The man who attended Indiana University and went on to become executive producer of the “Batman” movie franchise gives college students hope of achieving greatness.
Michael Uslan will speak to Manchester College students Wednesday about “Inspiring a Generation of Heroes,” and his message is simple: “You have the opportunity to make your dreams come true.”
Uslan said via telephone, “My mom was a bookkeeper. My dad was a mason. We didn't have relatives in Hollywood, but by following my passion in life and having a very high threshold for pain, I knocked on doors until my knuckles bled. I learned like young Bruce Wayne (Batman's alter ego) did. If you are prepared to make a commitment, you honor that commitment.”
Uslan, an avid comic book collector and reader of comic books, said he spent 7 1/2 years in Bloomington after visiting his older brother, Paul, who was attending IU.
“I fell in love with Indiana and the comparatively laid-back lifestyle,” he said. “Everyone walks down the street and smiles at one another. I found that very appealing.”
Uslan's love of comic books led to his teaching the first accredited class on comic books at IU, focusing on the folklore of comic books.
“I was lucky enough to take my idea and explain how comic books are indigenous — as jazz is — and is literature of contemporary mythology and folklore,” he said. “Ancient gods still exist, only they now wear spandex and capes. Sociologically, I explained how they are a mirror of today. Our mores, biases, prejudices are seen week after week, decade after decade.”
He also donated his 30,000-comic book collection to IU.
After Uslan acquired the film rights to “Batman” from DC Comics in 1979, he set out to produce a film in which Batman was portrayed as more serious in nature.
Eventually, the film was made in 1989, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
Uslan said of Batman's character, “I loved him so much more than Spider-Man, the Hulk or Superman.
“Batman has no super-power. His greatest power is his humanity. I really believed that if I worked out and studied like Bruce Wayne, I could be like him.
“And his super-villains were the greatest in history. They were just so imaginative and fun. That was a big attraction to me.”
Though Batman is Uslan's favorite character, he's finished a six-part graphic novel, “Archie Gets Married,” in which Archie finally chooses to marry either Veronica or Betty. “Archie Gets Married” also will be available this summer as a coffee-table book.
Uslan's also working on making movies out of “Captain Marvel” and “The Shadow.”