Right. So this is something you don’t think about,

like, Tim Drake, is not the first Robin, he’s the first one to get his own series. He gets 183 issues. Just about Tim Drake. Um, there’s a character named Azreal from the nineties. He actually takes over briefly for Batman. We’re going to get there. It’s really interesting. There’s 46 issues about him.

Okay. Bat girl. There’s 200 issues about. The birds of prey, which there, there was a movie of, right, like it’s, it’s the women heroes in Gotham that are around Batman hundred and 64 issues of that birds of prey. By the way, originally does not have Harley Quinn in case you’re wondering Harley Quinn, a new invention, Nightwing 260 issues with that red hood, 52 issues.

Hunter’s 20 Gotham central book about the police department and Gotham 40 issues with that cat woman has her own series 229 issues of Catwoman. Batwoman there’s 58 issues of that Harley Quinn 144 issues. It’s like, I, I’m sorry. We’ve just like, we’re going through with this list, but you know, spinoff characters, like 1500 issues, right

[00:38:09] Brian: And we haven’t even gotten to the shows or anything.

[00:38:13] Alex: No, no, no, no. This is just comic books,

right? a comic book. It’s like somewhere between 20 and 30 pages. And so I estimate about 121,000 pages. Of comic books, just, just for those ones we’ve talked about. And if

you,

[00:38:27] Brian: lot.

[00:38:28] Alex: if you took a minute to read each of those pages, it would take you 84 days straight to read all of those books.

No sleeping, no eating 84 days. It’s a lot. I was addicted to world of Warcraft previous life. And, and like, you know, over, over like 15 years, I played like 260 days total of world of Warcraft. And like, I was addicted, man, like playing it all the time, 84 days to read all the Batman comics. And that’s just ongoing issues, right?

Like

there’s other series, like mini series, things that get later turned into what we call graphic novels. Like the killing joke, the dark Knight returns. Those are the famous ones. But there’s a bunch of those dozens and dozens. And those are all, you know, hundreds of pages of.

There’s like original novels. It’s like people went and wrote like books about Batman that are just original stories. There’s 21 of those there’s novelizations so like people adapted a movie, they adapted a comic book. There’s 27 of those. There was a Serial, so like on the silver screen in the forties, you would go, you’d watch, are you familiar with Serials?

[00:39:35] Brian: I mean, I’m probably not familiar enough for this description.

[00:39:39] Alex: So, you know, you, you, you go to the movie theater on a Saturday, instead of watching a movie, you watch like the latest episode basically of Batman. And then you watch like, you know, flash Gordon and the buck Rogers. Right. And they’re like 15 minutes a piece. And

then you have go to the movie theater. That’s right. You got to go again to see the next episode

[00:39:58] Brian: and they didn’t really have reruns and stuff. Right.

[00:40:01] Alex: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. So there’s the, for the Batman Serial. It’s about eight hours and 40 minutes, total worth of content for that. There’s eight live action, Batman movies, you know, the 1966 Batman, 1989, Batman, Batman returns, Batman forever, Batman and Robin Batman begins the dark night.

The dark Knight rises just those that 17 and a half hours worth of content. That doesn’t include like the Robert Pattinson Batman that’s coming. There’s 57 animated movies. I’m not even gonna try to go over them all. There’s there’s nine animated TV shows cartoons. Did you know that?

[00:40:36] Brian: No, I didn’t know that there were nine. I probably would’ve guessed like four or five.

Dang.

[00:40:41] Alex: Yeah. So if you take all of that, that’s 122 hours of TV or, or five days straight to watch all of the Batman animated series.

And those are the ones that he headlined again, like the comic books he’s like in other shows, right? Like he’s in episodes of Superfriends he’s in justice league. He’s in Superman. He’s in teen Titans. He’s in static shock. Scooby-Doo batman shows up in Scooby-Doo

[00:41:04] Brian: yeah

[00:41:06] Alex: there’s there’s video games, right?

