Follow Here To Purchase Billion Dollar Batman

Author: Bruce Scivally

ISBN-10: 0615306411

ISBN-13: 978-0615306414 

Back in 1939, a young boy and his parents left a theatre showing the latest Zorro adventure. But a robbery in the theatre alley went horribly wrong, and the young Bruce Wayne saw a murderous thug gun down his parents. That was in the comics anyway, a story concocted by a savvy writer/artist named Bob Kane.

These days, it would be difficult to find anyone who doesn’t know at least part of both the true and fictional stories that would follow that dark and dastardly night. For a few examples, Kane’s comic book begat a film serial that begat radio scripts and then a “camp” TV show and then major motion picture re-boots of the legend. Then there’s a lucrative merchandising franchise. Of course, there have been no shortage of books devoted to Batman, sometimes on the films, often the TV series, sometimes focused on the comics and their creators. But few have tried to be as exhaustive as Bruce Scivally in his Billion Dollar Batman.

Among his previous books, Scivally compiled Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway, a hefty tome covering just what the title suggests.  Not surprisingly, Billion Dollar Batman follows pretty much the same format. We begin with the story of Bob Kane and his “ghosts,” that is the other artists and writers he used without crediting them. Then, we get chapters on Batman as a star of movie serials, as a radio character, and of course extensive time is devoted to the William Dozier produced TV hit and the films that followed. In the early chapters, Scivally distills available information in often hit-and-run biographies of writers, actors, and producers as well as providing thumb-nail histories of the pre-TV media incarnations of the Caped Crusader. After he sinks his teeth into the Adam West ABC show, Scivally provides extensive stand-alone chapters discussing the production history, marketing, merchandising,  and responses to the Keaton, Kilmer, Cluny, and Bale interpretations.    

As the long bibliographies for each chapter demonstrate, Scivally relied primarily on contemporary interviews, reviews, and articles from industry publications. He was able to conduct some interviews of his own, as with Michael Wilson, son of the original screen Batman, Lewis Wilson. Scivally lets the reviewers of the times do most of the analysis as his purpose is history, not film criticism.

To be fair, despite the lengthy lists of works cited that follow each chapter, no one man, even Bruce Wayne, could be expected to read and absorb everything written about Batman to date. For example, last year’s Gotham City 14 Miles, a collection of essays on the TV version, isn’t mentioned. Paragraphs on the comic books are pretty much done in passing. But Scivally’s scope couldn’t possibly have included the parade of storylines and writers who’ve shifted and changed the realm of Bruce Wayne over the decades. This is a chronicle of Batman on film and television, not to mention as a figure inspiring avalanches of toys and tie-in merchandise. 

The very fact Scivally was able to bring all this together in one place is the reason Billion Dollar Batman is one for every Bat-fan. Even the most knowledgeable are going to read anecdotes and perspectives they’ve never heard before or forgotten. For example, the chapter on “False Starts” is full of information I never knew about, including a Batman musical and a Batman vs. Superman film script. This one I’ll keep on my Bat-shelves.  


Follow Here To Purchase Billion Dollar Batman