The time the city of 'Batman' said movie producers stole its name and sued for royalties.

When you think of Batman, you probably think of this guy:

Image via Thinkstock.


Or this guy:


Image by Evening Standard/Getty Images.

Or this guy:


Image by Junko Kimura/Getty Images.

Or, maybe even this guy:


Image via Thinkstock.

But you're probably not thinking about these people:

Image by Ferhat 72.

That last image is an aerial view of the center of the town of Batman, Turkey.

It's home to about 370,000 people and is less than 100 miles from the Syrian border. Before the discovery of oil in the region in the 1940s, Batman wasn't much of a city — it was only home to about 3,000 people.

And it wasn't "Batman," either; it was a village named Iluh. Iluh was renamed in 1957, nearly two decades after the comic book character debuted, and took its name from a nearby river called the Batman River.

The name of the river and, therefore, the city has nothing to do with the comic book character. But in 2008, a man named Hüseyin Kalkan tried to change that.

At the time, Kalkan was the mayor of Batman (the town), and he wasn't too happy about “The Dark Knight," the film written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale (he's the third Batman pictured).

"The name 'Batman' belongs to us. … There is only one Batman in the world. The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."

He told a Turkish news agency (via CNN) that "the name 'Batman' belongs to us … There is only one Batman in the world. The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."

And then Kalkan sued — according to various press reports, he brought an action against Nolan seeking untold royalty amounts.

But he didn't sue Warner Bros., who produced the movie, or DC Comics, for that matter.

Absurd, certainly, but the spark for the idea was even stranger.

A few years before the movie came out, Batman (the town, again) had fallen upon hard times. And worse, a few years before that — and horribly — the town was in the news due to a spate of “honor suicides."

As the New York Times reported, these occurred because when young women were engaged in premarital affairs, the culture sickeningly called for their brothers to kill them. To avoid this, in the words of the Times, "parents [were] trying to spare their sons from the harsh punishments associated with killing their sisters by pressing the daughters to take their own lives instead."

Bad news attracts reporters and, in this case, reporters led to crazy legal theories.

During one of Mayor Kalkan's many interviews during that period, a reporter facetiously (one hopes) asked him why the city hadn't sued the comic/movie/cartoon franchise seeking royalties.

After all, those dollars would go a long way toward balancing the city's books. (According to a Turkish news source.)

Kalkan took the question as a critique of his administration, and, as he told the media when announcing his lawsuit, “we found this criticism right and started to look for legal possibilities of a case like that."

And “The Dark Knight" was the first to fit the bill.

The lawsuit almost certainly went nowhere, of course; as of this writing a year later, there are few if any news reports discussing it further.

Nolan, on the other hand, wrote and directed "The Dark Knight Rises" for a 2012 release, without any reported legal threats from Turkish cities.

Dan Lewis runs the popular daily newsletter Now I Know ("Learn Something New Every Day, By Email"). To subscribe to his daily email, click here.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less