[00:41:08] Brian: yeah. Played a bunch of

those.

[00:41:10] Alex: lots and lots of video games and, and like, One of the things that people don’t think about is that before the two thousands were like video games didn’t really get ported. I mean, they did like Frogger shows up on a bunch of different systems. Right. But especially for licensed games, it wasn’t the case that like someone would make a game and then they would take it to another console.

Right. Like

[00:41:33] Brian: I’m like halo is only on the Xbox for example.

[00:41:37] Alex: Sure, sure, sure. But like, you know, if let’s say you’re making the lion king video game, right. You want to time that to come out the Christmas season after the lion king movie and it needs to be on Sega Genesis and super Nintendo at the same time. And like, no, one’s going to port those games.

They’re just going to hire two studios. Cause it’s cheap enough.

[00:41:52] Brian: Oh, so there’s

[00:41:53] Alex: back on both games.

[00:41:54] Brian: the Lion king.

[00:41:56] Alex: There are two versions of the lion

king game. They are different video games. Yeah. And that happens with. Most of these games, right? So there’s, there’s the, the computer games, the PC games titled Batman

one, one for the Amstrad for the Amiga one for the apple, two, three different games, right? The Batman movie, it gets an adaptation. It gets a video game on NES GameBoy, Genesis, PC engine, and the arcade, all different games. Return to the joker GameBoy Genesis. NES all different games,

batman returns for, for, for the sequel movie. It gets a game for amiga Lynx game gear, master system, Genesis, Sega CD, Ms. Dos, NES, and super Nintendo, all different games. And, and like, I’m like on bullet three of like 15 games, like there’s a Batman, the animated series game. There’s adventures of Batman, Robin, Batman forever.

There’s Batman and Robin Batman beyond return of the joker Batman, vengeance, Batman dark tomorrow. Like, and at this point, all of these are different games, like when they’re pouring into different systems some of them come out on two systems, like some kinda come out on like six. Okay. And then, and then later you do, you do get ports, right?

Like when we get into the two thousands, there’s the GameCube games, like, Batman, dark, tomorrow, rise of sun Tzu. Batman begins Lego Batman. There’s three Lego Batman games. I don’t know if you knew this.

[00:43:09] Brian: I have two of them. I think, I didn’t know. There

was a third

[00:43:12] Alex: I love Lego games. I haven’t played Lego Batman, but Lego Harry Potter is my jam man.

[00:43:16] Brian: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

[00:43:17] Alex: Batman brave and the bold, which is an adaptation of, one of the cartoons we were talking about earlier, came out on the wii and the DS two different games. And then there’s the Arkham games. Have you ever played the Arkham games?

[00:43:27] Brian: Oh yeah. I’ve played, Arkham asylum and Arkham city. I don’t, I have Arkham Knight, but I haven’t played yet.

[00:43:34] Alex: It’s pretty good. I don’t think it’s as good as, as asylum and city. But, but you know, those are the modern, you know, Metroid games we wished Nintendo was giving us. Smash hits. Like they’ve sold so many copies. And there’s, there’s four of them Arkham asylum city origin, which is the one, no one plays cause Rocksteady didn’t make it.

And then the Arkham Knight and then there’s two, choose your own adventure. Like detective style games. You might actually like this, Brian, there’s Batman telltale. Have you ever heard of a telltale game? So it’s like, it’s very like dialogue driven. You talk to people and then like,

[00:44:05] Brian: and you make decisions and stuff.

[00:44:07] Alex: exactly.

Like you doubt something and then they’ll say like, oh, such and such will remember that. And you build relationships with people and it like changes the way the game goes.

those. Yes, but like, but there’s no action. Like a Knights of the Old Republic. Like there’s an open world and there’s, there’s like fighting and there’s the story.

