1939 was a good year for comic book fans. It was the year Batman made his epic debut, on May 1, in Detective Comics. Almost unknown to the world, however, was the movie serials that were made that very same year about the Caped Crusader.
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 Comcis 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.
Here is a statement by Ryan Bijan, the director:
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.
– Ryan Bijan
By “restoration”, we’re pretty sure they’re hoping to make another five episodes in the series.
We hope they do too. Enjoy.