1. Batman’s original costume design was a bit… different.
The Caped Crusader wasn’t always the terrifying figure criminals have come to fear. And he wasn’t always, uh, caped. In fact, artist Bob Kane’s original design had the Not-So-Dark Knight sporting a domino mask, a red onesie, a set of bat-like wings, and a bright blond hairdo — a far cry from the gothic protector he’d later become.
2. And his cape was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine sketches.
Even after the Bat’s wings were clipped in favor of a more conventional cape, its design drew heavily from the original Renaissance man’s proposed flying machine sketches. In a slightly more obvious bit of inspiration, Batman’s arch-nemesis, the homicidal Joker, stole his trademark sneer from the 1928 mystery film, The Man Who Laughs.
3. Andy Warhol directed his own Batman fan-film.
That’s right: Long before Christian Bale redefined the Dark Knight as a gravel-voiced ruffian who TALKS LIKE THIS, one Andy Warhol (yes, that Andy Warhol) brought his own take on the Caped Crusader to art galleries everywhere. The film, Batman, Dracula, came out a full two years before DC’s official silver-screen adaptation, Batman: The Movie.
4. Gotham City is actually in New Jersey.
Bruce Wayne may not seem like the fist-pumping type, but make no mistake: Just like Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Snooki herself, the billionaire playboy is a homegrown Jersey-ite. According to the 1990 Atlas of the DC Universe, Gotham City is located smack on the southern coast of New Jersey, where its sister city, Metropolis, is located across the Delaware Bay.
5. Frank Sinatra wanted to play The Joker in the Batman TV show.
The camp-tastic 1960s TV version of the Caped Crusader became a full-blown pop culture phenomenon with its over-the-top antics and cavalcade of guest stars, but one world-famous crooner never got to share the spotlight with the Dynamic Duo. Franchise fan Frank Sinatra was reportedly heartbroken that the role of The Joker went to mustachioed leading man Cesar Romero, and that he never got to wear the crazed clown’s maniacal grin.
“Frank Sinatra was very upset because he couldn’t play The Joker,” explained former Boy Wonder, Burt Ward, in the best interview sound bite pretty much ever.
6. The Boy Wonder was only intended to appear in one comic.
The Robin Hood-inspired ward was originally slated to appear in a single issue of Detective Comics, but proved so successful with younger readers that he doubled sales of all Batman-related comic books. So, now you have an answer for the next time someone asks you what Jesse Pinkman and Robin originator Dick Grayson have in common.
7. There’s a city in Turkey called — you guessed it — Batman.
Pronounced bot-min, but we’re just going to call it Bat-man anyway because come on, the city of Batman, Turkey is named after the nearby Batman River, which has been known by that name since the 19th century, loooong before people were making jokes about it on the internet.
8. The very first Batman comic is valued at $4.23 million.
Proving that, see, Mom, comics aren’t just a waste of time, gosh, Batman’s very first appearance — 1939’s Detective Comics #27 — is valued at a staggering $4.23 million if sold in mint condition.
9. Bruce Wayne’s name has surprising historical roots.
Batman co-creator Bill Finger snagged names from two historical figures — Scottish patriot Robert Bruce and US army officer Anthony Wayne — to help flesh out his character’s secret identity. Bonus trivia: What do folks call ol’ Batbrain in Spanish-speaking countries when he’s not wearing his cape and cowl? Why, Bruno Díaz, of course.
10. Christian Bale auditioned for the role of Robin in Batman Forever.
But the role, sadly (?), went to Chris O’Donnell, now of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore fame and the butt of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore jokes. Other Batman-on-film casting curiosities: Irish actor Cillian Murphy auditioned for the titular role in the 2005 reboot of the film franchise, Batman Begins, and the legendary Clint Eastwood was in talks to be a part of the franchise not once, but twice — once as a proposed take on Two-Face in the 1960s TV series, and later as director and star of a proposed reboot of the film series, starring an older, grizzled Bruce a la Batman Beyond.
11. Bruce Wayne’s alleged IQ trumps Albert Einstein’s.
Batman’s stated IQ is an unbelievable 192, several notches above the famed theoretical physicist, who was estimated to have an IQ between 160 and 180. But hey, with all due respect to the Dark Knight, “Batman’s Theory of Relativity” doesn’t pack quite the same punch.
12. The Batcave originally debuted in the first Batman serials.
Up until the Caped Crusader took center stage in a series of serial films in the early 1940s, he hadn’t been portrayed with a base of operations outside of stately Wayne Manor. The serial series was the first to show Bats and Robin in their “Bat’s Cave,” which would later become a central piece of lore in the Dark Knight’s mythos. Additionally, Alfred Pennyworth’s contemporary appearance also owes itself to the serials, as, up until the silver screen, he’d been portrayed as a portly, clean-shaven, bumbling helper in Batman’s war against crime.
13. Gotham City got its name by accident.
Bruce Wayne’s overwhelmingly gothic hometown wasn’t always a work of fiction. While the comic’s first few issues were meant to take place in New York City, its co-creators later opted to set their story in a fictional metropolis of their own design. Writer Bill Finger flipped open a New York phone booth, saw “Gotham Jewelers” in bold, black type, and adopted it for his own.