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Not many folks can boast that their hometown shares the name of a famous superhero, and most people would likely find such a coincidence amusing. The mayor of Batman, Turkey, however– far from amused– has announced his plans to sue Christopher Nolan, the director of The Dark Knight, and Warner Brothers for using the city’s name without its permission. Huseyin Kalkan, Batman’s mayor, argued that “the royalty of the name ‘Batman’ belongs to us…. There is only one Batman in the world.” Kalkan asserted that “the American producers used the name of our city without informing us” and he plans to seek damages.
So, how exactly does Mayor Kalkan plan to provide evidence that his city suffered damages that are directly related to Bob Kane’s Caped Crusader? Kalkan apparently blames Warner Brothers and Nolan’s depictions of the superhero for the city’s high female suicide rate, a string of unsolved murders, and difficulties with international business. I have to applaud Mr. Kalkan for his creativity! He could have accredited his city’s woes to the weather, bad parenting, or– heaven forbid– poor city management, but none of these possible explanations for the city’s recent difficult times has deep pockets. It seems likely that Mayor Kalkan thought that his city could get through tough financial times by exploiting the superhero’s continued fame. Holy brilliant idea!
Additional evidentiary problems are sure to plague Mayor Kalkan in his planned lawsuit. For example, how will the city demonstrate that the creation of the Batman character had anything to do with a small, oil-producing town in Turkey that was named after the Bati Raman mountains? Additionally, if the suit is somehow able to survive Motions to Dismiss and Rule 11 arguments, the issue of laches, similar to a statute of limitations, will be extremely difficult to counter due to the fact that the Batman character has been around in DC Comics since 1939 and it took the town almost 70 years to file a lawsuit. Maybe the city’s psychological trauma stemming from the Batman character did not manifest until the latest movie proved to be so successful? Good luck with that argument.
Although the mayor’s plans to sue have not yet materialized, he would be wise to drop the whole business. After all, the Dark Knight has a flawless track record of defeating his opposition and there’s a great chance that he’s as formidable an adversary in the courtroom as he is on the streets of Gotham.
–Sara Beth Myers
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