Last night, Batman became the first character inducted into the Comic Con Hall of Fame in San Diego, California. The character, who celebrated his 80th anniversary this year, was featured in a museum-style exhibit called "The Gathering" that celebrated the Dark Knight's history in comics, film, TV, video games, and beyond.
After years of inducting writers, artists, editors, and more into the Hall of Fame, this year Comic Con decided to open up the honors to the fictional characters that drive so much of mainstream, corporate comics. On Wednesday night before a crowd of a little over 400 fans, celebrities and artists, the Caped Crusader was celebrated as an idea.
"Batman is real in every person who summons the strength and resilience to keep going. That is a superpower. There's no other way to describe it," DC Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee said, accepting the honor on Batman's behalf.
The ceremony was the highlight of "The Gathering," which DC characterizes as a "black carpet" event at the Museum's future home in San Diego's Balboa Park that doubled as the first fundraiser for the Comic-Con Museum, which is set to officially open in 2021. Besides dozens of pieces of Batman history, the Comic-Con Museum hosted an art gallery featuring dozens of pieces of art from years of Comic Con posters and programs. "The Gathering" was also a sneak preview of "The Batman Experience Powered by AT&T," a massive exhibition featuring the largest-ever collection of Batman-related props, costumes and vehicles that will be on display at the Museum throughout SDCC.
But the evening belonged to Batman and his 80-year legacy -- which has already been the focus of a yearlong celebration that has included activations at events such as WonderCon and South by Southwest, partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club of America and May's visit to Kuwait that brought the "Tumbler" Batmobile and the Batwoman TV pilot to five U.S. military bases in cooperation with the USO.
"Batman connects with everyone no matter where you may come from in the world. Batman is a hero for all people," said Pam Lifford, president of Warner Bros. Brands and Experiences. "That's why he resonates across every medium: comic books, cartoons, TV shows, toys, video games, even theme park rides and postage stamps. Batman is everywhere."
On the eve of the 50th San Diego Comic-Con and before a room packed with writers and artists that have contributed to Batman's character and iconic comic book storylines, DC Publisher Dan DiDio explained how Batman starts with publishing – and continues with publishing.
"Comic books are the test lab for Batman. It's where we take chances, where we experiment with new ideas, new concepts and storylines," DiDio said. "Those experiments in turn inspire other artists, filmmakers, and writers. I love to see stories we've worked on become the basis for other media like video games, movies, and TV shows."
Following the ceremony and throughout the night guests viewed and interacted with the mind-blowing elements of the Batman Experience, including The Dark Knight Dive, a VR-powered, indoor skydiving experience where fans take on the role of Batman as he chases Scarecrow over Gotham City; The Batcave Gaming Lounge, where fans can play decades' worth of Batman video games on TV screens set into cave walls just beyond the costume from The Dark Knight; The Rogue Gallery Rumble, where art an animation is projected onto a punching bag and interacts with fans as they punch; and a 6'-tall statue recreating the 100th Batman: Black and White statue, based on art by Todd McFarlane.