Batman Documentary Seeks to Explore Superhero as Modern Folklore

Batman Documentary - H - 2013
"Legends of the Knight" will feature interviews with "Dark Knight Rises" producer Michael Uslan and comic book writer Denny O'Neil.

A new documentary about Batman, funded by more than $60,000 pledged through donations on crowdsourcing websites, aims to tell the stories of fans, writers and industry figures who've drawn inspiration from the superhero's evolving myth. 

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"When I was looking for a way to try to explore mythology today, how folklore was still present, Batman became the perfect way to express that," says filmmaker Brett Culp in a phone interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

The project, titled Legends of the Knight, is the first feature-length documentary for a filmmaker who has made shorter form titles for corporations and non-profits. 

Michael Uslan, executive producer of Batman (1989) as well as last year's Dark Knight Rises, is one of those who tells his story in the documentary.

"Every single studio in Hollywood turned me down and said it was awful and said I was crazy," explains Uslan in the film’s trailer. "They said, ‘Michael you can’t make serious comic book movies, it’s not done."

Batman comic book writer Denny O'Neil, who depicted the character in a more serious light in 1970s comics, is also interviewed for the project. "He was one of the first people to understand, in my judgment, that Batman and these superhero characters were beyond just disposable fiction -- that this was truly our modern folklore," said Culp. 

But the bulk of the film appears to be about interacting with Batman fans who've related to the character as a way of overcoming personal adversity.

Interviewees include Lenny B. Robinson, who traverses the country visiting hospitals in character as Batman (including a real-life Batmobile), Kye Sapp, a five-year-old fighting Leukemia, and Jill Pantozzi, a geek culture blogger and associate editor at The Mary Sue who lives with muscular dystrophy.

The film began pre-production in February 2012 and, after raising $27,000 from an Indiegogo campaign, started production in April of last year. Recently, the film exceeded its Kickstarter goal and raised over $34,000 pledged donations.

Culp hopes that the project, with an ideal runtime of 80 to 90 minutes, will be completed by July, timed to San Diego Comic-Con.