Like, this is just the dialogue. Like I love the telltale games. It’s, that’s a whole podcast in and of itself. Cause like they went out of business. It’s a whole mess, but they’ve made two Batman. They’re good. So, definitely worth looking into if you have time.

[00:44:38] Brian: wow. This is a lot.

This would have been like a good list when COVID started and everyone needed like stuff to do.

[00:44:46] Alex: You start working your way through well, it’s going to get more obscure and I apologize. Cause like you’re likely to want to play video games, but you’re probably not going to want to go to the 1940s, newspapers and find the comic strips that were in the funny section for Batman, because Batman had one of those.

He was on the radio, there were radio dramas. And some of those audio dramas would later get released on, on LPs. Like, you know, records, cassettes, CDs, there’s podcasts. Now today, like if you go, I think it’s on Stitcher. Like you can pay money to like listen to an audio drama desertion of, of Batman stories.

Right?

[00:45:17] Brian: Wait for current, like new or from the

sixties or whatever.

[00:45:22] Alex: No, no, no, no, no. Like, like they made it like, I don’t know,

[00:45:24] Brian: Um,

[00:45:25] Alex: 5, 5, 6, 7 years ago.

I remember when they came out.

Yeah. There was a live action, like, like a stage show in the UK. Like you could like buy tickets. And go with your children to see Batman world tour.

There are postage stamps, like, I don’t know if you’re a collector of postage

[00:45:43] Brian: I am not, but

I do know there’s a

ton

of posts. by the way for for anyone listening, I don’t know if you’re driving or whatever, but find some time to look up Batman world, the world tour or whatever the, it, it looks both really interesting and completely ridiculous as a stage show.

I’ve never, I didn’t know this existed.

This is of bananas. I love it.

[00:46:09] Alex: Well, that’s the thing, right? Is that like, there are things on this list that like I tell you, they exist and you’re like, oh yeah, of course. Like, it makes sense that there’s like, there’s more kids, TV shows that they made after the previous, but then you’re like, they, they had, you know, stage shows.

Cause that’s not the only one. So there’s actually a theme parks, right?

Yeah. Warner brothers owns two chains of theme parks in the United States. There’s six flags. And then overseas they have Warner brothers, movie, world parks. I don’t know if they actually call it that. I don’t know.

I’ve never been, but there’s nine rides related to Batman, like the Mr. Freeze and like The

Batman and

[00:46:43] Brian: Redler.

[00:46:44] Alex: whatever. Right.

[00:46:45] Brian: famous ones in six flags. Yeah,

[00:46:48] Alex: And then there’s eight rollercoasters overseas at the Warner brothers parks and then stage shows. Just like there was this Batman world tour, they have stage shows can then these are still going.

So like you can go to six flags and see a stage show about Batman. Apparently this is, this is what Wikipedia tells me. Like, you wouldn’t think that this is a thing, but it is. So anyway, we w we, it’s a long list. We’ve gone over a lot. There there’s a lot of Batman, so,

so what, w w okay, what does that, what does that mean for us?

Um, I think it’s significant for a few reasons. But, but the biggest one is that there’s no one true Batman. There’s no one interpretation. There’s a Batman for everyone. So if you think about it, like I, and I’m just guessing, everything up until this point is like verifiably true.

At this point, I’m spit balling, but like, if you think. About it. There’s probably about like tens of thousands of people who have written for Batman. Maybe they’re like writing an audio dialogue line that gets recorded for a video game, or they’re recording an episode of an animated television show or they’re writing a novelization or the writing issue of the comic book, like tens of thousands of people who have said to themselves, an official capacity, right?

Like someone paid them money to like write Batman that’s wild. Can you think of other pop culture characters with that kind of reach? Like, not just fanfiction, like these are people who officially like, and if you, if you, if you expand it right, it’s not authors, like people who’ve worked on it in some way, worked on as a mechanical engineer on a ride or worked on art or worked on , maybe they did foley like they’re the person that like made the footstep sounds for like the Scooby-Doo episode that had Batman in it.

