When he was a boy during the 1950s and '60s, Michael Uslan was so obsessed with comic books – Batman, in particular – that he collected thousands and didn't hesitate to send corrections to editors when he spotted a mistake in a story line.
“Everyone has an origin story, even though it's most likely without a planet blowing up, parents murdered or a radioactive spider bite,” says Uslan, the Originator and Executive Producer of the “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third and newest in the Dark Knight movie trilogy. He wrote about his comic book obsession – and his childhood dream of showing the world Batman as he saw him – in his memoir, The Boy Who Loved Batman (www.theboywholovedbatman.com).
“My origin story – what formed my character – is entrenched in comic books,” he says. “When I was 8 years old, I wanted to see if I could get my name in print, next to Bruce Wayne and the rest of Gotham’s characters.” It wasn't luck, fortune or an accident that Uslan grew up to produce the most successful comic book-based movie franchise of all time, he says. Now, his goal is to inspire kids and young adults to pursue their own dreams with focus and dedication, “because you can make them come true.” Here’s how:
Know your passion: Uslan wasn’t the only kid on his block who loved comics – but most of the others probably never dared to dream that they could have a hand in influencing their favorite character, he says. It’s important to ask yourself, “What do I really, really care about?” The answer to this question will be the seed from which dreams sprout.
Don’t be a passive bystander – participate: His passion for comics blossomed through several steps, including a general interest in reading and writing and active participation with the world’s first ComicCon in New York City in 1964, when he befriended comic writing legend Otto Binder. These days, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to be proactive, he says, citing blogs, websites and social networking. “A teen raised with today’s technology can create a video, for example, that rivals those created by professionals,” he says.
Identify objectives that will take you to your goal: In high school, Uslan became essential to the yearbook staff, developing media skills that would benefit him later. In 1972, as a junior at Indiana University, he created and taught the first college level course on comic books. After graduating law school, he had the legal knowledge and Hollywood credentials necessary to purchase the film rights to Batman and start repairing the super hero’s image. He wanted to get away from the campy sitcom version of the crusader and reintroduce the Dark Knight to his roots for a movie-going audience. “You don’t have to bend to the expectations of everyone else,” he says. “If you love something enough and are willing to create favorable circumstances, others will bend to you.”
Learn from problems instead of allowing them to distract: Most people never realize their dreams because life gets in the way. Problems and new priorities arise and detract you from your course. The trick is to figure out how to respond to these in ways that help you reach your goal. For instance, learning how to negotiate, how to efficiently manage your time or how to become very self-disciplined are skills you can apply in pursuing your dream.
Michael Uslan is the Originator and Executive Producer along with his partner Benjamin Melniker, of the Batman franchise of motion pictures. In his 36 years in the film and television industry, he has been involved with such projects as “National Treasure,” “Constantine,” and countless animated projects. His projects have won Oscars, Golden Globes and Emmy Awards.
The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir
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