‘Batman’ Executive Producer Visits Ball State

March 22nd, 2011

The Ball State Daily News
By Randa Gore
Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Read Full Article Here

The executive producer of the popular “Batman” films spoke to Ball State students Monday night, encouraging them to never give up.

“It is possible to make a journey out of a dream,” said executive producer Michael Uslan, who worked on “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.”

As a young boy, Uslan found himself enthralled by comic books. He described himself as a “comic book fanatic,” knowing that he wanted to write Batman comics from the instant he began reading them.

When he was 8 years old, the first Batman TV series aired.

“I was excited and horrified at the same time,” Uslan said.

He was excited there was a television series, but he feared that the series did not do Batman justice. He felt that people all over the world were laughing at Batman because of the “POW! ZAP! WHAM!” way he was portrayed. This is where Uslan’s inspiration and life goal originated.

“My life goal from that moment on was to take the POW! ZAP! and WHAM! out of Batman,” he said.

His inspiration was to create a new perspective on his favorite character ­— the dark side of Batman.

“People relate to Batman more than any other superhero,” Uslan said. “Batman’s greatest power is humanity. It’s the fact that he has no superpowers that makes him so relatable to the public in a way we can’t relate to others with superpowers.”

By the time Uslan graduated from high school, he had collected about 30,000 comic books. Unlike many people who leave their childhood behind as they enter into adulthood, Uslan stayed faithful to his love of comics.

During his junior year of college at Indiana University, he saw a window of opportunity. IU was offering students the opportunity to create and teach their own classes. He submitted a suggestion to create a comic books class. He convinced the university to offer the course by comparing superheroes to the gods of ancient Rome, Egypt and Greece. The class was approved.

To recruit students, Uslan used a unique marketing technique. Instead of posting flyers and advertising, Uslan aimed straight at the media, calling the United Press International as a concerned citizen whose money was going to pay for an absurd class about comic books. Within a couple of weeks, the media began pouring in and doing stories on the class, getting Uslan’s name in the public eye.

“It’s all about opportunity and getting your foot in the door,” he said.

After getting a job at DC Comics, he offered to write Batman comics. After a couple of other jobs and a law degree, Uslan purchased the rights to Batman.

The first Batman movie he produced was supposed to take two years, but it ended up taking 10. He was told in the beginning that it was crazy and impossible to produce a hit Batman movie in Hollywood, and that the character was dead. Uslan proved everyone wrong by bringing Batman back to life in a new way.

“Believe in yourself when no one else does,” Uslan said.

Since the premier of the first Batman produced by Uslan, the character’s fan base has grown significantly, especially with the third-highest grossing film of all time, “The Dark Knight.” The next Batman movie he will work on is the “The Dark Knight Rises,” which opens in July 2012.

“Uslan’s life story is inspiring, and listening to him speak tonight made me want to follow my dreams,” freshman telecommunications major Stuart Hotwagner said. “This speech made me realize my dreams aren’t impossible to reach.”