If you just talk about people who’ve worked on Batman generally, talking hundreds of thousands.

[00:48:37] Brian: Yeah,

yeah, yeah. That’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought about that. There’s probably, I mean, I would love for someone to, to write in and contradict us on this, but there’s probably no theme that is broader than Batman. Is there are there certainly themes that have like, made a lot more money, but have they made more content?

[00:49:02] Alex: I think, you know, it’s, it probably exists. I, it definitely exists, but it’s a short list, right? Like I’m definitely interested in. Yeah. Like you said, email us tweet at us. Tell us what you think. Like it’s something that is a pop culture topic that is like, as broad in scope, like has as much history it is, is as rich as Batman, but it’s, it’s gotta be like a very elite club of like, of like intellectual properties.

Right? I think what’s, what’s, what’s really compelling to me. What’s really interesting. To me, is that. I think it’s, self-evident like we can talk about why later and like future episodes. I think this is not for today, but it’s self evident that like Batman as a concept, does not buckle under that weight.

Batman can be something different to every different person, he can be happy, go lucky. He can be campy. He can be very serious. He can be a detective, he can be violent. He can be compassionate. He’s all of these different things to all these different people. Both as readers and as creators.

And it works like somehow it works. You know, all of these different takes they’re, they’re different, but they’re interconnected. Like the person who, is, is, you know, writing the story scenario for their video game, watched a cartoon and the person who watched that cartoon watched a movie and the person who watched that movie, read a comic book and they’re all standing on each other’s shoulders.

They’re all building for 80 years. On this sort of like literary Canon, that is Batman, you know? And it’s just, it’s, it’s so cool that there’s so much of this, it’s so interconnected and it’s so versatile, so flexible. And, I think that’s why, I think that’s why, you need to start at the beginning, right?

That’s why we have this super complicated topic. We want to try and make it simple. We want to contextualize it, build it up layer by layer and like go on this journey to get together, to like, understand, what is Batman and what does it meant to people? And like, why is it the way it is?

And like, how did we get here? So that’s, that’s why that’s why I think the show needs to exist.

[00:50:58] Brian: Yeah, that sounds awesome

[00:51:00] Alex: cool, man. So we talked about a lot. Are you still excited to do the show? Like, I feel like it just dumped like a massive amount of information, like on your shoulders or are you, are, are you in like, are you want to go on this journey?

[00:51:13] Brian: Yeah, I’m in, I mean, I’m going to be largely the spectator. I think this is much more daunting for you then for me,

[00:51:20] Alex: Yeah.

[00:51:21] Brian: but I

hope to host some of these at some point, but I know that like largely I’m, I’m the audience and this is great. I’m super stoked to learn about all this stuff. I love

Batman

[00:51:33] Alex: Well, I can’t wait for you to go on this journey with me too. I think you’re right. Like, it’s, it’s a lot to, it’s a lot to, to do. I’ve been working on, on notes for the next several episodes, like doing research. it’s it’s like a second full-time job, but you know, I think it’s going to be fun. I can’t, I can’t wait.

And I hope listeners that you will come with us on this journey.

So that about wraps it up. If you like to show, you can leave us a five-star review on apple podcasts. Recommend us on overcast. Tell your friends about the show and help us find an audience so we can keep putting out episodes. You can find all of our episodes and show notes at batlessons.com. You can send us comments, questions, or corrections to contact@batlessons.com. Or you can tweet at us at bat lessons until next time. I’m Alex Cash.

[00:52:12] Brian: And I’m Brian Anders.

[00:52:14] Alex: Thanks for listening.

Like I read it to myself out loud, multiple times. And I was like, oh, this is going to be funny. Like, people are gonna love it. And then when, when have an audience of one, like you’re sitting there on the other end and I’m doing it and I’m gonna tell him, like, man, he is not appreciating this. Like, I’m just like saying things that exist.