When you think of Batman, you probably think of this guy:
Or this guy:
Or this guy:
Or, maybe one of these guys:
But you’re probably not thinking about these people:
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). 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 (but not against Warner Bros., who produced the movie, DC Comics, for that matter), seeking untold royalty amounts.
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. According to a Turkish news source, during one of Mayor Kalkan’s many interviews or press conferences during that period, a reporter facetiously (one hopes) asked him why the city hasn’t sued the comic/movie/cartoon franchise, seeking royalties — after all, those dollars would go a long way toward balancing the city’s books. 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 years 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.
From the Archives: The War on Q, W, and Z: Mentions Batman University (located in Batman, Turkey) and favorably.
Related: It’d be weird, but you can make your own Batman turkey with this.