Indiana Daily Student

Batman film franchise originator and IU alumnus Michael Uslan discusses life, career

<p>Batman producer and IU alumnus Michael Uslan speaks Feb. 4, 2015, in the Ernie Pyle Hall auditorium on the future of the film and television industry. Uslan published his book “Batman’s Batman: A Memoir from Hollywood, Land of Bilk and Money,” through IU press March 1. </p>

Batman producer and IU alumnus Michael Uslan speaks Feb. 4, 2015, in the Ernie Pyle Hall auditorium on the future of the film and television industry. Uslan published his book “Batman’s Batman: A Memoir from Hollywood, Land of Bilk and Money,” through IU press March 1.

The success of “The Batman” can be traced back to IU Bloomington. IU alumnus Michael Uslan, the executive producer and originator of the Batman film franchise, obtained the rights to Batman from DC Comics in 1979. 

Uslan published the  book “Batman’s Batman: A Memoir from Hollywood, Land of Bilk and Money,” through IU press March 1. In this book, he discusses the hardships that come with being a Hollywood producer, the grit required to survive in the industry and the joy that comes from successes.

As a junior, Uslan was the first instructor to teach a college accredited course about comic books. It was in Uslan’s time at IU that he found a mechanism by which to harness his passion in an academic setting.

“It wouldn’t have happened without IU,” Uslan said. “It’s that simple. IU gave me my first opportunity to get my foot in the door and to pursue my dreams, and how to incorporate my passion in life, my love for comic books, for superheroes, for Batman, into my life doing something I love to do.” 

Uslan said through IU’s opportunities and entryways, he was able to achieve the accomplishments that have defined his career.

“That comic book course received international recognition,” Uslan said. 

It was that course that brought him attention from Stan Lee at Marvel Comics as well as DC Comics, which ultimately led to him writing Batman comics while he was still a student at IU. 

Uslan said that, by writing the comics, he was able to form a relationship with Vice President of DC Comics Sol Harrison. This eventually led to him being able to buy the rights to Batman in 1979. 

Uslan joined the Media School faculty as a professor of practice in 2014, teaching two intensive courses: The Business of Producing Motion Pictures and Live From Hollywood, in which Uslan brings in associates and friends from the film industry to give remote lectures to his students.

Additionally, Uslan has now donated around 45,000 comics, books and memorabilia to IU’s Lilly Library. 

Walter Gantz, Interim Dean of the Media School, was involved in bringing Uslan to IU as a professor of practice. 

Recently, actor Mark Hamill was one of Uslan’s guests. After committing to an hour of lecturing and engaging with Media School students, Hamill decided to give another hour of his time, Gantz said.

“Can you imagine if you’re a 20-year-old student and there are 20 of you around and Mark is just talking to you and you can ask him whatever you want?” Gantz said. “You have two hours with Mark Hamill to get all the insights he can share. To me, that’s a remarkable experience.” 

Uslan’s legacy is important to many IU students and Batman fans, including Gavin Murphy, IU freshman and biology major, as well as lover of The Dark Knight Trilogy.

“I’m proud to go to the school that gave Uslan the opportunity to create one of the best movie franchises ever,” Murphy said.

As “Batman’s Batman: A Memoir from Hollywood, Land of Bilk and Money” is a sequel to “The Boy Who Loved Batman,” Uslan contends that this sequel is a two part book. The first focuses on what it means to be a producer in Hollywood, and the second deals with the trajectory of his career after Batman.

“While ‘The Boy who Loved Batman’ memoir dealt with my growing up being a Batman fanatic, a comic book collector, buying the rights to Batman when I was still a kid in my twenties, being turned down by every studio in Hollywood in the 10 year odyssey it took to get our first Batman movie made,” Uslan said. “This memoir, ‘Batman’s Batman,’ deals with my adventures and misadventures in Hollywood over the last 45 years,” 

Uslan said along with his first memoir, “Batman’s Batman: A Memoir from Hollywood, Land of Bilk and Money” will serve as the source material for a broadway play based on Uslan’s life. Amid all of his opportunities and success, Uslan maintains that all of his successes and failures are all a matter of perspective.

“It’s been a wonderful and an interesting life,” Uslan said.

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