PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Sunday Evening Video: Mystery Of The Batman

This week PopCult brings you the first two chapters of a previously unknown 1939 movie serial based on what was then a very new comic book character, Batman. Or do we?

Here’s what is says in the YouTube description for this amazing discovery:

Here it is… Chapter 1, completely uncut, with a special introduction by Michael Monroe, Dean of Film Studies at the Dini College of Arts. Monroe is the author of “WHAT’S IN YOUR SERIAL? THE BUSTER CRABBE STORY.”

Discovered in December, 2015, MYSTERY OF THE BATMAN is a little-known serial which would have featured the first appearance of DC Comics’ Batman, in any medium, outside of comic books.

Young “Batman” author, Bob Kane, had gone to Hollywood, early in his career, in the hopes of pitching The Caped Crusader as the star of a film series. This was just as the character was being introduced in the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS magazine.

Originally intended for twelve chapters, MYSTERY OF THE BATMAN was produced by BJC Pictures, an obscure poverty row studio, which went bankrupt with only six episodes filmed and completed.

All of the studio’s assets were thought to have been destroyed, until a massive collection of 16mm prints, video transfers and original posters turned up in a barn outside of Beeville, Texas.

Thanks to the passionate effort of historians and fans, the existing chapters of MYSTERY are currently undergoing an extensive digital restoration.

It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Well it is. See this isn’t really a long-lost find, but is, in fact, a meticulously-produced fan-made hoax, which is a loving tribute to Batman and to the early days of movie serials.

They give it all away further down in the description:

Before anyone feels too clever, I’m sure by now it’s obvious this project was produced in 2016, and in NO WAY is intended to be anything other than a loving parody.

This short film was done in good fun, as a love letter to the history of Batman and his family. Please stay tuned till the very end for the proper credits.

Thank you!- Ryan Bijan, Director

This is a real blast.  The credits are loaded with in-joke references to folks who have worked on the Batman comics over the decades. The art direction and music are spot-on, and the only big give-away that this is not a real period piece is the acknowledgement of Bill Finger as Batman’s co-creator.

In truth, Finger was not give proper credit until more than forty years after his death in 1973.  It’s a nice touch for the filmmakers to risk the joke in order to give credit where it was long overdue.

Any fan of vintage movie serials will appreciate the nods to the form, and the direct tributes in some of the shots.  This was obviously a labor of love. Ryan Bijan and his crew deserve major kudos for this.

Many thanks to Jon Raider for turning me on to this cool project. Tonight and over the next two weeks, PopCult’s Sunday Evening Video will bring you all six chapters of Mystery Of The Batman, two per week, so you can enjoy it for yourself and also enjoy waiting a week between some of the episodes, just to give you the movie serial experience.

If you’re impatient and want to watch all the chapters now, you can go to the YouTube page for Big John Creations, and visit their Facebook page for all kinds of cool behind the scenes info and other cool stuff.

Chapter One is at the head of this post, and Chapter two is below…