MYStERy of the bat-man!
The Bat-Man’s Secret Origins
Discovered in December, 2015, Mystery of the Bat-Man! was a little-known serial, thought lost for decades. What makes it notable is that it would have featured the first appearance of DC Comics' Dark Knight, in any medium, outside of comic books, had it not been for a cruel twist of fate...
Before taking his idea to National Allied Publications (the company which would eventually be known as DC Comics,) artist Bob Kane, the credited creator of the Caped Crusader, had gone west. Directly inspired by The Mark of Zorro (1920), starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Kane thought his Batman character would naturally make for a dashing on-screen presence. He was so confident, he took his longtime collaborator, writer Bill Finger, to Hollywood to pitch the idea to various studios. While most thought the idea was a joke, one small company believed it could make a great low budget serial and was willing to take a risk.
Originally intended for twelve chapters, Mystery of the Bat-Man! was produced by BJC Pictures, an obscure poverty row studio, which went bankrupt after only six episodes were filmed and completed.
All of the studio's assets were thought to have been destroyed in a horrific fire (believed to be arson...) until a massive collection of 16mm prints, video transfers and original posters turned up in a barn outside of Beeville, Texas.
Thanks to the passion of a small circle of fans and historians, the existing chapters of Mystery of the Bat-Man! are currently undergoing a costly digital restoration.
That was the fictional backstory to what would become a trilogy of short, fan films by director Ryan Bijan and friends.*
The initial idea was to take Batman’s first comic book appearance (“The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” from Detective Comics #27) and adapt it as if it were part of a “lost” serial, actually made in the period in which the story was written. This was an opportunity to take the visual language of the gangster, mystery and horror films that inspired Bob Kane, and mix them with modern action and editing techniques.
People seemed to like it, so it was eventually followed up with two more chapters, each inspired by the early Bob Kane-illustrated/Bill Finger-written comics.
All available content can be seen at YouTube.com/BigJohnCreations. We hope you enjoy.
(*We are completely unaffiliated with Warner Bros and DC Comics. Please do not sue us.)