The Caped Crusader: his story in Batfacts

Batman's debut: May 1939, issue 27 of Detective Comics. (A mint condition copy sold in New York last year for pounds 71,000. Other ephemera can be valuable: 1960s Batman lunchboxes fetch up to pounds 700.)

Number of episodes in the Batman TV series: 120.

Title of Burt Ward's autobiography: Boy Wonder - My Life in Tights.

TV's Batman, Adam West, entitled his autobiography Back To The Bat Caves. He claims that the role "destroyed" his life. The only work he could get afterwards was being fired out of a circus cannon.

Most uttered phrase in the TV series: "Holy smoke, Batman!"

Considered for the role of screen Catwoman: Sean Young (very briefly); Sharon Stone; Annette Bening (signed, but got pregnant). The winner: Michelle Pfeiffer. She is also due to star in Catwoman, the Movie in 1996.

Considered for the role of Robin: Robbie Williams of the pop group Take That; the rapper Marky Mark; the actress Dana Delaney (Robin was going to be a woman); the black comic and singer Will Smith (Robin was going to be funky). The winner: Chris O'Donnell.

Reason Michael Keaton dropped out of `Batman Forever': "I'm sick of playing second fiddle to the baddies." Warner Brothers say he asked for too much money up front.

Biggest haul of Batmoney: Batman Returns smashed all box-office records on its opening weekend, grossing $47m. Jurassic Park later beat it with a take of $49m, but Batman Forever broke the record again, taking $52m in the first three days. A week later, it had taken $100m. It is also being shown on a record number of screens: 2,842. Batfans in the United States booked seats just to view the trailers for Batman Forever.

Number of ways enemies attempt to kill the Caped Crusader in `Batman Forever': Four: he is encased in a vat of acid, dropped from a helicopter, buried alive, and set on fire. No method successful to date.

Weight of Val Kilmer's rubber batsuit in `Batman Forever': 50lbs. Accessories: solid gold bat-cuffs, 30 different capes, embarrassingly large codpiece, rubber nipples. Bob Kane, creator of Batman comics, is distraught: "Whoever heard of nipples on the Batsuit?"

Names of some of the penguins used in `Batman Returns': Flipper, Elvis, Chubbychops, Darling.

Merchandising sales generated by `Batman', 1989: pounds 260m - more than double the income from ticket sales in the US. Products available included Batcopters, Batman bubble bath, Batman BMX scooters, plus ties, socks, underwear and Batman pyjamas. Unsuccessful product: Batmobile birthday cake. Apparently children were turned off by the black icing.

Number of Gotham City sets built: Batman Forever: more than 70. Batman the Movie: 15; Batman Returns: 7.

Most devoted follower: Duncan McAlpine, a comic collector in Stoke Newington, last year sold two original editions of the first Batman comic in order to fund his wedding on Hollywood's Batman Boulevard. He and his bride headed off on honeymoon in a full-sized replica of the Batmobile.

Best fake Batman: Gene Ortiz, a New Jersey truancy officer, dresses up as Batman and cruises the streets in his Batmobile. Stunned by his approach, 50 or more children fall into his Bat hands every day.

DECCA AITKENHEAD

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